Matthias Joseph Scheeben

Matthias Joseph Scheeben (Meckenheim, Rhine Province, 1 March 1835 – Cologne, 21 July 1888) was a German Catholic theological writer and mystic.

Matthias Joseph Scheeben
Matthias Joseph Scheeben


Scheeben studied at the Gregorian University at Rome under Carlo Passaglia and Giovanni Perrone from 1852 to 1859 and lived in Collegium Germanicum. He was ordained to the priesthood on 18 December 1858. He taught dogmatic theology at the diocesan seminary of Cologne from 1860 to 1875.[1]


In Scheeben's own words, the practical aim of his theology was "to make the Christian feel happy about his faith. Because the beauty and eminence of our faith consist in this: that through the mysteries of grace it raises our nature to an immeasurably high plane and presents to us an inexpressibly intimate union with God."[2]


Scheeben's mind reveled in speculating on Divine grace, the hypostatic union, the beatific vision, the all-pervading presence of God; he was a firm believer in visions granted to himself and others, and his piety was all-absorbing. Very few minds were attuned to his. His pupils were allegedly overawed by the steady flow of his long abstruse sentences which brought scanty light to their intellects; his colleagues and his friends but rarely disturbed the peace of the workroom where his spirit brooded over a chaos of literary matters.[1]


The list of Scheeben's works opens with three treatises dealing with grace:

  1. Natur und Gnade: Versuch einer systematischen, wissenschaftlichen Darstellung der natürlichen und übernatürlichen Lebensordnung im Menschen[3] (Mainz: Franz Kirchheim, 1861). This work by Scheeben was translated from German into English by Cyril Oscar Vollert, SJ.[4] Vollert's English translation was published under the title Nature and Grace (St. Louis & London: B. Herder Book Co., 1954).
  2. Quid est homo: sive controversia de statu purae naturae, qua ratio simul et finis oeconomiae Dei erga homines supernaturalis: uberrime demonstratur ex Patrum praesertim sententia[5] (Mainz: Franz Kirchheim; Rome: Joseph Spithöver, 1862). This was not an original work by Scheeben, but rather a new edition of a work which Antonio Casini, SJ[6] (1687-1755) had published in 1724. Scheeben's 1862 edition of Casini's work contained the text of the original work, plus an Introduction and notes provided by Scheeben. According to Cyril O. Vollert (see Vollert's "Foreword" to Scheeben's Nature and Grace), Scheeben's purpose in publishing this edition of Casini's work was "to supply a patristic foundation for Nature and Grace." Casini's original work was titled R. P. Antonii Casini e Societate Jesu, Controversia de statu purae naturae in compendium redacta: et ad linguarum Ebraicae et Graecae publicam exercitationem adhibita a Philippo Dazon in Collegio Romano auspiciis eminentiss. ac reverendiss. principis Melchioris de Polignac S.R.E. cardinalis amplissimi (Romae: Typis de Martiis, 1724).
  3. Die Herrlichkeiten der göttlichen gnade. Freiburg: 1863. 8th ed. by A.M. Weiss, 1908. "... the work is popular in scope and became enormously successful. An English translation, The Glories of Divine Grace, appeared during Scheeben’s lifetime ..." (Vollert x)
  4. Mysterien des Christenthums. Freiburg: 1865–97. Trans. The Mysteries of Christianity. This is "... Scheeben's most famous book ... There is no other work quite like it in the vast history of Christian literature." (Vollert xi)
  5. Five pamphlets in defence of the Vatican Council, directed against Ignaz von Döllinger, Johann Friedrich von Schulte, and other Old Catholics.
  6. Handbuch der katholischen Dogmatik. 7 parts. Freiburg: 1873–87.

The author did not finish this last; he died whilst working on "Grace". The missing treatises were supplied in German by Dr. Leonhard Atzberger (Freiburg, 1898). In English the missing treatises were supplied by Wilhelm and Scannel, who whilst strictly adhering to Scheeben's thought, reduced the bulky work to two handy volumes entitled: A Manual of Catholic Theology based on Scheeben's Dogmatik (3rd ed., 1906). The process of publishing an English translation of the unabridged original text began in 2019, when Michael J. Miller's translation (titled, Handbook of Catholic Dogmatics, Book One: Theological Epistemology, Part One: The Objective Principles of Theological Knowledge) was published by Emmaus Academic. The publisher hopes to continue this monumental task in service of making this classic of Scheeben available, unabridged, to English readers.

Scheeben also wrote a two-volume work "Mariology," later translated into English.

He founded and edited (1867–88) the Kölner Pastoralblatt and edited for thirteen years Das ökumenische Concil vom Jahre 1869, later (after 1872) entitled Periodische Blätter zu wissenschaftlichen Besprechung der grossen religiösen Fragen der Gegenwart.


  1. ^ a b "Matthias Joseph Scheeben". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ Scheeben, Herrlichkeiten der Göttlichen Gnade (Magnificence of Divine Grace). Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, p. 3; as quoted in Scheeben, The Holy Spirit, compiled by Friedrich Fuchs, SVD, translated by Leon Jungblut, SVD. Allahabad, India: St Paul Publications, 1974, pp. 152–3.
  3. ^ English translation: Nature and Grace: An Attempt at a Systematic, Scientific Presentation of the Natural and Supernatural Order of Life in Man
  4. ^ Cyril Oscar Vollert, SJ (June 15, 1901 - June 27, 1980)
  5. ^ English translation: What is man? Or controversy over the state of pure nature, in which the reason for, and goal of, the supernatural providence of God in relation to men is abundantly explained, especially by statements from the Fathers
  6. ^ Antonio Casini, SJ (August 5, 1687 - January 4, 1755). Common variations of his name include: Antonius Casini, Antonius Casinius, and Antonio Cassini.

External links


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Matthias Joseph Scheeben" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

Aidan Nichols

John Christopher "Aidan" Nichols (born 17 September 1948) is an English academic and Catholic priest. In 2019, Nichols was the most prominent of 19 Catholic academics and priests who urged bishops to denounce Pope Francis as a heretic.Nichols served as the first John Paul II Memorial Visiting Lecturer at the University of Oxford for 2006 to 2008, the first lectureship of Catholic theology at that university since the Reformation. He is a member of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) and is former Prior and current Sub-Prior of the Priory of St Michael the Archangel in Cambridge.

Benedict of Aniane

Saint Benedict of Aniane (Latin: Benedictus Anianensis; German: Benedikt von Aniane; c. 747 – 12 February 821 AD), born Witiza and called the Second Benedict, was a Benedictine monk and monastic reformer, who left a large imprint on the religious practice of the Carolingian Empire. His feast day is February 12.

Catholic moral theology

Catholic moral theology is a major category of doctrine in the Catholic Church, equivalent to a religious ethics. Moral theology encompasses Roman Catholic social teaching, Catholic medical ethics, sexual ethics, and various doctrines on individual moral virtue and moral theory. It can be distinguished as dealing with "how one is to act", in contrast to dogmatic theology which proposes "what one is to believe".

Cum occasione

Cum occasione[1] is an apostolic constitution in the form of a papal bull promulgated by Pope Innocent X in 1653 which condemned five propositions said to have been found in Cornelius Jansen's Augustinus as heretical.The five errors of Jansen on Grace condemned in Cum occasione are:

"Some of God's commandments are impossible to just men who wish and strive to keep them, considering the powers they actually have; the grace by which these precepts may become possible is also wanting to them."

"In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace."Otten, 1918 & Denzinger 2012

"In order to merit or demerit, in the state of fallen nature, we must be free from all external constraint, but not from interior necessity."

"The Semi-Pelagians admitted the necessity of interior preventing grace for all acts, even for the beginning of faith; but they fell into heresy in pretending that this grace is such that man may either follow or resist it."

"It is Semi-Pelagian to say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men."Bernard Otten explained, in A manual of the history of dogmas, that the first four of these propositions are absolutely condemned as heretical; while the fifth is condemned as heretical when taken in the sense that Christ died only for the predestined.

Devotio Moderna

Devotio Moderna, or Modern Devotion, was a movement for religious reform, calling for apostolic renewal through the rediscovery of genuine pious practices such as humility, obedience, and simplicity of life. It began in the late fourteenth-century, largely through the work of Gerard Groote, and flourished in the Low Countries and Germany in the fifteenth century, but came to an end with the Protestant Reformation. It is most known today through its influence on Thomas à Kempis, the author of The Imitation of Christ, a book which proved highly influential for centuries.

Emmanuel Mounier

Emmanuel Mounier (; French: [munje]; 1 April 1905 – 22 March 1950) was a French philosopher, theologian, teacher and essayist.

Geert Groote

Gerard Groote (October 1340 – 20 August 1384), otherwise Gerrit or Gerhard Groet, in Latin Gerardus Magnus, was a Dutch Roman Catholic deacon, who was a popular preacher and the founder of the Brethren of the Common Life. He was a key figure in the Devotio Moderna movement.

Johann Baptist Metz

Johann Baptist Metz (born 5 August 1928) is a German Catholic theologian. He is Ordinary Professor of Fundamental Theology, Emeritus, at Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster, Germany.

Joseph Hergenröther

Joseph Hergenröther (15 September 1824 – 3 October 1890) was a German Church historian and canonist, and the first Cardinal-Prefect of the Vatican Archives.

Joseph Maréchal

Joseph Maréchal (1 July 1878 – 11 December 1944) was a Belgian Jesuit priest, philosopher, theologian and psychologist. He taught at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the University of Leuven and was the founder of the school of thought called transcendental Thomism, which attempted to merge the theological and philosophical thought of St. Thomas Aquinas with that of Immanuel Kant.

List of Catholic philosophers and theologians

This is a list of Catholic philosophers and theologians whose Catholicism is important to their works. The names are ordered by date of birth in order to give a rough sense of influence between thinkers.

Luigi Taparelli

Luigi Taparelli (born Prospero Taparelli d'Azeglio; 1793–1862) was an Italian Catholic scholar of the Society of Jesus who coined the term social justice.

Luis de Molina

Luis de Molina (; 29 September 1535, Cuenca, Spain – 12 October 1600, Madrid, Spain) was a Spanish Jesuit priest and scholastic, a staunch defender of free will in the controversy over human liberty and God's grace. His theology is known as Molinism.

Léon Bloy

Léon Bloy (1846–1917) was a French novelist, essayist, pamphleteer, and poet.

Michał Heller

Michał Kazimierz Heller (born 12 March 1936 in Tarnów) is a Polish professor of philosophy at the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Kraków, Poland, and an adjunct member of the Vatican Observatory staff. He also serves as a lecturer in the philosophy of science and logic at the Theological Institute in Tarnów. A Roman Catholic priest belonging to the diocese of Tarnów, Heller was ordained in 1959. In 2008 he received the Templeton Prize for his works in the field of philosophy.

Peter Kreeft

Peter John Kreeft (; born 1937) is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College. He is the author of over a hundred books on Christian philosophy, theology and apologetics. He also formulated, together with Ronald K. Tacelli, "Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God".

Romano Guardini

Romano Guardini (17 February 1885 – 1 October 1968) was an Italian-born German Catholic priest, author, and academic. He was one of the most important figures in Catholic intellectual life in the 20th century.

Scott Hahn

Scott W. Hahn (born October 28, 1957) is an American Roman Catholic theologian. A former Presbyterian who converted to Catholicism, Hahn's popular works include Rome Sweet Home and The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. His lectures have been featured in multiple audio distributions through Lighthouse Catholic Media. Dr. Hahn is known for his research on early Christianity during the Apostolic Age and various theoretical works concerning the early Church Fathers.

Hahn presently teaches at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Catholic university in the United States. He has also lectured at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. Hahn is married to Kimberly Hahn, who co-runs their Catholic apostolate, the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

Siger of Brabant

Siger of Brabant (Sigerus, Sighier, Sigieri or Sygerius de Brabantia; c. 1240 – before 10 November 1284) was a 13th-century philosopher from the southern Low Countries who was an important proponent of Averroism. He was considered a radical by the conservative members of the Roman Catholic Church, but it is suggested that he played as important a role as his contemporary Thomas Aquinas in the shaping of Western attitudes towards faith and reason.

Early Church
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Mysticism and reforms
19th century
20th century
21st century

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.