Tag Archives: Edward T. Oakes

Edward T. Oakes –the tributes

Edward OakesSince our Fr Edward T. Oakes, SJ, died yesterday morning at the Jesuit residence, St Louis, MO, several people have paid tribute.

Pray to Our Lady of the Way and to the Jesuits and beati for Edward T. Oakes’ peaceful repose.

Here is a sampling:

John Farrell, “Eloquent Critic Of Creationism Passes Away” (Forbes)

R.R. Reno, “Goodbye, Friend” (First Things)

Thomas G. Guarino, “Edward T. Oakes, S.J.: An Appreciation” (First Things)

Carl E. Olsen, “Fr. Edward T. Oakes, S.J., Requiescat in Pace” (The Catholic World Report blog)

Kevin J. Jones, “Jesuit theologian remembered for scholarship, joyfulness” (Catholic News Agency)

my own, “Edward T. Oakes, SJ -RIP” (Communio)

Some of the articles are mere puff pieces publishing because that’s what the establishment does; others say something important. You make a judgement.

Edward T. Oakes, SJ –RIP

Edward T. Oakes FT picToday, one of the Church’s faithful sons died: Father Edward Talbot Oakes, S.J.  He was a true and dear friend to me for many years. Edward turned 65 in May and was diagnosed very shortly thereafter with stage 4 pancreatic and liver cancer; he, like his late brother, were a-symptomatic creating a crisis of health without knowing it until it was late.

One of his many God-given gifts Ed shared with us was his vocation to be a public intellectual, a calling he fully embraced. Just a few weeks ago the Catholic journal on faith and culture, Logos (16.4), published his “Lab Life: Vitalism, Promethean Science, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” But in the past year Ed also published these articles: “Pope Benedict XVI on Christ’s Descent into Hell,” Nova et Vetera (Volume 11, Number 1, Winter 2013) and “Reason Enraptured,” First Things,  (Number 232, April 2013).

Ed’s last significant work was on nature and grace that he finished in late summer and that I had the privilege of reading and acting as one his editors. It is titled, The Candle Within A Theology of Grace as Seen Through Six Controversies (expected from CUA Press).

While the world mourns Nelson Mandela, more locally –in various parts of the USA– many are mourning the loss of the person of Edward Talbot Oakes, a man who changed lives by revealing the face of Jesus Christ.

David Mills of First Things contributed this tribute to Ed.

Thank you, Ed, remember me (us) to the Lord of Life.

The following is the obituary published by the Socius of the Missouri Province of Jesuits. Much more can and will be said and appreciated.

… Father Edward T. Oakes, S.J. died this morning at the Fusz Pavilion in St. Louis, Missouri. He was 65 years old and a Jesuit for 47 years. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 18, 1948, Ed entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Missouri, on September 1, 1966. He completed a B.A. and an M.A. in Philosophy at Saint Louis University. After teaching English and Theater at St. Louis University High School from 1973 to 1976, Ed earned an M.Div. at Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. He was ordained to the priesthood at St. Francis Xavier (College) Church in St. Louis on June 15, 1979.

From 1980 to 1987, Ed studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he earned a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. Ed loved studies and pursued them with great eagerness. In 1987 he accepted a visiting professor position at New York University where he taught Theology and the History of Christianity until 1994.

After tertianship at Peter-Faver Kolleg in Berlin, Ed joined the Religious Studies faculty at Regis University in Denver, where he taught for six years. Ed’s enthusiasm for the intellectual life and his joyful personality were appreciated by members of the Jesuit community and his colleagues in the Religious Studies department.

Ed was a prolific writer. His works include Pattern of Redemption: The Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar (New York: Continuum, 1994) and Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011). The latter work, which provides a survey of doctrinal and historical issues in Christology, won the 2012 Book Prize from the Center for Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue. Ed contributed essays to numerous collections in Theology and regularly published articles in both refereed journals and Catholic periodicals.

In 2002, Ed became a professor of Theology at University of St. Mary of the Lake – Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. His colleagues on the faculty and the seminarians very much appreciated his presence there.

In May 2013, Ed was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. At the time he wrote to his fellow Jesuits, spoke of his strong hope in God and quoted St. Paul: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” For several months, Ed received chemotherapy to slow the growth of the cancer. He finished a writing project and returned to teaching for the fall semester. When his health began to worsen, Ed moved to St. Louis and joined the Pavilion community. He is survived by his sister, Elizabeth D. Oakes, and his sister-in-law, Joanne Oakes. May this joyful and dedicated man rest in peace.

Oakes on nature and grace

Just finished reading and editing a terrific and challenging book on nature and grace yet to be published by my friend Jesuit Father Ed Oakes. It is  tentatively titled, The Candle Within: A Theology of Grace as Seen Through Six Controversies (expected from CUA Press). Oakes is writing this text as a seminary and university text. The Candle Within is likely to be his last significant work, save an essay, since he is battling pancreatic and liver cancer.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for Edward.

Servant of God Father Augustus Tolten, pray for Edward.

No need for a Protestant Giussani today: a brief response to Archie Spencer

Worshipping, preaching and witnessing Jesus Christ as the unique and only Savior of the world is a complicated issue for some Christians today.

A good refresher course in the study of Christ as Savior and Redeemer would be situated in the CDF document Dominus Iesus (2000), or something more substantive as Jesuit Father Edward Oakes’ recent book, Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology (Eerdmans, 2011). There are other books to recommend but I am not writing to make those suggestions.

Archie Spencer,ThD, an Evangelical Christian theologian wrote a piece titled: “We stand in need of Protestant Giussani today.” Dr Spencer is a competent theologian with interests in a wide variety of reformed and evangelical matters including Christology. He teaches Systematic Theology at Northwest Baptist Seminary (Canada). In fact, he’s interested in the Christological controversies Christianity faced in the first three centuries of salvation history, particularly the Alexandrian type. Spencer is also versed in the method of Communion and Liberation and its founder, Father Luigi Giussani.  In my opinion, Spencer wrote a well thought-out essay (noted above); Catholics and mainline Protestants ought to read Spencer’s article (and then re-read it) for he clarifies the key point of what it means to be saved by Jesus Christ. He, however, opens a can worms that many in the Protestant world find difficult to preach today: Truth is objective, personal, merciful and exclusive.

It can be argued that orthodox Catholics converge with the Evangelicals in ways (e.g., Christology) many mainline Protestants do not today. I appreciate much of what he proposes: Jesus Christ is either the center of my life, or He’s not; either Christ is my only Savior, or He’s not. Right-believing, right-worshipping and right-living Christians can’t utilize other methods for Christian life. BUT Dr Spencer doesn’t complete the case.

Respectfully, I note two glaringly missing points in Spencer’s article: (1) Christians can’t be satisfied with the separation of the Body of Christ (the Church) with various ecclesial communities; the divisions among Christians is a scandal for those baptized in Jesus Christ. The other matter missing (2) is the issue of right-worship –the sacred Liturgy and sacraments administered by a valid priesthood is the only realistic way to make Christ known, lived and proposed to the world. Protestant worship is missing some very essential matters of right belief. The lex orandi tradition is very limited in Evangelical, Lutheran and Anglican (Protestant) worship.

Hence, I would never be able to support the idea that Christians in other ecclesial communities need a “new” Giussani without wrestling in a more direct way with the fact that unity among Christians and a proper, that is, faithful worship are non-negotiables and that we can’t be satisfied with the religious status quo. To love Luigi Giussani and his Christocentricism is to be catholic and to live the Catholic faith. Christians, including Catholics and Orthodox have Luigi Giussani pointing the way, and exhorting us to live under the banner of Jesus Christ in a Church that lives properly the faith handed down to us from Apostolic times. I doubt that Giussani would say that it is a good thing to keep the divisions in Christianity alive and to worship without the Eucharist and the other sacraments as a reasonable proposal. Giussani always points in an uncompromising way to the fullness of truth as lived in the Roman Church (even to the point of accepting the Church of the millennium).

It is theologically and humanly incoherent to believe otherwise.

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


The generosity of the young Virgin Mother of our Savior is honored today. As the prayer below says, Mary was moved by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we also ought to make God’s greatness known, loved and imitated.

On this feast I want to pray for 4 things:

1. for Giovannimaria, 7, who died yesterday after a prolonged illness;

2. for my friend Fr Edward Oakes, SJ, who was recently diagnosed Type-4 pancreatic and liver cancer;

3. for the Order of the Visitation

4. for those who need visit from a person and who lives a lonely existence.

Mary tells us of God’s mercy given to all generations.

With the Church we pray,

Almighty ever-living God, who, while the Blessed Virgin Mary was carrying your Son in her womb, inspired her to visit Elizabeth, grant us, we pray, that, faithful to the promptings of the Spirit, we may magnify your greatness with the Virgin Mary at all times.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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