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YVES CONGAR: A LIFE FOR THE TRUTH* ( (~IFE FOR THE TRUTH "-this is the subtitle of a book by Jean Puyo (Jean Puyo interroge le Pere Congar, Paris, 1975) in which he publishes a series of conversations, in the course of which Father Cougar speaks of himself, explains the choices that he has made and provides a context for his work. " A life ..."-an existence unified by an interior drive that is ceaselessly reactualized, without breaks or turning back, without discontinuity; despite the variety of activities and publications, a single furrow that has always been patiently plowed. To speak of a life is above all to speak of a heart in the biblical sense of the term. As unassuming as he may be, Father Cougar has nonetheless disclosed here and there a few aspects of his spirituality by evoking the thanksgiving of the Per ipsum, which dominates his prayer, as well as his familiarity with the psalms and his love of the liturgy. A life, if it is profound, is never without trials. There is no easy life except one that is removed from reality. As far as Father Cougar is concerned, at least a few of his trials are quite well known-his imprisonment during World War II, the suspicion that he came under from his brothers in the faith, his exile, and his inexorable illness. These things he speaks of without making much of them, and he does not like attention to be drawn to them. A life is also a question of activity. What more fruitful activity than his! Intimately linked to a regular teaching assignment (at the Saulchoir, both at Kain and at Etiolles, from 1931 to 1939 and from 1945 to 1954), to speaking engagements , to participation in conciliar commissions, his consider- *Editor's note: This sketch of Father Congar is a slightly revised version of an article which appeared in Ohoisir (1980). The translation is by Boniface Ramsey, O.P. 505 506 ANDRE DUVAL, O.P. able written output (his bibliography, from 1924 to 1984, lists about 1500 titles) is the result of a labor ceaselessly pursued with a perseverance that has triumphed over sickness rather than letting itself be determined by it. If theology is a profession , the vast number of his publications proceeds to a great degree from a rigorous professional awareness, which demands that what has been begun must be seen through to the end, thait a file that has been newly opened must be permitted to yield some conclusions. Not to lose a minute of the time that God has given, to work as hard as one's strength allows-all of this gives this religious the right to speak realistically of the vow of poverty. " A life for ... the truth." What verb is missing here? A life for the sake of defending the truth? For the sake of researching it? For the sake of receiving it? Defending it? The critical manner in which Father Congar taught apologetics at the beginning of his professional career could not but immunize him further against a form of combative intellectuality that was not to his taste in the first place. In such a large corpus are there not at least a few lines of polemic? And what has he not done, on the contrary, for the sake of opening up Catholic theology to ecumenical dialogue? Nor is he one of those who make of research as such an end in itself, preferable to contemplative possession. Father Congar is a man who was born with certitudes and who lives with certitudes. In his case the critical function of the theologian has always been exercised within a receiving of, an assimilation of, an intimate harmony with the datum of the faith. For him the truth is received from the hand of God and from the hands of his fellow human beings, in a fraternal communion with all believers, those of yesterday and those from before then, going back to the Apostles and as far as Abraham, and with those of today as well-in that receptive and critical attention to the research and the thought of others, borne witness to by hundreds and hundreds of...


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pp. 505-511
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