Tag Archives: st. thomas aquinas

Marian Consecration with Aquinas: A Nine-Day Path for Growing Closer to the Mother of God

Matt Fradd and Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P.
TAN Books, 75 pages

 

St. Thomas Aquinas never wrote a word about Marian consecration, but wrote amply about consecration to the religious life. Yet, as the authors of this slim volume point out, the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, lived radically by religious men and women, are to be lived in spirit by all baptized Christians. So here is the basis for this excellent nine-day preparation for Marian consecration through the teachings of Aquinas, with each day featuring a theological reflection based on Aquinas and a passage from his writings. En route to consecration, you’ll get to know both Aquinas and Our Lady much better.

 

Order: Amazon

Curriculum Imbues Aquinas’ Virtue-Teachings

St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings on the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit can be daunting enough for most adults, let alone school kids.

But the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, have developed a curriculum that effectively communicates the Angelic Doctor’s insights to students from kindergarten to high school about the virtues they will need to live and cope well as Christian disciples.

“We wanted to instill the importance of that, because what virtue really is, is this internal disposition toward goodness,” said Dominican Sister John Dominic, one of four foundresses of her community, which has its mother house in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“We aim to form adults, a generation of young people, who desire to be good, that see that this way of life leads to an interior peace and happiness,” Sister Dominic said.

Sisters spiritually adopted Legatus

Communicating the value of the virtuous life has been a staple of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, which began in 1997 with four members from the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, more commonly known as the Nashville Dominicans.

Sister Dominic and her three foundresses felt called to begin a new religious foundation. They were aided by Tom Monaghan, founder of Legatus, who arranged to bring the sisters to Ann Arbor so they could operate a new Catholic school that would teach students to excel in academics and the spiritual life.

“We were aligned with our vision for Catholic education,” said Sister Dominic, who added that Monaghan also helped build the community’s mother house. She said the sisters have spiritually adopted Legatus and regularly pray for the organization’s intentions.

“We’ve always felt very close to Legatus,” Sister Dominic said.

400 schools use the program

The sisters operate the Spiritus Sanctus Academies, which are two private Catholic Pre-K-to-8th grade schools, in the Ann Arbor and Plymouth areas of southeast Michigan. The community has its own publishing company, Lumen Ecclesia Press, that publishes books written and music recorded by the sisters.

“When we had to get our books printed, the printer told us we needed a press name,” Sister Dominic said. “So we came up with Lumen Ecclesia Press, for Light of the Church, with the symbol of a torch because we want to be a light out there to praise, to bless, and to preach.”

The Education in Virtue curriculum was the first project the sisters published through Lumen Ecclesia Press. Sister Dominic said an education in the virtues is closely linked to Dominican spirituality, teaching, and preaching. She added that the sooner children are taught about virtue, the easier it is for them to grow in the virtues.

“I found that when I was the principal of Spiritus Sanctus Academy, people would ask other teachers, ‘How do I teach virtue and temperance to a kindergartener?’” Sister Dominic said. “That’s why we develop resources, with virtue cards that contain illustrations of what a particular virtue looks like, a phrase of what it sounds like, and what it looks like in action.”

In addition to the virtue cards, which are similar to flash cards, the virtue curriculum’s resources include videos, professional development courses for teachers, and videos for parents who are interested in the materials.

“We’ve tried to make the content not too intellectual, but so that any person can understand it,” said Sister Dominic, who added that more than 400 Catholic schools across the country use the virtue curriculum.

“The materials are attractive, engaging, and infused with Sacred Scripture, insights from the lives of the saints, and a Thomistic understanding of the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit,” Father Steve Mattson, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, wrote for a testimonial published on the Education in Virtue’s website.

 ‘Echoing the mystery’ for catechists

The sisters’ other big project has been the publication of Echoing the Mystery, a book for catechists based on the teaching approach of Barbara Morgan, the retired foundress of the catechetics program at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Before retiring in 2005, Morgan taught Sister Dominic and many notable Catholic apologists and authors, including Jeff Cavins, Tim Gray, and Edward Sri, among others.

“Her love and deep understanding of God’s revelation make her an effective catechist,” Sister Dominic said, adding that Morgan, who lives in Michigan, understands that a catechist is a person who “echoes down” the truths God has revealed.

Echoing the Mystery was released in 2018 after about 12 years’ hard work and planning. Sister Dominic said the community wanted to compile Morgan’s insights and catechetical approach for future generations of catechists.

Morgan, who was seriously ill at times and nearly died from pancreatitis, said she was unsure if the book would ever be published, but was thankful that God enabled her and Dominican Sister Athanasius Munroe, her co-author, to finish Echoing the Mystery. Morgan credited Mother Mary Assumpta Long, the superior of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, with allowing Sister Athanasius to work exclusively with her.

James Pauley, a theology and catechetics professor at Franciscan University, said Echoing the Mystery represents the “lifework of a master catechist” that meets a profound need in the Church.

“It is the most comprehensive and incisive treatment of how to communicate the content of the Christian message available today,” Pauley said. “The book does not advocate for a merely conceptual presentation of Christian doctrine, but it puts doctrine in proper relationship to the kerygma (Greek, for “preaching”), the Scriptures, the sacramental encounter with God, and the call to conversion.”

Firsthand research from Church documents, scripture, experience 

Barbara said her knowledge of catechetics and teaching approach is rooted in the era before the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was published in 1992. She learned how to research Catholic doctrine in Church documents. She also attended 12 years of Catholic schools, went to a Catholic college, and had a mother, a former Baptist, who knew Scripture and could tell her how Catholic teachings were rooted in the Bible

“The thing the catechist has to give people is that which they will not get on their own,” Morgan said.

Sister Dominic said Morgan’s effectiveness and moral clarity as a catechist are the result of prayer, her relationship with God, and her lived experiences.

“And she’s so humble,” Sister Dominic said. “Her humility is such that she delights in anyone she is teaching becoming a better catechist than her. That’s humility.”

Sister Dominic said Echoing the Mystery is written for catechists and people who have the responsibility to hand on the Catholic faith to future generations. She added that the book can be used with any catechetical series on the market.

“I’m really excited about this,” Sister Dominic said. “I think anybody who teaches religious education or catechesis just needs to have a copy of that, the Catechism, a Bible, and they’re good to go.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Feast Day: January 28
Canonization: July 18, 1323
Patron of academics, philosophers, booksellers, and scholars.

The Angelic Doctor’s influence on Western thought cannot be overstated. Much of modern philosophy evolved in support of or opposition to ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas, the humble 13th-century Dominican friar and father of Thomism, which says reason is found in God.

Among his many teachings, St. Thomas taught man’s spiritual renewal comes through the Holy Spirit, saying that as one comes to new and fuller knowledge of God, he is renewed in soul.

Thomas relatives who, appalled at his decision to forgo a promising career to join the Dominicans, attempted to surround him with great worldly temptations.

His best known work is the Summa Theologica, a compendium of Catholic teachings considered the chief classic in Christian philosophy and among the most influential works of Western literature.

He is said to have heard the Lord say, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have?” Thomas simply said, “Nothing but you, Lord.”

St. Thomas’ feast day is Jan. 28. Pope St. Pius V declared him a doctor of the Church in 1567.

On the virtue a philanthropist needs

Suppose a virtuous man inherits a large sum of money. Formerly he lived hand-to-mouth, with only enough cash to meet his daily needs. But he was virtuous in how he used his money, giving or lending when appropriate; not hoarding; not wasting. In this daily use of money, the virtue which came into play was “generosity” (or “liberality,” as it was traditionally called). But now, after he has received his large inheritance, he can easily spend money on a grand scale. He can buy and decorate a house, for instance, or build a church. Are there right and wrong ways of doing this, of spending money on a grand scale? If so, does he need to acquire a new virtue, or is his old virtue of “generosity” enough?

These questions probably sound odd to you. But they were natural for St Thomas Aquinas to ask. He viewed virtues as powers which enabled someone to act well with regard to certain classes of things, in specific circumstances. So it was natural to ask if a virtue which was sufficient in small matters carried over into large matters – as if someone were to ask, suppose I can drive a small car, will that same skill enable me to drive a large truck?

In the case at hand, St. Thomas followed Aristotle and held that, yes, there is a distinct virtue which we specifically need when we are spending money on a grand scale, which is called “magnificence.” Like every virtue, magnificence finds the mean between an error involving excess and an error involving deficiency. When we go to excess in a grand expenditure, we err through “extravagance”; when we are deficient in some way, we err through “niggardliness” or “penny-pinching.

The standard of rightness is different in large expenditures. In the small expenditures of daily life, what matters in our use of money is basically captured by the concept of a budget. We should not spend money that we do not have, or spend money on something not proportionate to its importance and value. Whether it was right to spend $50 on a bottle of wine depends upon rules which involve analogies and comparisons (if $20 for an 88-point wine makes sense, then probably $50 for a 95-point wine makes sense).

But for large expenditures, the nature of the work itself sets a standard. If a mansion in Port Royal, Naples, is to be decorated, the stateliness and setting of the building set a standard for the expenditure. One is not free to improvise for oneself. If a wedding is to be hosted for financiers in mid-town Manhattan — rather than, say, for shopkeepers in Albany — the nature of the event sets the standard. In these cases a different virtue is needed beyond generosity, one which senses the “greatness” of the expenditure and exemplifies good grace and taste.

The high point of magnificence is some expenditure for God’s glory, as St Thomas says: “The intention of magnificence is the production of a great work. Now works done by men are directed to an end: and no end of human works is so great as the honor of God: wherefore magnificence does a great work especially in reference to the Divine honor.”

When I was at Ave Maria University, I taught a course on ethics which met on a patio overlooking the buildings and oratory. Once we were discussing the virtue of magnificence. “Look around you,” I said, “What character do you need to do this sort of thing?” At that moment, magnificence was not a theory for them but something real.

 

MICHAEL PAKALUK is professor of ethics at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America and an Ordinarius in the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas. He lives with his wife, Catherine, a professor of economics at the Busch School, and seven of their children in Hyattsville. He is author of many books and articles, both scholarly and popular. His new translation and commentary on the Gospel of Mark, The Memoirs of St. Peter, is forthcoming from Regnery Gateway

Catholicism – the greatest service in Truth

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that the greatest service that we can offer our neighbor is to know the truth, to speak the truth. This passage is parallel to that of Plato which said that the worst thing we could have in our souls is a lie about what is. It sometimes seems that those who help the poor and sick are given the highest priority in the Gospels. Few dispute that service to the poor is a good of the highest order. But suppose that we ask: “What is the greatest service that a medical doctor can do for us?” The first answer is: “To know what medicine is and how to apply it where it belongs.”

It is a good thing to give a cup of drinking water to a thirsty man, but only if we are sure that the water is not polluted. It is a still greater thing to design, plan, and put into operation a fresh water system that serves many cities and many purposes, including the quenching of thirst. For example, the ancient Romans were famous for their vision of making fresh water available, and so began the widespread institutionalization of the aqueduct system (some of which is still functioning) and the care of entire populaces. In other words, the greatest service is truth, not only the truths of “know how,” but the truth of things, including human things. From this supposition, all other services flow.

…Catholicism and Intelligence is based on two premises. First, what is peculiar or distinct about Catholicism is this: what the faith holds is intrinsically intelligible even if not always understood by given persons. And second, intelligence has its own structure or form that is rooted in the principle of contradiction – “Nothing can be and not be at the same time in the same way.” “Intelligences” or understandings that maintain that everything is true even if contradictory cannot stand. It follows that we live in a world in which some things are true, even though some valid point may be found in everything that is not true. This seeing what is true within error is why the major function of the human mind is to distinguish what is true from what is not true, what is right from what is not right, what can be held from what cannot be held. To respect the mind is to respect what is.

…We need to know what we think as well as what happens when we carry out what we think. Our dignity depends on our affirming the relation between what we know and intend to do and what we carry out into the world, and what happens as a result.

Excerpt from Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., from the Introduction, “The Greatest Service,” of his latest book Catholicism and Intelligence (Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2017), pp. xvii-xviii. www.stpaulcenter.com/emmaus-road-publishing

FR. JAMES V. SCHALL, S.J. is an American Jesuit Catholic priest who is one of the most prolific Catholic writers today. Author of over 30 books, he was professor at Georgetown University for 35 years. Among his recent books are The Mind That Is Catholic, The Modern Age, Political Philosophy and Revelation: A Catholic Reading, Reasonable Pleasures, and Docilitas: On Teaching and Being Taught.

SCRIPTURE 101
The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. ~ 2 Thessalonians 2: 9-11

CATECHISM 101
Man tends by nature toward the truth. He is obliged to honor and bear witness to it: “It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons . . . are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2467

The wisdom of Aristotle, the CEO

PAUL J. VOSS poses this question: In a world saturated with generics and commodities, how can anyone hope to build brand equity and keep their product, good, service, or Catholic faith from becoming a commodity of lesser value? For his in-depth answer, he turns to Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), whom he rightly tags as one of the world’s first CEOs . . . .

Paul J. Voss

Paul J. Voss

Lipitor, a popular medication used to treat high cholesterol, might be the most successful prescription drug in history. Total revenue since it was approved in 1996: $125 billion.

However, the patent for Lipitor expired in 2011, creating the opportunity for a generic and much less expensive competitor. Once introduced into the market, generics tend to become very popular very quickly, destroying most of the value of the name brand drug. According to the Wall Street Journal, the executives at Pfizer wanted to fight that erosion. They hoped to keep 20% of the market share, readily conceding a loss of 80%! Pfizer amassed $200 million for an advertising campaign to retain current patients, but after spending $87 million, they abandoned the effort when well over 95% of patients opted for the generic alternative.

The business lesson here is quite clear: Losing “brand equity” can cost millions of dollars. The rise of generic alternatives (in a wide variety of sectors) results from the impressive drift toward commodity. Commoditization occurs when goods or services lose their differentiation across the supply base. In other words, something becomes a commodity when one cellphone, accountant, or tire store is just like the others in terms of quality and price. In a world saturated with generics and commodities, how can anyone hope to build brand equity and keep their product, good, service, or Catholic faith from becoming a commodity of lesser value?

Businesses spends millions each year trying to answer that question and scores of books by distinguished professors from elite business schools will offer solutions and new-fangled approaches. Hundreds of millions of advertising dollars will attempt to create brand loyalty. Yet we might do well to consider the ideas of the Greek philosopher Aristotle as we try to cultivate marriages, friendships, or business relationships that don’t become tired, stale or commoditized.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) wrote his classic text Rhetoric to demonstrate the most effective manner of persuasive writing and public speaking. Without much difficulty, his rubric can be applied to the creation of family, faith, friends and business. Aristotle highlighted three distinct appeals that one can use to persuade others and thus to mitigate the drift toward commoditization.

Ethos refers to the ethical character of the leader or employee. Is the person worthy of our trust? Does the employee have a professional appearance? Does the company leadership appear honest and reliable? If the audience does not trust the character of the firm, obvious difficulties follow. What is your reputation in the office, firm, company or home? How can you enhance that reputation? Do you have “executive presence?” What is your reputation within the Church and your local parish?

Logos is the appeal to logic and reason. Logos often refers to the type and quality of the evidence presented by the speaker. Logos measurements usually take the form of a number: revenue, sales, batting average, profits, grade point average, etc. Is the evidence factually correct? Incorrect evidence and suspect facts will, of course, cause credibility problems. If the evidence cannot be trusted, the speaker cannot be trusted. Appeals to the logos require research and hard work. In short, if you have no case — no compelling argument to make — your presentation will suffer accordingly.

Pathos is an appeal to the emotions and disposition of the audience. All effective public speakers (and sellers) must consider the intended audience. Clearly, speaking about football to your coworkers requires a different strategy than talking about products to your clients. Failure to understand or consider audience often leads to disaster, rendering any public presentation ineffective. How well do you “manage up”? Who is your primary audience? Who is your secondary audience? How well do you evangelize your faith?

Note that each appeal requires the application of virtue — especially the four cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude — articulated by Aristotle in his famous Nicomachean Ethics. Creating a lasting brand, service, product, or relationship requires virtue — ethical virtue — in order to flourish and sustain.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) ultimately reconciled the philosophy of Aristotle (ratio) with revelation in the Bible (fides) in order to create the intellectual fabric of the Catholic faith. Aristotle’s insights into the requirements for effective persuasion remain true today in a hyper-connected world where information is readily available to potential consumers. Anyone attempting to create a career, sell a product, or enrich a marriage would be wise to employ the wisdom of Aristotle, the world’s first philosopher-CEO.

PAUL J. VOSS, PH.D., is president of Ethikos, a professional organization offering ethics training, and an associate professor of literature at Georgia State University.