Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Best Religious Order and Poverty

Today's class discussed two questions from Thomas' Summa Theologiae, on The Best Religious Order and Poverty.  Students are asked, what was most striking to you about this week's readings?

A religious order's merits are not based on their austerity, austerity is a means to perfection.

Our Lord did not forbid all care, but only such as is excessive and hurtful.

I need to reconsider my definition of hospitality.

Religious are called to pay attention to their affections and the emphasis they place upon things and the people in their life.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Corpus Christi

One of our reading assignments for this week was the sequence Thomas composed for the Feast of Corpus Christi, Lauda Sion Salvatorem.

What are your favorite lines from the text?

Thou who knowest all things and canst do all things, who here feedest us mortals, make us there be Thy guests, the co-heirs, and companions of the heavenly citizens.

“This is the dogma given to Christians, that bread is changed into Flesh and wine into Blood. What thou dost not understand, what thou dost not see, a lively faith confirms in a supernatural manner.”

“Lo, the Bread of Angels is made the food of earthly pilgrims: truly it is the Bread of children, let it not be cast to dogs. It was prefigured in types,—when Isaac was immolated, when the Paschal Lamb was sacrificed, when Mann was given to the fathers.”

"...feed us and protect us: make us see good things in the land of the living."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Inaugural Sermons

Today, each one is asked to choose their favorite quotation from Thomas' Inaugural Sermons (1256)

'Heaven and earth will pass away by my words shall not pass away' Luke 21:33

"Therefore humility is required of them with respect to the learning that comes from listening."

"One skilled in speech should so speak as to teach, to delight and to change; that is, to teach the ignorant, to delight the bored and to change the lazy." Augustine, On Christian Doctrine 4:12

"But John, who soars to the heights of his divinity, is depicted as an eagle."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Aquinas on Boethius' De Trinitate

What is one thing that you will take away from this class today?

Thomas is able to synthesize a wide variety of sources even in something simple as a commentary. In just the preface of Boethius he references Aristotle, Hebrews, the Psalms and Augustine.

Thomas was a voice of reason in the life of faith.

Thomas' preachings were powerful enough that people wrote them and that's how we get them. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thomas the Man, and his Context

Today, we heard about different biographies of Thomas Aquinas.  We then began to speak about the medieval scholastic movement and its major figures. 

To my students, what do you take away from class today?

TA was a sturdy Midwest farm boy who was a brisk walker.  He also sought to make the faith clear for the common man. #FastWalkerSlowTalker

Aquinas was a teacher of teachers.

I was impressed with Aquinas' relationship with his family, they forbade him from joining the Order, yet after his entrance he maintained those relationships. Humility. -Br. Joseph Paul

I thought the synthesis of medieval thought and the influences of a veriety of strands on Aquinas was very helpful to my understanding. Edward Huff

Aquinas appeared to be a man of deep concentration and purpose in all things. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A New Semester Begins!

What one thing would you like to get out of this class?

A foundational understanding of Aquinas and that relationship to the bedrock beliefs of Roman Catholicism.

I want to be able to put Thomas Aquinas in his historical and theological context. #Aquinas

"This semester you will learn all there is to know about me, my predecessors and why I am still a big deal today." T.A. #nobigdeal #SummaTheologica #AIT

Another dead (but in a way still living) friend.

I hope to learn about TA's understanding of Scripture #CatenaAurea

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It is important to remember that not everything that somebody says should be accepted as truth for face value.  Some may be surprised to learn that Aquinas did not accept the Immaculate Conception, or the virginity of Mary, and her marriage to Joseph was a true marriage.  (see Jean-Pierre Torrell, O.P. .Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Person and His Work, Vol 1. (2005) 262.)
-Ambrose Lowman, O.P.

The Tertia Pars after the time of its completion was produced as a separate volume in France entitled Life of Jesus which became a popular devotional.
 -Br. Lorenzo

Thomas' work on the Psalms speaks to one of the incredible truths of the psalter:
Everything that bears on the end of the Incarnation is expressed in this book in so clear a way that one might believe oneself face to face with the Gospel, not with prophecy ... This plenitude is the reason why the Church returns ceaselessly to the Psalter, for it contains all Scripture. - Prooemum in Psalm
I find this to be especially true in my life as a Dominican Friar!
Br. Brent

St. Thomas was able as a Scriptural theologian to keenly discern the inner-workings of the Holy Spirit in the writing of the Sacred Scriptures. This was due to his intimate connection to Christ, something that is absolutely necessary for bearing fruit as a theologian in medio Ecclesiae.

- Br. Brian -

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Obedience, Vows, and Preaching

Today we read an excerpt from De Perfectione and Thomas' sermon Exiit qui seminat.

In the De Perfectione Thomas asks the question of whether or not doing good actions because of a vow is more perfect than doing so outside of the vow. Interestingly he believes that the vows, especially the vow of obedience, helps to perfect the will:

"Many people fulfill their vows with such eagerness that if they had not made a vow they would readily not only perform the deed itself but also make a vow to do it." - De Perfectione

- Br. Brent

St. Thomas was always concerned in his sermons and his writings to promote the mission of the Order of Preachers within the Church, believing that all Dominicans had a role to play, no matter their perfections or even weaknesses: old age, moral imperfections, etc.

- Br. Brian

Christ is the sower of the seeds, and the seeds bring us back to Christ.
-Br. Ambrose

Vows are a freedom from our original sin to move towards God. We cannot be completely free from original sin but as a vow moves us towards God, we move in freedom over the bondage of sin.

-Br. David

As sowers of the seed, preachers and teachers of the Word of God, two thing we must be grounded in are prayer and contemplation.

-Br. Lorenzo and Br. Nicholas

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Virtue and Happiness

Today we talked about Thomas' "Disputed Questions on Virtue." Thomas' conception of virtue is that its purpose it to perfect the powers of the human being. That is, the virtues serve to perfect those things which are natural to us as humans. Virtue should help to direct us to our proper end: union with God realized in the beatific vision.

- Br. Brent

Union with God is the blessed happiness shared with the saints in glory. Imperfect happiness can be attained in this life, but true happiness is union with God.

-Br. Nicholas

We spent some time on Sermon 19 in which Aquinas speaks about the nature of happiness on the Feast of All Saints Day. A side note is that in On the Attainment of Happiness (I-II, q. 5) Aquinas explains what perfect happiness is. Happiness that is perfect and sufficiently good meets all desires and is devoid of all evil, the moment one is in union with God. May we look to the looks whom are!

-Br. Lorenzo

Aquinas' Sermon brought up three types of happiness.  One was wordly, the second was political, and the third was contemplative. 

-Br. David, Br. Luke, and Br. Ambrose

An interesting topic for research would be St. Thomas' understanding of the difference between the "magisterium of pastors" (read: bishops) and the "magisterium of theologians." Many have the thought that perhaps this was setting up an equality of teaching authority in the Church between those who were ordained to the episcopal office and those who teach in theological institutes. How might we come to understand Aquinas' teaching more clearly today?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How do we map Aquinas' commentary on Aristotle's De Anima?

Well, it depends on your perspective.

For the engineers, it looks something like this:

 For the liberal arts majors, it's more like this:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On the Simplicity of God

God is Simple-there are no parts to God.

-Br. Ambrose and David

In his Disputed Questions on the Power of God, Aquinas investigates whether the terms "just," "good," "wise," and "like," are synonymous in the article seven of question seven. He replies that the terms are not synonymous in which he replies:

"The signification of a term does not refer to the thing immediately but through the medium of the mind: because words are the tokens of the soul's impressions and conceptions of the mind."

-Br. Lorenzo

St. Thomas would have all of us remember the following, "there is a difference between being human and humanity. You are human but you are not humanity".

- Br. David K.

St. Thomas was currently working on the Prima Pars of the Summa during the period when he was writing the De Potentia. It is interesting to note that there are similarities between Question 7 of De Potentia and some of the early questions in the Summa.

-Br. Nicholas

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Corpus Christi and Catena Aurea

LAUDA Sion Salvatorem,

lauda ducem et pastorem,

in hymnis et canticis.

Quantum potes, tantum aude:

quia maior omni laude,

nec laudare sufficis.
(From Thomas Aquinas Corpus Christi Hym)
Ambrose, David, Luke C.

While in Orvieto, Thomas was able to be remarkably productive, much of what he produced being requested by others or because of his responsibilities as conventual lector. He proves himself during this period as a master of theology, Scripture studies, Patristics, and apologetics. We have benefited greatly from this time of St. Thomas' life.

- Br. Brian -

Aquinas on the Eucharist in Opusculum 57 on the Feast of Corpus Christi:

"What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift."

-Br. Lorenzo -

Aquinas wrote many works during his stay in Orivetio, most at the behest of other people. One of the works that Thomas accomplished was the Catena Aurea, which means golden chain. The Catena Aurea is a compilation of the sayings of Church Fathers on scripture.

-Br. Nicholas -

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thomas was an ardent defender of the mendicant orders (namely the Dominicans and Franciscans) at the University of Paris. Thomas defends the mendicants against attacks by William of Saint-Amour by attesting to the perfection of those who study as their primary "work":

The contemplative life is better than the active life that solely concerns itself with bodily necessities; but the active life that consists in passing on to others through preaching and teaching truths that have been contemplated is more perfect than the solely contemplative life, for it presupposes a plenitude of contemplation. This is why Christ chose a life of this type.

-Br. Brent Bowen, O.P.-

From Aquinas's Commentary on the Metaphysics, Bk. 3, Lesson 1:

"...if you are going to be a philosopher, you have to listen to all the thinkers with their opposing positions in order to have more resources for making a good judgment."

-Br. Lorenzo Laorden, O.P.-

Thomas Aquinas wrote the Summa contra Gentiles at the behest of his brother, Raymond of Penyafort. There are four books. The first book is on the existence of God. The second book is on the creative acts of God and its effects. The third book is the providence of God. The last book is on the Trinity and the work of salvation

-Br. Nicholas, O.P.

Those who fought against holy study were choosing Martha over Mary.

- Br. Ambrose, Br. Luke, and Br. David -

St. Thomas teaches us that we must stand-by what we value most in charity but with firmness, looking to the wisdom of the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church to understand how we can and must legitimately innovate for the sake of bringing the Gospel to the contemporary world.

- Br. Brian John Zuelke, OP -

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Magister in Sacra Pagina

We've recounted the education of Thomas Aquinas to his inception as a Master at the University of Paris.  Here are our thoughts for this week:

It is often easy for us to separate Thomas' thought from his life as a Dominican Friar. Thomas is immersed in the spirituality of the Order of Preachers, that is to contemplate and to give the fruits of contemplation to others:
"There are some who experience in the contemplation of God such delight that they are unwilling to let go of it, even for the service of God in the salvation of their brothers and sisters." - Quaestio disuptata de caritate, art 11, resp 6.

- Br. Brent -

"The love which God loves us, is in each of us, therefore we can love others in the same way God loves us.

-Br. David-

M-D Chenu on contemplation: "Contemplation is an act of life lived with God in faith, that is, of divine life, as we participate in the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love."

-Br. Lorenzo-

There are seven conditions which make a good prayer. They are as follows: We should ask for spiritual things; we should perservere; we should pray in harmony; our prayer should be made with humility; our prayer should be made with affection; pray when the time is right and finally we should pray for ourselves.


"St. Thomas' later works clearly developed from his engagement with other works during his intellectual formation and his time as a lecturer. Thus, one must read his various works as a progression of thought and not as if all of his thinking developed ex nihilo."

- Br. Brian -

“Thus God’s Goodness has not remained enclosed within itself but has flowed out into others.” (from Thomas Aquinas Commentary of the Divine Names)
- Brs. David, Luke, Ambrose  -

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Medieval Universities

Here's what we learned this week:

We commonly speak of Thomas' pedagogical tool, exitus reditus (emanate return) when referring to the Summa Theologiae. However we see Thomas using this in many of his other writings as well. Today we looked at one example from the Summa Contra Gentiles: 
"The title 'wise' par excellence is reserved for those who consider the final end of the whole universe, which is at the same time its principle (or source). So Aristotle says that it belongs to the wise to consider the supreme causes of beings." - Summa Contra Gentiles, Book I, ch 1.

- Brent

It is important to know the contexts of St. Thomas' writings so as to better understand how they are to be read. Some scholars of Thomas' works have misunderstood his teachings, and have even doubted the authenticity of certain of his works, because they did not understand the contexts in which Thomas is writing.

- Brian

The curriculum for the university schools that we see today have started and been adopted from the universities in thirteenth century Europe in the cities of Paris, Bologna, Cologne, and Oxford. Studies would involve studies of 4-5 years in which one would attend various lectures and attend/participate in disputations. All years are recorded under oath as a "determination" in one swore that they studies 4-5 years at a studium generale. And thus a full-fledged bachelor!

- Nicholas and Lorenzo

"But although no one by himself, of himself, is sufficient for such a ministry, he can hope to have this sufficiency from God." (Inaugural Sermons)  We should take this to be a sigh of our humility. Ultimately we depend on God to accomplish our ministry.

-Ambrose, Luke, and David

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Class! New Questions!

Today we begin again with Thomas and his thought.  This term, we will be posting a little differently.  At the end of each class, students will be asked a question regarding the day's materials, and all answers will be published in one post.

Today, we covered the medieval realm surrounding Thomas, particularly regarding the interplay of faith and reason at the University of Paris in the thirteenth century; an overview of the types of writings Thomas left us; and a glimpse into his commentary on Boethius' De Trinitate.

With all that in mind, what new or bright light do you think others should know about?

Did you know Thomas Aquinas was condemned after his death by his adversary John Peckham who followed the medieval /Augustinian thought that condemned the idea that we need to know everything about creation?  Thank goodness that didn't last!

- David-

Aquinas explains that the Catholic faith is universal not only in the sense of a faith for all humanity, but a faith that applies to the spiritual and temporal life, the entirety of the human person.

- Lorenzo -

Thomas had a unique talent for uniting seemingly contradictory bits of truth in a systematic way. We can learn a lot from this practice today, especially when information is routinely "chopped up" into small parts. How can we unite these small pieces in order to understand the Truth (God) more fully?

- Brent -

Thomas and his teacher Albert the Great had inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. For Thomas and Albert, truth could be found in creation and in other sources. Since God is the ultimate Truth, these sources are reflective of the Truth.

- Anonymous -

The debates during St. Thomas Aquinas' time have a great deal of relevance today, particularly that conflict between the Augustinians and the secularists. It is often the case in the history of the Church that innovation is viewed as threatening to the Catholic faith. More often than not these suspicions had validity, but because of overreaction on the part of more conservative forces, those they were attempting to counter had a tendency to radicalize and entrench (if not already radicalized and entrenched). In such cases, truth suffers. Aquinas serves as a calm and prudent example for all of us on how to reconcile conflicts through carefully making distinctions, and by offering syntheses that allow truth to rise above both fear and arrogance.

- Brian -

The fact that Thomas’ work was condemned right after his death only to later become a strong foundation of Christian theology, intrigues the group.  We wonder how current theological ideologies and issues will be remembered in the future?  How will the future Church view the controversial theologians of our day?

- Ambrose, David, Luke -

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just because you have died doesn't mean you are dead.

"I receive Thee, price of my redemption, food of my journey, for whose love I have studied, kept vigil and spent myself." #Aquinas #ReceivingTheEucharist
Mary is a guide to Christ and brought Him into the world and thus makes her holier than the angels. We should try to imitate her. #MotherofGod

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On the Incarnation:

If creation is the meaning God wanted to give to God's life

and if we are the crown of God's creation, then we mean

more to God than anything else ever created
Be cautious of what you preach, it may come back to hurt you, or even worse the Church. #dontspreadheresy #truth
The law may incite a person to do the good, but it is the Spirit that inclines the heart to act according to the good. #movementofthespirit

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

O Language! Let me go....

I have raced far beyond you
but you pull me back

Please let me go!
Man desires wisdom because it is through wisdom that he comes closer to God. #wisdom #need

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

To follow THE LAW, we must follow other laws, but we must not make other laws, THE LAW. #Love
Let's get our virtue on #virtueisnotmerelythinkingbutdoing
If you want happiness, live a virtuous life! #Livin'TheGoodLife

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In Christ, God is saying "I would rather die than make you pay for your sins."
How can a Christian not know what happiness is?
Jesus was not a zombie, Pecham #hypostaticunionreadyourconciliardecress
Got Happiness?? It's only the imperfect kind in this life! #AttainmentofHappiness
To be truly happy is to be truly in union with God. #OnTheUltimateEnd #happiness

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When we think of God, we must remember the psalm "Be still and know that I am God." God is simple, He is who is. Let us live in this simplicity.
Thanks to reason, it all makes sense. #OnDivineSimplicity #Aristotle #Categories
Why make things complex, God is simple!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

God never became an angel
And never died for one, either

Never, ever, underestimate your worth to God!
"Better to illuminate than to merely shine, to share the fruits of contemplation than to merely contemplate." #preaching
I am good, but I aint that good #Godisthehighestgood

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

O Galilee You are a Cloud!
Sailing in eternity and leaving a shroud

In the surrounding time of hope and of need
You are in us and of us, and crucified

O serene Vision of life Consumed
The cool of the meadow in heaven's Room

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We shoud look at Lent as a time to give up like Christ giving up His body and blood. Not in anger but in love. #lent #love #Eucharist
It's not superfluous if you understand it! #Psuedo-Dionysius #OnTheDivineNames
I was a poet and I bet you all did not know it #popeurbanihopeyoulikemystuff

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Just like the writer move the pen we must allow God, the immovable mover, to move us in how He chooses. #humility #selfgiving
So beatitude is in the intellect and the will, it now appears clear
Hey Cardinals, I think it might be time for Pope Thomas I! #Conclave

Monday, February 18, 2013

Teach the Truth

Teach your children well
Their father's hell will slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by

-Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Meaning of Truth

We must continue to learn, because in learning we are able to better conceive what is truth. #collegecomeback #truth
That escalated quickly #thegreatdispersionwhynotloveforourorder

"It is clear that study among religious should be commended, particularly study of the scriptures." #WhatUpWilliamofSt.Amour

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Next up:

Articles from Aquinas' Disputed Questions on Truth are assigned for tomorrow's class.  So, look for tweets on the topics of Truth and the Teacher!

Also up, the mendicant controversy at the University of Paris in the thirteenth century.