The church is essentially conservative. Her conservatism is not merely a measure of prudence and good judgment; it is an intrinsic necessity. No matter what she may consider, decide, or undertake, she always harks back to the beginning.
After twenty [one] centuries the pillar and ground of truth has not moved a whit from her primitive position, while all other human foundations have either crumbled to dust or have been driven headlong by the maelstrom of this fast changing world. To these, the ideal looms hazily in the distant future; to the Church, it stands firmly in the distant past. The closer she aligns herself with Christ, the surer she is of ultimate success and victory, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone (Eph. 11:20).
The present volume is designed to serve as a ready survey and reference book on the history of the councils. It is to serve as an aid, primarily to the cleric or lay student who has neither the time nor the opportunity to delve into, and analyze sources and controversies, but who is satisfied to learn the outstanding facts and findings concerning which Church historians generally agree. This brief and positive sketch of the twenty great events in history, so vibrant with life and so far-reaching in their consequences, will afford him, we trust, a very definite and appreciable knowledge of the nature and history of Holy Mother Church.
Originally published in 1937, this re-issue of Fr. Raab s classic work on the history of the Ecumenical Councils did not include anything about Vatican II, because its convocation still lay in the future. We have not added to his work since so much has already been written of the newest Council elsewhere.