Ressourcement Thomism

Ressourcement Thomism: Sacred Doctrine, the Sacraments, and the Moral Life

Reinhard Hütter
Matthew Levering
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 409
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  • Book Info
    Ressourcement Thomism
    Book Description:

    The essays in this volume explore three areas in which St. Thomas Aquinas's voice has never fallen silent: sacred doctrine, the relationship of sacraments and metaphysics, and the central role of virtue in moral theology.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1899-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)

    It has been nearly twenty-five years now since Father Romanus Cessario and I sat in an empty classroom over the course of a week working through alternative models for a new curriculum at the Dominican House of Studies. We were striving for intelligibility, comprehensiveness, and integration—three elements of the Thomistic vision of theological education that was fundamental to the work of the faculty.

    This vision of theology had been cultivated throughout years of shared fraternal and intellectual life in the Dominican Order. Our paths had for the most part coincided throughout our Dominican formation (just a year separated us)—...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. The Cornerstone: Christian Faith and Modern Culture in Dialogue
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    Reinhard Hütter and Matthew Levering
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    In a recent essay commenting upon the state of religious life in North America, Romanus Cessario observes,“The defining activity of all Dominicans is expressed in a phrase that St. Thomas Aquinas has penned: ‘Contemplate and then share with others the fruit of contemplation.’”¹ From such contemplation and teaching, Cessario notes, “comes the impulse of friendship, which among intelligent creatures is the onlyway that they can realize the divine dynamic of being, namely, that goodness is diffusive of itself.”² The present volume of essays honors Romanus Cessario by witnessing to the renewal of Thomistic theology that his friendships, rooted in his...

  8. Part 1. Sapientia Dei:: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Doctrine
    • 1 Transubstantiation Revisited: Sacra Doctrina, Dogma, and metaphysics
      (pp. 21-79)

      It might not be too much of an exaggeration to claim that in many segments of contemporary North American, as well as European, Catholic theology, there is a twofold profound and interrelated sense of insecurity pertaining to the intellectus fidei.The first sense of insecurity relates to the nature and task of theology—to be precise, dogmatic or systematic theology—as well as its precise relationship to three distinct but interrelated points of reference and accountability: the canon of Scripture, tradition, and the living Magisterium. It seems indicative of this sense of insecurity and the ensuing lack of clarity that on...

    • 2 Ordering Wisdom: Aquinas, the Old Testament, and Sacra Doctrina
      (pp. 80-91)

      In 1912, among the writings of Thomas Aquinas’s student Remigio dei Girolami, two previously lost works of Aquinas were discovered: two short treatises, preached by Aquinas as inaugural lectures, on the structure and content of the whole of Scripture.¹ Aquinas delivered these lectures as part of his formal installation as a magister in sacra paginaat the University of Paris.² In order to gain further insight into an oft-studied theme—Aquinas’s understanding of sacra doctrina—the present essay investigates the view of the Old Testament that he presents in these inaugural lectures. I propose that Aquinas’s explanation of the content and...

    • 3 The Precarity of Wisdom: Modern Dominican Theology, Perspectivalism, and the Tasks Of Reconstruction
      (pp. 92-124)

      The extremes touch, as the French like to say, and this is nowhere more evident in modern Dominican theology than in the symbolic internecine conflict surrounding Marie-Dominique Chenu’s famous work Le Saulchoir:Une école de théologie, published in 1937, just as he had assumed the office of regent at the institution of that same title.² The book, as is well known, was placed on the Index by the Holy Office in 1942; and this led to the eventual purge of the Saulchoir in that same year, a reordering conducted under the theological and political direction of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Michael Browne, and...

  9. Part 2. Mysterium Fidei:: Sacraments and Metaphysics
    • 4 The Importance of the Definition of Sacraments as Signs
      (pp. 127-135)

      What is a sacrament? All classical authors agree in holding that the concepts of sign and cause are fundamental in defining the sacraments. Yet there is an important speculative problem to be solved: the concept of sign and the concept of cause are formally distinct, and one cannot be the undetermined genus and the other the determining specific difference. They cannot be combined into an adequate definition: one or the other must be chosen. The one that is left out could nevertheless express an additional, essential property. The concept of cause is most prominent during the early Scholastic age: a...

    • 5 The Place of Romans 6 in Aquinas’s Doctrine of Sacramental Causality: A Balance of History and Metaphysics
      (pp. 136-149)

      There is a rather widespread tendency to read St. Thomas Aquinas as taking an ultra-metaphysical approach to the question of sacramental efficacy, one that leaves little room for history. For example, the medievalist William J. Courtenay has pointed to the role of monetary theory in Aquinas’s sacramental theology, arguing that a limited Aristotelian vision of money as needing to have inherent value (as in the case of gold coins) led Aquinas to reject covenant theology or sine qua noncausality, which had been promoted as the best model for sacramental efficacy by, among others, St. Bonaventure and the Oxford Dominican Richard...

    • 6 The Human Acts of Christ and the Acts That Are the Sacraments
      (pp. 150-168)

      In their constitution on the sacred liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium,the fathers of the Second Vatican Council stated:

      The liturgy, then, is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. It involves the presentation of man’s sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs. In it, full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members.

      From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the Priest and of...

    • 7 Verum sacrificium as the Fullness and Limit of Eucharistic Sacrifice in the Sacramental Theology of Thomas Aquinas Historical Context and Current Significance
      (pp. 169-208)

      In the last of his many encyclical letters, Pope John Paul II reminded us that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist.” And since, as that text will help to show at the end of this essay, the Church does so largely by being drawn into his sacrifice, her vitality will rise and fall with the vitality of her mission of Eucharistic sacrifice. Yet we cannot approach this topic today “innocent” of the many challenges and misunderstandings that have enveloped the notion of Eucharistic sacrifice. The initial section of this paper will illustrate the status quaestionis with three contemporary...

  10. Part 3. Bonum—Lex—Virtus:: Moral Theology
    • 8 St. Thomas and the Divinity of the Common Good
      (pp. 211-233)

      St. Paul, in the Epistle to the Romans 1:20, a text fundamental for the history of natural theology, writes: “For the invisible things of him [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.”¹ St. Thomas Aquinas, in commenting on this passage, explains (in part):

      The third item known is “divinity,” to which it pertains that they knew God as the ultimate end, unto which all tend; for by “the divine good” is meant the common good which is participated...

    • 9 The Primacy of the Common Good and the Foundations of Natural Law in St. Thomas
      (pp. 234-255)

      According to Thomas Aquinas’s famous definition of law, one of the essential features of any true law is order toward the common good.¹ Also according to Thomas, natural law is law in the proper sense of the term.² So we may assume that for him natural law does order toward the common good. However, his writings are not as direct or as explicit as one could perhaps wish about how it does so. In this essay I wish to propose that we should see order toward the common good as quite fundamental in the Thomistic conception of natural law.


    • 10 A Reading Guide for Natural Law Ethics
      (pp. 256-284)

      By anyone’s count, there has been an astonishing number of scholarly books and articles on natural law theory in recent decades. One might not have expected this trend, given the prevailing currents in academic philosophy and theology.

      Despite attempts of various kinds since the Enlightenment to sever, or at least to ignore, the connection between the natural moral law and God as its ultimate source,¹ natural law theory is necessarily theological. This is not to say that one cannot come to know any number of moral precepts (for instance, that murder is wrong, or that promises should be kept, or...

    • 11 Natural Law, the Moral Object, and Humanae Vitae
      (pp. 285-311)

      The purpose of this essay is threefold: first, to speak about St. Thomas’s account of natural teleology and passive participation in relation to the natural moral law; second, to sum up Thomas’s account of the teleological relation of the object and end of the moral act, and to address five strategic objections to this account; and third, to show how error regarding teleology can falsify our understanding of the object of the moral act and of the nature of the malum of contraception. This final point will advert to the recent controversy between Fr. martin Rhonheimer and Janet Smith in...

    • 12 Contemplata Tradere: Embodied Interiority in Cessario, Pinckaers, and Lonergan
      (pp. 312-329)

      The many publications of Fr. Romanus Cessario, as well as the many publishing ventures he has initiated or guided, testify to the fruitfulness of his Dominican vocation. I recall the first prolonged discussions I had with him. It was at a conference at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. After the conference presentations he and Fr. J. Augustine DiNoia took me to the beautiful College Chapel where a great uncle of mine, who witnessed the marriage of my parents and taught me how to serve Mass, had been ordained a Dominican Priest in 1909. What struck me immediately...

    • 13 Moral Development and Connecting the Virtues: Aquinas, Porter, and the Flawed Saint
      (pp. 330-352)

      The missing link between theory and practice in ethics is moral development. Accounting for this link is the major challenge facing ethical theory today. Some ethicists would grant moral development only a trivial place in relation to issues of normativity, natural law, and the nature of rationality or in relation to questions of the adequacy of utilitarian and consequentialist calculations. Others would make it an issue for psychology or pedagogy alone, a minor concern. Neglecting moral development, however, risks the danger of construing the moral agent as fragmented or determined. Aquinas and other virtue ethicists like Aristotle, by contrast, make...

    • 14 Vanity and Commerce: How De malo Supports Whig Thomism
      (pp. 353-364)

      Whig Thomism is a largely American school of Catholic reflection on economic, social, and political life. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Whig Thomists tend to be Americans since this school, with some justice, points to the Catholic social thought tradition, and most especially, Centesimus Annus, for support. Whig Thomism’s most famous thinkers are public intellectuals rather than university professors: Fathers Richard John Neuhaus and Robert Sirico, Michael Novak, and George Weigel. Romanus Cessario quite rightly warns us about the use of labels for complex intellectual positions.¹ Usefully then, Tracey Rowland, one of the critics of Whig...

  11. Postscript: “There Is Only One Sadness . . . Not to Be Saints” An Expression of Gratitude to Father Romanus Cessario, O.P.
    (pp. 365-372)

    Christian saints are a strange and oddly varied lot. Assemble in one place, say, Columcille, Catherine of Siena, Thomas more, Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Philip Neri, Robert Bellarmine, Thérèse of Lisieux, Maria Goretti, and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and two things are at once evident about this congregation of the unexpected. The first is that, although they have some notable qualities in common—energy, conviction, and a prayerful care for the needy—they are extraordinarily different from one another. And I do not think that this is just because the list that I have assembled is...

  12. Publications of Romanus Cessario, O.P.
    (pp. 373-380)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 381-400)
  14. Contributors
    (pp. 401-406)
  15. Index of Names
    (pp. 407-410)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 411-412)