The Catholic Intellectual Tradition contains a vast treasury of works that have guided our thinking for centuries. The Rule of St. Benedict is among the most prominent examples of the influence a single work can have. Added to this are the seminal works of Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great and Thomas Aquinas in the West, while the East is home to the books John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus and Athanasius of Alexandria. Diversity of approach is evident in the different religious orders, from the intensity of Ignatius of Loyola to the humility of Thérèse of Lisieux. Diversity is also found in academic interests. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato sí, for example, reminds us of the importance of St. Francis of Assisi’s orientation toward creation and our duty to be good stewards of God’s gifts. That same orientation, when coupled with confidence in the rational order of the universe (Wisdom 11:21) explains the large number of scientific discoveries that have been made by Catholics animated by their faith, such as the father of genetics Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian monk.
In addition to Saint Benedict, many Benedictines have contributed to this tradition. The importance of Gregory the Great and Anselm can hardly be overstated in theology and philosophy. Benedictines have also thrived in the sciences. Benedetto Castelli, a student of Galileo Galilei, contributed to the world’s understanding of fluids in motion; Placidus Fixlmillner was the first astronomer to compute the orbit of Venus; Andrew Gordon developed the first electric motor — these and countless other scientists were Benedictines, as was Stanley Jaki, who spent much of his scholarly career writing about the relationship between theology and science.
In order to preserve and further develop this inheritance, the center promotes understanding of and encourages participation in the Catholic Intellectual and Benedictine wisdom traditions for all associated with the college and the local community. The center is interdisciplinary in nature and hopes to attract faculty and students from every academic department. To this end, the center will be a resource for the college and sponsor seminars, lectures, and other activities so that the works and riches of Catholic thought, particularly the Benedictine contributions to this body of thought, will continue to be known and cherished.