Panis Angelicus

Sunday, June 18, AD 2017

Saint Thomas Aquinas composed Sacris Solemnis at the command of Pope Urban IV for the new feast of Corpus Christi in 1264.  The last two stanzas have become the hymn Panis Angelicus.  I have always viewed this as the heart of the Summa set to music.

When he was canonized in 1323 some objections were raised because of a lack of miracles relating to the Angelic Doctor.  Pope John xxii responded that every question Saint Thomas answered was a miracle.

Why we call God Father

1. He created us. We call God Father because He created us in a special way-namely, in His own image and likeness which He did not impress on other creatures here below: “He is thy Father Who made thee, and created thee.”

2. He governs us. We also call God Father because He governs us. For although He governs all things, yet He governs us as masters of ourselves whereas He governs other things as slaves of His will: “Thy providence, O Father, governs all things”. “Thou disposest of us with great favor”.

3. He adopted us. We call God Father because He has adopted us. For He endowed other creatures with trifling gifts, but to us He granted the inheritance, because (as the Apostle says) we are His sons “and if sons, heirs also”. “You have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons whereby we cry, Abba (‘Father’)”.

Saint Thomas Aquinas



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Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Devil, Temptation and Sin

Tuesday, February 28, AD 2017



I answer that, The temptation which comes from the enemy takes the form of a suggestion, as Gregory says (Hom. xvi in Evang.). Now a suggestion cannot be made to everybody in the same way; it must arise from those things towards which each one has an inclination. Consequently the devil does not straight away tempt the spiritual man to grave sins, but he begins with lighter sins, so as gradually to lead him to those of greater magnitude. Wherefore Gregory (Moral. xxxi), expounding Job 39:25, “He smelleth the battle afar off, the encouraging of the captains and the shouting of the army,” says: “The captains are fittingly described as encouraging, and the army as shouting. Because vices begin by insinuating themselves into the mind under some specious pretext: then they come on the mind in such numbers as to drag it into all sorts of folly, deafening it with their bestial clamor.”

Thus, too, did the devil set about the temptation of the first man. For at first he enticed his mind to consent to the eating of the forbidden fruit, saying (Genesis 3:1): “Why hath God commanded you that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?” Secondly [he tempted him] to vainglory by saying: “Your eyes shall be opened.” Thirdly, he led the temptation to the extreme height of pride, saying: “You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” This same order did he observe in tempting Christ. For at first he tempted Him to that which men desire, however spiritual they may be–namely, the support of the corporeal nature by food. Secondly, he advanced to that matter in which spiritual men are sometimes found wanting, inasmuch as they do certain things for show, which pertains to vainglory. Thirdly, he led the temptation on to that in which no spiritual men, but only carnal men, have a part–namely, to desire worldly riches and fame, to the extent of holding God in contempt. And so in the first two temptations he said: “If Thou be the Son of God”; but not in the third, which is inapplicable to spiritual men, who are sons of God by adoption, whereas it does apply to the two preceding temptations.

And Christ resisted these temptations by quoting the authority of the Law, not by enforcing His power, “so as to give more honor to His human nature and a greater punishment to His adversary, since the foe of the human race was vanquished, not as by God, but as by man”; as Pope Leo says (Serm. 1, De Quadrag. 3).

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8 Responses to Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Devil, Temptation and Sin

  • The three temptations are vital in my faith struggles.

    Man does not live by bread alone, but by all that proceeds from the mouth of God. The spiritual is all-important. The Second Sorrowful Mystery -the Scourging at the Pillar – desire a sprit of mortification. Think Lent. Think repentance, Confession, penance, amendment of life and, through Jesus, good works to the greater Glory of God.

    You should not put God to the test. Faith alone. Mysteries: we should need no physical or rational evidence or even to have answered our prayers. God’s will be done. Offer it up. The Fifth Sorrowful mystery – The Crucifixion – pray for the grace of final perseverance. think of the love which filled Jesus’ heart in the three hours of agony on the holy Cross; and ask Him to be with you at the hour of death.

    We should worship God alone. We cannot love/serve/worship both God and Mammon. Meditate on this past Sundays. Gospel. The Fourth Joyful Mystery – The Presentation in the Temple – desire a spirit of sacrifice. think of Marys’ obedience to the Law of God.

    Finally and off topic, the enemy’s (Satan’s) most devastating defeat over Man was when he falsely (like the NY Times – Satan is all lies all the time) convinced so many poor, damned souls that he does not exist.

  • This is similar to the threefold division of sin that the Church uses in reference to “the world, the flesh, and the devil”. The flesh: in both cases, food. The world: what this passage calls “vainglory”. And the devil: pride.

    I’ve heard this threefold breakdown of sin before, but nearly every place I’ve looked for it, I end up finding the seven deadly sins. I think that Augustine used the breakdown I’m talking about. Can anyone give me a lead on this? I find it really useful and I’d like to know more about it.

  • I find Jesus’ words: “You shall love, the Lord, your God with your whole heart, your whole mind and your whole strength.” most helpful.

  • Our neo-Catholic Church of ‘Social Justice’ is the work of the devil by having us believe that merely proclaiming the right Democrat attitudes we can achieve eternal life without the necessity of obeying the will of God.

  • Thus, too, did the devil set about the temptation of the first man. What was the Temptation of the man? As I have read Satan’s conversation all of it was with the woman and why did Satan wait until the woman was created? Again exactly what was Mans Temptation.

  • @John.

    Being allowed to be swayed away from Truth and partaking of the forbidden fruit. Influence and disobedience.

    He allowed the first woman to influence him in breaking his obedience to God.

    When a young boy or girl is influenced by culture to sway her away from natural identity, and adopt the lie that she can be like God in choosing her identity..boy if she so chooses, then the power of influence can prolonge the great Joy of living in union of the creator of the Tree of Life. Separation from God is Hell. If one isn’t prepared, the influence of the world could destroy his/her ability to nurture a relationship that leads to obidence and Joy in God.

    Recalling the great lie that once we eat of the fruit, we to will see and be like God.

    Adam choose poorly to say the least.

  • @John.

    His sin is disobedience.

    (Please excuse my typo’s…chose v. choose.) One of my sins is not proof reading prior to posting comment.

  • Satan promised Adam and Eve that they would be like gods. Adam and Eve were created in the image and likeness of God as the children of God. Satan promised Adam and Eve something Satan did not have to offer, something that Adam and Eve already had.
    Satan addressed Jesus by saying “IF” you are the Son of God…” Jesus knew WHO He was. Jesus is the revelation of God. Jesus’ life was spent on earth serving His Father WHO is in heaven. How could Jesus serve Satan or not serve His Father WHO is in heaven. Yes “WHO” is very important. WHO is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. “I AM WHO I AM”

The Angelic Dumb Ox

Wednesday, February 1, AD 2017

You call him Dumb Ox?  This Dumb Ox will fill all the world with his bellowing.

                    Saint Albert the Great, responding to jibes from some of the other students he was instructing aimed at a young Thomas Aquinas.

Better late than never.  I always attempt to observe the feast day of the Angelic Doctor, but this year the 28th sailed by me.  Saint Thomas Aquinas was granted three gifts from God:  the life long innocence of a child;  the soul of a mystic; and one of the mightiest intellects ever possessed by mortal man.  The ladies of History for Music Lovers kick off our celebration of the Angelic Doctor with their own unique tribute.

Here is Pope Benedict on Saint Thomas:

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Saint Thomas Aquinas Our Contemporary

Thursday, January 28, AD 2016

Not everyone who is enlightened by an angel knows that he is enlightened by him.

Saint Thomas Aquinas



Today is the feast day of the Angelic Doctor.  There is a timeless quality about his writings that takes him from the period in which he lived, the Thirteenth Century, and makes him a contemporary of each succeeding generation.  For example, we have this observation of Saint Thomas on the founder of Islam:


The point is clear in the case of Muhammad. He seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity. He did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the contrary, Muhammad said that he was sent in the power of his arms—which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. What is more, no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning, Those who believed in him were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Muhammad forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms. Nor do divine pronouncements on the part of preceding prophets offer him any witness. On the contrary, he perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be. seen by anyone who examines his law. It was, therefore, a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity. It is thus clear that those who place any faith in his words believe foolishly.

Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 6.4

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2 Responses to Saint Thomas Aquinas Our Contemporary

Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Epiphany

Sunday, January 3, AD 2016

Article 1. Whether Christ’s birth should have been made known to all?

Objection 1. It would seem that Christ’s birth should have been made known to all. Because fulfilment should correspond to promise. Now, the promise of Christ’s coming is thus expressed (Psalm 49:3): “God shall come manifestly. But He came by His birth in the flesh.” Therefore it seems that His birth should have been made known to the whole world.

Objection 2. Further, it is written (1 Timothy 1:15): “Christ came into this world to save sinners.” But this is not effected save in as far as the grace of Christ is made known to them; according to Titus 2:11-12: “The grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men, instructing us, that denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world.” Therefore it seems that Christ’s birth should have been made known to all.

Objection 3. Further, God is most especially inclined to mercy; according to Psalm 144:9: “His tender mercies are over all His works.” But in His second coming, when He will “judge justices” (Psalm 70:3), He will come before the eyes of all; according to Matthew 24:27: “As lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” Much more, therefore, should His first coming, when He was born into the world according to the flesh, have been made known to all.

On the contrary, It is written (Isaiah 45:15): “Thou art a hidden God, the Holy [Vulgate: ‘the God] of Israel, the Saviour.” And, again (Isaiah 43:3): “His look was, as it were, hidden and despised.”

I answer that, It was unfitting that Christ’s birth should be made known to all men without distinction. First, because this would have been a hindrance to the redemption of man, which was accomplished by means of the Cross; for, as it is written (1 Corinthians 2:8): “If they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.”

Secondly, because this would have lessened the merit of faith, which He came to offer men as the way to righteousness. according to Romans 3:22: “The justice of God by faith of Jesus Christ.” For if, when Christ was born, His birth had been made known to all by evident signs, the very nature of faith would have been destroyed, since it is “the evidence of things that appear not,” as stated, Hebrews 11:1.

Thirdly, because thus the reality of His human nature would have come into doubt. Whence Augustine says (Ep. ad Volusianum cxxxvii): “If He had not passed through the different stages of age from babyhood to youth, had neither eaten nor slept, would He not have strengthened an erroneous opinion, and made it impossible for us to believe that He had become true man? And while He is doing all things wondrously, would He have taken away that which He accomplished in mercy?”

Reply to Objection 1. According to the gloss, the words quoted must be understood of Christ’s coming as judge.

Reply to Objection 2. All men were to be instructed unto salvation, concerning the grace of God our Saviour, not at the very time of His birth, but afterwards, in due time, after He had “wrought salvation in the midst of the earth” (Psalm 73:12). Wherefore after His Passion and Resurrection, He said to His disciples (Matthew 28:19): “Going . . . teach ye all nations.”

Reply to Objection 3. For judgment to be passed, the authority of the judge needs to be known: and for this reason it behooves that the coming of Christ unto judgment should be manifest. But His first coming was unto the salvation of all, which is by faith that is of things not seen. And therefore it was fitting that His first coming should be hidden.

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3 Responses to Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Epiphany

  • I apologize in advance.
    Little known fact. There was a fourth Magus. He was omitted because he brought fruit cake.
    Acknowledged by, and open to, gentiles.

  • On January 6, I will wish you and yours a blessed Solemnity of the Epiphany, Mr. McClarey.

    To all who have been off from work at some time since Christmas and New Year’s Day, have a blessed week. It is still Christmastide, and will be until February 2.

    It’s tough to go back to work and/or school, but I try to look at it as that I have a job to go back to. Not everyone does.

    This will be a big year. We replace Obumbler. My niece graduates from high school and will go to college. My oldest son will make his first Confession and Communion and my youngest son will turn five late in the year. We get to keep him home for one more year.

    Good night.

  • My son came home from Mass yesterday and told me the lector had read “gold, Frankenstein, and myrrh”

Henry V, Shakespeare and Just War

Sunday, October 25, AD 2015

Five hundred years ago Henry V and his army won an amazing victory over a French army that heavily outnumbered his.  Shakespeare in deathless language has ensured that this victory will be indeed remembered until the ending of the world.  It was a brilliant victory, but was it won in a just cause?


In answering the question we must first examine how the formulation of the Just War doctrine has changed from the time of Henry V to our time.

Over the centuries the precise content of the just war doctrine has varied.  The classic definition of it by Saint Thomas Aquinas is set forth in Part II, Question 40 of his Summa Theologica:

“I answer that, In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Rm. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Ps. 81:4): “Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner”; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.”

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [*The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine’s works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1]): “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.” For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wicked intention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war.”

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5 Responses to Henry V, Shakespeare and Just War

  • I’ve also wondered how dynastic wars measured up under the just war theory, especially given the tangled skeins of royal family trees.

    I suspect that simple power politics often entered in. If Henry (or any king) had a possible claim that he failed to pursue he might be seen as weak and perhaps subject to future aggression. Whether that possible future evil makes a present was just — ???

  • Excellent series of posts. Thank you.

  • Donald,

    Since you don’t have a general comments section, I thought I would bring this newish blog to your attention. Seems good so far –


  • An interesting blog Jonathan. I will keep an eye on it!

    “He was no radical; rather he sought to retain essential truths of the faith while working to correct abuses in the Church’s way of life. Unlike his opponents, he was not a doctrinal innovator; he sought reform for the Church instead of its replacement. Once this is understood, More’s actions during the early Reformation can be understood to be a continuation of his efforts to improve the Church prior to the Reformation. As such, More’s basic approach to the question of reform stands well within the conservative approach to societal change set out by later authors such as Edmund Burke (himself a practicing Anglican who was married to a Catholic & sympathetic to Catholic freedom in England & Ireland). Far from being a reactionary, a fundamentalist or any kind of religious fanatic (as he has been portrayed recently by the historical fiction Wolf Hall), More stands as a conservative voice for both reform of and fidelity to the Catholic Church, of necessary change within the constraints of substantive continuity.”

    I have often noted similarities between the thought of More and Burke.

  • Very good article, but I disagree on some points: I would point out that on the “serious prospects of success” issue the English themselves have doubts and are faced with troops outnumbering them. Hard for me to make this argument when history shows the English won — but that was not known in advance! Many reasons to think they would NOT be successful — how sure do you have to be? Miracle upsets can always occur — is that a basis to go to war?

    Also when discussing the summary execution of prisoners by the English, mention is made of behavior by the French — this is a non-sequitor, as moral behavior in war is a duty to humanity at large, and is in no way contingent upon behavior by the other side — in fact it is presumed that the cause of going to war in the first place is to address evil behavior by the other side and to restore a peaceful and moral climate.

Transiturus de Hoc Mundo

Sunday, June 7, AD 2015

Issued on August 11, 1264 by Pope Urban IV the Papal Bull Transiturus de Hoc Mundo established the great feast of Corpus Christi.  Saint Thomas Aquinas at the request of the Pope helped draft the Bull.

Additionally he wrote for the feast, also at the request of the Pope, his great eucharistic hymn Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium .

The last portion of the hymn, Tantum Ergo, has vast significance for my family.  My wife, who is a far better Catholic in my estimation than I am, is a convert.  A Methodist when we married, she converted to the Church a few years later.  She had questions regarding the real presence, and this line from Tantum Ergo resolved them:  Faith tells us that Christ is present,  When our human senses fail.  When our kids came along she would whisper at the Consecration to them:  First it’s bread, now it’s Jesus.  First it’s wine, now it’s Jesus. 


Here is the text of  Transiturus de Hoc Mundo:

Urban Bishop,

 servant of the servants of God, to the venerable brothers, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, and other prelates of the Church, health and the apostolic blessing.
About to pass from this world to the Father, our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, since the time of his Passion was at hand, instituted the great and wonderful Sacrament of his Body and Blood, bestowing his Body as food and his Blood as drink. For, as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we announce the death of the Lord. Indeed, at the institution of this Sacrament, he himself said to the Apostles: Do this in memory of me: so that for us the special and outstanding memorial of his love would be this venerable Sacrament; a memorial in which we attain the corporeal Presence of the Saviour himself.
Other things which we remember we embrace spiritually and mentally: we do not thereby obtain their real presence. However, in this sacramental commemoration, Jesus Christ is present with us in his proper substance, although under another form. As he was about to ascend into heaven, he said to the Apostles and their helpers, I will be with you all days even unto the consummation of the world. He comforted them with a gracious promise that he would remain and would be with them even by his corporeal presence. Therefore he gave himself as nourishment, so that, since man fell by means of the food of the death-giving tree; man is raised up by means of the food of the life-giving tree. Eating wounded us, and eating healed us. Thus the Saviour says, My Flesh is real food. This bread is taken but truly not consumed, because it is not transformed into the eater. Rather, if it is worthily received, the recipient is conformed to it.
We should celebrate continuously the memory of this memorial, because the more frequently his gift and favour are looked upon, so much the more firmly are they kept in memory. Therefore, although this memorial Sacrament is frequented in the daily solemnities of the Mass, we nevertheless think suitable and worthy that, at least once a year – especially to confound the lack of faith and the infamy of heretics – a more solemn and honourable memory of this Sacrament be held. This is so because on Holy Thursday, the day on which the Lord himself instituted this Sacrament, the universal Church, occupied with the reconciliation of penitents, blessing the chrism, fulfilling the Commandments about the washing of the feet and many other such things, is not sufficiently free to celebrate so great a Sacrament.
Moreover we know that, while we were constituted in a lesser office, it was divinely revealed to certain Catholics that a feast of this kind should be celebrated generally throughout the Church. Therefore, to strengthen and exalt the Catholic Faith, we decree that, besides the daily memory that the Church makes of this Sacrament, there be celebrated a more solemn and special annual memorial. Then let the hearts and mouths of all break forth in hymns of saving joy; then let faith sing, hope dance, charity exult, devotion applaud, the choir be jubilant, and purity delight. Then let each one with willing spirit and prompt will come together, laudably fulfilling his duties, celebrating the Solemnity of so great a Feast.
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3 Responses to Transiturus de Hoc Mundo

  • I once remarked to some of my French friends that I thought it a pity that Corpus Christi (which the French call simply the « Fête-Dieu » or “Festival of God”) is nowadays transferred to the nearest Sunday.
    They explained to me that the government would allow the Church only one public holiday that always fell on a Thursday, as people would, inevitably, make it an excuse for a long weekend – « faire le pont » or “make a bridge,” as they say and so the bishops settled for Ascension Day.
    The notion that there could be a Holiday of Obligation that was not also a public holiday was quite beyond their comprehension.

  • Just learning… so the Feast used to be on Thursday after Pentecost huh… the traditional calendar of feasts shows me so much depth of meaning.
    Today the feast day would have been the feast of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces according to 1962 John 23rd Missal– that was 1962

    Today we have Bishop William of York.

  • In 1263 a German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. He is described as being a pious priest, but one who found it difficult to believe that Christ was actually present in the consecrated Host. While celebrating Holy Mass above the tomb of St. Christina (located in the church named for this martyr), he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal.

    The priest was immediately confused. At first he attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighboring city of Orvieto, the city where Pope Ur ban IV was then residing.

    The Pope listened to the priest’s account and absolved him. He then sent emissaries for an immediate investigation. When all the facts were ascertained, he ordered the Bishop of the diocese to bring to Orvieto the Host and the linen cloth bearing the stains of blood. With archbishops, cardinals and other Church dignitaries in attendance, the Pope met the procession and, amid great pomp, had the relics placed in the cathedral. The linen corporal bearing the spots of blood is still reverently enshrined and exhibited in the Cathedral of Orvieto.

    It is said that Pope Urban IV was prompted by this miracle to commission St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the Proper for a Mass and an Office honoring the Holy Eucharist as the Body of Christ. One year after the miracle, in August of 1264, Pope Urban IV introduced the saint’s composition, and by means of a papal bull instituted the feast of Corpus Christi.

4 Responses to Tantum Ergo

  • very nice

  • Thank you for posting this, Mr. McClarey. The Daughters of Mary have beautiful voices.
    While this is not my favorite version, it remains a beautiful version to listen to. I find it sad that the treasure trove of Catholic music that was written and performed in Latin is almost never sung or heard anymore unless it is at a Tridentine High Mass.

    There are many versions of the Kyrie Eleison as well. The following link is my favorite version (from the Missa de Angelis)

  • I really do miss the beauty of the Latin Gregorian hymns. We have them occasionally during Benediction, and there is a slowly growing revival by some of the younger priests, who introduce some of the brief greeting in Latin – “The Loerd be with you.” – “Dominus vobiscum.”
    , “Ite, Missa est”. etc. and the Kyrie in the original Greek.
    Our previous assistant priest who has had his own parish now for four years, taught himself Latin, spent one of his 2 week holiday breaks with the FSSP priests in Australia, and now comes back to Tauranga once a month to say the TLM.
    Our new bishop, Steve Lowe, has also required that the TLM be said in the Cathedral Parish every week, and has recommended the three priests in our diocese who say the TLM to say it wherever it is asked for, at least once a month.
    There is a parish of Transalpine Redemptorists in the Christchurch diocese where the TLM is said regularly in a number of parishes, and I believe that the FSSP are seeking a place to set up here, from Australia. There is also a couple of parishes in the Palmerston North diocese where the FSSP have set up shop.

  • That should read – …….where the SSPX have set up shop.”

Belated Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

Thursday, January 29, AD 2015

As a highly Pagan poet said to me: “The Reformation happened because people hadn’t the brains to understand Aquinas.”

GK Chesterton


I can’t believe I forgot to post on the feast day yesterday of the Angelic Doctor!  (Too much work in the law mines was the culprit!)  I try to always remember his perfect synthesis of faith and intellect every January 28.  Too many people think these attributes are opposites which helps to explain why the world is in such a mess today.  I think what is appealing most to me about Aquinas is his optimism.  He lived in the thirteenth century, nicknamed the Glorious Century, a true turning point in history when Christendom began to assert traits that would lead to revolutions in so many fields.  Aquinas never doubted that the new knowledge about the World was no jeopardy to the Faith, and it has not been, so long as faith and reason work in alliance.  We go badly astray when these two essential components of a complete human are viewed as adversaries.


At the end of his life, the Angelic Doctor had a mystical experience before the Eucharist and stopped writing.  When asked about it, he said that what he had seen made all of his writings seem like mere straw in comparison.  His writings will endure as long as Man endures, a tribute to what the human mind, enlightened by Faith, can accomplish.  However, it is his sublime and victorious faith in Christ which is his real monument.

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7 Responses to Belated Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

  • Would St. Thomas Aquinas agree with this quote on Dante?

    “His (Dante’s) purpose is to put such (secular) wisdom in its proper place by making it subservient to God, by whom it was ordained to serve man’s practical intellectual needs, and by excluding it from all questions touching matters of faith.” Archibald T. MacAllister, July 7, 1961, in his Introduction to The Purgatorio, Dante Alighieri, translated by John Ciardi.

  • Since the quote is completely untrue as to Dante, I am certain that Saint Thomas would disagree. The Angelic Doctor would of course disagree that there is any distinction between secular wisdom and wisdom and he would always contend that wisdom is in no way antithetical to the Faith.

  • Thomas addressed this question on page one of the Summa.

    “Sciences are differentiated according to the various means through which knowledge is obtained. For the astronomer and the physicist both may prove the same conclusion: that the earth, for instance, is round: the astronomer by means of mathematics (i.e. abstracting from matter), but the physicist by means of matter itself. Hence there is no reason why those things which may be learned from philosophical science, so far as they can be known by natural reason, may not also be taught us by another science so far as they fall within revelation. Hence theology included in sacred doctrine differs in kind from that theology which is part of philosophy.”

    I love that. Not only is it intellectually perfect, it disproves the myth that people thought the earth was flat before Columbus. I love…every word Aquinas wrote, really. He didn’t lack passion, but he wrote for the purpose of transmitting knowledge without relying on emotional appeal. I’ve never much cared for writers like Augustine.

    A tangent – I don’t know if any of you are familiar with Myers-Briggs, but to my thinking, Aquinas is the patron saint of NT’s. It speaks to something that Chesterton wrote, that since we can only be fulfilled by Christ, He is fulfilling to every type of person. The Church is filled with people of different personalities, strengths, interests, et cetera, because she truly is universal. Chesterton was an SP, and was naturally drawn to Francis of Assisi.

    And to go big picture on this, let me go back to the passage from the Summa. Just as all of our true personal needs can be fulfilled only in Christ, so all of the our intellectual pursuits inevitably lead to Truth. There’s a harmony that the 13th century understood that we really don’t understand today.

  • One step I forgot to include in that comment – Aquinas saw all methods of pursuing truth as compatible, because he believed in one Truth. He wouldn’t have divided types of wisdom, as implied in T. Shaw’s quote, although he would have recognized that they use different methods and may be more or less applicable to a particular problem.

    And that quote seems like a terrible description of Dante, as well. Maybe it makes more sense in context.

  • “…The Angelic Doctor had a mystical experience before the Eucharist and stopped writing. When asked about it, he said that what he had seen made all of his writings seem like mere straw in comparison.”

    And now, I cannot but help but think of the recently late Fr. Richard D. McBrien, and what must have been his experience in relationship to his much-revered writings, say, about 30 seconds after he passed beyond this early veil.

  • “I can’t believe I forgot to post on the feast day yesterday of the Angelic Doctor!”
    I am amazed at how much you must accomplish in the 24 hrs. of your day.
    Thank you for providing such interesting stories, articles and video clips on a variety of subjects and always with the One True Faith in mind.

My Top Ten Favorite Saints

Friday, January 2, AD 2015

I have always thought it says a lot about Catholics as to whether they have favorite saints, and who they are if they do have special saints.  Here are my top ten.

10.  Saint Andreas Wouters-Most saints have been extraordinary men and women.  That was decidedly not the case with Andreas Wouters!  A scandalous priest, he fathered several children.  Suspended from his priestly duties, he was living in disgrace when God granted him the opportunity to die a martyr’s death, an opportunity he seized with both hands like a drowning man cast a life line. His courage and steadfastness redeemed his life of sin.  May all of us have such a happy death as he did.  Go here to read about him.

 9.  Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ-Not canonized yet, I have no doubt that “God’s Jester” is a saint in Heaven.  During the Cristeros Rebellion in Mexico, he adopted many disguises to bring the sacraments to the Mexican people.  A lover of jokes, he is proof positive that saints need not be solemn.  When the Mexican government executed him, a death he met with incredible courage, the officials took copious pictures which appeared in newspapers.  The strategy backfired with Cristeros troops treating the pictures as precious relics and carrying them with them into battle.  Go here to read about him.

 8.  Saint Marianne Cope– Throughout my life I have been blessed with the friendship of strong women, starting with the love of my formidable sainted mother, and perhaps that is why I have always been drawn to strong female saints.  Few have been stronger than Mother Marianne and her nuns who pioneered the care for female lepers in Hawaii.  No difficulty or danger could deter her from bringing God’s love to her lepers.  Go here to read about her.

 7.  Venerable Matt Talbot-Some saints become famous during their lifetime and some, the vast majority no doubt, are known only to God.  Matt Talbot’s was a quiet path to sainthood that would be known only to God, but for the accident of his dying on a street in Dublin.  However, God does not see as man sees, and I have always thought that this reformed drunk ranks high among the champions of Christ.  Go here to read about him.

 6.  Saint Kateri Tekakwitha-Some saints God decides to distinguish with miracles after their death.  Such was the case of Lily of the Mohawks.  Go here to read about her.

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15 Responses to My Top Ten Favorite Saints

  • We all have our favorite saints, but I feel all lists should have the following: Mary, Joseph, and John the baptist. Mary conceived with out sin mother of God; Joseph – at conception had original sin on his soul only to have God remove it a second later – he never sinned again- protector of Jesus and Mary – the hardest role any man could undertake; John the baptist from the moment in Elizabeth’s womb to the day he died, he never took his eyes off of God and the proclaiming of the coming of the savior.

  • Chesterton once wrote something along the lines of, the Bible is a riddle and the Church is the answer. Both evangelicals and atheists treat Christianity as the Bible, but a document can’t be a religion. The Church can only be properly understood by including the lives of its holiest members. They explain the faith in practice.

    I’m not sure who my top ten would be, but St. Catherine of Siena would be at least a close #2. No disrespect intended to the Blessed Mother. I wish we knew more of Our Lady’s life and words. I’m just able to feel closer to those saints who were authors. Thomas Aquinas would definitely be on my top ten, along with Francis de Sales. All three are Doctors of the Church, with both Catherine’s and Francis’s thinking being influenced by Thomism.

    And, as I say every year, thank you for bringing St. Andreas Wouters to my attention!

  • May I respectfully add St Anthony of Padua, and St Therese of Lisieux, both saints of the “impossible”, without which my life would be completely a different [and not-a-better] one. Yet again, nothing is impossible for God.

  • I don’t know much about St. Anthony of Padua, so I just looked him up on Wikipedia. He impressed the Dominicans with his theology and the Franciscans with his simplicity? Hard to think of greater praise than that.

  • Saints preserve us. The Immaculate Conception is a most fascinating person.

  • Like most Catholics, I have a list of “saint/friends”. In addition to our Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, the Little Flower (& approximately 20 others I ask for intercession) I always include St. Dymphna, the patroness of mental stress & duress – seems fitting in THESE times, St Michael for protection against the evil one, St Joseph of Cupertino for his excellent acceptance of his limitations & his great humility, St Theresa Benedicta for her embrace of conversion & St Maximillian Kolbe for his love of God, Mary & others. Thank you for sharing your list – I love learning about our friends in heaven who want nothing more than to help us achieve heaven!

  • My daughter’s are named Joan, (Joan of Arc) Katherine(Mother Katherine Drexel) . Maria(Maria Goretti). My other’s are St. Francis Cabrini, Venerable Matt Talbot, Blessed Miguel Pro, St. Gianna Molla and St. Camillius, just to name a few.

  • Jeanne Rohl: One of my favorite saints is Camillus de Lellis simply because I too, have taken seven decades to obey God’s vocation, and if God can love him, then God can love me, too. Aren’t all saints mirrors of God love?

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  • Well said Pinky.
    I hope one day we have Saint Chesterton.

    As I love read about Crusades my list of favorite saints will include st Louis ix, st Dominic, blessed Urban II, st. Joan Darc, st Bernard, st Thomas Aquinas. But also st Catherine laboure, st. Maximilian Kolbe, then of course Our Lady of Grace.
    I think that he was perhaps too violent but I admire a lot Richard The lionheart.
    I will research about your favorite saints, Donald, I love what you said on st Andreas and Matt Talbot.

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  • good day everyone….i end my mass, rosary and prayers with intercessions from my saints and they are: 1) Mary hrough Her Immaculate Heart, 2) St. Joseph, 3) St. Michael the Archangel, 4) St. Anthony of Padua, 5) St. Francis of Assisi, 6) St. John Vianney, 7) St. Padre Pio, 8) San Pedro Calungsod (2nd Filipino saint and am a Filipino, lol), 9) St. Pope John Paul II (i was 18 years old when he became our pope), 10) St. Therese of the Child JESUS, 11) St. Therese of Avila, 12) St. Claire of Assisi, 13) St. Faustina of the Divine Mercy, 14. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and 15) Blessed Pope Paul VI. Thanks everyone and God bless all….

  • Pedro Eric: “I think that he was perhaps too violent but I admire a lot Richard The lionheart.”
    Strength from heaven above cannot be too forceful.

  • Our Lady is in a class all by herself, above all the saints and angels.

    My faves:
    Servant of God Queen Isabel the Catholic – drove out the infidel Muslims, unified Spain, cleaned up the government, appointed reformers to the Church in Spain, approved of Columbus’ voyage which led to more than two thirds of the Western Hemisphere becoming Catholic…
    St. Catherine of Siena, Servant of God Demetrius Gallitzin, the Apostle to the Alleghenies, Blessed Miguel Pro

  • Yes, all these extraordinary lives: but Padre Miguel Pro—a man who was absolutely fearless, even facing the fusiliers. So much for “…Proselytism is such solemn nonsense:” uttered by another nonsensical Jesuit, irony in a class by itself.

Advent Sermons of Saint Thomas Aquinas-Fourth Sunday in Advent

Sunday, December 21, AD 2014


The Angelic Doctor takes us to the doorstep of Christmas in this final sermon for Advent:


“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men.” — Philip, iv. 4, 5.




THE Apostle exhorted us in the end of the preceding Epistle that we should reserve all things to Christ, the true Judge; but, lest we should be overcome by the long delay, he said that He was about to come in a very little while.” The Lord,” he said, “is at hand.” But the Apostle in the words of the text teaches three things (1) he exhorts to inward holiness; (2) to honest conversation; (3) he subjoins the reason. I. Inward holiness consists in two things firstly, that evil affections should be renovated; and, secondly, that good affections should be obtained. S. Bernard said that holy affection makes the saint, whilst evil affection is to rejoice in the world. II. But there is an evil joy of the world, as in evil things, in vanities, in base pleasures. The joy in evil things is to rejoice in wickedness; the joy of vanities is to rejoice in riches, which are vain; and the joy in base pleasures is to rejoice in wantonness. Of the first, Prov. ii. 14, “Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked.” Of the second, Ps. xlix. 6, “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches.” Of the third, Job xxi. 12, “And rejoice at the sound of the organ.” S. James v. 5, “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton.” S. Augustine says of these three kinds of joy “What is the joy of the world? Wantonness is the impurity of the wickeness of the world; to toy with the games, to be luxurious, to be allured, to be swallowed up, and to offend by baseness. To rejoice in the Lord is that joy which tends to salvation; for the loving-kindness of the Lord leads to justification, for He is most bountiful by way of remuneration. For a very small servitude He gives eternal life and the heavenly kingdom, and such a Lord is without doubt to be rejoiced in; Who saves His servants by redeeming them; Who dismisses all their debts by justifying them; and Who will crown them with an eternal kingdom by preserving them.”

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Advent Sermons of Saint Thomas Aquinas-Third Sunday in Advent

Sunday, December 14, AD 2014

In the footsteps of the Dumb Ox, we come to the Third Sunday in Advent:


Now, when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ,” &c. — S. Matt. xi. 2-4.



IN the preceding Gospel the Advent of Justice was treated of: in this Gospel the Advent of Grace is considered. Mention is here made of S. John Baptist, whose name is interpreted the grace of God; or, as he in whom the grace of God was. Four things are here spoken about S. John — (1) his imprisonment; (2) the question about the Advent of Christ by the disciples whom He sent; (3) the answer of the Lord; (4) the manifold commendation of John. He was praised chiefly on four accounts — (1) for the strength of his constancy; (2) for the rigour of his clothing; (3) for the dignity of his office; (4) for the holiness of his life. Firstly, when John had heard; secondly, “Who art thou;” thirdly, “Go and shew John again,” &c.; fourthly, “He began to say unto the multitudes concerning John.” And, again (1) of the commendation, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?” (2) “A man clothed in soft raiment.” (3) “Yea I say unto you, and more than a prophet.” (4) “This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before thy face,” &c. But afterwards it ought to be known concerning the bonds that three kinds of people are said to be in bonds. The godly are placed in the bonds of precepts; the impious, in the bonds of sinners; the condemned, in the bonds of the tormentors. Of the first, Ezekiel iv. 8, “Behold, I will lay bands upon thee.” Hos. xi. 4, “I drew them with the cords of a man; with bands of love.” Of the second, Prov. v. 22, “He shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” Isa. x. 4 (Vulgate), “That you be not bound down under the bond.” Of the third, Wisdom xvii. 2, “Fettered with the bonds of darkness.” S. Matt. xxii. 13, “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away and cast him into outer darkness.” The first bonds are to be sought for; the second bonds to be dissolved; and the third to be avoided. For three reasons the bonds of the teachers are to be embraced (1) because by them safety is obtained against all evil; (2) because he who is bound by them is protected by the wisdom of God; (3) because from them he goes forth to government. Of the first reason, Eccles. vi. 30, “Then shall her fetters be a strong defence.” Of the second reason, Wisdom x. 14, “And left him not in bonds.” Of the third reason, Eccles. iv. 14, “Because out of prison and chains sometimes a man cometh forth to a kingdom.” There are not only the bonds of preceptors to be embraced, but the bonds of sinners to be dissolved. For the sinner is bound with the chains of pride, of avarice, of luxury, and of an evil tongue. Of the first chain, Job xxxix. 5, “Who hath sent out the wild ass free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?” By the wild ass pride is understood. Job xi. 12, “For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt;” whence the bands of the wild ass are the bands of pride. Of the second chain, Isa. v. 18, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity.” Riches are vanity. Of the third chain, Prov. viii. 22, “Immediately he followeth her as an ox led to be a victim, and not knowing that he is drawn like a fool to bonds,” (Vul.), for the hands of a woman are the bonds that draw. Ecc. vii. 27, “And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands.” These are the bonds that are to be dissolved.

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One Response to Advent Sermons of Saint Thomas Aquinas-Third Sunday in Advent

  • Closing in to the most blessed of days it can be said that Scrooge Doubting Thomas Judas Iscariot tiny Tim Mother Teresa and on the very very best of days Jesus Christ can be recognized within. Pope Watch teaches me, a lowly soul trying to serve my elderly brother and sister, that God IS and will always be Love. “He has loosed my bonds.” Amen.
    We are not God.
    We judge as if we are, and in so doing we blindly fashion ourselves with bonds.
    Bonds of Judas. Bonds of Scrooge. Bonds of doubting Thomas…doubting the Prince of Peace.

    May this week the Prince of Peace shatter any bonds that keep you from experiencing His Peace.

Advent Sermons of Saint Thomas Aquinas-Second Sunday in Advent

Sunday, December 7, AD 2014



Our progress through Advent continues with the Angelic Doctor as our guide:

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.”

Rom. xv. 4.

THE Apostle has taught us on the preceding Sunday to arise from the dead; on this day he teaches us towards what we ought to arise, for the Scripture, which our heavenly Master has given for us, is to be studied and read. And the Lord as a good Master was the more solicitous to provide us with the best writings, that He might make us perfectly instructed. “Whatever things,” He said, “were written, were written for our learning.” But these writings are comprised in two books that is to say, in the Book of Creation, and in the Book of Scripture.

The first book has so many creations: it has just so many most perfect writings, which teach the truth without a lie; hence, when Aristotle was asked whence he had learnt so many and so great things, answered, “From the things themselves, which know not how to deceive.” But they teach two things to be learned; and of the things which may be known four things are to be taught.

First, that there is a God; secondly, that this God is one; thirdly, that this God is triune; and, fourthly, that He is the highest good. For the world teaches by itself that it is His work. Wis. xiii. 5, “For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the Creator of them may be seen, to be known thereby.” Because they are one, and are preserved, in the same manner, they teach the unity of God; for, if there were many Gods, the world would have already been destroyed, since division is the cause of destruction.” S. Matt. xii. 25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” For all things exist by number, weight, and measure; or, according to S. Augustine, “On the Trinity by mode, by species, and by order; so that they teach a three-fold Godhead.” Wis. xi. 21, “Thou hast ordered all things in measure, number, and weight.” Because all things are good, they teach that He is the highest goodness through Whom so many good things proceed. According to S. Augustine it is a great token of goodness that every creature conceives itself to be good; therefore, because God is good, so are we. About the actions to be done, in like manner, we are taught a four-fold lesson. God is to be obeyed, loved, feared, and praised. Of the first, we ought to obey God, for all things serve Him. Ps. cxlviii. 6, “He hath made a decree which shall not pass.”

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Advent Sermons of Saint Thomas Aquinas-First Sunday in Advent

Sunday, November 30, AD 2014

I can think of no finer guide for us as we proceed through Advent this year than the Angelic Doctor.  Here is a sermon he wrote for the First Sunday in Advent:

“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek,” &c. — S. Matt. xxi. 5.

THIS is a prophecy of the Advent of Our Lord Jesus Christ, about which there are three signs.


First, the dignity of Him Who is coming; secondly, the utility of His Advent; thirdly, the manner in which He came.


Of the first sign we read in the Gospel, “Thy King cometh;” a merciful King; a just King; a wise King; a terrible King; an omnipotent King; an eternal King. A merciful King in sparing; a just in judging; a good in rewarding; a wise in governing; an omnipotent King in defending the good; a terrible King in punishing the evil; an eternal King in ruling eternally, and in bestowing immortality. Of the first, Isa. xvi. 5, “And in mercy shall the throne be established.”


Of the second, Isa. xxxiv., “And behold, a King shall reign in justice;” Isa. xvi. 5, “And He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David.”


Of the third, Ps. Ixxiii. 1, “Truly God, is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.”


Of the fourth, Jer. xxiii. 5, “I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute justice and judgment in the earth.”


Of the fifth, Esth. xiii. 9, “Lord, Lord, the King Almighty, for the whole world is in Thy power.”


Of the sixth, Wis. xi. 10, “As a severe King, Thou didst condemn and punish.”


Of the seventh, Jer. x. 10, ” But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God and an everlasting King ;” S. Luke i. 33, ” And of His Kingdom there shall be no end.”

Of the seven, collectively, 2 Macc. i. 24, “O Lord, Lord, God, Creator of all things, Who art fearful, and strong, and righteous, and merciful, and the only gracious King.” Wisdom in the Creator, mercy in the pitiful, goodness in the good, justice in the just, severity in the terrible, power in the powerful, eternity in the eternal.

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One Response to Advent Sermons of Saint Thomas Aquinas-First Sunday in Advent

  • I watched “Mary of Nazareth” on EWTN last night. The ending made everything else perfect. Jesus rises from the dead and visits Mary. Jesus says: “Mother” and Mary says: “Here I am.”
    Must go to Mass. Will read Thomas Aquinas later.

Saint Thomas Aquinas on Purgatory

Sunday, November 2, AD 2014

Article 1. Whether there is a Purgatory after this life?

Objection 1. It would seem that there is not a Purgatory after this life. For it is said (Apocalypse 14:13): “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors.” Therefore after this life no cleansing labor awaits those who die in the Lord, nor those who do not die in the Lord, since they cannot be cleansed. Therefore there is no Purgatory after this life.

Objection 2. Further, as charity is to an eternal reward, so is mortal sin to eternal punishment. Now those who die in mortal sin are forthwith consigned to eternal punishment. Therefore those who die in charity go at once to their reward; and consequently no Purgatory awaits them after this life.

Objection 3. Further, God Who is supremely merciful is more inclined to reward good than to punish evil. Now just as those who are in the state of charity, do certain evil things which are not deserving of eternal punishment, so those who are in mortal sin, at times perform actions, generically good, which are not deserving of an eternal reward. Therefore since these good actions are not rewarded after this life in those who will be damned, neither should those evil actions be punished after this life. Hence the same conclusion follows.

On the contrary, It is said (2 Maccabees 12:46): “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” Now there is no need to pray for the dead who are in heaven, for they are in no need; nor again for those who are in hell, because they cannot be loosed from sins. Therefore after this life, there are some not yet loosed from sins, who can be loosed therefrom; and the like have charity, without which sins cannot be loosed, for “charity covereth all sins” [Proverbs 10:12]. Hence they will not be consigned to everlasting death, since “he that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die for ever” [John 11:26]: nor will they obtain glory without being cleansed, because nothing unclean shall obtain it, as stated in the last chapter of the Apocalypse (verse 14). Therefore some kind of cleansing remains after this life.

Further, Gregory of Nyssa [De iis qui in fide dormiunt] says: “If one who loves and believes in Christ,” has failed to wash away his sins in this life, “he is set free after death by the fire of Purgatory.” Therefore there remains some kind of cleansing after this life.

I answer that, From the conclusions we have drawn above (III, 86, 4-5; Supplement, 12, 1) it is sufficiently clear that there is a Purgatory after this life. For if the debt of punishment is not paid in full after the stain of sin has been washed away by contrition, nor again are venial sins always removed when mortal sins are remitted, and if justice demands that sin be set in order by due punishment, it follows that one who after contrition for his fault and after being absolved, dies before making due satisfaction, is punished after this life. Wherefore those who deny Purgatory speak against the justice of God: for which reason such a statement is erroneous and contrary to faith. Hence Gregory of Nyssa, after the words quoted above, adds: “This we preach, holding to the teaching of truth, and this is our belief; this the universal Church holds, by praying for the dead that they may be loosed from sins.” This cannot be understood except as referring to Purgatory: and whosoever resists the authority of the Church, incurs the note of heresy.

Reply to Objection 1. The authority quoted is speaking of the labor of working for merit, and not of the labor of suffering to be cleansed.

Reply to Objection 2. Evil has not a perfect cause, but results from each single defect: whereas good arises from one perfect cause, as Dionysius asserts [Div. Nom. iv, 4]. Hence each defect is an obstacle to the perfection of good; while not every good hinders some consummation of evil, since there is never evil without some good. Consequently venial sin prevents one who has charity from obtaining the perfect good, namely eternal life, until he be cleansed; whereas mortal sin cannot be hindered by some conjoined good from bringing a man forthwith to the extreme of evils.

Reply to Objection 3. He that falls into mortal sin, deadens all the good he has done before, and what he does, while in mortal sin, is dead: since by offending God he deserves to lose all the good he has from God. Wherefore no reward after this life awaits him who dies in mortal sin, whereas sometimes punishment awaits him who dies in charity, which does not always wash away the sin which it finds, but only that which is contrary to it.


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16 Responses to Saint Thomas Aquinas on Purgatory

  • “Reply to Objection 1. The authority quoted is speaking of the labor of working for merit, and not of the labor of suffering to be cleansed.”
    Fallible man would willingly wait in purgatory until he is made whole in the Truth of Christ.

  • Probably not the place to put this but, Don, remove it if I have “crossed a line”.

    I just get texts from my oldest daughter asking me to pray for her youngest sister, L. She has serious “problems” that could end her life. She has told her older sister, A, that more or less, she is trying to die.

    This poor sweet child is the younger of the two from my wife’s long “meandering” and she is distant from both of her parents. I have pointedly told her that I love her, as my own but that I cannot replace her father, who was given to her by God. She is acutely aware of the “issues”. I held her snugly and as long as I could when we last spoke a little over a month ago and I told her how much I loved seeing her when I came down to visit her siblings, nieces and nephews. I asked her to take care of herself so that I could visit with her when I came down in the future.

    If any of you could find the time to pray for her, please do.

  • I will remember L in my prayers. May God surround her with His kindness and protection.

  • Karl,
    Will do so. Intercession is what I do…for decades for serious sinners and criminals mainly five who tried to maim or kill me in several rough neighborhoods. See how Aquinas says that dying in Charity is the path to Purgatory. You by your interceding want God to have mercy on her so she gets there to Charity. Purgatory is a reward…not the default setting. ” He has mercy on whom He has mercy and whom He wills, He hardens”. Your job is to intercede constantly for her whatever God shows you is “constantly” for you. Ignore all modern funeral parlor optimism. There is no empty hell. She needs your constant work of prayer. I’m pretty sure I and one other person mainly…got one murderer into Purgatory after decades. God is missing monks. Become her monk so that she reaches the reward that is Purgatory. Moses murdered a man. God punished him with being a shepherd for forty years for another man’s sheep….after he was used to regal living. Intercede with that God because He antecedently wills her salvation…and vehemently according to Fr. Most.
    Tell that girl you want her to pray twice a day for the captured women under Islamic State. She’ll be working at love and she’ll be losing self pity as she sees their situation in her mind. Give her the work of love to do.

  • Karl, we will pray for this young woman. Please do all you can too. Run up a large phone bill if you have to. Take her to dinner with your daughter if you can. The reason we make and save money is so we can burn it at a time like this. Been there, done that, so I know.

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  • Karl, I will add L to my prayer list. If by “issues” you mean she is depressed, she needs medical help and I will offer prayers for her and for a competent doctor to treat her. I think Bill Bannon has given you wise counsel.

  • L’s parents seem unable to decide what to do. I have given the name of someone whose daughter was involved in similar activity, to my oldest daughter to forward to her mother, who is L’s mother. This person has the permission of her daughter to discuss whatever needs to be addressed. I have asked my daughter to assure her mother that I AM NOT involved with this in any way, other than trying to help a young girl to cope with her circumstances.

    Thank you all for the advice and the prayers, sincerely.

  • Karl, There are a variety of situations wherein young people are told there is no way out and the young believe it, because they can’t see the way. There is always a way out. You post is so hopeful. More prayer.

  • bill bannon: There was no response I knew how to make. “Give her the work of love to do.” is what I would have said, if I knew how to say it.
    To Karl: She is a minor child who needs a vocation. Bill Bannon’s counsel is excellent. “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE” I can hear the bells.

  • A good doctor once told me that “It is normal to abnormal in an abnormal situation”

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  • Its interesting….there are many aspects of Catholicism I love (despite being a millennial man who votes and is liberal on a lot of things, I am 100% completely on board with “no sex till marriage” and WISH I was Catholic and believed this teaching in High School. Nothing happened, I just feel I would have felt spiritually liberated thinking this back then). There are other aspects and teachings that I do obey….but primarily out of fear. Purgatory is one of the aspects of Catholicism I love because it actually enables me to reconcile both our firm faith with my own theologically liberal instincts….

    In terms of the question “do you believe most of the people you know (who in my case are not Catholic) will go to hell?”, I now personally hope for it to turn out that rather than most of humanity going to hell, most in fact spend (potentially) LOTS of time in purgatory. I take comfort in an encyclical Pope Benedict published that Father Barron once mentioned talking about hoping that hell only has the worst of the worst. I like to think of purgatory more as an almost psychedelic alternate dimension where thought is made manifest as people confront themselves in a wonderland like maze. I like to think of what our faith might serve on such a plane, such as maybe making navigating said maze easier in ways we can’t see in our three dimensional universe.

    Those are just some thoughts and hopes on why purgatory is awesome! What do you think? What aspects of purgatory theology/its place in Catholicism do you like?

  • “It is normal to BE abnormal in an abnormal situation.” (No excuse for sloppy proofreading.) The good doctor’s advice, by the way, made me feel normal. When I feel abnormal I just busy myself and make myself useful. The Holy Spirit provides. Prayers, Karl.

  • on Brittany Maynard: One mentally disabled individual and homicidal enablers. Some people believe that death will cure them of pain and suffering, when, in fact, only God cures and heals and saves. What if, and I do not know, as death ends change and becomes the here and now forever, what if the pain and the suffering become eternally permanentized for the “assisted” suicide?
    Being assisted in suicide and assisting in suicide says nothing about the human being composed of mortal body and immortal soul. “Be afraid of those who would kill your immortal soul.” Only swine possessed by the devil run off a cliff into the sea and drown themselves.

  • Pope Benedict XVI asked the laity to “pick a priest and pray for him your whole life”. It never occurred to me until several years later that Pope Benedict XVI, as a priest, was asking for our prayers. I did pick a priest and promise to pray for him my whole life. My pledge has been my companion for all this time.

Saint Thomas Aquinas: On the Cross

Sunday, September 14, AD 2014



Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act.

   It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.

If you seek the example of love:
Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends.
Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake.

   If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways: either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth. Therefore Christ’s patience on the cross was great.
In patience let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, bore his cross and despised the shame.

If you seek an example of humility, look upon the crucified one, for God wished to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to die.

   If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death.
For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.

   If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in who are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink.

   Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves. Nor to honors, for he experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

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2 Responses to Saint Thomas Aquinas: On the Cross

Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

Tuesday, January 28, AD 2014

As a highly Pagan poet said to me: “The Reformation happened because people hadn’t the brains to understand Aquinas.”

GK Chesterton

A whole lifetime is far too short to survey the intellectual and spiritual riches left to us by Saint Thomas Aquinas.  He is best studied bite sized chunk by bite sized chunk.  Here is such a chunk that I think is useful as a guide to Catholic bloggers:

Article 4. Whether a man is bound to correct his prelate?

Objection 1. It would seem that no man is bound to correct his prelate. For it is written (Exodus 19:12): “The beast that shall touch the mount shall be stoned,” [Vulgate: ‘Everyone that shall touch the mount, dying he shall die.’] and (2 Samuel 6:7) it is related that the Lord struck Oza for touching the ark. Now the mount and the ark signify our prelates. Therefore prelates should not be corrected by their subjects.

Objection 2. Further, a gloss on Galatians 2:11, “I withstood him to the face,” adds: “as an equal.” Therefore, since a subject is not equal to his prelate, he ought not to correct him.

Objection 3. Further, Gregory says (Moral. xxiii, 8) that “one ought not to presume to reprove the conduct of holy men, unless one thinks better of oneself.” But one ought not to think better of oneself than of one’s prelate. Therefore one ought not to correct one’s prelate.

On the contrary, Augustine says in his Rule: “Show mercy not only to yourselves, but also to him who, being in the higher position among you, is therefore in greater danger.” But fraternal correction is a work of mercy. Therefore even prelates ought to be corrected.

I answer that, A subject is not competent to administer to his prelate the correction which is an act of justice through the coercive nature of punishment: but the fraternal correction which is an act of charity is within the competency of everyone in respect of any person towards whom he is bound by charity, provided there be something in that person which requires correction.

Now an act which proceeds from a habit or power extends to whatever is contained under the object of that power or habit: thus vision extends to all things comprised in the object of sight. Since, however, a virtuous act needs to be moderated by due circumstances, it follows that when a subject corrects his prelate, he ought to do so in a becoming manner, not with impudence and harshness, but with gentleness and respect. Hence the Apostle says (1 Timothy 5:1): “An ancient man rebuke not, but entreat him as a father.” Wherefore Dionysius finds fault with the monk Demophilus (Ep. viii), for rebuking a priest with insolence, by striking and turning him out of the church.

Reply to Objection 1. It would seem that a subject touches his prelate inordinately when he upbraids him with insolence, as also when he speaks ill of him: and this is signified by God’s condemnation of those who touched the mount and the ark.

Reply to Objection 2. To withstand anyone in public exceeds the mode of fraternal correction, and so Paul would not have withstood Peter then, unless he were in some way his equal as regards the defense of the faith. But one who is not an equal can reprove privately and respectfully. Hence the Apostle in writing to the Colossians (4:17) tells them to admonish their prelate: “Say to Archippus: Fulfil thy ministry [Vulgate: ‘Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.’ Cf. 2 Timothy 4:5.” It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.”

Reply to Objection 3. To presume oneself to be simply better than one’s prelate, would seem to savor of presumptuous pride; but there is no presumption in thinking oneself better in some respect, because, in this life, no man is without some fault. We must also remember that when a man reproves his prelate charitably, it does not follow that he thinks himself any better, but merely that he offers his help to one who, “being in the higher position among you, is therefore in greater danger,” as Augustine observes in his Rule quoted above.

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6 Responses to Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

  • Summa Theologica because theology is the study of God.

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  • As a Lay Dominican, I love all things Aquinas. I like how your post started by saying the following is “useful” to Catholic bloggers (since I am one), but then you didn’t comment any more. I drew my own conclusions on how this section of Aquinas’ Summa may be applied to Catholic bloggers (i.e. don’t use your blog to openly bash your bishop or the pope, but you may offer criticism with charity), but without your further commentary I was left wondering if I had arrived at the same conclusion you had. In any event, great post! Thanks!

  • Thank you for your kind words Christopher. You arrived at the same conclusion that I did.

  • Thank you Donald. I have been struggling with the proper balance in rendering criticism of the USCCB and certain bishops. We are in a fight against the ideological forces of evil and infighting is not helpful so on the one hand we must be careful that criticism of any sort does not undermine true authority. Still, I wonder what Aquinas would say with respect to the willimgness of some clerics to render ill informed judgments on prudential and public policy issues, or when the bishops through the USCCB advocate for legislation on global warming, or obamacare minus abortion, or minimum wage mandates which hurt employment, or increased spending on welfare, or when the CHD continues to fund questionable “social justice” causes. In that arena, dispute, argument and challenges to wrong thinking is critical and “charity” is misunderstood to require tolerance of the intolerable. So what would Aquinas say to us and to those clerics who render prudential judgments in imprudent ways.

  • So God will stone us to death if we tell a pro-choice Bishop he’s full of Satan?

    I think you might be confusing those passages.

    God is telling us not to correct the priest in his priestly duties. You’d have to be absurd to suggest that we’re never a part of correcting the wayward men who become priests when they bring scandal to the Church.

    Do you seriously counsel that we let grave evils occur whenever there is an evil bishop? Can the bishop commit murder and we would be stoned to death for correcting him?