Leen, Edward

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Educator, retreat master, and spiritual writer; b. Abbeyfeale, Ireland, Aug. 17, 1885; d. Dublin, Nov. 10, 1944. Edward Thomas Leen grew up in a deeply religious family, which produced three priests, including Archbishop James Leen, CSSp, of Mauritius. Educated at Rockwell College, Cashel, he made his profession in the Congregation of the Holy Ghost at Chevilly, France, in 1909. After studying philosophy at University College, Dublin, he went to Rome in 1912, where he earned his doctorate in theology summa cum laude at the Gregorian University and earned the Pius X gold medal for excellence in dogmatic theology. After working for two years as a missionary in Nigeria, he returned to Dublin and became dean of studies and subsequently president of Blackrock College. He played a prominent role in the founding of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary (1924). In 1930 he joined the staff of the Spiritan Senior Seminary in Ireland, of which he became president in 1939. In the same year he made a tour of the United States, lecturing and preaching in many places. He was happy to note, "Far from finding people who were materialistic in their outlook, I have come in contact with a spirituality which has astounded me, and I would say abashed me."

A widely read spiritual writer, Leen established his reputation with a series of books that appeared rapidly after 1935. His spiritual outlook was deeply influenced by Dom Marmion, OSB, and Francis Libermann, CSSp. All his writings are thoroughly centered on Christ and present a synthesis of Christian wisdom, linking the person's own spiritual life to that of Christ.

His philosophy of Christian humanism, expounded in What Is Education? (1943), gave rise to many controversies, but its plea that catechetical instruction take a psychological rather than logical approach and stress God's love and mercy rather than His justice has finally been heard. His other works are Progress in Mental Prayer (1935); In the Likeness of Christ (1936); The Holy Ghost (1937); Why the Cross? (1938); The True Vine and Its Branches (1938); The Church Before Pilate (1939); and The Voice of a Priest, ed. by Bernard J. Kelly, CSSp (1946).

Bibliography: m. o'carroll, Edward Leen, C.S.Sp. (Westminster, Md. 1953).

[h. j. koren]