A Catholic Mind Awake

The Writings of Bernard Kelly

Bernard Kelly

Edited by Scott Randall Paine

Foreword by Philip Zaleski

Significant insights into metaphysics, spirituality, poetry, and social questions are lights usually sought in the work of at least four different competencies. A Catholic Mind Awake, however—“catholic” in both upper and lower case—presents us with an impressive array of such insights, all from a single mind. That Bernard Kelly was not a specialized academic (he worked as a bank clerk) makes the wellspring of these insights even more intriguing. A humble and thoughtful man, Kelly possessed a mind that moved with ease through philosophical queries ranging from Europe to India and back again, with a heart at home in the folds of contemplative prayer and Christian devotion, and a muse that sang with one of the most remarkable poets of modern English. He was also passionately committed to the problems of a world tottering between the contending behemoths of capitalism and communism. Both broad in its conspectus and penetrating in its analysis, the present collection thankfully allows this forgotten voice to speak again.

Praise for A Catholic Mind Awake

“Bernard Kelly was a truly great and wise scholar and thinker, one whose immense range of aptitudes, interests, and sympathies was born not only out of an enormous intellectual curiosity, but also—and perhaps more essentially—out of a huge reserve of Christian charity. This volume is overdue, and so now doubly a blessing.”

— DAVID BENTLEY HART, author of The Beauty of the Infinite and The Experience of God

“It would be a tragedy if Bernard Kelly’s unique contribution to Catholic thinking were to go unnoticed, unrecorded, and uncelebrated. In a world of theological confusion, ‘amidst th’encircling gloom’ as Cardinal Newman would say, Bernard Kelly was a beacon of light.”

— WILLIAM STODDART, author of Remembering in a World of Forgetting

“The articles and commentaries of this truly great man are simply magnificent: above all in his commentaries on Hindu religion, which in Christian literature are unsurpassed in their metaphysical comprehension and openness to all that is sacred and sublime—without however sacrificing one iota of Catholic truth. If von Balthasar is right in his prediction that ‘The Christian West’s engagement with India would rival its ancient engagement with Greece,’ one may surmise that Bernard Kelly stands at the forefront of that ecclesial endeavor.”

— WOLFGANG SMITH, author of Cosmos & Transcendence and The Quantum Enigma

“A work of startling cleanliness and depth, Bernard Kelly’s A Catholic Mind Awake is exceedingly fresh and urgently needed. It is not the work of a brainy theological essayist holding theoretical or abstractionist court, but of a concentrated and prayerful layman who, as he articulates searing truth permeated by heart, uncovers a veritable trove of philosophical, theological, metaphysical, religious, artistic, and cultural gems. With humility and balance, Kelly revisits a diversity of individual voices, schools of thought, and spiritual themes. In providing readers with new insights on Thomism, Vedanta, the theology of Beauty, A. K. Coomaraswamy, the meaning of work, and the spiritual necessity of poetry, he returns essential and textured legacies to relevance and radiance. BRAVO!”

— THERESE SCHROEDER-SHEKER, Chalice of Repose Project

About the Author

Bernard Kelly

Bernard Kelly (1907–1958) was an English Catholic layman who worked in a bank, raised a large family, and regularly penned, over 25 years, philosophical essays and book reviews for the Dominican journal Blackfriars, almost all of which are included in this new collection. His friendship with foremost British Thomists and leading distributists of his day, and with the Indian scholar Ananda Coomaraswamy—along with his love for the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins—permitted his short life to become the matrix of a rich body of writings.