Despite the failure to fairly and accurately present historical philosophical and theological ideas and disputes, the film Everything, Everywhere, All at Once is nevertheless insightful in describing the effect of scientific progress in creating a modern crisis over the loss of intrinsic worth and meaning. The film also presents what seems to me a fundamentally Christian response or answer to this meaninglessness and loss of worth. I think EEAaO is an excellent film for these reasons, and I recommend readers see it, if they have not done so already. The film is also funny, creative, excellently acted and visually stunning, so it has all that going for it, too.
January 28 was chosen as the date to commemorate Saint Thomas Aquinas joining the Blessed in Heaven because it was the date the relics of his body were returned to the Dominican convent in Toulouse from the Cistercian Abbey of Fossanova. Saint Thomas’s relics suffered some extreme vagaries of place and condition until their (more or less) final resting place in France, but that what his remains underwent was not unusual for the time and place in which he lived and died. Well, the National Catholic Register reports that Saint Thomas’s relics, or at least his skull, is on the move again.
Today, January 28, marks the annual celebration of the Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, source, inspiration and patron of the Thomistic Philosophy Page. Saint Thomas was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Saint Pius V in 1567, and over the centuries, the Church has conferred on Saint Thomas three doctoral designations: the Angelic Doctor, the Common Doctor and the Doctor of Humanity (the last conferred by Pope Saint John Paul II).His title of the Angelic Doctor is certainly, if somewhat ironically, the most commonly used (instead of Common Doctor).
Alas, another Hollywood film has failed in its primary responsibility of accurately depicting the history of disputes of Catholic philosophy and theology, however oblique its reference to this history. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the film makers frustrated our omnibus, ubiquitous and perennial hope that every film, above all, provide theologically and historically accurate content.
Of course, it is a stretch to label Dr. King a “Thomist” as he did not research, teach or write predominantly about St. Thomas Aquinas. But in one rather famous bit of writing, “Letter from Birmingham City Jail,” he does cite St. Thomas’ notion of natural law rather insightfully, and gives, on the one hand, a very illuminating illustration of Thomistic principles, and on the other, a rational justification for civil rights activism and legislation.
I just noticed, after at least 33 years of looking at this image of Saint Thomas Aquinas, that he (or at least Bl. Fra Angelico imagined that he) parted his hair on the right, as do I, which is somewhat uncommon for men (at least in the late 20th and early 21st centuries (don’t know about the 13th)). Coincidence? I think NOT!
Today is the Feast Day of Pope Saint Pius V. He is the greatest of the four Dominican to be elected pope. He reigned as pontiff during one of the most difficult times in the history of the Church. He was known to be a man of great prayer, austerity and zeal for the welfare of Holy Mother Church and the souls entrusted to her care. He was above all, even after being raised to the episcopate and the pontificate, a Dominican and one of the Order’s greatest saints.
I noted on the actual — that is to say, observed (by the Holy Church of Rome) — Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas on January 28, 2022 and 2021, that that date is not the one on which the Angelic Doctor entered upon his eternal reward, but the date when his relics were transferred from the Benedictine monastery of Fossa Nova in Italy, to the Dominican convent in Toulouse, France. The date of his death is today, March 8, and until the reform of the General Roman Calendar after the Second Vatican Council, this was the day on which the Universal Church celebrated his Feast Day and Sainthood.
Over the years I have produced a lot of content explaining the reasons for Catholic hope (1 Peter 3:15), which I presented in videos, blog posts, philosophical web pages, class notes or in good, ol’ fashion, print material. A curious public wishing to find this content scattered across various and disparate media can now be satisfied in their anguished quest, for much of it is now available on one web page, TMC Catholic Apologetics, with more exciting Catholic, Christian and theist apologetic content to come.
Yesterday, February 18, was the feast day of one of my favorite artists and Dominican saints and blesseds, Fra Angelico, or Blessed John of Fiesole. Bl. John was born in 1395 and died on yesterday’s date 1455. In his ministry as a Dominican friar and priest, he preached with color and brush, and became a master of the early renaissance who incorporated perspective and proportion into his work, innovating naturalism and realism in Western Art.
You can see his warmth and pastoral concern in a sermon Saint Thomas delivered, it is believed, during his second Paris residency (1268-1272). . . . It is interesting to see Aquinas apply a very medieval academic approach to the question (leading with objections (“we must be amazed”) and distinguishing various sense of words, in order to synthesize them into a coherent whole) in a bit of popular theology in order to serve a very pastoral end. His skill as a preacher is a testament to the pastoral service intellectual and academic efforts can be put. Note well, ye preachers in our midst!
I just finished watching The Tender Bar starring Ben Affleck, Ty Sheridan, and Daniel Ranieri (among others) on Amazon Prime Video. Overall, I liked the movie with pretty good performances from a pretty good cast. But, at one point JR (Sheridan), the story’s protagonist and narrator, complains about having to read Aquinas in his studies at Yale.
At this point, I have the feeling that at least some readers’ interest in why I am Catholic might be aroused by these more personal reminiscences of my religious upbringing and awakening. But, at least one underlying point to this my exercise in giving an apologia from a cradle Catholic is to provide an intellectual and reasoned account of my Catholic perdurance (fidelity is too strong a word to describe one so prone to moral failure).
I return now to my ongoing project of giving an apologia, or a reasoned defense of why I am Catholic and why I believe as I do, provoked, as I was, to provide one as by a certain religiously skeptical college student. . . . This is what I consider to be a cogent and compelling argument for the existence of God distilled from Aquinas’s Third Way.
After All Saints Day and its spooky (though thoroughly Catholic) vigil, Halloween, we come to the third of the fall Triduum of the Afterlife: All Souls Day (or in its Mexican (and thoroughly (or at least mostly) Catholic) manifestation, Dia de los Muertos).
Amid the annual fall questions and confusion about the alleged pagan origins of Halloween on October 31, and the role of purgatory in the celebration of All Souls Day (November 2), Catholics pay less attention to the celebration of All Saints Day (November 1) than they should.
It is a question that still arises in Catholic circles and among other Christians more generally, so I thought I would repost the answer as I had done on other venues in years past.
In my ongoing quest to finish a series of explanations and analyses on the Five Ways of proving the existence of God from Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae I, q. 2, a. 3, I updated the translation of the Third Way which “is taken from the possible and the necessary” along with a graphical depiction of the argument as a flowchart.
A few weeks ago, Bishop Robert Barron wrote an op/ed piece for the New York Post bemoaning the singing of John Lennon’s utopian manifesto pop song “Imagine” at the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics.
I have posted a new explanation and analysis of the Second Way for proving the existence of God from Summa Theologiae Ia, q. 2, a. 3, which Saint Thomas Aquinas rather cryptically says is based on the nature (ratio) of efficient causality.
Every Good Friday, the question is raised again, “Why did Jesus have to die?” A common answer, though not really the Catholic answer, says that Jesus is a substitute victim, an innocent, and infinitely holy person, the Son of God, who suffers the punishment which sinners deserve in their place, and thereby frees them from this just punishment they deserve.
Today, November 15, is the Feast of Saint Albert the Great, or Saint Albert of Regensburg. He was a towering figure in medieval philosophy and theology and had such encyclopedic knowledge and an incisive mind that, even in his lifetime, he was called “the Great.”
I previously quoted approvingly Walker Percy when he posed to himself the option of holding to some worldview besides the Catholic faith, and queried himself the answer “what else is there?” Though himself a convert, I as a Cradle Catholic felt he summed up my experience of considering the various alternatives of worldviews, religions and philosophies against the one in which I was raised, and finding them all wanting.
There is an amusing story told about St. Thomas Aquinas I have always liked. Once, friar Thomas was invited to dine at the table of the King of France, Louis IX, who would eventually be canonized a saint, too. Brother Thomas, fell silent as the meal and conversation continued around him, lost in thought.
In my previous post I related that when I began to investigate how I might explain and defend the Catholic faith, I found that sometimes I agreed with skeptical critiques of distinctively Protestant beliefs, yet I was very convinced of the inadequacy of physicalist explanations of nature in general and of the human mind and rational behavior in particular.
If it is true, as I have claimed, that a compelling case can be made that you (or anyone) can find ultimate fulfillment in knowing and loving God, who is all good and deserving of all your love, by living your life as a committed Catholic, it may seem perplexing that anyone is not Catholic (at least of those who have heard about the Church and been able to join it).
Explanations and defenses of the truth of the Catholic faith tend to be written by converts. Perhaps this is natural and to be expected.
Saint Thomas Aquinas had a particular devotion to Jesus Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. He was serving in the papal court when it was in residence in Orvieto, Italy, when a remarkable Eucharistic miracle occurred.
The study of philosophy is not that we may know what men have thought, but what the truth of things is. — Saint Thomas Aquinas