Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Hail Mary

Wednesday, January 1, AD 2014

And again the name, ‘Mary’ befits her, which is (also) interpreted as ‘Star of the Sea,’ for as by this star seafarers are directed to port, so are Christians guided to glory by Mary.

Saint Thomas Aquinas


There are three things contained in this (angelic) salutation. The first part comes from the Angel, Gabriel, namely, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.” The second part comes from Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, namely, “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” The Church adds the third part, to wit, “Mary,” for the Angel did not say, “Hail, Mary,” but rather, “Hail, full of grace.” Still, this name ‘Mary,’ according to its meaning, befits the Angel’s words, as we shall see.

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee”

With respect to the first part, consider that in ancient times it was exceedingly great for an Angel to appear to men, or, that men might offer them reverence was held to be a great honor. Hence, to the honor of Abraham it is written that he received angelic guests and showed them reverence. That an Angel reverence a man, however, was never heard of until the Angel reverently greeted the Blessed Virgin, saying, “Hail.”

That in ancient times the Angel did not reverence man, but rather man reverenced the Angel comes from the fact that the Angel is greater, and greater with respect to three things. First, with respect to dignity, since the Angel is a spiritual nature: “You make your Angels to be spirits, etc.” (Ps. 103,4). Man, indeed, is corruptible by nature, for which reason Abraham said: “I am speaking to the Lord, I, who am but dust and ashes” (Gen 18,27). Second, with respect to their familiarity with GOD, for the Angel belongs to the household of GOD (‘familiaris’) inasmuch as he assists Him. “A thousand times a thousand minister to Him, and ten thousand myriads assist Him.” (Dan 7,10). Man, though, is like a stranger, set off from GOD by sin: “I withdrew in flight” (Ps 54,8). Therefore, it was fitting that man should reverence the Angel as one on close and familiar terms with the king (‘propinquum and familiarem regis’!). Third, the Angel took preeminence on account of the plenitude of the splendor of divine grace. The Angels, namely, participate in the light of divine grace itself in the very highest degree. “Is there any number to His armies upon whom His light does not arise?” (Job 25,3). And this is why they always appear with light. But men, even though they participate somewhat in the light of grace, do so only slightly and in obscurity.

Consequently, it was unfitting that men be shown reverence until someone should be found in this (human) nature who exceeds the angels in these three points. And this was the Blessed Virgin. In order to indicate that she exceeded them in these three points the Angel wished to offer her reverence, saying “Hail.”

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8 Responses to Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Hail Mary

  • When we bless ourselves, and every person and the world around us, we give testimony to what already is. One Hail Mary

  • It is amazing to me that many people who refer to themselves as Bible Christians (I encountered an unpleasant one on the Internet yesterday) disregard this entire section of St. Luke’s Gospel. Nobody else in Scripture is referred to as Maria is by the angel St. Gabriel. “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you.” Fr. Pablo Straub put it very well. He stated, “Fullness of grace is total absence of sin.”

    It is a shame that Marian devotion has declined in the days after the Second Vatican Council. I remember seeing a picture on the Internet of the cathedral in St Louis completely filled for a novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help during WWII.

    Happy New Year to you and your family, Mr. McClarey. This item is well worth repeating on the Solemnity of the Annunciation on March 25.

  • “Happy New Year to you and your family, Mr. McClarey. This item is well worth repeating on the Solemnity of the Annunciation on March 25.”

    Same to you and your family PF! I will do so. The reflections of the Angelic Doctor on the Hail Mary is definitely a keeper. A sign of Catholic orthodoxy has ever been a fervent devotion to the Mother of God.

  • I might be misreading this, but it seems as if Aquinas didn’t realize that it was still very rare for angels to appear to men. Could be a little insight into the man.

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  • “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.” I think I will stand with St Thomas A.’s interpretation (“full of grace”) over and against the a-traditional a-scriptural Raymond A. Brown-inspired translation in the “New” NAB, “Hail, most highly favored one.”

  • Lot of speculations in this article.

Pentecost: Why Was the Holy Spirit Sent?

Sunday, May 19, AD 2013



Saint Thomas Aquinas, in his sermon on Pentecost, explains why the Holy Spirit was sent to us:

I say, first, the Holy Spirit is sent without His needing to be sent. When someone is sent to a place so that an event may happen which could not happen unless he were sent, this would be a sending out of necessity. But this has no place in the sending of the Holy Spirit, whom the Book of Wisdom describes as “having every power, beholding all things” (Wis. 7:23).  What, then, is the reason for the sending of the Holy Spirit? Our neediness; and the necessity of this neediness of ours comes partly from human nature’s dignity, and partly from its deficiency. For the rational creature excels other creatures because it can actually reach the enjoyment of God, which no other earthly creature can do. “The Lord is my portion, said my soul” (Lam. 3:24). Some seek their portion in this world, such as those who seek worldly honor or dignity. But the Psalmist says: “It is good for me to cling to God” (Ps. 72:28).   You should consider that all things that are moved to some end must have something moving them toward that end. Those that are moved to a natural end have a mover in nature; but those that are moved to a supernatural end, namely to the enjoyment of God, must have a supernatural mover. Now, nothing can lead us to our end unless two things are presupposed, for someone is led to an end by two things—knowledge and love. The kind of knowledge in question is supernatural: “No eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it arisen in the heart of man, what God hath prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). “Never have they heard, nor perceived with ears, nor has eye seen, O God, without Thee, what Thou hast prepared for those who await Thee” (Is. 64:4).  Now, whatever a man knows, he knows either by discovering it himself or by learning from another. Vision serves discovery and hearing serves learning, and for this reason it is said that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” showing that it [the final end] altogether transcends human knowledge. It exceeds human desire, too, and that is why Scripture says: “nor hath it arisen in the heart of man.” How, then, is man led to know it? It was necessary for heavenly secrets to be made known to men; it was necessary for the Holy Spirit to be invisibly sent, in order to move man’s affections so that he may tend toward that end. And thus it says: “Eye hath not seen.” How, then, do we know? “God hath revealed it to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit examineth all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). “Who would be able to know Thy thought [sensum], unless Thou gavest wisdom and sent the Holy Spirit from the Most High?” (Wis. 9:17).  Therefore the Holy Spirit is sent not owing to any need of His, but for the sake of our benefit.

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2 Responses to Pentecost: Why Was the Holy Spirit Sent?

  • Our master the Teacher came humbly in human form into our world with great love to gather and instruct God’s children. He proved to all to be “God among us”, as the Spirit had named him at the time of His conception, through the “works” he preformed. And thus God revealed He could be human…. for our sake.
    Now, the Spirit of Love at Pentecost comes to the disciples, and through them, to all humanity to give us the strength and courage to go forth in His name accepting the challenge to do “God’s work” on earth…. for His sake.

  • “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they May be one, as we are one, (23) I in them and you in me, that They May Be Brought To Perfection As One, that the world May know That You Sent Me, AND THAT YOU LOVED THEM EVEN AS YOU LOVED ME.”

    Is this not the workings of the Holy Spirit?
    The the world May Know Jesus & know the Father sent Him….and that They love us.
    A call to love.

Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

Monday, January 28, AD 2013


As a highly Pagan poet said to me: “The Reformation happened because people hadn’t the brains to understand Aquinas.” The Church is more immortally important than the State; but the State has its rights, for all that. This Christian duality had always been implicit, as in Christ’s distinction between God and Caesar, or the dogmatic distinction between the natures of Christ.
But St. Thomas has the glory of having seized this double thread as the clue to a thousand things; and thereby created the only creed in which the saints can be sane. It presents itself chiefly, perhaps, to the modern world as the only creed in which the poets can be sane. For there is nobody now to settle the Manichees; and all culture is infected with a faint unclean sense that Nature and all things behind us and below us are bad; that there is only praise to the highbrow in the height. St. Thomas exalted God without lowering Man; he exalted Man without lowering Nature. Therefore, he made a cosmos of common sense; terra viventium; a land of the living.
His philosophy, like his theology, is that of common sense.
He does not torture the brain with desperate attempts to explain existence by explaining it away. The first steps of his mind are the first steps of any honest mind; just as the first virtues of his creed could be those of any honest peasant.

G.K. Chesterton

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12 Responses to Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

  • It is worth recalling Etienne Gilson’s comments on Chesterton’s biography of St Thomas.

    “I consider it as being without possible comparison the best book ever written on St. Thomas. Nothing short of genius can account for such an achievement. Everybody will no doubt admit that it is a “clever” book, but the few readers who have spent twenty or thirty years in studying St. Thomas Aquinas, and who, perhaps, have themselves published two or three volumes on the subject, cannot fail to perceive that the so-called “wit” of Chesterton has put their scholarship to shame. He has guessed all that which they had tried to demonstrate, and he has said all that which they were more or less clumsily attempting to express in academic formulas. “

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  • I have started Etienne Gilson’s Elements of Christian Philosophy. I will admit that it has been on the shelf for awhile. Just couldn’t get past the first chapter. Then, as a lark, I read it out loud. Ah, what a difference. Maybe I’ll try the same with Mr. Chesterton’s treatment of the Angelic Doctor. It’s been sitting awhile, too.

    Wasn’t it Stacy Trasancos that sighed longing for a relationship with the Catholic religion that went beyond the bookshelf?

  • One philosophic error of Aquinas, contrary to Chesterton, seems to be that he exhalted man while lowering God. Or that he at least opened the back door to humanism.

  • Not at all. Aquinas believed that God gave us our intellects by which we could understand much about Him. However he also understood that the human mind could never hope to entirely fathom God and that what the mind cannot understand the human heart often can. Near the end of his life Thomas had a mystical experience and stopped writing. He explained it to one of his fellow Dominicans:

    “I adjure you by the living almighty God, and by the faith you have in our order, and by charity that you strictly promise me you will never reveal in my lifetime what I tell you. Everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.”

  • The critique I’ve come across is that Aquinas lacked a ‘high’ view of the Fall. He didn’t take into account the profound effect the Fall had on our intellect. This seems to have elevated nature on a par with grace to where nature would soon dethrone grace, i.e. the humanist ‘renaissance.’

  • Jon

    It is important to distinguish between St Thomas’s own teaching and that of some of his commentators, especially Suarez and his successors. They had talked of a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel. This “two-tier” account of nature and grace was based on this view that the addition of “grace” was something super-added to a human nature that was already complete and sufficient in itself and apart from any intrinsic human need.

    To rebut this misunderstanding of St Thomas was a central aim of the Nouvelle Théologie and united such such disparate thinkers as Blondel, Maréchal, the Dominicans, Chenu and Congar and the Jesuits, Lubac and Daniélou. Their central thesis was that the natural and the supernatural do not have utterly separate ends in and of themselves and that this is the teaching of St Thomas.

  • “The critique I’ve come across is that Aquinas lacked a ‘high’ view of the Fall.”

    “In this way the sin of the first parents is the cause of death and of all like defects in human nature. For the sin of the first parents removed original justice; through this not only were the lower powers of the soul held harmoniously under the control of reason but the whole body was subordinated to the soul without any defect…. Once, therefore, original justice was lost through the sin of the first parents, just as human nature was injured in soul by the disordering of the powers, so also it became corruptible by reason of the disturbance of the body’s order. (Summa Theologiae I-I1, 85, 5)”

    The Angelic Doctor used the imagery of wounds to liken the effect of original sin on human souls and human nature. I do not think that Aquinas viewed the Fall as anything but devastating when it came to its impact on Man.

  • There’s a line – it may in fact have been from Chesterton describing Thomists – that you learn more about them by reading their works than you learn about their subject. I don’t see how you could fault Aquinas for errors in emphasis without having a full picture of his thinking. Aquiring that picture would take at least a lifetime – but oh, what a life it would be.

  • My one problem with Chesterton’s book is that he set up Augustine and the Augustinians as the bad guys (or to put it better, the bearers of a less sane understanding). There may be truth in that. But I haven’t been able to reconcile it with the fact that the Dominicans were essentially an Augustinian order.

  • Chesterton didn’t like ambiguity or anything approaching a fideistic stance. So he would have held to that sentiment about Augustine. Chesterton liked that Aquinas affirmed the world and the mind and probably felt Augustine in some sense disparaged them both. But that was Chesterton–his personality and inclination.

  • St Augustine was a Platonist and, as Mgr Ronald Knox puts it, “The issue hangs on the question whether the Divine Fact is something given, or something to be inferred. Your Platonist, satisfied that he has formed his notion of God without the aid of syllogisms or analogies, will divorce reason from religion”

Fortnight For Freedom Fourth of July: Catholicism and the Declaration of Independence

Wednesday, July 4, AD 2012




Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.


Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.


The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.


We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the final of these blog posts and is written by commenter Greg Mockeridge.



John Adams foresaw the all pomp with which we celebrate the 4th of July, but the date he gave for that was not the 4th but the 2nd. The reason he gave the 2nd was that independence was voted on and decided by the Continental Congress on the 2nd. What took place on the 4th was that final draft of the Declaration of Independence, after about a hundred revisions to Thomas Jefferson’s original draft, was approved.


It is actually more fitting that we celebrate independence on 4th as opposed to the 2nd because it isn’t merely independence we celebrate, but the ideas, principles, and truths this country was founded on. Fidelity to these very ideas really enable Americans to be Patriots as opposed to merely Nationalists. Just as one cannot be a good Catholic without a concerted effort to know and understand what it is he gives his assent of faith to, one cannot be a true American Patriot unless he likewise makes an effort to understand our heritage as Americans. No other U.S. founding document expresses these truths better than the Declaration of Independence. If more Americans became better acquainted with the Declaration, there would not be so much confusion regarding the Constitution.


Our Catholic faith not only does not relieve us of this patriotic duty, it actually reinforces it. An 1884 statement of the American bishops said it this way:



Teach your children to take a special interest in the history of our country. We consider the and laws as a work of special Providence, its framers “building wiser than they knew,” the Almighty’s hand guiding them….As we establishment of our country’s independence, the shaping of its liberties desire therefore that the history of the United States should be carefully taught in all our Catholic schools, and have directed that it should be specially dwelt upon in the education of the young ecclesiastical students in our preparatory seminaries; so also we desire that it form a favorite part of the home library and home reading.

A document from the Second Vatican Council “Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World” better known by its Latin title Gaudium et Spes says: “Citizens should cultivate a generous and loyal spirit of patriotism… “(#75)

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6 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Fourth of July: Catholicism and the Declaration of Independence

  • “But they knew, as the testimony of human experience down through the ages gives witness to, that peace cannot be had at the price of acquiescence to tyranny.”

    Something the bishops are discovering today, but I doubt they even realize why. The “modern” bishops “acquiesced” to the Democrat Party – over abortion. The bishops of “old” taught it was a sin against the 5th commandment to deny a person their human rights, and “particularly so in joining an organization that promoted it.” That can be found stated in the 1958 version of Life In Christ – Instructions In The Catholic Faith – 15 years before Roe v Wade.

    The Democrat Party is an “organization” and they have as part of their stated platform, support for and promotion of Row v Wade, which denies a person their “right to life.” The Democrat Party is also the main reason, if not the sole reason, abortion on demand remains the law of the land. In the 1995 updated of Life In Christ, the bishops minced the Church teaching that denying a person their “human rights” is a sin against the 5th commandment by narrowing their focus to strictly “prejudice,” and illustrating that by using examples of only the “Nazi Party and the KKK.” No mention of the Democrat Party and their denial of human rights.

    The Democrat Party of the United States is responsible for the deaths of more innocent human beings than the Nazi Party of Germany, the KKK of the south, and for that matter the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, combined. And the bishops give the Democrat Party a pass about joining such an “organization” being a sin. Why?

  • It looks like at least part of this article was lifted from a chain email that contained some false information:

  • “It looks like at least part of this article was lifted from a chain email that contained some false information:”

    Actually, I got that part from a speech Rush Limbaugh’s father (Rush H. Limaugh Jr. Rush is actually Rush H. LImbaugh III) used to give in Limbaugh’s hometown Cape, Girardieu. MO. Rush printed the transcript in his letter years ago.

    “Something the bishops are discovering today, but I doubt they even realize why. The “modern” bishops “acquiesced” to the Democrat Party – over abortion.”

    The curve is till a bit too steep for most of our bishops at this point. I would go so far as to say that until they realize and are willing to own up for just what they have done to bring this about, all this “Fortnight for Freedom” business, as needed as it is, will amount to nothing more than a dog and pony show. When it comes to issues outside their competence where Catholic teaching allows a diversity of viewpoints like capital punishment, illegal immigration, they need to start acting like pastors and not like left-wing ideologues. Untill they do, their credibility to defend religious liberty will be zero minus ten.

    However, there is at least some hope. I was watching some of the USCCB General Assembly on EWTN a few weeks ago and after one of Bp Blaire’s presentations Bp Papracki of Springfield, ILL commented that “We [meaning the bishops] do not yet have the humlity to speak on matters outside our competence.” Understatement of the year that was cause for good cheer.

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Corpus Cristi: A Saint, A Pope and a Miracle

Sunday, June 17, AD 2012


(A guest post from Don the Kiwi on the backstory regarding the institution of the feast of Corpus Cristi.)


Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of Corpus Cristi, which literally means the body of Christ, in solemn commemoration of the Holy Eucharist.   As with many of the great feasts of the Church there is a fascinating history associated with the establishment of this holy day, which involves a saint and a miracle.

God’s instrument on this occasion was a woman known to history as Saint Juliana of Liege, or Julian of Mount Comillon where she was educated as a girl by the Augustinian nuns at the convent there, after the death of her parents when she was only five.  She was accepted into the order, made her religious profession, and became the mother superior of the convent.

Juliana had an ardent love of Our Lady, and also cultivated an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.  As she grew in her vocation, she increasingly longed for a special feast in honor of the Sacrament.  She had a vision of the Church as a full moon with one dark spot, symbolizing the lack of such a feast.  Juliana expressed her to desire to the Bishop of Liege and the Archdeacon of Liege, who received her request favorably.  In 1246 the Bishop at a synod of bishops from lands now in the country of Belgium, successfully proposed that a feast in honor of the Blessed Eucharist  be instituted in the dioceses respresented at the Synod.  The Archdeacon of Liege, Jacques Pantaleon, in time became the Bishop of Verdun, then Patriarch of Jerusalem, and, on August 29, 1261, was elected Pope under the name of Urban IV.

Shortly after this, in an example of that synchronicity that often reveals the Hand of God in history, one of the great Eucharistic miracles of the Church occurred.  In 1263 Peter of Prague, a German priest, stopped at a town called Bolsena while on pilgrimage to Rome.  He was a pious priest but had difficulty in believing that Christ was truly present in the consecrated host.  While celebrating Mass in the Church of Saint Cristina, he finished saying the words of consecration, when blood started to seep from the consecrated host and trickled over his hands and onto the altar cloth and corporal

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5 Responses to Corpus Cristi: A Saint, A Pope and a Miracle

  • Originally, the feast was kept on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, to recall the institution of the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday.

    I have been told that there was a fierce debate amongst the French hierarchy, when the government offered them either Ascension Day (Holy Thursday) or Corpus Christi (Le Fête-Dieu or Feast of God) as a public holiday, but not both – A public holiday on a Thursday inevitably means a long weekend, known as “faire le pont” (make the bridge). Ascension Day won and Corpus Christi was transferred to the following Sunday.

    The old name does survive and I think it is a splendid one.

  • That shows how direct The Holy Spirit is with convincing people of things.

  • St Michael’s near here had a week of Adoration followed by a Eucharistic Procession through several blocks of business and residential to celebrate Corpus Christi– many many participants all week and for the procession and benediction. Praise God.

  • It is with nostalgia that I remember how we used to celebrate this Great Feast on Thursdays while in Consolata and Loreto Sisters’ Convent Secondary Schools. We were sent the day before the fields around the Schools to collect flowers which we would throw down on the Route where the Procession was taking place. Following Jesus raised on a huge Monstrance stirred such strong emotions in my heart that are unforgettable.

    They still stir – even if not so strongly as when I was a teenager – each time I am sitting before the Blessed Sacrament in the Adoration Chapel, during Benediction. It was the same last Sunday, when we took Jesus around the Streets of Nairobi City Centre. Our Holy Family Minor Basilica, the Seat of the Head of the Catholic Church in Kenya, John Cardinal Njue, is smack in the middle of what we call “The City Square”.

    Oh my Jesus, may You be adored, worshiped, honoured, praised and loved in all the Tabernacles and Adoration Chapels in all the Catholic Churches all over the world, now and until th end of Time

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    In Alsace, Corpus Christi is known as “Kranzeltag,” or “Day of Garlands” from the flowers lining the streets for the procession

Corpus Christi, the Angelic Doctor and my Wife

Sunday, June 10, AD 2012

When Corpus Christi rolls around I always think of Saint Thomas Aquinas and his great eucharistic hymn Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium written by Saint Thomas at the command of Pope Urban IV to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi instituted by the Pope in 1264.   It says something vastly significant about the Church that perhaps the greatest intellect of all time, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was not only a Doctor of the Church, but also capable of writing this magnificent hymn. 

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 Saint Thomas on the Real Presence:

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22 Responses to Corpus Christi, the Angelic Doctor and my Wife

  • About thirty years ago I remember reading in The Spectator an article by Auberon Waugh (son of the great Evelyn) in which he mentions St Thomas “whose mighty intellect thunders down the centuries, making the pronouncements of modern theologians appear as squeaks upon the margin”.

    About the same time (it was when Kung and Schillebeeckx were being criticized by the CDF) another Spectator article (not, I think, by Waugh) contrasted the laissez-faire attitude of the Anglicans with that of Cardinals Seper and Ratzinger who “stand like archangels with flaming swords” in defence of the truth.

  • Donald: You are doubly blessed, by your wife, Catherine, and by your children.

  • Indeed I am Mary, and so they all tell me every day! 🙂

  • We also know he resurrected because St. Thomas the Apostle gave us a visceral account of feeling his wounds.

  • So we also know that he ascended into heaven because he walks here through the people of his body which he is the head of.

  • Donald, you are so blessed – with family and knowledge. I was just reading this part of the Summa this weekend, and the same thing about learning from faith struck me. Thank you, this is beautiful.

  • “Indeed I am Mary, and so they all tell me every day! ” I am tickled by your response. Have a wonderful day Donald, and a good life.

  • Speaking of St Thomas as a poet, one of the earliest known limericks occurs imbedded in one of his (prose) prayers of thankgiving after Holy Communion:

    Sit vitiorum meorum evacuatio
    Concupiscentae et libidinis exterminatio,
    Caritatis et patientiae,
    Humilitatis et obedientiae,
    Omniumque virtutum augmentatio.

    [Let it be for the elimination for my sins,
    For the expulsion of desire and lust,
    For the increase of charity and patience,
    Humility and obedience,
    As well as all the virtues.]

  • Beautiful music Don.
    And along with Mary deVoe, I am more than a little tickled by your following comment. 🙂
    Do you know the full history behind the Feast of Corpus Christi?
    I’ll give you a hint – St. Juliana of Liege. I did an article on it quite a few years ago for our RCIA and our parish monthly bulletin. I’ll try to find it and link it here, otherwise I’ll e-mail it to you, if it stii exists 🙂

  • Donald, as I have confessed before, I am an intellectual midget. But reading the Diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska, (August 25, 1905 – October 5,1938) Christ’s Secretary and Apostle of His Divine Mercy Message – Divine Mercy in My Soul – her testimony should convince the strongest doubter of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Consecrated Bread and Wine. Again and again, this Holy Nun, with only a Class 3 Academic education level, and who has written a 600 page Diary which is very rich in Theology, tells us, very often, during the Holy Mass at Consecration, when the Priest held the Blessed Host aloft, she clearly saw Jesus Christ Himself within the Host… times He came to her on her kneeler as a small Boy……during Benediction, she often saw the Rays from the Divine Mercy Image extending into the Blessed Host on the Monstrance, and from there, radiating in the whole Chapel and outside and then returning back into the Blessed Host.

    For those who still doubt the Real Presence, we have several Eucharistic Miracles throughout the History of Mother Church. The first one took place in Luciano in the year 700 AD and which is still ongoing. The Host after Consecration turned into Human Flesh from a human flesh and the Wine turned into human blood. In the 1970’s testing was done and confirmed that the flesh was a human heart tissue and the blood of human origin, both AB blood type. Other testings when science now fully advanced, confirm the person to be male, 33 years old!!!!!!!

    However, we do not need these Miracles to believe that Jesus is truly Present in the Consecrated Bread and Wine and remains Present in the Hosts in all the Tabernacles and Adoration Chapels in the Catholic Churches world-wide. His Words regarding the Institution of this Sacrament, which He did during the Last Supper, were unequivocal, such that, when some Disciples refused to accept this Teaching of eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood and walked away from Him, He was ready to lose even His 12 Apostles and start all over again because His Statement was FINAL.

    Jesus Christ is God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He is The Way, The Truth and The Life. And as Pope Paul VI so eloquently wrote in the “Credo of the People of God” : “The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord gloriously in Heaven is rendered present by the Sacrament in the many places on earth where the Holy Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present after the Sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the Tabernacle, the Living Heart of each of our Churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honour and adore in the Blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word Whom they cannot see, and Who, without leaving Heaven, is made present before us”. (pub.1968).

  • Indeed Mary. If we truly comprehended the majesty of what happens at the miracle of the mass few of us would ever get off our knees. It is not for nothing that Christ referred to Himself by the name God gave to Moses as His name: I Am. The eucharist brings us in touch with the Ultimate Reality of all existence.

  • Correct Don! As is usually the case, great Saints led the way for Peter. Send the article and I will post it here at TAC.

  • Thank you Stacy! The Angelic Doctor is to theology what Newton is to physics, which brings to mind Blake’s poem:

    Mock on, Mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
    Mock on, Mock on, ’tis all in vain.
    You throw the sand against the wind,
    And the wind blows it back again.

    And every sand becomes a Gem
    Reflected in the beams divine;
    Blown back, they blind the mocking Eye,
    But still in Israel’s paths they shine.

    The Atoms of Democritus
    And Newton’s Particles of light
    Are sands upon the Red sea shore
    Where Israel’s tents do shine so bright.

  • [email protected]

    Is this the Sr Faustina Kowalska whose writings were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum by Bl. John XXIII in 1959? This in itself inclines one to take them magno cum grano salis, despite the actions of a later Pontiff, who happened to be her countryman. I doubt that in the first full year of his pontificate John merely rubber-stamped everything Cardinal Ottaviani put in front of him.

  • John Nolan.
    You will find that Pope JP II removed the prohibition from her works – I don’t know the full story, but I understand there was a bit of “Vatican political intrigue” over Sr. Faustina, who is now, St. Faustina, and her Divine Mercy Chaplet and the pictur of Jesus, The Divine Mercy is now promoted throughout the world. Most of our parish, and many parishes in NZ pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily.

  • Don.
    I have found a hard copy – I have changed computers 3 times since i did the article, so I don’t have it archived. So I will scan copy, and e-mail it to you.

  • I would be more inclined to buy into the Divine Mercy cult if the eponymous picture were not such an example of Catholic kitsch. Admittedly, you could say the same about most Sacred Heart pictures, but that devotion began in the 13th century, had its own Mass and Office in the 17th, and was not extended to the Universal Church until the 19th. ‘Divine Mercy Sunday’ has more than a whiff about it of those irritating ‘themed’ Sundays which keep cropping up in the NO.

  • “Indeed Mary. If we truly comprehended the majesty of what happens at the miracle of the mass few of us would ever get off our knees. It is not for nothing that Christ referred to Himself by the name God gave to Moses as His name: I Am. The eucharist brings us in touch with the Ultimate Reality of all existence.”
    God gave Moses His Name “I AM WHO I AM” I AM God, the Father, I AM, God the Son and I AM God the Holy Spirit. The Consecration of the Host at the elevation continues throughtout the world unabated. If there were no reserved Sacrament in the Tabernacle, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ is preserved in the ongoing and continuous consecration around the world in the church. It is the greatest consolation to know that Jesus Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament waiting for you and for me. When we are caught up to heaven, you and I will share in this eternal Consecration.

  • John Nolan, the prohibition of the Divine Mercy Devotion as revealed in Saint Faustina’s Diary was in 1958 when insufficient information was available due to the fact that there was instability in Poland in the aftermath of the 1939-45 War. The translations of the available Documents and the Diary itself were poorly done. However, when the full correct original Documents, written and oral evidence was available from the Convent where Saint Faustina was a Nun for 13 years, the Original Diary – now correctly transalated – along with written and verbal evidence of those who knew Saint Faustina personally was at last presented to the Holy See, together with originals of written Evidence from her Superiors of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy were formally submitted to the Divine Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Prohibition was lifted on the 15th April, 1978. Indeed in February, 1935, Jesus Himself had revealed to Saint Faustina that a time would come when the work on His Message of Mercy would appear to be completely undone with these words in Diary No.378). “There will come a time when this work, which God is demanding so very much, will be as though utterly undone. And then, God will act with great power, which will give evidence of its authenticity”. And true enough, for Twenty Years this Message of God’s Mercy appeared as if it was dead, just as Jesus had predicted way back in February, 1935!!!!

    With regard to the Divine Mercy Image, in March, 1934, when Sister Faustina was saddened that the Artist had not captured the beauty of His Countenance, this is what Jesus said to her: “Not in the beauty of the colour, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this Image, but in My Grace “(Diary No.313).

    John, the Divine Mercy Devotion is not a cult. It a Way of Life. Since I cannot give you many of Jesus Christ’s Words regarding what He has bestowed on mankind with this Divine Mercy Message, I would kindly plead with you to visit the Divine Mercy Website and learn more about this wonderful Divine Act of Mercy from our Lord Himself. Better, still, buy yourself a copy of Saint Faustina’s Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul – which she wrote under the instructions of her Spiritual Director and Jesus Christ Himself.

    @Mary De Voe : Indeed, the Sacrifice on Calvary is ongoing every Minute of the Day. This is the reason why Holy Mother Church encourages Perpetual Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

  • John Nolan, Jesus solemnly requested, and expressed His Wish that the Universal Catholic Church should solemnly institute the Feast of the Divine Mercy on the First Sunday after Easter on 22nd February, 1931. He repeated this request many times in the Diary. He had to wait until 30th April, 2000, for this Feast to be Solemnly promulgated for the Universal Catholic Church.

    John, we now have this Feast – which is in a way the re-instatement of Old Testament “Day of Atonement” ( Leviticus Chapter 16). He has solemnly declared that “….I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for sinners……The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion ( and venerate My Image) shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment….On that day all the Divine floodgates through which Graces flow are opened…..”(Diary No.699).

    In another passage, He has stated that the soul that shall celebrate this Feast (as He dictated), He shall restore that soul to the condition it was in on the day of Baptism. Surely, that solemn Promise from Jesus Christ Himself, is enough to make any serious Catholic Faithful desire to learn more, and to become a committed Eucharistic Apostle of the Divine Mercy and live the Message of Mercy in their lives.

  • John Dolan, this is what you say about the Eucharistic Apostolate of the Divine Mercy and the Divine Mercy Devotion now solemnly promulgated by the Holy See for the Universal Catholic Church:

    “Is this the Sr Faustina Kowalska whose writings were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum by Bl. John XXIII in 1959? This in itself inclines one to take them magno cum grano salis, despite the actions of a later Pontiff, who happened to be her countryman. I doubt that in the first full year of his pontificate John merely rubber-stamped everything Cardinal Ottaviani put in front of him.”

    Sadly, John Dolan, you are very wrong. Blessed Pope John Paul II was God’s chosen Instrument for fulfilling Jesus Christ’s prophecy about His Divine Will to have the Message of His Mercy preached throughout the world, and the Feast of Divine Mercy, along with Veneration of the Divine Mercy Image, the praying the Novena and the Divine Mercy Chaplet which He Himself dictated to Saint Faustina, and which commences on Good Friday, would be solemnly promulgated in the Universal Catholic Church. These are His Words:

    “Before the Day of Justice, I am sending the Day of Mercy (Diary No.1588)

    Years before, this is what He had said about the spread of the Divine Mercy Message and Devotion…..”I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of sinners. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy (Diary No.848)”

    And in May, 1938, this is what Jesus Christ Himself prophesied about the role Blessed Pope John Paul II would play in fulfilling His Will with regard to the Feast of the Divine Mercy: “I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My Will, I will exalt her in might and holiness. From her will come THE SPARK that will prepare the world for My Final Coming”. (Diary No.1732).

    At that time Blessed Pope John Paul II was not even a Bishop, let alone the Archbishop of Crakow. But God had already decreed that through him, Christ’s Will shall be fulfilled to to have the Message of Divine Mercy and the Feast of the Divine Mercy solemnly promulgated for the Universal Catholic Church.

    God is TRUTH, John Dolan. What God Wills, God fulfills. If we cannot accept the Words of Jesus Christ Himself, then we need a lot of prayers to see and accept the TRUTH, the WAY and the LIFE.

    It is truly painful to read your words : “………despite the actions of a later Pontiff, who happened to be her countryman. I doubt that in the first full year of his pontificate John merely rubber-stamped everything Cardinal Ottaviani put in front of him.”

    Jesus Willed this Divine Mercy Feast on 22nd February, 1931. Blessed Pope John Paul II was then growing up, in poverty and tribulations, and totally unknown in Poland

    Bear with me to reiterate this Fact. John Dolan, Blessed Pope John Paul II fulfilled what Jesus had decreed – and chosen him for – the Divine Mission of Solemnly promulgating the Feast of the Divine Mercy for the Universal Catholic Church and the spread of the Divine Mercy Devotion, especially the Eucharistic Apostolate of the Divine Mercy. This Devotion is not even being spread from Poland, but from Stockbridge, Massachusets in the United States of America by the Congregation of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

Feast Day of the Dumb Ox

Saturday, January 28, AD 2012

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.

Today, January 28th, is the feast day of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who 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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Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism

Wednesday, October 5, AD 2011

An Article by Melinda Selmys, author of the book Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism.

Twelve years ago, I converted to Catholicism and began a long dialogue with my own sexuality. At the time, I was involved in a lesbian relationship that had been going on for a little over six years. I had, in the course of researching the Catholic position  with  a  view  to  refuting  it,  encountered  the  Church’s  teachings  on homosexual relationships before, so when I decided to embrace the Church as my mother, I knew that meant giving up my lesbian partner. I called her that night and explained my decision.

At the time, I thought that I was signing up for a life of celibacy. I was okay with that:  before I became a Catholic I was a hard rationalist, and it wasn’t a long stretch to port my idealistic devotion to rational self-possession into an iron-clad commitment to  Catholic sexual teaching. I would simply apply my will to the problem, subsume my passions to the rule of Reason, and everything would be fine. Right?

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25 Responses to Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism

  • Interesting.

    Is there a meaningful distinction between “gay identity” and “queer personality”? Should there be? A gay identity seems no more contrary to Church teaching than a female identity. If that’s the case, it would make sense to encourage a gay identity within the Church rather than making Catholics choose between the two.

  • Honest self-examination and self- knowledge are essential if we’re going to make any headway in achieving chastity, in or out of marriage

    Amen to that. She seems to be doing a marvelous job at it, and it is wonderful that she is willing to share so much. Her advice is not only helpful for the LBGTQ community, but for “straights” as well. We all face temptations, and self-mastery is difficult for the best of us (just ask St. Paul). It is particularly difficult in a society that constantly encourages us to give in to our passions rather than rule them.

  • I don’t have anything to add, but thanks for posting this.

  • This is one of the most honest, intelligent pieces on the subject I have ever read. This will better help me relate to some of my friends who are gay and lesbian and has enlightened my understanding and insight. Thank you for writing this and for your transparency.
    God bless!

  • Paul, kind of the opposite. From their website: “By developing an interior life of chastity, which is the universal call to all Christians, one can move beyond the confines of the homosexual identity to a more complete one in Christ.”

    What’s wrong with a homosexual identity? I remember reading something critical of the organization you linked to. I can’t remember where I read it. I think it was a blog by a chaste gay orthodox Catholic. The criticism was related to the issue I pointed out. Instead of creating a welcoming environment for the “gay and Catholic,” they seem to be saying “don’t be gay, be Catholic.”

  • RR,

    I wouldn’t consider “gay” identity to be equivalent to “male” identity or “female” identity as you suggested. Rather, “gay” identity would be more like “alcoholic” identity or “addict” identity.

    “Male” and “female” identities are normal. A “gay” identity, while real, is no more normal than an “alcoholic” identity or an “addict” identity. The Church needs a creation of a “gay” identity no more than it needs a creation of an “alcoholic” or “addict” identity. But the sympathizers of the gay community and the gay community itself insist on normalizing a “gay” identity as something natural like a “male” or “female” identity, and that simply isn’t the case. Being gay, like being alcoholic may have a genetic pre-disposition factor to it, but it still isn’t natural. It’s abberant (did I spell that correctly?)

    Now that doesn’t mean that we persecute and harrass gay people any more than we persecute and harrass alcoholic people. We all have our own special demons to taunt us. But let’s not normalize the abnormal; let’s not legitimatize the illegimate.

  • I thought again about RR’s idea of a separate identity for gays in the Church. Galatians 3:27-28 bears upon this:

    27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

  • As Paul W Primavera says, or alludes to, our primary personality should be that of Christ. In that context, we do not develop an alcoholic personality, nor a wrathful personality, nor a lecherous personality, nor a “much afraid” personality. Those are disorders, and we don’t embrace them as fundamental to our nature or our being. Someone who is prone to these things is called to work on letting Christ heal them. That does not happen by socializing oneself into them. An alcoholic who is letting Christ heal him acknowledges that he is an alcoholic, but I don’t think that is the same as saying he has an alcoholic personality.

    As the Canadian bishops said in their guideline to ministry with young people with same-sex attractions, Catholic theology does not use the word ‘gay’. Any adjective on the word ‘personality’ is too limiting – the important factor is the human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and beloved of Him.

  • Thank you very much for your witnessing.

  • Good on her.

    The description of attraction that she mentions jives with my personal experience– attraction to someone’s appearance often boils down to reading character traits into their appearance. (For example, I can’t remember a time I thought that Tom Cruise was attractive, but I also can’t remember a time I didn’t know he was a jerk.)
    Possibly an aspect of SSA is the way that all sexual attraction gets flanderized? I’m quite straight (TYVM) but I’m far from attracted to men in general, and I can see how admiration based attraction or friendship-attraction could very easily be interpreted as sexual, with the right base assumptions. It would just be another influence, but if the deck is stacked enough….

    (Side note: quickly scanning things can be bad for your mental health. I saw this was a post by Tito in my reader, scanned quick and saw the phrase “I was in a lesbian relationship;” serious confusion.)

  • Amazing article and an amazing personality….a sort of Catholic existentialist in her stress on choice over inclination.

  • Paul, the Galatians passage isn’t entirely relevant since there’s no problem with a female identity or American identity within the Church.

    I’ve thought about the “homosexuality as a disease” perspective and I’m not sure it matters. There are no sober alcoholics who feel that they need to be recognized as a distinct group. If they exist in some bizzaro world, then I don’t see any problem with it. It seems like some are confusing the fact that separate identities don’t exist in other analogous situations with the idea that they shouldn’t exist.

  • We are called to respect the inherent dignity of all persons as we live in relationship as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, not to view one another as objects of sexual desire, but as persons who have been created equal in dignity while being complementary as male and female, made in the Image of God to live in a communion of authentic Love.

  • RR said,

    “There are no sober alcoholics who feel that they need to be recognized as a distinct group.”

    So why do gays (or at least some gays and their straight liberal supporters) feel they rate special recognition? There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, straight or gay – to paraphase a verse of Scripture.

    I think that some people want gays to have special recognition because that would serve to legitimatize the deviancy of their sexual actions. People need to stop being gay just as people need to stop being drunken addicts. Having a homo-erotic impulse is no different than having a compulsion to drink.

    We’re powerless and our lives are unmanageable (1st step)
    Only a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity (2nd Step)
    We have to make a decision to turn our will and lives over to His care (3rd Step).

    And that’s exactly how this whole thing ought to be treated (not forgetting of course steps 4 through 12). One can recover – as this post on which we are commenting so elegantly demonstrates.

    But one other thing is important: we are NEVER recover-ED. Alcoholics who say that usually go out drinking again – it’s called arrogance and pride, the first to come in a slip (Sobriety Loses Its Priority). Rather, we are recover-ING (steps 10, 11 and 12). Whether it’s sobriety from a drinking complusion or sobriety from homo-erotic impulses, it’s still a DAILY reprieve contingent on one’s spiritual well-being. Giving special recognition to a gay identity or an alcoholic identity only serves to inflame the ego which inevitably leads to a slip (whether from homo-eroticism or drinking).

    But some people – even straights out of some perverse sense of tolerance – WANT homosexual filth to be declared as normal and would rather gays go to hell than gays find happiness in Jesus Christ. Sad.

  • Paul, sure we’re all God’s children but there are Jews and Greeks, slave and free, straight and gay.

    “So why do gays (or at least some gays and their straight liberal supporters) feel they rate special recognition?”

    Read the blog post!

    “Sexual identity is not just about sexual desire. A lot of the time people embrace a gay or lesbian identity because of real, genuinely foundational elements of personality that seem “queer” to other people. The LGBTQ community becomes a safety zone, and a gay identity becomes a security blanket, that protects the elements of personality that are under attack from mainstream culture. Anyone who is leaving a gay identity behind needs to find other ways of protecting those elements of personality, otherwise we just end up retreating back into the village when we come under fire.”

    “I think that some people want gays to have special recognition because that would serve to legitimatize the deviancy of their sexual actions.”

    It’s worth repeating:

    “Sexual identity is not just about sexual desire. A lot of the time people embrace a gay or lesbian identity because of real, genuinely foundational elements of personality that seem “queer” to other people. The LGBTQ community becomes a safety zone, and a gay identity becomes a security blanket, that protects the elements of personality that are under attack from mainstream culture. Anyone who is leaving a gay identity behind needs to find other ways of protecting those elements of personality, otherwise we just end up retreating back into the village when we come under fire.”

  • RR, I still don’t think gays rate special identity any more than alcoholics do. You disagree.

  • Foxfier, I made the same mistake about Tito. I thought maybe Tito was a woman until it registered. Anyway, Jesus and St. Paul are abundantly clear that the single life is a calling. Categories such as straight and queer are not biblical ones. These emerge from a culture of sexual politics. Sexuality is here seen to be defining in a way that Scripture never suggested.

  • I’m glad my kids were all napping when I had time to read this entire article, because it reduced me to tears. The author and I share a common experience of homosexual behavior. When I was a young woman, who had survived some childhood trauma within the family, I had an incredible amount of difficulty forming stable relationships with men. A well-meaning counselor (because counseling can solve any problem, right?) suggested that my difficulties were caused by suppressed homosexuality. I was twenty, it was 1991, and this seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Seven years later, I began to realize that her advice had been incredibly destructive. With the prayers, love, and support of my closest friends and a priest who is the finest example of his vocation I have ever known, I ended the relationship. It took me five years and exacted a physical, emotional, and financial toll that I’d rather not describe in detail.

    The difference between Mrs. Selmys’s story and my own is that I was never “gay.” I’m not terribly attracted to men aside from my husband (and father of our four children) and Jim Cantore (okay, you can laugh), but I think that’s more a function of love than anything else. I can see a good-looking man and think that he’s good-looking, and the same with a lovely woman, but there’s no sexual component to it.

    I am terribly, terribly grateful to Mrs. Selmys for sharing her tale and her experience. I know several other people who share the experience of living in a homosexual relationship and then choosing to live a chaste life, and the temporal conseuences have been terrible for most, if not all, of us. That said, the freedom I (and my friends) have found in following His will is a greater joy than any roll in the hay could ever provide.

    Thanks for listening.

  • Thank you so much for this. I struggle with SSA every single day and have been experimenting with other men recently. It’s been very emotionally draining and it just sucks the life out of my faith. This article was very encouraging for me as I struggle daily to be a half-way decent Catholic.

  • I have just said a prayer for you Freddy. Keep the Faith! God is stronger than any sin.

  • I hope it is an encouragement, Freddy. And I like-wise just said a prayer for you.

    God give you strength.

  • Freddy, may God bless you and keep you. You’ll be in my prayers always, and you have my love and respect.

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Fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra, Secunda pars

Thursday, June 30, AD 2011

The following is the second part to this post. It is recommended that you read the first part before reading the second part.  There has been some request for the original address given by Cardinal George.  I have been unable to locate it on the web and have not gotten around to scanning it in.  As soon as I get a chance, I will try to get to up and available, barring any unforeseen copyright issues.  For now, my humble comments and summary will have to suffice.


While the time from Augustine to Aquinas embodied a realization of Cardinal George’s incarnation metaphysics, things began to take a turn for the worse with Duns Scotus, a contemporary of Thomas. Scotus radically separated God from the world, and in so doing separated grace from nature. Instead of a metaphysics of participation, Scotus promulgated that, “God is no longer that generous power in which all things exist but rather that supreme being next to whom or apart from whom all other beings exist” (George, 15). Scotus begins what Descartes (through philosophy) and Luther (through theology) would complete. “In both its Lutheran and Cartesian manifestations, modernity assumes a fundamental split between the divine and the non-divine and hence implicitly denies the participation/communio metaphysics that had shaped the Christian world thought the ancient and medieval periods” (George, 16).

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6 Responses to Fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra, Secunda pars

  • “It is here that Cardinal George begins his critique of John Courtney Murray. “It is no secret that John Courtney Murray’s thought was shaped by a neo-scholastic two-tiered conception of nature and grace,” a conception that is “a departure from the communio and participation metaphysics of the patristic and medieval periods” (George, 32).”

    It is not just neo-scholastic, but sholastic and in fact Thomistic. Communio theology of the 20th Century seems to flow from de Lubac’s thought which George seems to endorse. George’s critique of Murray then flows from this Communio theology.

    I think there are very good critiques of de Lubac at this point which render his view of nature and grace, and those who depend on this interpretation of nature and grace, doubtful at best. Following from that, critiques of Murray and the American experient are rendered less coherent also.

  • What garbage. More pointless blackening of bl. Duns Scotus reputation by ignorant Thomists or at least their lackeys..

    1. What, Scotus didn’t believe in the Incarnation? What on earth is “incarnation metaphysics”? Scotus did in fact believe in the incarnation, and he has an extensive metaphysical discussion of it. Ergo etc.

    2. How did Scotus radically separate God from the world?

    3. The bit about participation is just plain false. I have read many hundreds of pages of Scotus in latin and he never explicitly rejects participation. (NB: “particpation metaphysics” as a “worldview” that everyone enjoyed before Scotus is itself a chimera of post modern theology). What does do is express puzzlement regarding how participation fits into the scheme of the Aristotelian four causes.

    4. The quote is misleading:

    “God is no longer that generous power in which all things exist but rather that supreme being next to whom or apart from whom all other beings exist” (George, 15).

    this article makes it sound like Scotus said this, but this is George’s own paraphrase. The scholastics have no conception of a “generous power”. It was a matter of dispute whether creatures existed in the divine power or divine intellect prior to their creation. Aquinas’ view, that they are contained in the divine power, was never the common opinion.

    The second part of this quote betrays the origin of this nonsense. The claim that Scotus made God just a being among beings is derivative of “Radical Orthodoxy”, who say that Scotus’ view of univocal concepts results in this. But this conflicts with George’s other claim that Scotus introduced a radical divide between God and the world. You can’t have both, buddy: either there is a radical divide between God and creation, or God is just like us.

    Of course, the usual reply will be that George isn’t trying to exegete Scotus, he’s just drawing a narrative that explains how things are in the present. Truth and falsity of the narrative doesn’t matter, because it’s a narrative, and what’s important is that we are relevant and engaging the contemporary culture.

    Fine, whatever. And people wonder why there are so many crises in the church?

  • I didn’t realize this was cardinal George; I thought it was Robert George. I might have been more temperate. But he should know better.

  • lee,

    Interesting your points on Scotus. Don’t know much about him but I thought George’s comments about him sounded simplistic. I also wouldn’t say that George is completely a Thomist. As I pointed out, most Thomists think that De Lubac was wrong in his interpretation about Nature and Grace. Thus De Lubac is a poor Thomist at best. George however runs with De Lubac’s thought as a given. Thus making George a poor Thomist?

    I think George is a faithful priest and bishop. But like you, I think his understanding of philosophy sometimes misses the mark. Thanks for your insights. And I don’t mind the force of your comments. Even bishops occasionally need a good argument back.

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Tantum Ergo

Saturday, April 23, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  Tantum Ergo.  It says something vastly significant about the Church that perhaps the greatest intellect of all time, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was not only a Doctor of the Church, but also capable of writing this magnificent hymn.  On December 6, 1273, a few months before his death, Saint Thomas had a mystical experience while saying mass.  He stopped writing at this point, saying that all that he had written was mere straw in comparison to what had been revealed to him.  In Easter we celebrate that the God who made the Universe, died for each and every one of us and rose from the dead to deliver us from sin and death.  Our intellects, through revelation, teach us much about that God.  However, the love He has for us teaches us so much more.  Easter is an everlasting reminder of that love and for those who embrace God’s love and grace, each day truly is Easter.

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  • We could say the Crucifixion is the greatest of all Love Stories.
    ********************************************************************************No man has ever been lonelier than Jesus was on His way to Calvary. No burden was so heavy nor injustice as great as His complete and total acceptance of the “cross of love” for all mankind which our heavenly father placed upon His shoulders for our salvation.
    Can we see the awesome intensity of the Fathers love for us here? That He would “allow” a scene such as this in order that His children might be saved. This was His incarnate body being ripped to shreds; His precious blood poured upon the ground; His blessed virgin mother witnessing the ugly brutality against the child they shared together. And at a distance the disciple’s pity, though heart felt, was overcome by their fear of religious and political authorities. Yes, Jesus our brother was a “loner” within His suffering but universal in His love and eternal passion for our salvation.
    Jesus has shown us how it is to suffer for the sake of our Father and His people. As Christians we are by choice now a family of suffering souls who can rise above pain, rejection, abuse, or ridicule and not wonder why or seek answers for its presence in our lives. We know because our brother, the crucified, has set the tone of our transformation by and through His glorious cross. All Christians, through original sin, are justly tied to the cross with Jesus and should welcome a personal measure of suffering that we might share in His resurrection. To deny or avoid that cross or that measure would be to deny Christ. Cherish your Holy Cross for it is truly God’s gift of eternal life for us; our shared symbol of love for Him.
    Lord Jesus, though we have chosen to follow in your footsteps to the cross of our salvation, our human weaknesses often tempt us to recoil at the sight or thought of pain and suffering.
    We pray your infinite mercy will help us to remember always the celestial love of the Father and His willingness to suffer through and with you on the cross for us knowing that we are truly fortunate for any opportunity to share our portion with you that we may one day share eternity with Him. Amen

Feast Day of the Dumb Ox

Friday, January 28, AD 2011


“We call this young man a dumb ox, but his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the world.”
Saint Albert the Great
“Somehow they steered that reluctant bulk of reflection to a seat in the royal banquet hall; and all that we know of Thomas tells us that he was perfectly courteous to those who spoke to him, but spoke little, and was soon forgotten in the most brilliant and noisy clatter in the world: the noise of French talking. What the Frenchmen were talking about we do not know; but they forgot all about the large fat Italian in their midst, and it seems only too possible that he forgot all about them. Sudden silences will occur even in French conversation; and in one of these the interruption came. There had long been no word or motion in that huge heap of black and white weeds, like motley in mourning, which marked him as a mendicant friar out of the streets, and contrasted with all the colours and patterns and quarterings of that first and freshest dawn of chivalry and heraldry. The triangular shields and pennons and pointed spears, the triangular swords of the Crusade, the pointed windows and the conical hoods, repeated everywhere that fresh French medieval spirit that did, in every sense, come to the point. But the colours of the coats were gay and varied, with little to rebuke their richness; for Saint Louis, who had himself a special quality of coming to the point, had said to his courtiers, “Vanity should be avoided; but every man should dress well, in the manner of his rank, that his wife may the more easily love him.”
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4 Responses to Feast Day of the Dumb Ox

  • There’s a great line in that passage to the effect of, Louis was the kind of saint who didn’t mind being a king.

    Such a great saint, Thomas. But is today a feast day or memorial?

  • It is a memorial Pinky. I use the term feast day because I have found that even Catholics get confused with the term memorial rather than feast day for a saint. I do appreciate you pointing it out however.

  • I know that I get them confused. But it’s Friday, and I’m not in the mood for fish, so the possibility of a feast day really appealed to me.

    I guess that tonight I’ll read some random question in the Summa over a tuna sandwich.

  • I honestly don’t understand the rage about Fr. Barron. I don’t find him to be all that impressive.

The Almighty Has His Own Purposes

Wednesday, October 13, AD 2010

My co-blogger Paul Zummo’s post here on When God Says No caused me to think again of a theme that has alway intrigued me:  the problem of God allowing terrible things to happen to innocent people.   Endless words have been written on this subject, but I have always found moving the thought process of Abraham Lincoln as he addressed this complex subject.

The American Civil War has become such a part of American folk-lore, and so romanticized by reenactments, films, movies, etc, that we sometimes risk losing sight of just how dreadful it was.  The death toll in the war would be the equivalent of us losing some six million killed in a war today and some ten million wounded, many of those maimed for life.  One quarter of the nation was devastated, a huge war debt had to be repaid and  regional hatreds created that only time would heal.  Americans tend to be optimists and to view themselves as blessed by God.  How had this dreadful calamity come upon the nation was the cry from millions of Americans at the time.

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7 Responses to The Almighty Has His Own Purposes

  • The Civil War wasn’t the Black Death or San Francisco earthquakes.

    Just asking.

    Was slavery a greater evil than civil war?

    Did Lincoln believe he was God’s instrument in punishing America for slavery?

    Did God order Lincoln to obtain the war declaration and did God make Lincoln constantly goad his generals to butcher hundreds of thousands of troops with a war strategy of attrition?

    Plus, Doid Godf will Lincoln to wage aggressive and invasive war, and targeted Southern civilians and productive assets.

    Did God use Abe to punish America for slavery?

    My grandfather’s maternal grandfather was KIA at First Bull Run with the 69th NY Militia. Did he die as punishment for the South’s sins? PS: Most Irish soldiers were fighting for the union, for acceptance as Americans not emancipation which wasn’t proclaimed until January 1863.

  • “Was slavery a greater evil than civil war?”

    Doubtless yes to a slave.

    “Did Lincoln believe he was God’s instrument in punishing America for slavery?”

    No more than we are all instruments carrying out God’s ultimate purposes whether we wish to do so or not.

    “Did God order Lincoln to obtain the war declaration and did God make Lincoln constantly goad his generals to butcher hundreds of thousands of troops with a war strategy of attrition?”

    In regard to the war T.Shaw, the coming of it was overwhelmingly popular both North and South. Lincoln was one of the few, Jefferson Davis was in this company, who thought initially that the war was likely to be long and bloody.

    In regard to a strategy of attrition, that was the fallback strategy of Grant when it became obvious that Lee could not be defeated in a war of manuevere during the Overland Campaign of 1864. Hundreds of thousands of troops slaughtered is mere hyperbole by you. Casualties, including wounded during the campaign, were around 60,000, and they put the war on the path of being won. Sherman at the same time usually relied on manuevere, and had relatively few casualties. Lincoln had no hand in the tactics and strategies used by either of the two generals who won the war for the Union .

    “Plus, Did God will Lincoln to wage aggressive and invasive war, and targeted Southern civilians and productive assets.”

    It was not an invasive war T Shaw, it was all one country. Attacking civilian assets that could be utilized by the military was common on both sides.

    “Did God use Abe to punish America for slavery?”

    I believe that God used the entire nation to punish America for the evil of slavery.

    “Did he die as punishment for the South’s sins?”

    Actually for the sins of both North and South regarding slavery in my view.

  • More importantly, our Blessed Mother is interceding for 33 Chilean miners and causing them to be safely removed from the bowels of the Earth.

    The first man I saw this morning come into the light blessed himself.

    Praise the Lord!

    Anyhow, you and I are on different wave-lenghts – same radio.

    My neighbor lost a young son to cancer many years ago. He is still wrestling with that, which is more germane to the subject (suffering) than Illinoisers’ war of northern aggression.

  • “Most Irish soldiers were fighting for the union, for acceptance as Americans not emancipation which wasn’t proclaimed until January 1863.”

    Mr Shaw, I’m quite sure that you do not speak on behalf of “most Irish soldiers” who fought and died in the Civil War. And if indeed they were fighting for acceptance “as Americans,” which they most certainly did receive, then I’m not sure they would appreciate you referring to their resting souls, 150 years later, as “Irish soldiers.”

    After all, the doors to Ireland are still open, no? Send a postcard.

  • Linus, Thanks for your help.

  • Donald – When you have time will you please contact me at (jschmidt at lexpharma dot com)? You’ll recall that I have posted a few comments here about our shared interest in the Civil War and Catholic military chaplains. My book, “Notre Dame in the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory” (The History Press) will be in print in about 5-6 weeks and I would be most pleased to send you a copy for review. I can hardly think of a more suited reader! All My best, Jim Schmidt

  • E-mail sent Jim, and I am looking forward to reading it!

WJBA? In 2010 Would Jesus (Along With His Apostles & Saints) Be Arrested For Hate Speech?

Wednesday, August 4, AD 2010

A few short years ago the mere suggestion that the Son of God, His Apostles and Saints would face arrest for hate speech would have seemed absolutely ludicrous. However, events have spiraled out of control across the western world. In his opinion that strikes down California’s recently voter approved marriage law, Judge Vaughn Walker wrote that those who speak in the name of religion to put across their views that same sex marriage is wrong are “harmful to gays and lesbians.”

Across Europe and Canada, faithful Christians speaking out for traditional marriage face the threat of being hauled off to court for citing the teachings of the Catholic Church and various Evangelical Churches. Where will this all end? Some see a great persecution coming against the Christian faithful. Though possible, one need remember that the Christian faith always grew when persecuted.

The Catholic Church has long taught that some individuals have an inclination toward same sex attraction; they are to be loved as all people are to be loved. The Church teaches that these feelings are not to be acted upon. The Church goes on to teach that all individuals are given a cross to carry in this world and for those who are same sex attracted; this is their cross. An organization exists for those who are same sex attracted called COURAGE. It has many chapters and members.

Recently a profile was done in The New York Times on same sex attracted Eve Tushnet, the Ivy League educated Catholic daughter of Harvard Law professors. She has chronicled her growth in Catholicism and the logic of the Church’s teachings on sexuality. For years the Catholic Church took some heat from some quarters of Christianity for not stating that anyone who is same sex attracted would be going to hell. The Church now is facing a maelstrom of vitriol from those who claim the Church hates homosexuals.

For the Church to change her teachings would be to deny not only what Christ said (Matthew 11:20-24,) but his Apostles, not to mention Saint Paul’s lengthy discourse on the subject (Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.)  In addition to the Apostles and saints, there is a rich history of saints writing on the subject, particularly the Early Church Fathers like Saint Augustine, St Justin Martyr, St. Basil and St John Chrysostom as well as Church intellectuals like St Thomas Aquinas, Saint Albert the Great (the greatest scientist of his time,) along with mystics like St Catherine of Sienna to name but a few. To say that the greatest minds of their respective eras were all wrong is simply breathtaking.

Many who disagree with the Church tend to forget that homosexuality was much more common and approved of by the Roman government in the early Christian era than it is even in 2010. Many in the upper echelons of Greek and Roman culture experimented with all sorts of sexual practices. It would have been far easier for Jesus, the apostles, saints and popes to approve of this conduct than it would to disapprove of it. Christianity might have grown at a faster pace. However, there was a reason for this swimming against the tide, and the faithful accepted it.

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4 Responses to WJBA? In 2010 Would Jesus (Along With His Apostles & Saints) Be Arrested For Hate Speech?

  • Great column as usual, Dave. It just blows my mind that our nation is no longer a republic of, for and by the people but an elite and arrogant oligarchy that is unleashing one perverted social experiment after another on us.

    The far left have the nerve to needle the conservatives for wanting to have less government yet have government restrict marriage. Quite the contrary, we want to be able to decide how our society should function, not have the government do so.

    It’s a shame that the voters in my state of California were robbed once again, but we can still hope for the Supreme Court to save the day. In the meantime, this should serve as a wakeup call for the voters, especially those in the 45 states who have kept marriage to one man and one woman, to vote the radicals out in the fall and make sure the Democrats never control government again as long as the militant secularists who are ruining this nation continue to call the shots for the party.

  • This is almost a grand slam!

    This is government hate speech against, and injurious to, Christians, Jews and Muslims.

    Oh, that’s okay!?

    Never mind.

    Thanks for voting for them dems.

  • Prepare for the worst. There is little doubt that in the near future Christians will be arrested and imprisoned by the American Socialist State if they continue to preach the gospel and traditional morality. The American politicians have created their long desired Atheistic State which will have no tolerance for believers. Prepare for the dark days of persecution but the good news is that it will separate the wheat from the shaff and the sheep from the goats.

  • But Jesus and the Apostles were arrested and even put to death for their speech.

    When DeGaulle was reproached for not taking more care against assassination, he replied: “It comes with the job”.

7 Responses to Stealing From The Poor

  • Poverty comes in many forms. Some of us are in dire “poverty” yet are given even less by many who should know better, thus causing immense suffering.

    There is not sufficient reflection on this reality. As such, it is an occasion of grace for those afflicted………but a yolk upon those who chose to ignore how their actions, in word and deed, injure another, already almost unable to bear their cross.

    Nice post. Thanks.

  • Does the Church teach that you will be judged by your personal charitable/corporal works; that is what YOU DO with YOUR money and your time/talents?

  • Really good article.

  • “However, the investment of superfluous income in secureing favorable opportunities for employment […] is to be considered […] an act of real liberality, particularly appropriate to the needs of our time.”

    In other words, one way (though certainly not the only way) that rich people can help the poor is by starting up businesses that provide jobs for them! Score at least one for the economic conservatives 🙂

    “It will be necessary above all to abandon a mentality in which the poor – as individuals and as people – are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced.”

    Very true; however, that raises the question of whether the growth of high-tax nanny-state liberalism hasn’t done a lot to contribute to the perception of the poor as “irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced.”

  • Elaine, I agree about the rich starting up a business, but we have to admit that there are many other rich who start up business ventures with not a care for those being employed thereby. I am thinking, especially, of all the CEOs and vice presidents of corporations who think nothing of taking a 1Million or 3M salary, while at the same time causing the company to need to downsize to maximize profits. Truly, a real board of directors should say to such money-grubbing CEO wannabes: “You say that your requested 3M salary is the ‘going rate’ for truly qualified executives. We say that no executive who would ask for such a salary could possibly be morally qualified for the job. We’ll look elsewhere.”

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  • The mega corporations and the excessively compensated executives cannot exist without the incestuous relationship of Big Government and Big Business. Mutual funds are a trick to get people to fund corporations without having any voting rights. The wealth of all is controlled by a very few. This is a problem that must be dealt with or everyone will become a slave, begging the government/corporations for a handout and charity (caritas, love) is not something that corporations or governments can engage in.

    As for our excess wealth, this is a relative area for us to discern. What may constitute excessive wealth in sub-Saharan Africa is not the case in the USA. We have tax obligations that they do not, we have transportation costs that they do not, we have many costs that they do not have and what we have in excess has to be looked at from that perspective. Additionally, money is not wealth. Having a few dollars in money market, CD, etc. is not wealth, it is merely a temporary store of currency that is losing value faster than it can be earned or profited from. a 10,000 sq. ft. home with only two children, that could be excessive – but, a 10,000 sq.ft. home with a dozen children, maybe not.

    This article is excellent because it summarizes Church teaching and, at least to me, it seems to stress the necessity of a free market, restrained government, strong Church and men who desire to lead a life of virtue. Sadly, our culture of duo-opolies intentionally clouds our thinking about such matters. Big Government vs. Big Business, Democrats vs. Republicans, Capitalism vs. Socialism, Thesis vs. Antithesis – all are two paths to the same perdition. We need to break free of this dualistic thinking, making us think we have choices. There is really only one choice: God or man. Hard as it is sometimes, especially with vestiges of ideology trapping my thinking, your’s too I suspect, we need to be more Catholic – we are so far short of the mark following years and years of minimalism.

    It is time for Maximum Catholicity and this article appears to summarize exactly that sentiment. Thanks for the reminder. Can you do it again tomorrow? 🙂

Feast Day of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, January 28, AD 2010

January 28th, is the feast day St. Thomas Aquinas, my chosen saint as a convert. (It was a toss-up between Thomas the philosopher-theologian and Thomas Merton, the not-quite-saintly Trappist — both exercising an influence on my journey to Rome).

Here is a favorite prayer of mine, by St. Thomas Aquinas — for a holy life. It was said that he prayed this every day before the image of Christ:

Grant me, O merciful God, that what is pleasing to Thee I may ardently desire, prudently examine, truthfully acknowledge, and perfectly accomplish for the praise and glory of Thy name.

Ordain, O my God, my whole life, and what Thou requirest that I should do, grant me to know it and to fulfill as is meet and profitable to my soul.

Give me Thy grace, O Lord my God, that I may not fail in prosperity or in adversity, avoiding pride in the former and discouragement in the latter.

May I rejoice in nothing but what leads to Thee, grieve for nothing but what turns away from Thee. May I wish to please or displease n one but Thee.

May I despise, O Lord, all transitory things, and prize only that which is eternal. May I shun ant joy that is without Thee, nor wish for anything outside of Thee.

May I delight in any work taken up for Thee, and tire of any rest which is without Thee. Grant me, O my God, to direct my heart toward Thee, and in my failings constantly grieve, with the purpose of a amendment.

Make me, O Lord, my God, obedient without contradiction, poor without depression, chaste without corruption patient without murmuring, humble without pretence, cheerful without dissipation, mature without dullness, prompt without levity, fearing Thee without despair, truthful without duplicity, doing good without presumption, correcting my neighbor without haughtiness, and edifying him by word and example without hypocrisy.

Give me, O Lord God, a watchful heart, which no curious thought will turn away from Thee; a noble heart, which no unworthy affection will drag down; a righteous heart, which no irregular intention will twist aside; a firm heart, which no tribulation will break; a free heart, which no violent affection will claim for itself.

Grant me finally, O Lord my God, science in knowing Thee, diligence in seeking Thee, wisdom in finding Thee, a conduct pleasing to Thee, a perseverance trustfully awaiting Thee, and a confidence finally embracing Thee. May I endure Thy punishments by penitence; profit by Thy benefits by grace in this world, and enjoy Thy blessedness by glory in the next; Who livest and reignest, true God, forever and ever. Amen

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3 Responses to Feast Day of Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • I spent nearly 2 hours defending Jacques Maritain from more conservative Thomists!

  • Eric,

    Was this discussion online? — Curious.

  • No. I went to an annual Aquinas lecture at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Afterward, I had dinner with faculty and some students. The table I happened to be sitting at had mostly philosophy grad students, which at St. Thomas, the philosophy grad program is purely Thomistic philosophy. Someone in the course of dinner took issue with Jacques Maritain about natural rights and I love Maritain, so I defended him against his critics.

7 Responses to The Dumb Ox

  • I wonder if people in the late 1200’s/early 1300’s would look at their intellectually challenged companion and comment “well, he’s no Aquinas”.

  • “Pperhaps the greatest intellect to ever live…” I think Solomon and Jesus would have something to say to that…

  • Jesus is God so I never bring him into statements regarding mere mortals. As for Solomon, my money would be on the chubby Dominican.

  • “I wonder if people in the late 1200’s/early 1300’s would look at their intellectually challenged companion and comment “well, he’s no Aquinas”.

    Actually, the term “dunce” to refer to an intellectually challenged person came from Blessed John Duns Scotus, one of the best known theologians after Aquinas. Duns Scotus was born in 1266, a few years before Aquinas died, and is best known for his arguments in favor of Mary’s Immaculate Conception (which, of course, eventually carried the day and led to its definition as dogma). Duns Scotus was a Francisan while Aquinas belonged to their “rival” order, the Dominicans.

    Despite Duns Scotus’ brilliance, in the 15th and 16th centuries his approach to theology fell out of favor, and people began referring to his followers as “Dunses,” which later morphed into the term “dunce.”

  • Elaine,

    His falling into disfavor and his name being associated with stupidity in the English language has a lot to do with the English Protestant Reformation see
    Fr. Bonaventure Maria: The Dunce Cap

    Ave Maria!

  • Thank you Friar Roderic!

    That is a fine homily explaining the origins of the Dunce Cap.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


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