Papist Orthodoxy

September 20, 2009

The Relevance of St. Thomas Aquinas

Filed under: Doctrine, Philosophy, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:42 pm

From the website: latin-mass-society.org.

Pope John Paul II wrote: “‘Let us follow the example of the Angelic Doctor’ is what Leo XIII advises [Aeterni Patris]. That is what I also repeat.” Any solution to the crisis of faith and thought in the Church must involve a rediscovery of Thomas Aquinas. Tim Kelly provides an authoritative introduction to the thought of Thomas of Aquino.

When one listens carefully to what the Church teaches about St Thomas Aquinas, consistently throughout eight centuries, one can be forgiven for being alarmed. She has done something more radical, more far-reaching and serious, than simply commend him. This is summed up by Pope John XXII: “His doctrine could only be described as miraculous…because he has enlightened the Church more than all of the other doctors. By the use of his works a man could profit more in one year than if he studies the doctrine of others for his whole life“.

The Church has effectively set aside for all times a single holy doctor and saint from all the other teachers in the Church’s history. But could not this breed a dangerously restricted, one-dimensional understanding of her teaching tradition? Might there not be perhaps a hint of exaggeration, an unusual lack of sobriety, in her magisterial declarations regarding Thomas? Does not the mediation of the splendour of Catholic Truth require a chorus of many voices, a synchronisation that is polyphonic and varied in its expression? After all, besides St Thomas Aquinas, we have thirty-two other doctors, thirty-two other holy teachers with eminens doctrina, insignis vitae sanctitas, et Ecclesiae declaratio (i.e. eminent doctrine, a high degree of sanctity, and official proclamation by the Church). Is it not right, therefore, and not more truly Catholic, to attend to the great harmony of the whole? Is not the Church alerting us to precisely this when it elevates to the rank of doctor the likes of the fourth century poet St Ephraem the Syrian, or little Thérèse of Lisieux, to stand alongside the mighty scholarship of Ambrose, Gregory the Great, Jerome and Augustine?

Furthermore, since grace perfects human nature and does not replace it, does not the communion of saints contain the most wondrously varied and diverse human natures imaginable, all of them proclaiming in a most eminent manner the unique and unrepeatable character of every human soul? Therefore, does not each saint, and among them each holy doctor, make a contribution to theology that is correspondingly unique and unrepeatable, and which therefore commands our attention? And so, is there not, perhaps, something a little crass in John XXII’s pronouncement that we will profit more in a year of studying St Thomas’s works than a lifetime studying the others?

The the rest of the article here.

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