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Pints With Aquinas

If you could sit down with St. Thomas Aquinas over a pint of beer and ask him any one question, what would it be? Every episode of Pints With Aquinas revolves around a question, a question that St. Thomas addresses in his most famous work, The Summa Theologica. So get your geek on, pull up a bar stool, and grab a cold one. Here we go!
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Now displaying: December, 2016
Dec 27, 2016

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Does man have free will?

It is written (Sirach 15:14): "God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel"; and the gloss adds: "That is of his free-will."

I answer that, Man has free-will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain. In order to make this evident, we must observe that some things act without judgment; as a stone moves downwards; and in like manner all things which lack knowledge. And some act from judgment, but not a free judgment; as brute animals. For the sheep, seeing the wolf, judges it a thing to be shunned, from a natural and not a free judgment, because it judges, not from reason, but from natural instinct. And the same thing is to be said of any judgment of brute animals. But man acts from judgment, because by his apprehensive power he judges that something should be avoided or sought. But because this judgment, in the case of some particular act, is not from a natural instinct, but from some act of comparison in the reason, therefore he acts from free judgment and retains the power of being inclined to various things. For reason in contingent matters may follow opposite courses, as we see in dialectic syllogisms and rhetorical arguments. Now particular operations are contingent, and therefore in such matters the judgment of reason may follow opposite courses, and is not determinate to one. And forasmuch as man is rational is it necessary that man have a free-will.

ST. I, Q. 83, A. 1.

Does God know future contingent things?

God knows all things; not only things actual but also things possible to Him and creature; and since some of these are future contingent to us, it follows that God knows future contingent things.

In evidence of this, we must consider that a contingent thing can be considered in two ways; first, in itself, in so far as it is now in act: and in this sense it is not considered as future, but as present; neither is it considered as contingent (as having reference) to one of two terms, but as determined to one; and on account of this it can be infallibly the object of certain knowledge, for instance to the sense of sight, as when I see that Socrates is sitting down. In another way a contingent thing can be considered as it is in its cause; and in this way it is considered as future, and as a contingent thing not yet determined to one; forasmuch as a contingent cause has relation to opposite things: and in this sense a contingent thing is not subject to any certain knowledge. Hence, whoever knows a contingent effect in its cause only, has merely a conjectural knowledge of it. Now God knows all contingent things not only as they are in their causes, but also as each one of them is actually in itself. And although contingent things become actual successively, nevertheless God knows contingent things not successively, as they are in their own being, as we do but simultaneously. The reason is because His knowledge is measured by eternity, as is also His being; and eternity being simultaneously whole comprises all time, as said above (I:10:2). Hence all things that are in time are present to God from eternity, not only because He has the types of things present within Him, as some say; but because His glance is carried from eternity over all things as they are in their presentiality. Hence it is manifest that contingent things are infallibly known by God, inasmuch as they are subject to the divine sight in their presentiality; yet they are future contingent things in relation to their own causes.

 

ST. I, Q. 14, A. 13.

Dec 26, 2016

Merry Christmas, everyone. This podcast contains a talk by philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft on the holy angels.

Learn more about Kreeft and listen to other talks by him here: http://peterkreeft.com/home.htm

And get my book here: https://www.amazon.com/Pints-Aquinas-Thoughts-Angelic-Doctor/dp/0692752404

Dec 20, 2016

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THE ANGELIC SALUTATION
by
Thomas Aquinas
translated by Joseph B. Collins



“Hail Mary”


We must now consider concerning the first part of this prayer that in ancient times it was no small event when Angels appeared to men; and that man should show them reverence was especially praiseworthy. Thus, it is written to the praise of Abraham that he received the Angels with all courtesy and showed them reverence. But that an Angel should show reverence to a man was never heard of until the Angel reverently greeted the Blessed Virgin saying: “Hail.”


In olden time an Angel would not show reverence to a man, but a man would deeply revere an Angel. This is because Angels are greater than men, and indeed in three ways. First, they are greater than men in dignity. This is because the Angel is of a spiritual nature: “You make your angels spirits” [Ps 103:4]. But, on the other hand, man is of a corruptible nature, for Abraham said: “I will speak to my Lord, whereas I am dust and ashes” [Gen 18:27]. It was not fitting, therefore, that a spiritual and incorruptible creature should show reverence to one that is corruptible as is a man. Secondly, an Angel is closer to God. The Angel, indeed, is of the family of God, and as it were stands ever by Him: “Thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him” [Dan 7:10]. Man, on the other hand, is rather a stranger and afar off from God because of sin: “I have gone afar off” [Ps 44:8]. Therefore, it is fitting that man should reverence an Angel who is an intimate and one of the household of the King.


Then, thirdly, the Angels far exceed men in the fullness of the splendor of divine grace. For Angels participate in the highest degree in the divine light: “Is there any numbering of His soldiers? And upon whom shall not His light arise?”[Job 25:3]. Hence, the Angels always appear among men clothed in light, hut men on the contrary, although they partake somewhat of the light of grace, nevertheless do so in a much slighter degree and with a certain obscurity. It was, therefore, not fitting that an Angel should show reverence to a man until it should come to pass that one would be found in human nature who exceeded the Angels in these three points in which we have seen that they excel over men—and this was the Blessed Virgin. To show that she excelled the Angels in these, the Angel desired to show her reverence, and so he said: “Ave (Hail).”


“Full of grace”


The Blessed Virgin was superior to any of the Angels in the fullness of grace, and as an indication of this the Angel showed reverence to her by saying: “Full of grace.” This is as if he said: “I show you reverence because you dost excel me in the fullness of grace.”


The Blessed Virgin is said to be full of grace in three ways. First, as regards her soul she was full of grace. The grace of God is given for two chief purposes, namely, to do good and to avoid evil. The Blessed Virgin, then, received grace in the most perfect degree, because she had avoided every sin more than any other Saint after Christ. Thus it is said: “You are fair, My beloved, and there is not a spot in you” [Sg 4:7]. St. Augustine says: “If we could bring together all the Saints and ask them if they were entirely without sin, all of them, with the exception of the Blessed Virgin, would say with one voice: ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.’[1 Jn 1:8]. I except, however, this holy Virgin of whom, because of the honor of God, I wish to omit all mention of sin” [De natura et gratia 36]. For we know that to her was granted grace to overcome every kind of sin by Him whom she merited to conceive and bring forth, and He certainly was wholly without sin.


Christ excelled the Blessed Virgin in this, that He was conceived and born without original sin, while the Blessed Virgin was conceived in original sin, but was not born in it. [as in Summa, but otherwise in I Sent., c. 44, q. 1, ad. 3]. She exercised the works of all the virtues, whereas the Saints are conspicuous for the exercise of certain special virtues. Thus, one excelled in humility, another in chastity, another in mercy, to the extent that they are the special exemplars of these virtues—as, for example, St. Nicholas is an exemplar of the virtue of mercy. The Blessed Virgin is the exemplar of all the virtues.


In her is the fullness of the virtue of humility: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” [Lk 1:38]. And again: “He has looked on the humility of his handmaid” [Lk 1:48]. So she is also exemplar of the virtue of chastity: “Because I know not man” [Lk 1:34]. And thus it is with all the virtues, as is evident. Mary was full of grace not only in the performance of all good, but also in the avoidance of all evil. Again, the Blessed Virgin was full of grace in the overflowing effect of this grace upon her flesh or body. For while it is a great thing in the Saints that the abundance of grace sanctified their souls, yet, moreover, the soul of the holy Virgin was so filled with grace that from her soul grace poured into her flesh from which was conceived the Son of God. Hugh of St. Victor says of this: “Because the love of the Holy Spirit so inflamed her soul, He worked a wonder in her flesh, in that from it was born God made Man.” “And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God” [Lk 1:35].


The plenitude of grace in Mary was such that its effects overflow upon all men. It is a great thing in a Saint when he has grace to bring about the salvation of many, but it is exceedingly wonderful when grace is of such abundance as to be sufficient for the salvation of all men in the world, and this is true of Christ and of the Blessed Virgin. Thus, “a thousand bucklers,” that is, remedies against dangers, “hang therefrom” [Sg 4:4]. Likewise, in every work of virtue one can have her as one’s helper. Of her it was spoken: “In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue” [Sir 24:25]. Therefore, Mary is full of grace, exceeding the Angels in this fullness and very fittingly is she called “Mary” which means “in herself enlightened”: “The Lord will fill your soul with brightness” [Is 48:11]. And she will illumine others throughout the world for which reason she is compared to the sun and to the moon.


“The Lord is with you”


The Blessed Virgin excels the Angels in her closeness to God. The Angel Gabriel indicated this when he said: “The Lord is with you”—as if to say: “I reverence you because you art nearer to God than I, because the Lord is with you.” By the Lord; he means the Father with the Son and the Holy Spirit, who in like manner are not with any Angel or any other spirit: “The Holy which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God” [Lk 1:35]. God the Son was in her womb: “Rejoice and praise, O you habitation of Sion; for great is He that is in the midst of you, the Holy One of Israel” [Is 12:6].


The Lord is not with the Angel in the same manner as with the Blessed Virgin; for with her He is as a Son, and with the Angel He is the Lord. The Lord, the Holy Ghost, is in her as in a temple, so that it is said: “The temple of the Lord, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit,” [Benedictus antiphon from the Little Office of Blessed Virgin], because she conceived by the Holy Ghost. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon you” [Lk 1:35]. The Blessed Virgin is closer to God than is an Angel, because with her are the Lord the Father, the Lord the Son, and the Lord the Holy Ghost—in a word, the Holy Trinity. Indeed of her we sing: “Noble resting place of the Triune God.” “The Lord is with you” are the most praiseladen words that the Angel could have uttered; and, hence, he so profoundly reverenced the Blessed Virgin because she is the Mother of the Lord and Our Lady. Accordingly she is very well named “Mary,” which in the Syrian tongue means “Lady.”


“Blessed art you among women”


The Blessed Virgin exceeds the Angels in purity. She is not only pure, but she obtains purity for others. She is purity itself, wholly lacking in every guilt of sin, for she never incurred either mortal or venial sin. So, too, she was free from the penalties of sin. Sinful man, on the contrary, incurs a threefold curse on account of sin. The first fell upon woman who conceives in corruption, bears her child with difficulty, and brings it forth in pain. The Blessed Virgin was wholly free from this, since she conceived without corruption, bore her Child in comfort, and brought Him forth in joy: “It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise” [Is 35:2].


The second penalty was inflicted upon man in that he shall earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. The Blessed Virgin was also immune from this because, as the Apostle says, virgins are free from the cares of this world and are occupied wholly with the things of the Lord [1 Cor 7:34].


The third curse is common both to man and woman in that both shall one day return to dust. The Blessed Virgin was spared this penalty, for her body was raised up into heaven, and so we believe that after her death she was revived and transported into heaven: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place, You and the ark which You hast sanctified” [Ps 131:8]. Because the Blessed Virgin was immune from these punishments, she is “blessed among women.” Moreover, she alone escaped the curse of sin, brought forth the Source of blessing, and opened the gate of heaven. It is surely fitting that her name is “Mary,” which is akin to the Star of the Sea (“Maria--maris stella”), for just as sailors are directed to port by the star of the sea, so also Christians are by Mary guided to glory.


“Blessed is the fruit of your womb”


The sinner often seeks for something which he does not find; but to the just man it is given to find what he seeks: “The substance of the sinner is kept for the just” [Prov 13:22]. Thus, Eve sought the fruit of the tree (of good and evil), but she did not find in it that which she sought. Everything Eve desired, however, was given to the Blessed Virgin. Eve sought that which the devil falsely promised her, namely, that she and Adam would be as gods, knowing good and evil. “You shall be,” says this liar, “as gods” [Gen 3:5]. But he lied, because “he is a liar and the father of lies” [Jn 8:44]. Eve was not made like God after having eaten of the fruit, but rather she was unlike God in that by her sin she withdrew from God and was driven out of paradise. The Blessed Virgin, however, and all Christians found in the Fruit of her womb Him whereby we are all united to God and are made like to Him: “When He shall appear, we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is” [1 Jn 3:2].


Eve looked for pleasure in the fruit of the tree because it was good to eat. But she did not find this pleasure in it, and, on the contrary, she at once discovered she was naked and was stricken with sorrow. In the Fruit of the Blessed Virgin we find sweetness and salvation: “He who eats My flesh... has eternal life” [Jn 6:55].


The fruit which Eve desired was beautiful to look upon, but that Fruit of the Blessed Virgin is far more beautiful, for the Angels desire to look upon Him: “You are beautiful above the sons of men” [Ps 44:3]. He is the splendor of the glory of the Father. Eve, therefore, looked in vain for that which she sought in the fruit of the tree, just as the sinner is disappointed in his sins. We must seek in the Fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary whatsoever we desire. This is He who is the Fruit blessed by God, who has filled Him with every grace, which in turn is poured out upon us who adore Him: “Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with spiritual blessings in Christ” [Eph 1:3]. He, too, is revered by the Angels: “Benediction and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength, to our God” [Rev 7:12]. And He is glorified by men: “Every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” [Phil 2:11]. The Blessed Virgin is indeed blessed, but far more blessed is the Fruit of her womb: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” [Ps 117:26].

 

Dec 13, 2016

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Objection 1. It would seem that the saints in heaven do not pray for us. A man's action is more meritorious for himself than for others. But the saints in heaven do not merit for themselves, neither do they pray for themselves, since they are already established in the term. Neither therefore do they pray for us.

Objection 2. Further, the saints conform their will to God perfectly, so that they will only what God wills. Now what God wills is always fulfilled. Therefore it would be useless for the saints to pray for us.

Objection 3. Further, just as the saints in heaven are above, so are those in Purgatory, for they can no longer sin. Now those in Purgatory do not pray for us, on the contrary we pray for them. Therefore neither do the saints in heaven pray for us.

Objection 4. Further, if the saints in heaven pray for us, the prayers of the higher saints would be more efficacious; and so we ought not to implore the help of the lower saints' prayers but only of those of the higher saints.

Objection 5. Further, the soul of Peter is not Peter. If therefore the souls of the saints pray for us, so long as they are separated from their bodies, we ought not to call upon Saint Peter, but on his soul, to pray for us: yet the Church does the contrary. The saints therefore do not pray for us, at least before the resurrection.

On the contrary, It is written (2 Maccabees 15:14): "This is . . . he that prayeth much for the people, and for all the holy city, Jeremias the prophet of God."

I answer that, As Jerome says (Cont. Vigilant. 6), the error of Vigilantius consisted in saying that "while we live, we can pray one for another; but that after we are dead, none of our prayers for others can be heard, seeing that not even the martyrs' prayers are granted when they pray for their blood to be avenged." But this is absolutely false, because, since prayers offered for others proceed from charity, as stated above (Articles 7 and 8), the greater the charity of the saints in heaven, the more they pray for wayfarers, since the latter can be helped by prayers: and the more closely they are united to God, the more are their prayers efficacious: for the Divine order is such that lower beings receive an overflow of the excellence of the higher, even as the air receives the brightness of the sun. Wherefore it is said of Christ (Hebrews 7:25): "Going to God by His own power . . . to make intercession for us" [Vulgate: 'He is able to save for ever them that come to God by Him, always living to make intercession for us.']. Hence Jerome says (Cont. Vigilant. 6): "If the apostles and martyrs while yet in the body and having to be solicitous for themselves, can pray for others, how much more now that they have the crown of victory and triumph."

Reply to Objection 1. The saints in heaven, since they are blessed, have no lack of bliss, save that of the body's glory, and for this they pray. But they pray for us who lack the ultimate perfection of bliss: and their prayers are efficacious in impetrating through their previous merits and through God's acceptance.

Reply to Objection 2. The saints impetrate what ever God wishes to take place through their prayers: and they pray for that which they deem will be granted through their prayers according to God's will.

Reply to Objection 3. Those who are in Purgatory though they are above us on account of their impeccability, yet they are below us as to the pains which they suffer: and in this respect they are not in a condition to pray, but rather in a condition that requires us to pray for them.

Reply to Objection 4. It is God's will that inferior beings should be helped by all those that are above them, wherefore we ought to pray not only to the higher but also to the lower saints; else we should have to implore the mercy of God alone. Nevertheless it happens sometime that prayers addressed to a saint of lower degree are more efficacious, either because he is implored with greater devotion, or because God wishes to make known his sanctity.

Reply to Objection 5. It is because the saints while living merited to pray for us, that we invoke them under the names by which they were known in this life, and by which they are better known to us: and also in order to indicate our belief in the resurrection, according to the saying of Exodus 3:6, "I am the God of Abraham," etc.

Dec 6, 2016

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Objection 1. It would seem that the star which appeared to the Magi belonged to the heavenly system. For Augustine says in a sermon on the Epiphany (cxxii): "While God yet clings to the breast, and suffers Himself to be wrapped in humble swaddling clothes, suddenly a new star shines forth in the heavens." Therefore the star which appeared to the Magi belonged to the heavenly system.

Objection 2. Further, Augustine says in a sermon on the Epiphany (cci): "Christ was made known to the shepherds by angels, to the Magi by a star. A heavenly tongue speaks to both, because the tongue of the prophets spoke no longer." But the angels who appeared to the shepherds were really angels from heaven. Therefore also the star which appeared to the Magi was really a star from the heavens.

Objection 3. Further, stars which are not in the heavens but in the air are called comets, which do not appear at the birth of kings, but rather are signs of their approaching death. But this star was a sign of the King's birth: wherefore the Magi said (Matthew 2:2): "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east." Therefore it seems that it was a star from the heavens.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Contra Faust. ii): "It was not one of those stars which since the beginning of the creation observe the course appointed to them by the Creator; but this star was a stranger to the heavens, and made its appearance at the strange sight of a virgin in childbirth."

I answer that, As Chrysostom says (Hom. vi in Matth.), it is clear, for many reasons, that the star which appeared to the Magi did not belong to the heavenly system. First, because no other star approaches from the same quarter as this star, whose course was from north to south, these being the relative positions of Persia, whence the Magi came, and Judea. Secondly, from the time [at which it was seen]. For it appeared not only at night, but also at midday: and no star can do this, not even the moon. Thirdly, because it was visible at one time and hidden at another. For when they entered Jerusalem it hid itself: then, when they had left Herod, it showed itself again. Fourthly, because its movement was not continuous, but when the Magi had to continue their journey the star moved on; when they had to stop the star stood still; as happened to the pillar of a cloud in the desert. Fifthly, because it indicated the virginal Birth, not by remaining aloft, but by coming down below. For it is written (Matthew 2:9) that "the star which they had seen in the east went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was." Whence it is evident that the words of the Magi, "We have seen His star in the east," are to be taken as meaning, not that when they were in the east the star appeared over the country of Judea, but that when they saw the star it was in the east, and that it preceded them into Judea (although this is considered doubtful by some). But it could not have indicated the house distinctly, unless it were near the earth. And, as he [Chrysostom] observes, this does not seem fitting to a star, but "of some power endowed with reason." Consequently "it seems that this was some invisible force made visible under the form of a star."

Wherefore some say that, as the Holy Ghost, after our Lord's Baptism, came down on Him under the form of a dove, so did He appear to the Magi under the form of a star. While others say that the angel who, under a human form, appeared to the shepherds, under the form of a star, appeared to the Magi. But it seems more probable that it was a newly created star, not in the heavens, but in the air near the earth, and that its movement varied according to God's will. Wherefore Pope Leo says in a sermon on the Epiphany (xxxi): "A star of unusual brightness appeared to the three Magi in the east, which, through being more brilliant and more beautiful than the other stars, drew men's gaze and attention: so that they understood at once that such an unwonted event could not be devoid of purpose."

Reply to Objection 1. In Holy Scripture the air is sometimes called the heavens--for instance, "The birds of the heavens [Douay: 'air'] and the fishes of the sea."

Reply to Objection 2. The angels of heaven, by reason of their very office, come down to us, being "sent to minister." But the stars of heaven do not change their position. Wherefore there is no comparison.

Reply to Objection 3. As the star did not follow the course of the heavenly stars, so neither did it follow the course of the comets, which neither appear during the daytime nor vary their customary course. Nevertheless in its signification it has something in common with the comets. Because the heavenly kingdom of Christ "shall break in pieces, and shall consume all the kingdoms" of the earth, "and itself shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44).

 

ST III, Q. 36, A. 8.

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Read Chrysostom's homily Aquinas refers to here - http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/200106.htm

 

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