Thomistic in order to renew the Church and Society
The Society of Ignatians is convinced, as Pope John Paul II stated, that “he thought of St. Thomas…is a necessary condition for the longed-for renewal of the Church” ( John Paul II, Angelicum 57, 1980: 139). And renewal of society begins with the renewal of the Church.
St. Thomas is powerfully relevant today because “genius has no date”
The Church has made St.Thomas her Doctor Communis [ Universal Teacher] not because he was Thomas but because “genius has no date. When eternal things are in question, it is wisdom to turn to the man who, at any date in time, succeeded in piercing most deeply into the heart of eternity.”(Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life)
And as a German philosopher remarked: “Marked though this thought is by an altogether extraordinary grasp and the most disciplined, dynamic, and penetrating independent thinking, there yet speaks through it less the individual writer, Thomas Aquinas, than the voice of the great tradition of human wisdom itself.” (JOSEF PIEPER, Guide to St.Thomas Aquinas)
Ignatians are Thomists because we fight for Truth in a post-truth civilization
St. Thomas’s thought is a valuable weapon with which to combat for the Culture of Truth and for a civilization in which man will more easily be able to recognize and adore, through the Catholic Faith, the First Truth who is also the Supreme Good, Pure Beauty, and Absolute Love.
St. Thomas Surpasses Modernity’s Ideological Philosophers of Doubt
“Thus Saint Thomas’ work has a constructive quality absent from almost all cosmic systems after him.
For he is already building a house, while the newer speculators are still at the stage of testing the rungs of a ladder, demonstrating the hopeless softness of the unbaked bricks, chemically analysing the spirit in the spirit-level, and generally quarrelling about whether they can even make the tools that will make the house.
Aquinas is whole intellectual aeons ahead of them, over and above the common chronological sense of saying a man is in advance of his age; he is ages in advance of our age.
For he has thrown out a bridge across the abyss of the first doubt, and found reality beyond and begun to build on it.
Most modern philosophies are not philosophy but philosophic doubt; that is, doubt about whether there can be any philosophy.
If we accept Saint Thomas’s fundamental act or argument in the acceptance of reality, the further deductions from it will be equally real; they will be things and not words.
Unlike Kant and most of the Hegelians, he has a faith that is not merely a doubt about doubt. It is not merely what is commonly called a faith about faith; it is a faith about fact.
From this point he can go forward, and deduce and develop and decide, like a man planning a city and sitting in a judgment-seat.
But never since that time has any thinking man of that eminence thought that there is any real evidence for anything, not even the evidence of his senses, that was strong enough to bear the weight of a definite deduction.” (G. K. Chesterton, St. Thomas Aquinas)
As the great Garrigou-Lagrange stated:
“Thomism corresponds to the profound needs of the modern world because it restores the love of truth for the sake of truth itself. Now, without this love of truth for itself, it is not possible to obtain true infused charity, the supernatural love of God for the sake of God Himself, nor to arrive at the infused contemplation of God sought for Himself, that is, at the contemplation that proceeds from the living faith enriched by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, first of all, knowledge and wisdom.” (Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Essence and Topicality of Thomism)
Thomistic in order to imbue society with a Catholic soul
“All the great philosophies, whether of the Middle Ages or any other period, have that in their substance which to an extent triumphs over time.
But Thomism does so more completely than any other since it harmonizes and exceeds them all, in a synthesis which transcends all its components.
It is relevant to every epoch. It answers modern problems, both theoretical and practical.
In the face of contemporary aspirations and perplexities, it displays a power to fashion and emancipate the mind.
We therefore look to Thomism at the present day to save: in the speculative order, intellectual values; in the practical order, so far as they can be saved by philosophy, human values.” (Jacques Maritain, The Preface to Metaphysics)
Ignatians are Thomists because Thomism is the sharpest sword with which to defend Catholicism against the heresy of Modernism with its denial of Truth
In St. Thomas’s theology, we can lay hold of the metaphysics authored by the Catholic who stated “Truth is the ultimate purpose of the entire universe” and that “the knowledge of truth always precedes the love of truth”; that “the study of philosophy is not the study of men’s opinions, but of the truth of things”.
“The sign [Modernism] has been not of a crisis of faith, but of a very grave malady of the intellect, which conducts itself on the tracks of liberal Protestantism and through relativism to absolute skepticism.” (Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Essence and Topicality of Thomism)
One of the ways by which St. Thomas defends the truths of Catholicism is through his precise and unambiguous use of language necessary for the defense of the truths of Catholicism from Modernism
As Pope Paul VI stated in his encyclical Mysterium Fidei:
“It is logical, then, that we should follow as a guiding star in our investigations of this mystery the magisterium of the Church, to which the divine Redeemer entrusted for protection and for explanation the revelation which He has communicated to us through Scripture or tradition. For we are convinced that “what since the days of antiquity was preached and believed throughout the whole Church with true Catholic faith is true, even if it is not submitted to rational investigation, even if it is not explained by means of words” (St. Augustine, Contr. Julian.VI. 5, 11, PL 44, 829).
But this is not enough. Once the integrity of the faith has been safeguarded, then it is time to guard the proper way of expressing it, lest our careless use of words give rise, God forbid, to false opinions regarding faith in the most sublime things.
St. Augustine gives a stern warning about this when he takes up the matter of the different ways of speaking that are employed by the philosophers on the one hand and that ought to be used by Christians on the other.
“The philosophers use words freely, and they have no fear of offending religious listeners in dealing with subjects that are difficult to understand. But we have to speak in accordance with a fixed rule, so that a lack of restraint in speech on our part may not give rise to some irreverent opinion about the things represented by the words” (De Civitate Dei, 10, 23).
And so the rule of language which the Church has established through the long labor of centuries, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and which she has confirmed with the authority of the Councils, and which has more than once been the watchword and banner of orthodox faith, is to be religiously preserved, and no one may presume to change it at his own pleasure or under the pretext of new knowledge.
Who would ever tolerate that the dogmatic formulas used by the ecumenical councils for the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation be judged as no longer appropriate for men of our times, and let others be rashly substituted for them?
In the same way, it cannot be tolerated that any individual should on his own authority take something away from the formulas which were used by the Council of Trent to propose the Eucharistic Mystery for our belief.
For these formulas—like the others that the Church used to propose the dogmas of faith—express concepts that are not tied to a certain specific form of human culture, or to a certain level of scientific progress, or to one or another theological school.
Instead they set forth what the human mind grasps of reality through necessary and universal experience and what it expresses in apt and exact words, whether it be in ordinary or more refined language. For this reason, these formulas are adapted to all men of all times and all places.
They can, it is true, be made clearer and more obvious; and doing this is of great benefit. But it must always be done in such a way that they retain the meaning in which they have been used, so that with the advance of an understanding of the faith, the truth of faith will remain unchanged.
For it is the teaching of the First Vatican Council that ‘the meaning that Holy Mother the Church has once declared, is to be retained forever, and no pretext of deeper understanding ever justifies any deviation from that meaning’ (De Fide Catholica).” (Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei)
In synthesis, St. Thomas is deep, clear, and as a true Scholastic abhors ambiguity which is often the camouflage of those who seek to undermine the Church.
He asks the deep questions we all want answers for – God, man, life and death, good and evil – and gives deep but clear answers.
With a brief introduction to his method and the help of a small dictionary of key terms whatever initial obscurity existed can be overcome gradually so that with each reading you will find his thought clearer.