Wisdom & Faith United At Last

Just received word from a friend that Fr. Stanley Jaki, OSB, noted apostle of both faith and reason, passed away in Spain today. He'd been in Rome lecturing at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and stopped in Spain to visit friends before returning to the States. He was hospitalized with heart trouble, but was considered too weak for surgery. Word is that he died in the presence of friends as they prayed for him.

A Gifford lecturer and Templeton Prize winner, he held doctorates in theology and nuclear physics and was a delightful and sometimes delightfully acerbic lecturer (you can take the man out of Hungary....). He frequently guest lectured at the University of Dallas, and I have fond memories of him illustrating points or scrawling out quotations on blackboards, unable to keep his clerical black from getting absolutely coated in chalk.

During a summer program at Notre Dame while I was in graduate school, a couple of us had a memorable lunch with him. The conversation was wide-ranging, but I mostly recall his opining that you'd do time in purgatory for every book on your shelf you hadn't actually read; and his claim that Americans tend to buy books without reading them, but after enough time has passed they think they've read them. I wasn't really pleased by the latter observation, but I couldn't hold it against him for long.

Here's the obituary from Seton Hall, where he taught for years, and here's the email they sent to their community:

Office of the President

O Lord, you are my allotted portion and my cup,
You it is who hold fast my lot.
—Psalms 15:6

I am saddened to inform the community that Father Stanley L. Jaki, the Distinguished University Professor for more than 30 years and a Seton Hall faculty member since 1965, died today in Madrid. He had traveled to Spain from Rome where he had just lectured at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, of which he was an honorary member since 1990. He was 84 years old, having been ordained a Benedictine priest in 1948 in his native Hungary.

Father Jaki was the quintessential priest-scholar, both scientist and theologian, who had an international reputation for his work, which included more than 40 books and hundreds of articles, essays and chapters.

Among the numerous honors he received throughout his life, he was a Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, 1974-75 and 1975-76, and the recipient of the 1987 Templeton Prize for furthering the understanding of science and religion. He was deeply committed to the study of the conjunction between faith and reason, arguing that the flourishing of science in Europe was intrinsically related to the Christian understanding of creation and the Incarnation.

Seton Hall awarded Father Jaki an honorary doctoral degree in 1991 for his ongoing writing and scholarship. I encourage our students to Google his name to learn more about him and the legacy he has bequeathed Seton Hall.

During this Holy Week, we fondly remember our brother and colleague in our prayers. I shall personally miss his regular visits to the first floor Presidents Hall and his sharp, challenging intellect.

I will inform the community of funeral arrangements for Father Jaki when they have been decided upon.

Monsignor Robert Sheeran

Quite the C.V.! Here's the speech he gave upon receiving the Templeton Prize: Science: from the womb of religion.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.