Terrence W. Tilley, Ph.D., chair of the Department of
Theology at Fordham University, was formally installed as the first occupant of
the Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Chair of Catholic Theology. The benefactors of
the Dulles Chair are Vincent and Teresa Viola.
like this one the Chair delivers an address of his choosing. Tilley gave
audience his opinion on Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s famous Rule 13 in Rules for Thinking with the Church as
found in the Spiritual Exercises. His address: “Sentire cum Ecclesia:
Thinking With and for the Church.” Tilley’s claim was based on his reading
the of Rule 13 in light of Cardinal Dulles’ 1974 and later republished in 2002 with a
new introduction and an essay on Pope John Paul II’s ecclesiology, Models of the Church. Models is Dulles’ exposition of the 5 ways of knowing the Church.
There is an historical debate as to the intention of Loyola when he formulated Rule 13 because he was hounded by the members of the Inquisition, famously the Dominicans, after a charge of being an adherent of the “Illuminati.”Nevertheless, many in the 16th century could not understand how a layman could write such forward thinking and spiritually freeing and orthodox Catholic doctrine as found in the Exercises. In the tussle of what the historical origins of the Rules are Dr Tilley offers a revisionist reading of the Rules. My take is that he distracts more than shed light upon. I really don’t care too much about the historical points as much as how does the spiritual patrimony of a great 16th century saint and mystic impact the life of the Church today. Debate or not on the historical background of the Rules, ultimately they remain a crucial part of the knowing and experiencing the Exercises as Loyola understood them and gave them to his spiritual children. Without the Rules for Thinking with the Church or a reductionistic view of the Rules, one is done a dis-service. Debate does not dismiss content. What Tilley recalls for us is that Cardinal Dulles taught that the Rules for Thinking with the Church are “applied” to the exercitant (the one who made the Spiritual Exercises) only after the Exercises were done. They are not lived in the abstract, nor outside the heart of the Church.