Today I sit down with theoretical particle physicist, Stephen Barr to discuss God, the Big Bang, and the Multiverse.
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In this segment of the Matt Fradd show, I ask Dan what he thinks of Gay people. His answer, he says, is the same Mother Teresa gave...
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Today we're joined around the bar table by Dr. John Cuddeback, philosopher at Christendom College, to discuss the importance and beauty of friendship.
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Today I share with you 7 reasons I love Thomas Aquinas and you should to.
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In today's episode of Pints With Aquinas we're joined around the bar table by Dr. David Bertaina to discuss how to evanelize Muslims. We take a look at a lesser known work of Thomas' called, in English, Reasons for the Faith Against Muslim Objections to the Cantor of Antioch Which, btw, I just paid to have turned into an audiobook. Patrons, have at it. It's free for y'all.
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Today I interview Dr. Brant Pitre. Here's a bit about him:
Dr. Brant Pitre is Distinguished Research Professor of Scripture at the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO. He earned his Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, where he specialized in the study of the New Testament and ancient Judaism. He is the author of several articles and books, including: Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile (Baker Academic, 2005), Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist (Image Books, 2011), Jesus the Bridegroom (Image Books, 2014), Jesus and the Last Supper (Eerdmans, 2015), and The Case for Jesus (Image, 2016). Dr. Pitre is an extremely enthusiastic and engaging speaker who lectures regularly across the United States. He has produced dozens of Bible studies on CD, DVD, and MP3, in which he explores the biblical foundations of Catholic faith and theology. He currently lives in Gray, Louisiana, with his wife Elizabeth, and their five children.
Here's the entire article I read from today from Aquinas:
Article 4. Whether Christ should have committed His doctrine to writing?
Objection 1. It would seem that Christ should have committed His doctrine to writing. For the purpose of writing is to hand down doctrine to posterity. Now Christ's doctrine was destined to endure for ever, according to Luke 21:33: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away." Therefore it seems that Christ should have committed His doctrine to writing.
Objection 2. Further, the Old Law was a foreshadowing of Christ, according to Hebrews 10:1: "The Law has [Vulgate: 'having'] a shadow of the good things to come." Now the Old Law was put into writing by God, according to Exodus 24:12: "I will give thee" two "tables of stone and the law, and the commandments which I have written." Therefore it seems that Christ also should have put His doctrine into writing.
Objection 3. Further, to Christ, who came to enlighten them that sit in darkness (Luke 1:79), it belonged to remove occasions of error, and to open out the road to faith. Now He would have done this by putting His teaching into writing: for Augustine says (De Consensu Evang. i) that "some there are who wonder why our Lord wrote nothing, so that we have to believe what others have written about Him. Especially do those pagans ask this question who dare not blame or blaspheme Christ, and who ascribe to Him most excellent, but merely human, wisdom. These say that the disciples made out the Master to be more than He really was when they said that He was the Son of God and the Word of God, by whom all things were made." And farther on he adds: "It seems as though they were prepared to believe whatever He might have written of Himself, but not what others at their discretion published about Him." Therefore it seems that Christ should have Himself committed His doctrine to writing.
On the contrary, No books written by Him were to be found in the canon of Scripture.
I answer that, It was fitting that Christ should not commit His doctrine to writing. First, on account of His dignity: for the more excellent the teacher, the more excellent should be his manner of teaching. Consequently it was fitting that Christ, as the most excellent of teachers, should adopt that manner of teaching whereby His doctrine is imprinted on the hearts of His hearers; wherefore it is written (Matthew 7:29) that "He was teaching them as one having power." And so it was that among the Gentiles, Pythagoras and Socrates, who were teachers of great excellence, were unwilling to write anything. For writings are ordained, as to an end, unto the imprinting of doctrine in the hearts of the hearers.
Secondly, on account of the excellence of Christ's doctrine, which cannot be expressed in writing; according to John 21:25: "There are also many other things which Jesus did: which, if they were written everyone, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written." Which Augustine explains by saying: "We are not to believe that in respect of space the world could not contain them . . . but that by the capacity of the readers they could not be comprehended." And if Christ had committed His doctrine to writing, men would have had no deeper thought of His doctrine than that which appears on the surface of the writing.
Thirdly, that His doctrine might reach all in an orderly manner: Himself teaching His disciples immediately, and they subsequently teaching others, by preaching and writing: whereas if He Himself had written, His doctrine would have reached all immediately.
Hence it is said of Wisdom (Proverbs 9:3) that "she hath sent her maids to invite to the tower." It is to be observed, however, that, as Augustine says (De Consensu Evang. i), some of the Gentiles thought that Christ wrote certain books treating of the magic art whereby He worked miracles: which art is condemned by the Christian learning. "And yet they who claim to have read those books of Christ do none of those things which they marvel at His doing according to those same books. Moreover, it is by a Divine judgment that they err so far as to assert that these books were, as it were, entitled as letters to Peter and Paul, for that they found them in several places depicted in company with Christ. No wonder that the inventors were deceived by the painters: for as long as Christ lived in the mortal flesh with His disciples, Paul was no disciple of His."
Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says in the same book: "Christ is the head of all His disciples who are members of His body. Consequently, when they put into writing what He showed forth and said to them, by no means must we say that He wrote nothing: since His members put forth that which they knew under His dictation. For at His command they, being His hands, as it were, wrote whatever He wished us to read concerning His deeds and words."
Reply to Objection 2. Since the old Law was given under the form of sensible signs, therefore also was it fittingly written with sensible signs. But Christ's doctrine, which is "the law of the spirit of life" (Romans 8:2), had to be "written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart," as the Apostle says (2 Corinthians 3:3).
Reply to Objection 3. Those who were unwilling to believe what the apostles wrote of Christ would have refused to believe the writings of Christ, whom they deemed to work miracles by the magic art.
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Here's my previous episode on the problem of evil.
Here's how Aquinas formulated the problem of evil:
"It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word "God" means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist."
A bit about my guest Eleonore Stump:
Eleonore Stump is the Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University, where she has taught since 1992. She is also Honorary Professor at Wuhan University and at the Logos Institute, St. Andrews, and she is a Professorial Fellow at Australian Catholic University. She has published extensively in philosophy of religion, contemporary metaphysics, and medieval philosophy. Her books include her major study Aquinas (Routledge, 2003), her extensive treatment of the problem of evil, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering (Oxford, 2010), and her far-reaching examination of human redemption, Atonement (Oxford, 2018). She has given the Gifford Lectures (Aberdeen, 2003), the Wilde lectures (Oxford, 2006), the Stewart lectures (Princeton, 2009) and the Stanton lectures (Cambridge, 2018). She is past president of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the American Catholic Philosophical Association, and the American Philosophical Association, Central Division; and she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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Today we discuss the virtue of studiousness and the vice of curiosity.
Aquinas discusses in this in the Secunda secundae of the Summa (see below).
Here are some articles discussing the sin of curiosity:
Here's what Aquinas wrote:
The knowledge of truth, strictly speaking, is good, but it may be evil accidentally, by reason of some result, either because one takes pride in knowing the truth, according to 1 Corinthians 8:1, "Knowledge puffeth up," or because one uses the knowledge of truth in order to sin.
On the other hand, the desire or study in pursuing the knowledge of truth may be right or wrong.
First, when one tends by his study to the knowledge of truth as having evil accidentally annexed to it, for instance those who study to know the truth that they may take pride in their knowledge. Hence Augustine says (De Morib. Eccl. 21): "Some there are who forsaking virtue, and ignorant of what God is, and of the majesty of that nature which ever remains the same, imagine they are doing something great, if with surpassing curiosity and keenness they explore the whole mass of this body which we call the world. So great a pride is thus begotten, that one would think they dwelt in the very heavens about which they argue." On like manner, those who study to learn something in order to sin are engaged in a sinful study, according to the saying of Jeremiah 9:5, "They have taught their tongue to speak lies, they have labored to commit iniquity."
Secondly, there may be sin by reason of the appetite or study directed to the learning of truth being itself inordinate; and this in four ways. First, when a man is withdrawn by a less profitable study from a study that is an obligation incumbent on him; hence Jerome says [Epist. xxi ad Damas]: "We see priests forsaking the gospels and the prophets, reading stage-plays, and singing the love songs of pastoral idylls." Secondly, when a man studies to learn of one, by whom it is unlawful to be taught, as in the case of those who seek to know the future through the demons. This is superstitious curiosity, of which Augustine says (De Vera Relig. 4): "Maybe, the philosophers were debarred from the faith by their sinful curiosity in seeking knowledge from the demons."
Thirdly, when a man desires to know the truth about creatures, without referring his knowledge to its due end, namely, the knowledge of God. Hence Augustine says (De Vera Relig. 29) that "in studying creatures, we must not be moved by empty and perishable curiosity; but we should ever mount towards immortal and abiding things."
Fourthly, when a man studies to know the truth above the capacity of his own intelligence, since by so doing men easily fall into error: wherefore it is written (Sirach 3:22): "Seek not the things that are too high for thee, and search not into things above thy ability . . . and in many of His works be not curious," and further on (Sirach 3:26), "For . . . the suspicion of them hath deceived many, and hath detained their minds in vanity." - ST II-II Q. 167, A. 1.
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Today I interview Fr. Chris Pietraszko about what Aquinas had to say about anger (or wrath).
Fr. Christopher is a priest in the diocese of London, Ontario, Canada. He devotes himself to on-going studies and an apologetic ministry.
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Here is the very first episode of The Matt Fradd Show (you should watch it here) in which I interview (for nearly 3 hours!) Dan Mattson, author of the book, Why I Don't Call Myself Gay.
In it we discuss The Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality, why "gay" is an unhelpful thing to call people and how to respond to transgenderism. ... oh, and we also discuss Fr. James Martin and his approach to this whole issue.
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Today on Pints With Aquinas I interview Fr. Gregory Pine about papal infallibility!
Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P. serves as the Assistant Director for Campus Outreach for the Thomistic Institute. Born and raised near Philadelphia, PA, he later attended the Franciscan University of Steubenville, studying mathematics and humanities. Upon graduating, he entered the Dominican Province of St. Joseph in 2010 and was ordained in 2016. “It was St. Thomas Aquinas who first introduced me to the Order, and by his prayers that I grew in knowledge and love of its saving mission and ultimately came to find my happiness in Order of Friars Preachers.”
Learn more on Papal Infallibility here.
Here's the section we read from the ST:
I answer that, Wherever there are several authorities directed to one purpose, there must needs be one universal authority over the particular authorities, because in all virtues and acts the order is according to the order of their ends (Ethic. i, 1,2). Now the common good is more Godlike than the particular good. Wherefore above the governing power which aims at a particular good there must be a universal governing power in respect of the common good, otherwise there would be no cohesion towards the one object. Hence since the whole Church is one body, it behooves, if this oneness is to be preserved, that there be a governing power in respect of the whole Church, above the episcopal power whereby each particular Church is governed, and this is the power of the Pope. Consequently those who deny this power are called schismatics as causing a division in the unity of the Church. Again, between a simple bishop and the Pope there are other degrees of rank corresponding to the degrees of union, in respect of which one congregation or community includes another; thus the community of a province includes the community of a city, and the community of a kingdom includes the community of one province, and the community of the whole world includes the community of one kingdom.
ST Supp. Q. 40, A. 6.
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The prayer we read from today:
Prayer for the Wise Ordering of One's Life
(Written by Thomas Aquinas, tranlated by Paul Murray OP, from his excellent book Aquinas at Prayer: The Bible, Mysticism, and Poetry.)
O merciful God, whatever is pleasing to you, may I ardently desire, wisely pursue, truly recognize, and bring to perfect completion.
For the praise and glory of your name put order into my life, and grant that I may know what it is you require me to do, and help me to achieve whatever is fitting and necessary for the good of my soul.
May my way, Lord, be yours entirely, upright and perfect, failing in neither prosperity nor adversity so that, in prosperity, I give you thanks, and in adversity serve patients, neither exalted in the former not dejected in the latter.
May I not rejoice in anything unless it leads me to you, nor be saddened by anything unless it turns me from you. May I not desire to please or fear to displease anyone but you.
May all passing things become worthless to me on your account, and all things that are yours be dear to me, and you, God, above all things.
May all joy without you leave me tired and weary, And may I not desire anything apart from you.
May all work that is done for you delight me, Lord, and all repose not centered on your presence be wearisome.
Let me, my God, direct my heart to you often and let me grieve over my failure with determination to change.
Make me, my God, humble without pretense, cheerful without frivolity,
sad without dejection, mature without heaviness, quick-witted without levity, truthful without duplicity.
Let me fear you without despair, and hope in you without presumption.
Let me correct my neighbor without hypocrisy, and without pride edify him by word and example: obedient without contradiction, patient without murmuring.
Give me, dearest God, a vigilant heart which no distracting thought can lure away from you.
Give me a noble heart which no unworthy desire can ever debase. Give me an unconquered heart which no tribulation can fatigue. Give me a free heart which no violent temptation can enslave. Give me an upright heart which no perverse intention can hold fast.
Grant me, Lord my God, intelligence in knowing you, diligence in seeking you, wisdom in finding you, conversation pleasing to you, perseverance in confidently waiting for you, and confidence in finally embracing you.
Grant that as penance I may be afflicted with your hardships,
As grace, make use along the way, of your favors, as glory, delight in your joys in the fatherland.
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Here's the transcript:
00:00 Welcome to Pints With Aquinas. My name's Matt Fradd. How you going? Yeah. Just so you know, in Australia you don't say how you doing, you how you going? How you going? Hey, how you going? If you could sit down over a pint of beer with Thomas Aquinas and ask him any one question, what would it be? In today's episode, we're gonna ask Aquinas about the angels, and in particular about guardian angels. Whether or not we have them. And if we do have them, when are they assigned? Before baptism, at baptism? Can we name our guardian angels? What does the church have to say about that, and if everyone has a guardian angel, did Jesus have a guardian angel? And lots else besides. Enjoy the show.
00:53 Welcome back to Pints With Aquinas. This is the show where you and I pull up a bar stool, next to the angelic doctor to discuss the oddity and philosophy. Now, how many episodes have we done now, 120 something. Every episode, or almost every episode, I say angelic doctor, don't I? And maybe you've wondered why Thomas Aquinas was called the angelic doctor. Now there's two reasons that are usually given for this. The first is that, he lived a life of angelic purity in regards to chastity, but that also he wrote so beautifully and at great length on the holy angels. And we've done no episode on them yet. We shared, I shared an episode with you from Peter Kreeft, the talk he gave on the angels, which was excellent. If you wanna go hear that, go to pintswithaquinas.com. Just type in angels in the search bar and you can check that out.
01:47 But this is really fascinating stuff. So, just so you know, here's what I wanna get done today. I wanna talk about whether or not we actually have guardian angels, or whether or not that's just a nice thing people tell themselves. You know, but it's not really true. See what Thomas Aquinas has to say about that. And I wanna share with you 10 quick facts about the angels. Maybe we'll start there. And when I say facts, I'm mining all of these facts out of The Summa Theologica, where Aquinas speaks about the angels. We could do 20 episodes on the angels, and still not cover all that Aquinas had to say, but I thought it would be kind of cool to just kind of give you a brief overview. Here's what Aquinas has to say about the angels. And I think you're gonna find some of it really fascinating.
02:33 Okay, before I forget, too, next, well not next week. This week, I'm going to release an episode I recently did with Matt Walsh from The Daily Wire. I told you this was coming. I released it for my Patrons a couple of weeks ago, and all of them told me to release it to the public, so this week you are going to get an episode of me and Matt Walsh discussing everything from being hyperbolic on social media to Pope Francis and the current scandal, and even Russian Literature, and his new job at The Daily Wire. We talk about a lot of things, so, it's not really Aquinas related, but we do talk about kind of faith, and culture, and these sorts of things.
Matt Fradd: 03:14 So, if you wanna make sure you hear that episode, which of course is for free by the way, you don't have to go anywhere else. It'll come out on your feed this week. You have to subscribe. So if you listen to the show on iTunes, if you listen to it wherever you listen to it, because sure to subscribe. That way you'll be sure you don't miss it. All right? So look out for that one as well. What else do I wanna say to you? I don't know. How you going? You doing all right? Oh, Patrons. I wanna say a big thanks to all you Patrons. You know, I'm releasing these Vodka with Dostoyevsky videos just for you, right? So, it's been cool to get all your feedback, but just in case you're a Patron and you've missed it, we're releasing one a week. We're doing seven episodes and I discuss with you awesome things that I've learned from the Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, and it's kind of fun. So, be sure to check that out at patreon.com/mattfradd if you haven't already.
Matt Fradd: 04:07 All right, let's jump into today's topic. As I say before, we will look exactly at what Aquinas had to say on the guardian angels. I wanna read these 10 facts to you. We'll just go through them one by one and quite briefly. As I say, some of them I think will shock you. All right, so number one, it's probably important to know what angels are, don't you think? What are they? Because I think one of the reasons we find it difficult to take angels seriously, it's not because as faithful Christians we don't believe in angels. I mean, we know they're in sacred scripture, all right. It's just that our kind of modern society or different corners of our society have kind of laid claim to them haven't they?
Matt Fradd: 04:50 So you walk by these New Age stores and they talk about angels, and there's books on angels, and encounters with angels and they don't have much to do with Christianity at all, and so, for that reason, we can tend to associate them with say, the New Age movement. But then on the other side, sometimes there's like all of these like really syrupy sweet imagery that we think of, when you think of angels. That classic image of that big angel leading those two chubby kids across a rickety bridge, and she's wearing like a nightgown of something. It looks like a she you know, and you're like, "Come on, man. You're supposed to be a guardian angel. No one's afraid of you. At least make you look epic." Can we make the angels look epic? I think the angels, I mean obviously there's some beautiful images of the angels. I'm gonna put some up at the show notes at pintswithaquinas.com so you can see them. I love the sort of the Eastern iconography of the angels. They tend to be a lot more, I don't know, I think awesome.
Matt Fradd: 05:49 Anyway, okay, so I think that's why we don't think a lot of the angels. But, let's look at some of the facts about angels. Some of the things Aquinas teaches us about angels, and of course this isn't original to him, but he thinks these things through. So, the first thing you should know about angels is, you should know what they are. They are intellectual substances, not united to bodies. All right, so you could think of like the brute beasts are bodies, but are not intellectual substances. You and me are intellectual substances united to bodies, and the angels are one step higher, right. They are intellectual substances, not united to bodies. The second thing to note is that since an angel is just a form, so you know you and I are a combination of form and matter, huh? Angels are just form. Well, what's form? Well form, this is a metaphysical concept. By the way at pintswithaquinas.com there's a free ebook you might wanna check out, if you wanna understand Aquinas' Aristotelian metaphysical lingo, okay? But form, just basically means the essential nature of a thing. The essential nature of ... a form is that which specifies a thing to be this rather than that. Okay? So because of that, Aquinas says that, "Every angel is a unique species." So, when we say angels, when we refer to the angels, we're not using it as a name of a species, like when we say dogs, a little dog or lion. Because again, each angel is a unique species. Instead, we're using it the way we refer to genus. So when you say, not dog or lioness, you say animal. And then under animal you have these unique species or tree, and then you have different species of tree. So that's cool.
Matt Fradd: 07:50 Here's the third fact. Well, let me phrase it as a question. When were the angels created? Were they created before the world, or at the same time as the world? What do you think? Before the world, or at the same time, as well this is really a matter of theological speculation, because the fathers of the church were divided on this. Certain fathers like St. Gregory Nazianzen thought that they were created before the world. Thomas sides with St. Jerome, who says that the angels were created at the same time as the corporeal world. And the reason for this I think is, he argues that the angels, they're part of the same universe that we are, right? Though they are invisible creations. So, since they're part of the same creation, it's reasonable to suppose that they were created together with the rest of creation. That's how Aquinas argues.
Matt Fradd: 08:48 The fourth thing, now this might get a little complicated. So, I'll got through it but then I'll throw up a little table of something or other at pintswithaquinas.com in the show notes so you can see this for yourself. And this has to do with the hierarchy of angels. This is something that Aquinas I think, draws from pseudo Dionisius. The idea and I'm sure you've heard it, is that there are nine choirs of angels which are divided into three in each order. So you've got like the highest order, the middle order, and the lowest order of angels. And you might be tempted to think, well why on earth is that necessary? Like why not just say that they're all angels? And we did talk about this in a previous episode, having to do with whether or not we can talk about God, and what we can say about God, hey. And I was saying, and since Thomas says that, "Since we can't know God directly, we have to know him through creatures."
Matt Fradd: 09:47 And that's why there's just so many types of creatures. Because different creatures tell us something different about God in a way, hey. It would be like if you were trying to study a particular artist, and I said would you like one painting of this artist to study, so you can learn about him, or would you like an entire gallery? You would say, "I want the gallery." Why? Because it would tell you more about the artist. And in a similar way, if all you knew was say, human beings, you would know something about God, right? But if you had everything from slugs to bald eagles, to kangaroos for some weird reason, and whatever else besides. Like dinosaurs. These things speak about God in different ways and so we can know more about God. This is what Aquinas was sort of the hierarchy of being. Is that some beings have more being than other beings.
Matt Fradd: 10:43 And so, this is why we should think that it's just like a moment ago, you've got brute beasts who were just body. You've got us who are kind of intelligence and body, and then you've got angels who are just intelligence. This also kind of goes, theirs a hierarchy in the angels as well. So, let me go through this real quickly, okay, so let me just say what the nine are. Seraphim. You've probably heard these words, right? Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. So, the highest order Aquinas says are, "Those who contemplate the idea of things in God himself." And this order is most closely related to God. Has the most closest relations with him.
Matt Fradd: 11:31 So, the Seraphim are most closely united to God. They sing perpetual praises around his throne. Then you have the Cherubim who know the divine secrets through God himself. Then you have the Thrones, who receive judgements from God and pass them onto the second hierarchy. All right, so that's the first hierarchy. Second hierarchy or the middle order are those angels which contemplate the idea of things in universal causes, and are involved in governing. So, these three in the middle order are Dominations, Virtues, and Powers. Dominations appoint things that are to be done. The Virtues, not moral virtues, right, these type of angels, carry out what is to be done. And then the Powers decide how what has been commanded will be carried out by others, those beneath them.
Matt Fradd: 12:28 And that brings us to the lowest order. The third hierarchy. And this, the lowest order of angels are, what they do is they do is they contemplate the idea of things in their application to particular effects, and they execute God's work in the world. If this is going by way too fast, way too soon, good. It should be, because this gets pretty complicated, but you know you could ... Anyway, let's keep going. So the Principalities act as rulers, presiding over the government.
Matt Fradd: 13:00 The principalities act as rulers presiding over the government of peoples and kingdoms of the Earth. The archangels, pretty crazy, hey, to think that archangels are second to lowest on the totem pole of these different choirs of angels? The archangels, and you know what they do, what do they do? What do archangels do? That's right. Sorry. It's like those kids shows where: Hey, what's two plus two? That's right! I've been watching way too many kids movies. Okay, anyway, archangels, they announce to men and women great things above the power of reason, like when the archangel Gabriel came to Mary.
Matt Fradd: 13:45 Then finally, we have angels. These are those who announce to men small things within the limits of reason. Again, very complicated. Aquinas gets into this a great deal. I just wanted to give you a brief run over of this stuff in case you were curious what was meant by the nine choirs of angels. Well, that's what's meant by it.
Matt Fradd: 14:06 All right, let's crank through the rest of these here. Number five … No, is it number five or number six? Oh, my goodness. Yeah, number five. How do angels communicate with each other, you might be thinking? Do they communicate with each other? What does Aquinas have to say on that? Well, you and I communicate with symbols, right, such as words and gestures? Words and gestures, what do they do? They communicate thoughts and conceptions.
Matt Fradd: 14:33 Well, angels can't do this, since they're incorporeal, and they don't know things by sensible science like we do. Thomas says that they can communicate to each other, and the way they do that is by manifesting their thoughts. They direct their thoughts to another by their will, and in so doing, communicate. Here's a quote from Aquinas, "The concept of one angels is made known to another, and this way, one angel speaks to another, for to speak to another only means to make known the mental concept to another." So if that's the definition to speak, right? This is how he's defining it here. If speaking to another means making known the mental concept to another, and that's what we do as incorporeal beings, but we do it differently, well then yeah, angels can do that too. So they do speak to each other, even though they don't have bodies. All right, so that was five. This is six: Where are the angels? Where are they? Now that might sound like a silly question, because you're saying, "You just said they're incorporeal, so they're nowhere, right?" Well no, they're not nowhere. Aquinas says they are where they are active. They are where they are active.
Matt Fradd: 15:53 Seventh thing that Aquinas makes a big deal about, which might seem kind of humdrum to you, since you're the beneficiary of all of this previous wisdom and thinking through of these things, but all the angels were created originally good. All the angels were created originally good, so God doesn't make junk. God doesn't make things evil, all right?
Matt Fradd: 16:15 The eighth thing is, you might say, "Well, do angels move?" Well, Aquinas says that they can and do move. So although they aren't in space, as we just talked about, they are present wherever they are active. Thomas says that they can move, and in two ways. They can move continuously or discontinuously. Continuously is how we would move, through all the points of intervening space, but they can also move discontinuously, here and then there, without moving like we think of moving.
Matt Fradd: 16:56 That leads us to point number nine. You might say, "How fast do they move?" Well, asking how fast an angel moves, or how long it takes them to move, is like asking how long it takes to form a thought. Aquinas says, "Angels can move as quick as thought." If you think of three different locations you've been in, so for me, I think of my home in south Australia, excuse me, home in south Australia. I think of Rome, Italy, I think of San Diego. Boom, boom, boom. Done. That's how quickly they can move.
Matt Fradd: 17:26 All right. The 10th and final point which I found interesting has to do with the devil's sin. We know God didn't create any angel's evil, and so that lucifer was originally created just like the rest of the angels. What was his sin? Well, I've heard people say things like, "Well, it's that he wanted to be God," or, "He didn't want to be subject to God," right? He didn't want to be subject to God.
Matt Fradd: 17:56 Well, that's not strictly true, since if that happened, if lucifer wasn't subject to God, he would cease to exist, since all things depend upon God for their existence, right? All other beings, apart from God, are contingent upon Him for their existence. Only He exists in and through Himself. That's something Aquinas says. What was his sin? Thomas says that he wanted to be like God by seeking something that's proper to God alone. All right, well what's that? Mainly to possess beatitude by virtue of his nature, and not from the grace of a higher being.
Matt Fradd: 18:47 In other words, he wanted beatitude by his own power. He didn't want to receive it as a gift. Those are just 10 quick facts on the angels. By the way, that last point, I think, is really interesting, you know? I sometimes think about this around Christmas time, where people give a lot to charity, and not just to charity, but hopefully to individual people. We really like to be the ones who are giving gifts to others, and sometimes we really don't like receiving gifts from other people. We all know what this is like.
Matt Fradd: 19:23 When you've gotten a gift for your friend on Christmas or something like that, or an anniversary, and they've gotten you a gift, and theirs is superior to yours. Even if the other person doesn't care in the slightest that what you got them was some sort of homemade something, and they got you like an iPad, I don't know, it bothers you sometimes. It bothers you because of your pride, right? We don't like feeling indebted to people. We don't like receiving charity. We like being the ones to give it.
Matt Fradd: 19:56 I'm gonna give to the homeless, you know? But if a homeless tries to give to me, or if somebody would look to me and my family, and say, "Hey, it's clear that you guys are in need, so I want you to know that I've rallied a few of us friends around, and we're gonna do this for you," you can see how sometimes you might be embarrassed by that, right, humiliated by that. But that's pride. That's like the devil's sin, who didn't want to want to receive beatitude from a higher being, but wanted to attain it himself. Pride was the sin, certainly, that brought down satan.
Matt Fradd: 20:27 All right, let's look at what Aquinas has to say about guardian angels. As I said earlier, sometimes you hear these things, you see pictures of angels, and you think this is probably just like folklore, right? Like this is something, it's a nice thought that maybe developed within catholic spirituality, but it's not actually true. Well, the answer is that Aquinas says it absolutely is true. It absolutely is true that each person is assigned a single guardian angel.
Matt Fradd: 20:55 Aquinas talks about this in the [inaudible 00:20:59] question 113, article two. It's quite a short article, so let's read through it. Let's read the objections, okay? Aquinas is gonna say eventually that these three objections are wrong. Here's the first objection:
Matt Fradd: 21:14 It would seem that each man is not guarded by an angel, for an angel is stronger than a man. But one suffices to guard many men, therefore much more can one angel guard many men. That's a really good point, hey? It's like why does each person need an individual guardian angel? No, that's not true. You could just have one who could be in 5000 or something, or 1000, or 100 even, because angels are a lot stronger than men.
Matt Fradd: 21:45 The second objection: Further, the lower things are brought to God through the medium of the higher. But as all the angels are unequal, there is only one angel between whom, and men there is no medium. Therefore, there is only one angel who immediately guards men. Fair enough.
Matt Fradd: 22:12 The third objection: Further, the greater angels are deputed to the greater offices. Deputed means assigned. Excuse me. But it is not a greater office to keep one man more than another, since all men are naturally equal. Since therefore of all the angels one is greater than another, it seems that different men are not guarded by different angels. Those are the three objections.
Matt Fradd: 22:45 Aquinas says, "On the contrary." He quotes Jerome here. "Great is the dignity of souls, for each one to have an angel deputed to guard it from its birth." That's the authority he relies on before the [respondio 00:23:03], in which he says, "Each man has an angel guardian appointed to him. This rests upon the fact that the guardianship of angels belongs to the execution of divine providence concerning men. But God's providence acts differently as regards men, and as regards other corruptible creatures, for they are related differently to … sorry, incorruptibility. For men are not only incorruptible in the common species, but also in the proper forms of each individual, which are the rational souls, which cannot be said of other incorruptible things.
Matt Fradd: 23:47 Now, it is manifest that the providence of God is chiefly exercised towards what remains forever, whereas as regards things which pass away the providence of God acts so as to order their existence to the things which are perpetual. Thus, the providence of God is related to each man, as it is to every genus or species of things corruptible.
Matt Fradd: 24:12 But according to Gregory, the different orders are deputed to the different genera of things. For instance, the powers to coerce the demons, the virtues," remember these are the angels we talked about in the nine choirs, "to work miracles in things corporeal, while it is probable that the different species are presided over by different angels of the same order. Hence, it is also reasonable to suppose that different angels are appointed to the guardianship of different men."
Matt Fradd: 24:48 Let's look at Aquinas' three objections. You remember the first one had to do with angels being much stronger than men, and therefore you wouldn't need one angel to every man. Aquinas says, "A guardian may be assigned to a man for two reasons. First, inasmuch as a man is an individual, and thus to one man, one guardian is due, and sometimes several are appointed to guard one. Secondly, inasmuch as a man is part of a community, and thus one man is appointed as guardian of a whole community, to whom it belongs to provide what concerns one man in his relation to the whole community, such as external works, which are sources of strength or weaknesses to others.
Matt Fradd: 25:33 But angel guardians are given to men also as regards invisible, and occult things, conferring the salvation of each one in his own regard. Hence, individual angels are appointed to guard individual men."
Matt Fradd: 25:50 The second objection, this having to do with there needing to be only one angel that mediates between men and God, he says, "All the angels of the first hierarchy are as to some …"
Matt Fradd: 26:00 Of the first hierarchy are, as to some things, in ... This is, remember, the top, the highest order, the Seraphim, sharer of thrones. Enlightened. These guys, these chaps, sorry, are enlightened by God directly, says Aquinas. But as to other things, only the superior are directly enlightened by God, and these reveal them to the inferior. And, the same also applies to the inferior orders. For a lower angel is enlightened, in some respect, by one of the highest. And in other respects, by the one immediately above him. Thus, it is possible that some one angel enlightens a man immediately. And yet, has other angels beneath him who he enlightens.
Matt Fradd: 26:48 Let me just pause here and say something I perhaps should've mentioned earlier. So in the Summa, when Aquinas talks about how angels communicate, he says that they can speak, and they can enlighten, but only the higher angels can enlighten the lower angels. The lower angels cannot enlighten the higher angels. And so, when an angel enlightens a lower angel, he says, "It's like they strengthen their capacity to receive something that they wouldn't otherwise be able to receive." And so Aquinas is saying here, "Just like the lower angels are enlightened by the higher angels, so man, who is beneath angles in the hierarchy of being, can be enlightened by even the lower angels."
Matt Fradd: 27:34 The third objection, what was this one, let me just go over this again. The whole point of the third objection was, it seemed that different men are not guarded by different angels. Aquinas says, "Although men are equal in nature, still inequality exists among them. According as divine providence orders some to the greater, and others to lesser things." According to Sirach 33:11 through 12, "Which with much knowledge the Lord hath divided them and diversified their ways. Some of them hath he blessed and exalted, and some of them hath he cursed and brought low." And then Aquinas says, "Thus it is a greater office to guard one man than another."
Matt Fradd: 28:20 Now here's an interesting question. You'll say, "Well, if every man and woman is given a guardian angel and Jesus was a man, wouldn't it follow that Jesus had a guardian angel?" And actually this is something that has been held by Christians. In fact, a pious Christian opinion is that it was Michael the Archangel who fulfilled this role. Which is pretty humbling for him. We obviously see in scripture, that angels minister to Jesus, right? Again, isn't it amazing when you read the Holy Scriptures, you see how important the angels are in the life of Christ and in the life of Christians, you know in the book of Acts. And yet very often, we neglect our guardian angel.
Matt Fradd: 29:05 In the Navarre Bible Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, it answers the question, did Jesus have need of the help of the angels. And it says, "The Creator of all who is never in need of the help of his creatures, is ready to accept as man, consolation and help from those who can give it." Isn't that beautiful? How humbling is that?
Matt Fradd: 29:32 I think another question people have is, can they give their guardian angel a name? You know, you hear people say this. The answer, you might be, maybe you'll think ... well, the answer's no. Well, one of the reasons is your guardian angel already has a name. So, he doesn't need you calling him Maximus, or Gregory, or whatever. He has a name. The church does actually though direct us not to do this. In the Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy, that's the name of it. Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, here's what the church says, "Popular devotion to the holy angels which is legitimate and good, can however also give rise to possible deviations. The practice of assigning names to the holy angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, whose names are contained in Holy Scripture."
Matt Fradd: 30:29 I think another question people have is, do we get our guardian angels at baptism? This is of course a theological speculation, but the common opinion among Catholic theologians is no, and that even non-baptized people have guardian angels. You can read more about that at Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, he talks about it there.
Matt Fradd: 30:55 You know, something I haven't pointed out until now, which I probably should have, is that again, this isn't just sort of theological speculation run amok when we talk about guardian angels. This is something that Christ himself speaks about. Not only do we see him being ministered to by the angels, but he talks about this in Matthew 18:10. He says, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in Heaven, their angels always behold the face of my Father, who is in Heaven." So, it seems that when Christ says this, he's not just pointing out that these angels are perpetually in the presence of God, but that he's saying that our guardian angels have access to the Father, and can intercede for us. Also should need to be noted, the idea that people have guardian angels is the church fathers talk about this. Basil, and Jerome, and of course Thomas Aquinas, who is not a church father incidentally, but yes, there you go.
Matt Fradd: 31:58 Now, one final thing to point out, you might be wondering, well could it be the case that my guardian angel is a Seraphim? One who contemplates the ideas of God. The one highest to God, and the answer is no, it's not. The guardian angels, Aquinas says are on the lowest rank of the totem pole. So the lowest order is Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. So the Angels, this is below the Archangels, those who announce to men small things within the limits of reason, are from where we get the guardian angels.
Matt Fradd: 32:31 Okay, as we wrap up here today, I wanna share a short little prayer with you that you might wanna memorize. I think many of us probably grew up learning that old prayer, "Angel of God, my guardian dear prayer." Which is a fine prayer, beautiful prayer. Here's a prayer I learnt since sort of going to an Eastern Catholic Church. I really like this prayer and I wanna share it with you. Just a reminder, in the show notes, I'm gonna be putting pictures of the angels for you to look at. I'll be putting prayers. I'll put that list of the hierarchy of angels, as well as Aquinas' text. So, go check it out so that you can get the kind of full experience of the show.
Matt Fradd: 33:10 But here's the prayer, maybe we can pray it together and then we'll wrap up. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Oh, guardian angel, protector of my soul and body. To your care I have been entrusted by Christ. Obtain for me the forgiveness of the sins committed by me this day. Protect me from the snares of my enemy, that I may never more offend God by my sin. Pray for me, your sinful and unworthy servant, that through your help I may become worthy of the grace and mercy of the most Holy Trinity, and of the Mother of our Lord God, Jesus Christ, and of all the saints, Amen. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Matt Fradd: 33:53 Thanks for listening to this week's episode of Pints With Aquinas. Always great to have you listen. Do us a favor if you haven't already. Review the show on iTunes, and if you're not yet a Patron and you wanna see the cool gifts I give you in return for supporting the show for as little as a dollar a month, go to patrean.com/mattfradd, or go to pintswithaquinas.com and you can click donate there if you want. Also, by going to pintswithaquinas.com, you can follow us on Twitter, and Instagram. We've always got beautiful images that are being posted several times a week, giving you little bite size morsels of Thomas Aquinas. So if you're on Instagram you really wanna follow us at Pints With Aquinas. We've got a big Facebook group and all that.
Matt Fradd: 34:31 So, if you're new to the show, and you're like, "How do I get plugged in with the community?" That's how you would do it. And of course, we have chapters around the country. Pints With Aquinas chapters. So you can go to pintswithaquinas.com, click chapters, see if there's a group in your area. If you wanna start one, you have to be a Patron of Pints With Aquinas, and just contact me over at Patreon, and we'll get you set up there. All right, God Bless, chat with you next week.
Matt Fradd: 34:53 Oh, golly, before I forget. Look, hey every, feels like every week I get questions from people. "What's that song that you play at the beginning and the end of the shows. That's song?" Not that anybody has ever spoken like that in the history of mankind. But anyway, that song is my sister, Emma Fradd. That's who you're hearing right now. You Patrons, Patrons should know about her. I've done some exclusive shows with her on Patreon. She's in a new band, she's been in this band for a while, now. Heaps Good Friends, look them up. They were 14th most downloaded on Spotify for a while. Heaps Good Friends, check her out. It's not Christian music although she is a solid Catholic. Hey, how about I do this for you? How about I let you rock out to Emma Fradd as we wrap up today's episode? All right, here you go.
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