The Intellectual Legacy of Edward Holloway

Editorial, Faith Magazine, July 1999
In any area of thought none of us is truly original. We are really ‘thinking God’s thoughts after Him’. Nonetheless, every now and then along the trail of human progress a truly seminal mind comes along. Their contribution is not just in this or that aspect of their field, but in shedding a new light on our thinking about reality at all. They readjust the focus of the ‘synthesis’, or unified field of vision, through which we formulate our questions and find our answers about the world.
Of course Christian theology takes Christ as its starting point. The task of the theologian is humbly to explore and explain what is in Christ as proclaimed by His Church. But within this process a true development of doctrine is possible, indeed at times it is urgently necessary.
For even though its specific methodology differs, theology cannot survive isolated from the other sciences. Traditionally it was called the ‘queen of sciences’. It was seen as the highest synthesis through which the whole of created reality is interpreted and related to its final purpose in God. The loss of this unified sense of a single wisdom through which all reality is framed lies at the very heart of the crisis of Christianity in Western culture.
A new development needed
If a new development of doctrine were possible which re-synthesised the basic principles of all wisdom, human and divine, taking account of the revolution in our world view which while yet remaining true to historic Catholic Christianity, it would be a precious key to have found indeed.
It would unlock the potential for the re-evangelisation of the world through a convincing new apologetic in a powerful way. If such a key were found, it would allow Christianity no longer to be on the intellectual defensive, let alone in retreat. It would shed the light of Christ on the modem world in a pro-active and exciting way.
Is such a dream really so improbable? If we take seriously our faith in God the Creator then surely we must expect it. How can there be a contradiction between science and religion if they both come from the Mind of God? Actually the job in hand is much greater than just answering particular questions of ‘science and religion’ such as might be discussed with great technical expertise at the Vatican Observatory — important though these are.
What we need is a convincing challenge to the whole agnostic mindset which informs and deforms our society. We must re-vindicate Jesus Christ as the Lord of the Cosmos, of History and of the individual mind and heart. It is to nothing less than this task that Edward Holloway devoted his whole adult life.
A powerful and original mind
Holloway was by any measure a great and original mind, although he remained all his life a pastoral priest, still active even long into retirement, right up to a week before his death at the age of eighty-one. In the end it is how he would have wanted it. It was where his heart was, with God and with the people.
He had obtained the Licentiates in both Philosophy and Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University which were standard for those who trained in Rome in his time, but was quickly recognised by leading professors as a truly brilliant student. (Fr Bernard Leeming SJ remained a friend and admiring critic all his life). However, to their dismay, and naturally to his own at the time, he was refused permission to do a doctorate by ecclesiastical authority which was suspicious of his originality and fearful of his ability to communicate with and inspire especially the young.
Such were the times of distrust and authoritarianism in the ante-deluvian days “before the Council”. It would be wonderful to be able to say that all that changed with Vatican II. Edward himself dreamed of it, welcoming the Council and longing for its true fruits to ripen. But as he once put it in a typical remark: “Then we hopped on the right foot, now we hop on the left. I wish that one day we would learn to walk!” 
A pastoral and spiritual theology
However, all things work to the good. Immersed in pastoral work, with all the distractions, affections, and heartaches of parish life, he still set about the task of renewing and developing the framework of Catholic thought for the twentieth century and beyond. In the end this gave to his thought a warmth and humanity and also a vivid and memorable use of imagery, which came naturally to him as a preacher and catechist, but is so often lacking in more scholastic works. His theology is a reflection which is primarily spiritual in focus and pastoral in concern, rather than dry and academic.
Edward was nothing if not a passionately committed priest. He sometimes wrote like a prophet, words flowing from a mind teeming with concern for God’s cause and for his people’s souls. At times it made the torrent of words difficult to follow and occasionally fiery. But it was really his intense concern for the salvation of God’s little ones which could on occasions sharpen his pen and barb his wit. At its best this gives his work a wonderful sense of humour which can be as illuminating as it is entertaining.
His style is not the disinterested debate of the senior common room. He wrote with a passion born of both love and pain; love of Christ and of His Church, and the pain of a pastor who deals daily with the wounds and agonies of his people. For him his writing was part of his caring. He knew that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword and ‘truth’ is no mere abstract concern.
A living vision of truth
He saw truth as an aspect of being. So right doctrine makes a profound difference in the lives of individuals and societies. Truth without love is indeed cold and lame, but love without truth is blind and diffuse. He was the champion of a new intellectual catechesis for today’s very educated generations, but not of any mere intellectualism.
He knew that catechesis which is purely pious and voluntarist (i.e. addressed only to the will, exhorting to ‘do good, be good’ and seeking to evoke emotional experience without giving any vision of the coherence and truth of God’s works), does not hold the young. Teenagers are actually embarrassed and frequently sarcastic about middle-aged ‘spiritual’ unctuousness and ‘holy’ language. They are impressed by clarity of argument and conviction, and direct moral challenge coupled with patient, loving and honest friendship. It’s no good simply telling them to love Jesus, we must tell them about the Jesus they can love as an experience and effectively to directly engage the minds of the young with authentic truth, explained in a lively and jargon free manner, with a sense of joy and shared friendship in God is an act of love and it is received as such. To nourish the mind is also to feed the heart.
He outlined these pastoral principles in an article, since published as Christian Formation by Faith Pamphlets. Others of his shorter works, which are also published as Faith Pamphlets, and many as yet unpublished gems from his ordinary parish newsletters, reveal the effectiveness of this living vision of Christian truth - simultaneously doctrinal, moral, spiritual and practical.
His penetrating intellect and voluminous historical knowledge also meant that he was acutely aware of the impact of falsehood on the lives of individuals and societies. Holloway stuck his neck out on occasions to protest against teachings and principles, and the practices he perceived to be informed by them, which derogate in one way or another from the fully divine Jesus Christ.
The unity of God’s wisdom and works
He always thought it better to light a candle than curse the darkness, and his theology is a positive and often exhilarating light in the confusion of the times. His best writing simply leaves one praying and sharing that sense of wonder at the sheer beauty of the Mind of God, which obviously remained with him and drove him to continuous exploration and speculation in the realms of truth deep into old age.
He offers a clear way through for both ‘traditional’ and ‘progressive’ temperaments - a return to Christ in all his majesty as the Way, the Truth and the Life for the modern world, bringing things both old and new out of his treasure store. Theology was no mere bookish, political or legalistic concern for him. It is “attaining to the Mind of God - existentially”. It is an activity inseparable from prayer and the total work of holiness, the work of Christ in the soul.
Although profoundly philosophical, the whole thrust of Holloway’s work was to move away from the perception of truth as abstract and notional. A vital underlying theme of his thought was to make a synthesis between the ‘essential’ (the formal expression of meaning on a universal level) and the ‘existential’ (the lived experience and the particular real). For him the development of doctrine does not simply derive from progress in thought and ideas, but is an aspect of the deepening in being and communion of both mind and heart which is the gift of God to his Church in Christ.
He would trace the first moment of that manifestation of Wisdom through which creatures are raised up to share in the very Life and Being of God, right back to the creative act of the Almighty which initiates the Cosmos in the beginning. This enables him to draw the mind in wonder also to the unity and coherence of God’s wisdom and purposes throughout every aspect of creation and salvation.
What we mean by ‘Synthesis’
This note of Synthesis is in fact the key note to all his work. For him there is only one Wisdom — whether scientific, philosophical or theological — for they all come from the Mind of God. In the end every field of learning, as indeed all reality, links up on a single principle.
To an Aquinas such an idea would have seemed obvious, but in our time many think that synthesis is no longer possible because of the disparate expansion of learning and the different methodologies entailed in each field. To publish a book called Catholicism: A New Synthesis in this age was seen by some as either naïve or arrogant. It was certainly bold and daring, and in fact a careful reading reveals its startling success, although Holloway insisted that it is the mere beginning of work in progress which needs to be taken up, further developed and refined by other minds.
By ‘Synthesis’ Holloway did not mean an all-encompassing intellectual straightjacket - a neatly packaged last word on every detailed talent of knowledge - far from it. That was the tendency of the stale remains of the scholastic synthesis, based on inductive Aristotelian thought, which formed the intellectual diet he grew up with and himself found unsatisfying.
In the hands of St. Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle had been pressed into the service of Catholicism with great success in the thirteenth century, but the inadequacy of this static world picture, based on a pre-scientific understanding of the cosmos, to cope with new advances in the sciences over the last hundred years was, Holloway maintained, the principal cause of the chaos and rebellion in the decades following the Council.
Answering an agnostic world
The crisis of our times is not just one of restlessness, arrogance and unfaithfulness. It is more fundamental than that. It is a crisis of confidence in the credibility of the faith itself, which has trickled down from the agnostic intellectuals of fifty years ago to create a completely agnostic society, inevitably on the brink of collapse.
It should not be surprising that this same crisis affects the Church. The lack of an agreed apologetic framework through which to think, teach, love and pray the faith, one which truly answers the agnosticism of our times, has opened the door to that same uncertainty and subjectivity in doctrine and discipline inside the Church.
So while he welcomed the re-establishment of ‘neo-orthodoxy’ and the reassertion of key teachings and disciplines in many parts of the Church in recent years, Holloway by no means saw this as the whole solution. A new ‘synthesis’ of revealed wisdom (in itself unchanging) and human science (where progress through discovery and reflection is always possible) is called for. But now it must be one which takes account of the dynamism of the unfolding energies of the universe, and the awareness of historical development in thought.
The impact of the scientific revolution: an evolutionary world view
This new synthesis is not a once and for all answer to every conceivable question, but a set of core principles which are capable of being thought through into all areas, and capable of development themselves. Indeed what he outlined claims to be a profound insight into the principle, or Law, of the dynamic development in stability and equilibrium, or ‘Evolution’, of reality itself as framed by the Mind of God.
It is immediately obvious that at least the conception of such a project has something in common with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and, in his own way, with Karl Rahner. However Holloway regarded both of these attempts as deeply flawed in their first principles and hence as incompatible with orthodox Catholicism in many of their conclusions. More orthodox minds like de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar have also set out to synthesise Catholicism with contemporary culture and learning, but for all the beauty and spirituality of their work, their failure to address the great questions thrown up by Science leaves their systems ultimately un-synthetic.
This failure of orthodox minds on the one hand to tackle the scientific challenge, and of some of our cleverest intellectuals, on the other hand, to remain loyal to orthodoxy, sums up the root of our crisis. In this sense too Holloway’s work offers a synthesis — a way out of the crisis which is both orthodox and modern, true to divine revelation as defined by the Church and to contemporary science.
Vindicating Catholic orthodoxy
The starting point of Holloway’s theology is quite explicitly an unequivocal acceptance of what is revealed, as defined by the Catholic Church, and a deep respect for the accumulated tradition of Catholic thought. He saw the urgent need to take on board the essential truth of an evolutionary world view, but his overriding concern was also to re-vindicate the objective nature of reality and truth and the transcendence of God and therefore the absolute and unchanging priority of revealed doctrine, moral precept and supernatural grace, within that perspective.
True development of doctrine can only be made on the basis of a faithful continuity of principle with what has already been defined, just as true theology can only be done in the spirit of loyal service of the magisterium. His major work, Catholicism: A New Synthesis, is explicitly prefaced with the caveat of eventual confirmation or correction by the solemn teaching office of the Church, and his work is a most cogent and inspiring defence of Catholic orthodoxy.
New approaches to old questions
However he was not actually a conservative by temperament and his theology is not at all reactionary nor merely doctrinally assertive. He could be critical of the presumptions and theories, in matters undefined, of theological schools of the past. He would quarry the tradition for better approaches and frequently offer original and more elegant solutions to time honoured problems.
This is particularly exemplified by his approach to the question of original sin, but many other issues are tackled in the editorials he wrote for Faith Magazine between 1970 and 1990. These articles often brought out his clearest writing and his most inspiring theology and the best of them are soon to be republished in collated form we hope.
He saw the truth fighting a battle on two fronts, as ever, between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Whilst in liberal circles loyalty to the magisterium is often regarded as slavish and uncritical, in neo-orthodox company it is not uncommon to hear not only the need for a ‘new’ synthesis questioned, but the need for any ‘synthesis’ at all. Why not just have the simple, straightforward Catholic faith, unassociated with any theological school or cachet?
Actually, unless one simply recites verbatim the texts from Denziger/Schonmetzer (the Enchiridion of defined doctrines), it is impossible to preach or catechise without some ‘synthesis’ of faith and reason, even if only a subconscious or presumed one. The key question is which one, or rather, on what basic principles one works it out.
The core of the modern crisis
The question around which the crisis in most modern theology revolves can be summed up as that of immanence and transcendence, the historical and the timeless, the relative and the absolute. It can be put in a much more concrete form simply as “how much is matter and how much is mind?”
For if matter is all, - or there is only one fundamental energy which defines both the ‘material’ and ‘spiritual’ - then everything must be always evolving into some new and unknown form. All ‘truth’, therefore, is relative to our own minds limited by our time in history and our particular culture.
This is the presumption underlying the whole ‘modern’ revolution which all but dominates the intellectual and social landscape of our times, in theology too as much as in the secular arena.
On the other hand, if we maintain a clear distinction between matter and spirit, but fail to relate them in any intrinsic way, then the criticism made by ‘modernity’ that the older world view was static and formalist, leaving an arbitrary dislocation between God ‘up there’ and historical and personal experience, can seem to hold some validity.
The working title of Catholicism: A New Synthesis was in fact Matter and Mind: A Timely Synthesis, the published title coming about because he realised that this question underlies the whole contemporary interface of faith and culture. Holloway by no means rejects the scholastic tradition of philosophy and theology but does present a substantial development of its basic principles, in the process bringing about a comprehensive realignment of its details.
The Principle of Control and Direction
The major achievement of the new synthesis he offers is that it manages to capture the truth of divine immanence and created relativity without compromising the transcendence of spirit and objectivity of truth. By the same token he can uphold the priority of the supernatural without making it distant or only arbitrarily related to historical reality. It is at this important level that Holloway’s claim to offer a new synthesis stands at its most profound and fruitful. 
The principle which allows him to achieve this is termed “The Unity Law of Control and Direction”. Creation is not all of one order and energy, and yet it is all ordered according to one principle of Wisdom. It means that nothing controls itself and nothing is its own fulfilment. No creature is self-sufficient and nothing pulls itself up by its own bootstraps. Everything must look above and beyond itself to find the key to its own existence and the realisation of its potential.
In philosophical terms this means that the immanent and material must always find its objective point of reference in the transcendent and spiritual which is always logically prior. Again this can be put in a much more concrete and accessible form as “Matter is that which is controlled and directed; Mind is that which controls and directs.”
Everything relative to Absolute Mind
It is precisely the interlocking, mutual relativity of the material world, and the dynamic ascent of being, which argues the certainty of God. The unfolding history of the cosmos is not a self-generating and self-developing process. All things are relative because they are relative to an Absolute Mind. Far from evolution being a random and open ended shuffling of genetic material adrift in a sea of time and space, the whole cosmos is a vast equation which unfolds in a specific direction under the Control and Direction of the Mind of God. Everything within it is built according to the principle of control and direction, which ensures that everything seeks its good and its true within the environment of other creatures. As a whole and in all its parts it is shot through with meaning and purpose.
Such a starting point has profound implications for development in metaphysics too. Holloway began to spell these out more fully in his three volumes of Perspectives in Philosophy. In these he proposes a highly convincing readjustment of the old ideas of ‘matter’ and ‘form’, overcoming some of the difficulties inherent in the scholastic theory of a real distinction between the principles of ‘act’ and ‘potency’ as dual constituents of reality, especially in the light of modern scientific knowledge. In doing so he challenges the unfortunate notion that metaphysics is nothing to do with physics and finally resolves the impasse concerning objective knowledge thrown up by Immanuel Kant. In my own estimation, therefore, they represent the most original and exciting philosophy written for at least the last three hundred years!
Naturally it is the broad outline of his theological synthesis which is most accessible and engaging, but he is able to relate his philosophy to his theological reflection on the history of salvation in a seamless way precisely because he sees creation and salvation as the sequential manifestation of a single divine Wisdom and Plan. This makes both his philosophy and theology less abstract and formal, thoroughly scriptural in tone, and yet rooted in a realist metaphysic. His deeply elaborated philosophical system underpins all his writing, grounding it with an impressive coherence and consistency.
Body and soul: the crucial question
It is the question of the place of humanity in Evolution which above all provides the hinge between his philosophy and theology, between creation and salvation history. And by that very token it is here that the question of the relationship between matter and mind comes sharply into focus. Once again he is able to preserve the essential distinction between matter and spirit, body and soul, but yet maintain a unity of principle in the nature and personality of Man.
The spiritual soul does not evolve or emerge from the potential of matter, but neither is it an arbitrary add-on to an otherwise complete creature. On the principle of control and direction, nature demands that, when a creature emerges with a brain too powerful for the environment to hold in meaningful stimulation and coordinated response, something new must be done. The soul must be created to be the driving and steering force of this new being. At the achievement of its highest material synthesis matter must be integrated directly into the principle of ‘mind’ to give it its identity, meaning and purpose.
The key to human nature therefore lies in both the organic inheritance of evolution through the brain, which is instinct with natural law, harmonic order and finely tuned mutual balance, and in the free, dynamic seeking of truth and values and their free administration by the directly created spirit. So we ourselves are a synthesis - of matter and mind.
Immediately there must be the expectation of Revelation and Religion. According to the same principle of control and direction Man must look above himself for the answer to his own need for wisdom and love. We do not look to a blank horizon for a God who is silent and absent in his transcendence. For God is our true environment, immediate, present and involved. “In him we live and move and have our being”, and it is, or ought to be, as natural as breathing for the spiritual creature to ‘walk with’ the God of whom our heart has spoken: “seek his face”.
God and man: at the heart of synthesis
His grace is as the sunshine to our spirits. For nothing is neutral to God. And yet it remains true that we can only receive Him as a freely given gift. For nothing can constrain God. This apparent paradox lies close to the heart of the whole question of the transcendent and the immanent, the natural and the supernatural. We do not have a set of ‘natural’ goods and ends in which we can rest and be happy, we have only a supernatural end - “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they rest in You” - and yet no creature can make a claim on God which obliges Him.
The Unity Law gives us a clue to an answer here too. Just as the spiritual does not emerge from the physical, but matter is naturally integrated into mind by the law of its own constitution, so our own composite nature cannot give rise to ‘God’ nor summon up grace as an inherent dimension of our own historical existence, and yet we are adopted into divine communion as something essential to our nature. Grace by definition is gratuitous, but that does not mean that it is an optional extra or super-addition to our nature.
In short, we exist in the order of charity, but not of an arbitrary decree. It is the very Law of Nature - the Unity Law of Control and Direction - framed by God the Word, that leads to this peak which He alone can crown with His Incarnate Presence. In the end it is Christ, then, who is the key who resolves the paradox, the answer to the whole meaning and purpose of creation. Holloway is able to show how Jesus Christ is the One in whom our supernatural destiny is uniquely granted as a gift, at the same time as showing how He is the centre upon which all the laws of nature are aligned from the beginning, and in whom the Unity Law itself is fulfilled.
So whilst revelation is not the projection of our own religious consciousness, it is a natural expectation of man in history. It is the schooling of our minds and hearts, individually and socially, under the direct tutelage of our utterly transcendent and utterly loving Father, who draws us into a supernatural relationship through all that is natural.
The Word in history, a natural expectancy
The Judeo-Christian revelation is the objective and infallible communication of God’s Word. Its standard of interpretation is not the cultural presumptions and intellectual fashions of men, but the Mind of God through his Church. And yet there can be, there had to be, a real progression in that revelation through human history, which is definitively perfected in the Person of Christ and His saving work. For He is the literal Incarnation of the eternal Person of God the Word, and it is in Him and for Him as well as through Him that the Law of Creation was set out in the first place.
The onward drive of ‘Evolution’ therefore, does not lie in material mutation, nor in any fundamental change to human nature and its laws of good and true. It lies in the maturing of our relationship with God. The revelation of the Word, the building up of the Church and the ‘Covenant’, or family bond of communion between heaven and earth, these are natural to the constitution of the universe, but they do not come about by the laws of scientific inevitability. They are the work of providence, guaranteed by the play of Divine grace on free human spirits.
Original sin, then, is the disorientation of that combined, spiritual and material ‘life-sense’ of mankind by which we naturally seek fulfilment in God and harmony with one another. By the deliberate choice of evil, the first generation of mankind introduced into our nature a real disruption, a wounding of our natural integration into control and direction. This wound is passed on by the laws of inheritance and ripens in bitterness and destructive potential as a tragic consequence of the very progress of humanity towards the adulthood of control over the face of the earth which God originally intended for our blessing.
The Bible witnesses to the building up of the ‘kingdom of God’ on earth and the prophetic development of doctrine which is a further expression of the Unity Law of creation itself as God framed it. It also witnesses to the struggle to maintain the covenant between heaven and earth and the frequent failures and betrayals of ongoing sin. And above all it bears witness to The One Who is to Come - the Messiah.
The Messiah comes as a natural part of the Unity Law of Control and Direction to fulfilment. Everything in the Cosmos and everything in history has been a preparation for Him. And yet at the same time he is not the product of evolution or the human religious spirit. He is the Mind of God coming into his own domain and gathering it to Himself in order to complete its communion with the Father and to ‘buy back’ his broken inheritance among men.
The absolute primacy of Christ
It is crucial to Holloway’s work to see the Incarnation as the centre of everything — the ‘Master Key’ which unlocks the meaning of all orders of creation. It is in Jesus Christ that we are chosen from before the beginning of the world, to whom we belong naturally and supernaturally. Uniquely in Christ we find the identity and destiny of our own humanity in God. In this sense He is always our ‘Saviour’.
But the crucifying impact of sin on His humanity will be inevitable and devastating precisely because He is by right and vocation our final union with the Being of God. As ‘Redeemer’ he also gives Himself freely to apologise, reconcile, heal and refashion us from his own person as both Son of God and Son of Man. In Himself he restores to us our original destiny and goes on working to bring the whole created order to its final perfection in the life and glory of the Trinity for which it was created in the first place.
Such a vision of the absolute primacy of Christ is not unique to Holloway of course. It can undoubtedly be termed ‘Scotist’, but the unity and sweep of the perspective he offers actually goes beyond that rather technical debate in the history of theology. The integration of the theology of creation in which the very laws of matter are aligned on Christ allows, among other things, for a profound renewal of Christian eschatology, a new light on the meaning of the Immaculate Conception and a much needed line of thought about the sacramentality of the sexes in the plan of God.
A key that unlocks many doors
The theology of the Church too receives a neater integration into the rest of the Christian vision. Her hierarchical constitution, the sacramental principle which underpins all her saving activity, and likewise the necessity of the Catholic Church’s claim to infallibility in doctrine, can be shown clearly to flow directly from the Incarnation.
This means that, on Holloway’s perspective, they also flow out of the structure of nature and of human society as it is fulfilled in the direct and personal enfleshment of God the Son. The Eucharist too he expounds beautifully and fittingly, in an unequivocally Catholic sense, as the most natural as well as the fullest supernatural expression of the relationship of Christ to His People.
Always central to his writing is a fully orthodox defence of the literal divinity of the Person of Jesus Christ and also of his true human nature as Son of Man. But beyond, or better, within the language of tradition he is able to bring out a supremely existential vision of Jesus and of the relationship of our humanity to His. For him Jesus Christ is truly the key to human nature in a living and deeply personal way. The fulfilment of our various vocations of loving, and the integration of our desires and needs, is found by recognising that in all our relationships we share directly and intimately in some aspect of the Lord’s own universal mission of creative and redemptive love.
The ideas he explores have an impact on every area of Christian life and thought. He did not have time to explore them all, but tried to indicate the major outlines in key areas, making a particular contribution in moral theology. It is not difficult to see that the idea of Natural Law flows easily out of his vision of the Unity Law, especially as it applies to our own nature. Within that perspective he was a tireless expositor of a renewed vision of chastity in loving through a careful distinction between affection and the erotic in the experience of loving.
Along the same lines he also defended the principle behind Humanae Vitae with particular cogency, not as an isolated concern with sexual issues but as a vital aspect of the total vision of human nature integrated into Christ. He received the personal thanks of Pope Paul VI for doing so.
Just as frequently he addressed the great themes of the Church’s social teaching and current issues of social justice, beginning with a series of contributions to The Catholic Herald in the nineteen fifties, and continuing throughout his life, always drawing on the same principles that inform all his thought. Lastly mention must be made of his wide ranging pastoral reflections. They are notable for their balance of approach which was far from the rigidity of spirit which often infects those of a conservative and doctrinally orthodox mindset in the Church. Without compromise of moral truth, (indeed he often set out the immense challenge of a return to the standards of perfection of the early Church as essential for our time), his was a voice of patience, realism and loving encouragement in spiritual matters.
At the service of the Church
In the last analysis his ‘new synthesis’ gives us nothing other than the Catholic faith, but now repackaged and digitally re-mastered for our times. The recent Catechism of the Catholic Church also holds the ideal of presenting an organic account of the Faith. The convergence of his published work over the last forty years with the new Catechism (and Pope John Paul’s thought at certain points) is very encouraging.
The Catechism is coherent in its own terms, but it only hints at how it all connects with creation and therefore with human science. He would argue that it is only on the ‘Scotist’ perspective concerning the Incarnation that such a connection can realistically be made. If creation is originally envisaged and decreed without Christ, then there cannot be an intrinsic link between the history of the cosmos and salvation history. In that case matter would only be an adopted order, taken up into God for a secondary intention, not fundamentally orientated to the glory of God in Christ.
The Catechism does at several points touch on a more synthetic integration of all God’s works, commenting that “creation is revealed as the first step towards” the final Covenant of Love (CCC 288) and that” God created the world the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the convocation of men in Christ, and this convocation is the Church” (CCC 760). Holloway’s work has already considerably explored and developed this beautiful perspective as a service to the Church. It must now be further developed and promoted as a matter of urgency.
He was very clear that the source of originality in his thought did not come from his own insight. He had received from his mother, Agnes Holloway, some key intellectual and spiritual prompts with which to pursue this vital work. Her claim, in turn, was that these were given to her by divine prompting. As a young man Edward himself was understandably reluctant to accept this at first, but the synthetic and developmental power of the ideas, and their great value in vindicating the orthodox Catholic faith and re-evangelising modern, young minds was for him, and remains for others, their recommendation, rather than any spiritual claim as such, which must be left to the Church to judge.
Edward Holloway is not the founder of a ‘specialist’ movement or school going off at a tangent within the Church. He constantly reminded himself and his listeners that his work may need correcting at points and he would welcome anyone who could better it. The work he started is offered to the whole Church to meet the crisis of the times. Neither is there any personality cult of Edward Holloway among those who have caught the power of his ideas in the loose knit co-operative called the Faith Movement. We knew him too well! But we all owe him a great deal, above all for his intellectual legacy which, in the time of hope and renewal to come, may well be recognised for the great treasure it is.