Stanley Jaki and the Saviour of Science


On this day of the Summer Solstice, I think of how much I enjoy the calendar published by the Vatican Observatory, with beautiful photographs of the planets taken with its telescopes at its headquarters on the grounds of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

Rev. Stanley Jaki

Under the direct patronage of the pope, it is probably the oldest astronomical research institute in the world. Using it, Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor Gregory XIII was able to promulgate the Gregorian calendar in 1582, a tremendous scientific achievement which we still use.

In this connection I am also reminded of a dear friend and great priest who died in Madrid in April, having just given a lecture on science and religion in Rome. Father Stanley Jaki was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science. He was born in Hungary in 1924 and was trained as a Benedictine monk. Throughout his life he remained under obedience to the archabbot of Pannonhalma. Eventually he came to the United States and studied physics at Fordham with the Nobel laureate, Victor Hess, a pioneer in the study of cosmic rays. Father Jaki lectured throughout the world, and was Freemantle Lecturer at Oxford, Hoyt Fellow at Yale, and Gifford Lecturer at Edinburgh. For many years he lived in Princeton and was Distinguished Professor of Physics at Seton Hall. He received the Templeton Prize, which is the largest monetary award in the world, and used the prize money to help support his brother Benedictine monks. The theme of his more than fifty books was how the Catholic understanding of creation gave rise to modern physics and is the most substantial guide for the right use of theoretical physics and all physical sciences.

I am glad to say that we shared a common affinity for the writings of Newman and Chesterton. While he took no prisoners in academic debates, he had a splendid sense of humor, was an accomplished pianist, and particularly enjoyed the conversations of children. The rosary was a favorite devotion and he dutifully kept a daily Holy Hour which strengthened both his heart and brain (don't think he made a distinction between them).

He often said, "Science lives by hope no less than religion." His own priestly witness gave hope to many in his own day who might otherwise have lapsed into the "ennui" which is the moral infection of our present culture. Indeed, he knew with all great thinkers that there can be no culture without cult, which is worship. As Pope Benedict inaugurated the Year of Priests on the Feast of the Sacred Heart to help priests live priestly lives, we should also give thanks to the "Saviour of Science," as Father Jaki called Our Lord, for priests who have already finished their earthly work.


1966. The Relevance of Physics. University of Chicago Press.
1969. Brain, Mind and Computers. Herder & Herder.
1969. The Paradox of Olbers' Paradox. Herder & Herder.
1973. The Milky Way: an Elusive Road for Science. New York: Science History Publications.
1974. Science and Creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.
1978. Planets and Planetarians. A History of Theories of the Origin of Planetary Systems. John Wiley & Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.
1978. The Road of Science and the Ways to God. Univ. of Chicago Press, and Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.
1978. The Origin of Science and the Science of its Origins. Scottish Academic Press.
1980. Cosmos and Creator. Scottish Academic Press.
1983. Angels, Apes and Men. La Salle IL: Sherwood, Sugden & Co.
1984. Uneasy Genius. The Life and Work of Pierre Duhem. The Hague: Nyhoff.
1986. Chesterton, a Seer of Science. University of Illinois Press.
1986. Lord Gifford and His Lectures. A Centenary Retrospective. Edinburgh: Scottish Academis Press: Mercer University Press.
1986. Chance or Reality and Other Essays. Lanham, MD: University Press of America & ISI.
1988. The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays. Lanham, MD: University Press of America & ISI.
2000 (1988). The Savior of Science. W. B. Eerdmans.
1989. Miracles and Physics. Front Royal. VA.: Christendom Press.
1989. God and the Cosmologists. Regnery Gateway Inc.; Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press. The Purpose of it All (alternate title for God and the Cosmologists)
1990. The Only Chaos and Other Essays. Lanham MD: University Press of America & ISI.
1991. Scientist and Catholic, An Essay on Pierre Duhem. Front Royal VA: Christendom Press.
1994 Patterns or Principles & Other Essays. ISI
1998 (1992) Genesis 1 Through the Ages. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.
1999. Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
1996. Bible And Science. Front Royal, VA: Christendom Press.
2000. The Limits of a Limitless Science and Other Essays. Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
2000. Newman's Challenge. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
2001. Praying the Psalms: A Commentary. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
2002. A Mind's Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids.
2004. And On This Rock: Witness Of One Land & Two Covenants. Christendom Press.
2008. Hail Mary, full of grace: A Commentary. New Hope, KY: Real View Books.



Father George William Rutler. Weekly Column for June 21, 2009.

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 16 books, including: Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2009 Father George W. Rutler

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