Two impressive works "Jesus the Divine Teacher" and "The Deposit of Faith: What the Catholic Church Really Believes" have recently appeared to reveal further the rich Catechetical Legacy of Msgr. Eugene Kevane, Ph.D., who died in 1996 at the age of 83 as the Church's premier catechetical theorist in the United States. Readers of the latter work are indebted to his brother Raymond A. Kevane, STL, JCD, for publishing it with the proofreading and editorial assistance of Canadian priest Fr. Paul J. McDonald whose own faith was immeasurably strengthened by Msgr. Kevane's earlier classic "Creed and Catechetics" published in 1977.
Msgr. Kevane was a giant in the field of education and Catechetics who distinguished himself as a profound analyst and critic of the post-conciliar disorders in religious education. Serving as a priest in the Diocese of Sioux Falls, he would become Dean of Education at Catholic University of America (1964-68), was appointed Founding Director of the Notre Dame Pontifical Catechetical Institute in Arlington, VA, and the Center for Family Catechetics by Cardinal John Wright who also wrote the Foreword to "Creed and Catechetics", a work which demolished the pretensions of the infamous "Dutch Catechism" to be a work of authentic Catholic catechesis. Msgr. Kevane also served as a professor of Catechetics on the faculties of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome; the Institute for Advanced Study of Catholic Doctrine at St. John's University in N.Y.; and Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.
It must be said that no priest was more cognizant of the distortions and errors that had taken place in the fields of Academic theology and Catechetics during the post-conciliar period than Msgr. Kevane who had personally witnessed the Modernist take-over in the Theology and Religious Education Departments at Catholic University of America. In many books and articles he is seen to have dedicated his entire priestly life to defend the unchanging Creed of the Church against the attacks of revisionists and "New Breed" religious educationists intent on changing the meaning of the Articles of Faith in order to adapt the Catholic Church to meet the alleged needs of the "modern world".
The assaults on the Church's revealed truths expressed in the early "Apostles' Creed" to Paul VI's "Credo of the People of God" by neo-Modernist religious educators represented for Msgr. Kevane the unbelief of those who had succumbed to the false (and fundamentally atheistic) philosophies of "Modernity" which threatened in no uncertain fashion to extinguish the revealed Faith handed down from Christ and the Apostles.
The great theme of Msgr. Kevane's two newly published works is one that has been largely ignored in the post-conciliar period. A "Deposit of Faith and Morals" exists. It comes from the Holy Trinity and in Jesus Christ's completion of Divine Revelation. It has been given to the Catholic Church by the Lord of History to be safeguarded against the many heresies which are the result of intellects gone astray and the inevitable appearance of "false prophets" in the history of the Church. He reminds readers who may overlook the fact that "Jesus' teaching is the Word of God", and that the Church he founded on Peter and the Apostles was a "Teaching Church with a definite content of doctrine". When a Catholic catechist (parent, priest, or bishop) teaches what the Apostolic Church teaches in her official catechisms, it is, in fact, the Word of God that is being handed on to the people.
Interestingly, Msgr. Kevane considers the beginning of the heresy of Modernism traceable to Pope Gregory XVI's 1835 condemnation of the teaching of Fr. George Hermes and certain other priests in German Universities who were using the Modern Philosophy of Descartes, Spinoza, Kant and Hegel to reinterpret the dogmas of the Catholic Faith. To those who have looked with academic detachment and bland indifference upon defective catechetical materials reviving the errrors stigmatized in Pope St. Pius X's fiery "Pascendi Dominici Gregis" (1907) and the Syllabus "Lamentabile Sane", Msgr. Kevane was always ready to point out:
"The Heresy of Modernism always constitutes an attack on Jesus Christ, an attack which has become more unrestrained as it has developed".
The heresies of a renewed Modernism,i.e., the Neo-Modernism that began to rear its ugly head shortly before and after Vatican II, remain based, he insisted, on the same fundamental error, i.e., the subjection of Catholic dogmas to philosophic interpretation seeking to alter the very meaning of the Church's Articles of Faith, for Catholic dogmas only constitute the faithful definition of the original meaning of Articles handed down from the Apostles of Christ. He observed that all Modernism (whether in its older or newer form) had been prophetically condemned by an Ecumenical Council of the Church (Vatican I) which defined the fact that:
"the teaching of faith, which God has revealed, has not been proposed as a philosophical discovery to be perfected by human ingenuity, but as a divine deposit handed over to the Spouse of Christ to be guarded faithfully and explained infallibly."
(Constitution "Dei Filius", chapter 4)
The disorders manifest in the priesthood and the religious education of the last four decades are due in part to the sorry neglect of that Christian Philosophy founded by St. Augustine and other Fathers of the Church which provided "a metaphysics of openness to the living God of Creation and Redemption" and served "as the natural foundation for handing on the sacred Deposit of Faith and Morals in its purity and integrity".
For all those who seek a scientific demonstration of the biblical foundation for catechesis, desire a helpful survey of how the Fathers of the Church (who were not, incidentally, "theologians" in the modern sense) instructed their catechumens in the Deposit of Faith and Morals, and how authentic catechetical doctrine constitutes the teaching of the Church's Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, these two books are indispensable. The scholarly references provided in both volumes provide a rich source of information on the biblical, theological, and philosophical aspects of contemporary Modernism's assault on the Church's "Deposit of Faith and Morals".
Msgr. Eugene Kevane was a true defender of the Catholic Faith who especially sought to aid Catholic parents resist the doctrinal corruption of their children being exposed to the tidal wave of Modernist catechetical texts and programs which have yet to subside. It is not surprising that he judged that the "Director of Religious Education" in a parish should be the priest-pastor. His was a prophetic voice that was sadly not heeded by all too many responsible for the disaster of "doctrineless religious education" that would alienate two generations of youth from the Church. As his brother wrote in an "Editor's note", Msgr. Kevane left behind him "an unparalleled legacy of devotion to God, to his Catholic Church, to the Holy See and to the dissemination of the Word of God which Jesus Christ entrusted to His Apostles". May his memory be eternal.
"Jesus the Divine Teacher" can be ordered from St. Vincent de Paul church, Box 71, Niagara on the Lake, ON (L0S 1JO) CANADA.
"The Deposit of Faith: What the Catholic Church Really Believes" is available from Author House, 1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomingdale, IN 47403. (Phone: 1-800-839-8640)