Where Father Sebastian Tromp, S.J. Got Subsistit in for Lumen Gentium

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1 Where Father Sebastian Tromp, S.J. Got Subsistit in for Lumen Gentium One sometimes discovers the answer to a most difficult question in a surprising fashion; in this case, by the recall of a prediction made by a humble and wise person. For me this became true in the person of Father John A. Hardon, S.J. and the work of a string of other Jesuit priests. The subject is the lexicon used by the Second Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium, in particular, the Latin words: subsistere 1 and compago. The Clue While at Wrocław, Poland to attend the 46 th Pontifical International Eucharistic Congress around June 1, 1997, this author had the occasion to visit with this Jesuit priest, Father Hardon. In that private conversation, Father John Hardon, S.J. told me that someday I would read his doctoral thesis from the Jesuit Pontifical University, Gregoriana. More than nine years later, in 2006, after entering theology program as an extraordinary student at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, I had the occasion to read that 1951 doctoral dissertation of Father Hardon. There I found the apparent source of subsistit in within the phraseology of the Second 1 The scholastic tradition tends to synthesize Greek and Latin terminology such that hypostasis corresponds to subsistentia (subsistence), obviously derived from the Latin verb, subsistere. However, Saint Thomas Aquinas makes an important distinction that the Latin terminology, subsistence (unlike the Greek, hypostasis ) does not entail unorganized accidents, it is not accidental, but rather describes a persisting substance. Aquinas depends on this Latin terminology also to describe in a more abstract manner realities of The Divine Persons in The Trinity, e.g., Summa Theologica, Ia, Questions 29 & 30, IIIa, Question 2. See, Gilles Emory, O.P., Trans. By Francesca Aran Murphy, The Trinitarian Theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp

2 Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium 8, the significance of which has been the subject of considerable debate since The Council. Father Hardon provided both the Latin original and an English translation. Here is the Latin original with the two telltale Latin words from Lumen Gentium: Sicut namque Christus, qui est caput Ecclesiae, de Spiritu sancto conceptus est, sic sancta Ecclesia quae corpus ejus, eodem Spiritu sancto repletur ut vivat; ejus virtute firmatur ut in unius fidei et charitatis compage subsistat. 2 The Find I was surprised to notice the names of two other persons on the dissertation of Father Hardon, including R. P. Sebastianus Tromp, S.J. as his Director, and Archbishop Paulus C. Schulte of Indianapolis as the prelate who provided the Imprimatur. 3 Father Sebastian Tromp was the same famous Jesuit priest and theologian who suggested that the Second Vatican Council use subsistit in instead of another Latin verb, either est or adest in within one of the sentences defining the Church. By comparing the two (2) texts, both in Latin and in English, one can readily discern similar wording: The Latin P.L.79, 602: Lumen Gentium, 7: Unum quippe corpus est tota Ut autem in Illo incessanter renovemur, sancta universalis Ecclesia, sub dedit nobis de Spiritu suo, qui unus Christo Jesu, suo videlicet capite, et idem in Capite et in membris exsistens, constituta.... Christus itaque cum totum corpus ita vivificat, unificat tota sua Ecclesia, sive quae adhuc et movet, ut Eius officium a sanctis versatur in terris, sive quae cum eo Patribus comparari potuerit cum jam regnat in coelis, una persona est. munere, quod principium vitae seu Et sicut est una anima quae diversa anima in corpore humano adimplet. corporis membra vivificat, ita totam Lumen Gentium, 8: 2 Pope Saint Gregory I, On the Seven Penitential Psalms (as quoted in the doctoral dissertation of the Servant of God, the Rev. Father John A. Hardon, S.J., approved on 19 April 1951 by Rev. Father Sebastian Tromp, S.J. at the Pontifical University Gregoriana) 3 This writer was for more than 10 years a subject of Archbishop Paul C. Schulte and I attended Archbishop Paul C. Schulte High School at Terre Haute in the State of Indiana, U.S.A.. -2-

3 simul Ecclesiam unus Spiritus sanctus vegetat et illustrat. Sicut namque Christus, qui est caput Ecclesiae, de Spiritu sancto conceptus est, sic sancta ecclesia quae corpus ejus, eodem Spiritu sancto repletur ut vivat; ejus virtute firmatur, ut in unius fidei et charitatis compage subsistat. Ideo ob non mediocrem analogiam incarnati Verbi mysterio assimilatur.... Haec Ecclesia, in hoc mundo ut societas constituta et ordinata, subsistit in Ecclesia catholica, a successore Petri et Episcopis in eius communione gubernata, licet extra eius compaginem elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis inveniantur, quae ut dona Ecclesiae Christi propria, ad unitatem catholicam impellunt. The English P.L.79, 602: Lumen Gentium, 7: The holy universal Church In order that we might be is one body, constituted under unceasingly renewed in Him, Christ Jesus its head... He has shared with us His Spirit Therefore Christ, with His who, existing as one and the whole Church, both that same being in the Head and in which is still on earth and the members, gives life to, unifies that which now reigns with and moves through the whole Him in heaven, is one Person; body. This He does in such a and as the soul is one which way that His work could be quickens the various members compared by the holy Fathers of the body, so the one Holy with the function which the Spirit quickens and illuminates principle of life, that is, the soul, the whole Church. For as Christ, fulfills in the human body. who is the Head of the Church, was conceived of the Holy Ghost, Lumen Gentium, 8: so the Holy Church, which is For this reason, by no weak analogy, His body, is filled by the same it is compared to the mystery of Spirit that it may have life, is the incarnate Word.... This confirmed by His power that it Church constituted and organized may subsist in the bond of one in the world as a society, subsists faith and charity... Of this in the Catholic Church, which is Spirit the heretic does not live, governed by the successor of Peter nor the schismatic, nor the and by the Bishops in communion excommunicated, for they with him, although many elements are not of the body; but the of sanctification and of truth are Church has a Spirit that gives found outside of its visible structure. life, because it inheres inseparably These elements, as gifts belonging to Christ its Head: for it is written, to the Church of Christ, are forces He that adheres to the Lord impelling toward catholic unity. is one spirit with Him. -3-

4 In the 14 December 2005 English Weekly Edition of The Vatican newspaper, L Osservatore Romano, at page 12, yet another Jesuit, the Reverend Father Karl Josef Becker, (now Cardinal), explained the emphatic rationale for subsistit in given by Father Sebastian Tromp during the plenary meeting of the Theological Commission on 26 November Father Becker then stated, referring to the explanation given by Sebastian Tromp: In his opinion, therefore, the term subsistit in expresses a property that is exclusive to the Catholic Church. Father Maximilian Heinrich Heim, O.Cist., in his comprehensive written work on Lumen Gentium, entitled Joseph Ratzinger, Life in the Church and Living Theology, describes this meeting of the Theological Commission and what occurred regarding this textual change: As Alexandra von Teuffenbach points out, it was Sebastian Tromp who resolved the dispute about the original verb est [ is ] and the later expression adest in [ is present in ] by introducing the definitive term subsistit in during the decisive discussion of the Theological Commission about Lumen gentium 8 on November 26, At that session, over which Cardinal Ottaviani presided, Gérard Philips was the discussion leader. As Teuffenbach demonstrates in her dissertation, there were no debates about the expression subsistit in, since the whole process of including this word, which was so controversial later on, probably lasted less than a minute! 4 The currently extant procedural history of Vatican II does not detail any theological source used by Father Tromp for the expression subsistit in as inserted in the text of Lumen Gentium, 8. Nevertheless, the dissertation excerpt of Father Hardon may lead through Sebastian Tromp, S.J., to the theological source for this vocabulary. Because Father Sebastian Tromp served as the first reader on this dissertation, his extensive knowledge of patristic writings would seem to support the use by Father Hardon of the Gregorius Magnus text which includes the words: compage subsistat. 5 4 Rev. Father Maximilian Heinrich Heim, trans. by Michael J. Miller, Joseph Ratzinger, Life in the Church and Living Theology [Fundamentals of Ecclesiology with Reference to Lumen Gentium] (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007), pp (Footnotes ) 5 Gregorius Magnus (Gregory The Great), In Septem Psalmos Poenitentiales, Expositio, P.L. 79, 602: -4-

5 The Conclusion Father Sebastian Tromp, S.J. most likely based the use of the Latin term, "subsistit in", as well as the various forms of the Latin word, "compago/compages", in the Second Vatican Council Constitution, "Lumen Gentium" on the works of Pope Saint Gregory The Great. It certainly seems that Father Sebastian Tromp, S.J. had as his source for subsistit in (and likely also, compaginem) in Lumen Gentium, 8, the works of Pope Saint Gregory The Great, in general, and specifically from the juxtaposition of some form of the Latin noun, compago, with a form of the Latin verb, subsistere. Nearly a hapax legomenon (Greek for a term only used once ), this unique close word combination occurs twice in the works attributed to Pope Saint Gregory The Great. 6 In conclusion, we know that the Reverend Father Sebastian Tromp, S.J., knew well what Pope Saint Gregory The Great (Gregorius Magnus) wrote using the Latin verb, subsistere, Unum quippe corpus est tota sancta universalis Ecclesia, sub Christo Jesu, suo videlicet capite, constituta.... Christus itaque cum tota sua Ecclesia, sive quae adhuc versatur in terris, sive quae cum eo jam regnat in coelis, una persona est. Et sicut est una anima quae diversa corporis membra vivificat, ita totam simul Ecclesiam unus Spiritus sanctus vegetat et illustrat. Sicut namque Christus, qui est caput Ecclesiae, de Spiritu sancto conceptus est, sic sancta ecclesia quae corpus ejus, eodem Spiritu sancto repletur ut vivat; ejus virtute firmatur, ut in unius fidei et charitatis compage subsistat. 6 S. GREGORIUS MAGNUS, In Septem Psalmos Poenitentiales Expositio, Ps. V, PL 79, 602; S. GREGORIUS MAGNUS, Moralia in Job, Pars VI, Thirty-Second Book, Caput XVII, P.L.,

6 because he approved the compage subsistat quote in the 1951 dissertation of the Reverend Father John Hardon, S.J.. That thesis is evidence that Father Sebastian Tromp, S.J., at least knew, if not originally taught, about the quote from On the Seven Penitential Psalms which does appear prominently in that dissertation as a work from the spirituality of St. Gregory the Great. As already noted, this juxtaposition of compago with subsistere also occurs in Moralia in Job with the following phrase: corporis compago subsistit. 7 We also know that the sentence in which the Second Vatican Council uses the verb, subsistit in also uses the Latin noun, compaginem. Because the combination of these two words appears so rarely in one sentence, and Pope Saint Gregory The Great uses them together twice, there is little probability that Father Tromp took these words from some other theological source. Thus, we can reasonably hold that Father Sebastian Tromp, S.J. relied upon the spiritual theology of Gregorius Magnus, Pope Saint Gregory The Great, renowned as the Doctor of Contemplation, for his introduction of this specific vocabulary into the conciliar constitution, Lumen Gentium. The works of Pope Saint Gregory the Great (in which appear the same combination of Latin words as that used in Lumen Gentium which have generated so much interest) do come from the tradition of moral theology, which differs from dogmatic theology, which it presumes, in that moral theology is concerned with the ethical imperatives of Catholic doctrine and how 7 Ibid., Moralia in Job, Pars VI, Thirty-Second Book, Caput XVII, P.L.,

7 they are lived out in practice. 8 Spiritual theology assembles all the lights of dogmatic and moral theology, of which it is the most elevated application and the crown. 9 8 John A. Hardon, S.J., Modern Catholic Dictionary (Bardstown, Kentucky: ETERNAL LIFE, 1999), p Jordan Aumann, O.P., Spiritual Theology (London: Sheed & Ward, Ltd., 1980), p. 13: What is now called spiritual theology has been designated by various names throughout the history of theology.... The terms first used and still commonly used to designate the systematic theology of the spiritual life are ascetical theology and mystical theology, although these words do not have the same meaning for all theologians.... ; Fr Reginald Garrigou- Lagrange, O.P., Christian Perfection and Contemplation,trans. by Sister M. Timothea Doyle, O.P. (St Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1937), pp (Emphasis added): To teach the practice of the highest virtues and perfect docility to the Holy Ghost and to lead to the life of union with God, ascetical and mystical theology assembles all the lights of dogmatic and moral theology, of which it is the most elevated application and the crown. -7-

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