Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pope Explains Influence of Boethius, Cassidorus

Vatican, Mar. 12, 2008 ( - At his regular weekly public audience on March 12, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) continued his series of talks on the early Church fathers, with short talks on Boethius and Cassiodorus.

Speaking first about Boethius, the Pope recalled that the philosopher was born into a noble family in 480, and pursued philosophical studies avidly while serving as a public official. Boethius, he said, made one of the early efforts to bring classical Greek and Roman philosophy into accord with Christian revelation. "Precisely for this reason," the Pope observed, "Boethius has been called the last great representative of ancient Roman culture and the first of the mediaeval intellectuals."

The victim of a political plot, Boethius was jailed and eventually executed. During his imprisonment he wrote his greatest work, The Consolation of Philosophy, explaining that in times of trouble and in the face of injustice, the truth "is the true medicine of the soul." True happiness can come only from within the individual's soul, Boethius taught, and "God remains the supreme good toward which all human beings tend, even without knowing it."

Pope Benedict reflected on the absurdity and injustice of the situation faced by those who, like Boethius, suffer and die "for no other reason than their political and religious ideals." Boethius, he said, saw the link between his suffering and that of the unjustly condemned Christ.

Next the Holy Father spoke about Marcus Aurelius Cassiodorus, a contemporary of Boethius, who was also deeply involved with the cultural life of his time. Cassiodorus was dedicated to "recovering, conserving, and handing down the immense cultural patrimony of the ancients," and founded a monastic community devoted to that cuase.

Cassiodorus, the Pope said, recognized that the ultimate aim of monastic life is contemplation of God. However he added the idea that "the 'profane' tools of culture" can help the believer to gain new insights into the message of the Gospel.

That idea is particularly important to the modern world, Pope Benedict said. At a time of cultural clashes, he said, we should learn from Cassiodorus the importance of preserving a cultural patrimony and transmitting the moral content of the Christian tradition.

1 comment:

swissmiss said...

Very interesting, V. I'll have to put learning about these philosophers on my homeschool list...maybe not for Kindergarten but first grade ;} Just one more thing I never learned about in public school or Catholic college. Hard to believe I spent so much time in school and never really learned anything edifying.