Tuesday, January 28, 2020

THOMAS OF AQUINAS: PROGRESSIVE à la MEDIEVAL CHURCH AND EUROPE







St. Thomas Aquinas


“To bear with patience wrongs done to oneself is a mark of perfection, but to bear with patience wrongs done to someone else is a mark of imperfection and even of actual sin.”

“By nature, all [women and] men are equal in liberty, but not in other endowments.”

“Beware of the person of one book.”

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Grant me, O Lord my God,
a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.

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Give us, O Lord,
steadfast hearts, which no unworthy thought can drag downward,
unconquered hearts, which no tribulation can wear out,
upright hearts, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.
Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God,
understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you,
and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Grant that I may ever perfectly
do Your will in all things.
Let it be my ambition to work
only for Your honour and glory.
but what leads to You,
nor grieve for anything
that leads away from You.
be as nothing in my eyes,
and may all that is Yours
be dear to me,
and You, my God,
dear above them all.
meaningless without You
and may I desire
nothing apart from You.
May all labour and toil
delight me when it is for You.
obedient without complaint,
poor without regret,
patient without murmur,
humble without pretence,
joyous without frivolity,
and truthful without disguise.
an ever watchful heart
which nothing can ever
lure away from You;
a noble heart,
which no unworthy affection
can draw downwards to the earth;
an upright heart,
which no evil can warp;
an unconquerable heart.
you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom
the hierarchies of angels,
disposing them in wondrous order
above the bright heavens,
and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.
and the noble origin of all things.
Be pleased to shed
on the darkness of mind in which I was born,
The twofold beam of your light
and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.
Then instruct my speech
and touch my lips with graciousness.
Make me keen to understand, quick to learn,
able to remember;
make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.
lead home my going forth.
You are true God and true man,
and live for ever and ever.


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I remember making my way through the Summa contra Gentiles (1259–1265), and the unfinished but massively influential Summa Theologica (1265–1274) in undergrad senior seminar. Tomes upon tomes of stuff that one could take a single sentence and contemplate on it for a full day and still not reap the the total value of his words. And, then, knowing that even just the Summa Theologica has 5 volumes, 
3020 pages. The Summa contra Gentiles adds another 392 pages.


The Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas' brilliant synthesis of Christian thought, has had a decisive and permanent impact on philosophy and religion since the thirteenth century. As the title indicates, is a summing up of all that can be known about God and humanity's relations with God. Divided into three parts, the work consists of 38 tracts, 631 questions, about 3000 articles, 10,000 objections and their answers. The most important work of the towering intellectual of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologiae remains one of the great seminal works of philosophy and theology, while extending to subjects as diverse as law and government, sacraments and liturgy, and psychology and ethics. 

The Summa Contra Gentiles is the second of Thomas Aquinas's three great theological syntheses, written after his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard and before his Summa Theologiae. The Summa Contra Gentiles is commonly thought to be composed with a missionary intention, possibly for the use of Thomas's brethren in their work of explaining the faith to non-Christians, especially Muslims in Spain. This volume contains the first and second books of the Summa Contra Gentiles. Book 1 treats of God in himself as reason can know him. Book 2 deals with God's work of creation from the perspective of what can be known on the basis of human reason.

I doubt that anyone could read any of his works and find it other than "well-worth-the-read." The only criticism I might offer is, like much of early to modern Christian pilosophical/theological work, the author is a white European male that employs Aristotelian thought as the foundation for his constructs. Yet, one could do much worse.




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