New Book: Thomas Aquinas on the Beatitudes

In MacIntyre’s After Virtue, which was written in 1981, he argued that even though modern thinkers continued to possess a “simulacra of morality” they had actually “very largely, if not entirely” lost the theoretical and practical comprehension of morality. Indeed, Kantian deontologism and Enlightenment philosophy have both done their part to hinder modern man from an appreciation of the role of virtue and teleology. Thankfully, though, as virtue ethics has become more popular and as Thomists have begun to reassert the foundational role the human desire for happiness has in the moral life (by turning, time and again, to the beginning of the Secunda Pars), some of us moderns have found ourselves on the correct path. Nevertheless, despite the relative proliferation of works on the virtues since the time After Virtue was written, there has not been much work done on the beatitudes, which are, for Thomas, “acts of perfect virtue” (see II-II, q. 29 a. 4 ad 1 and q. 79 aa. 1 & 3) that are distinguished from virtues  “not as habit from habit, but as act from habit” (I-II, q. 69 a. 1). It’s good to see that Fr. Anton ten Klooster is taking steps to fill this lacuna.

Click here for more info and ordering info.


Ryan J Brady

Subsequent to a few semesters of study at Thomas Aquinas College, Dr. Brady graduated from La Salle University in Philadelphia with a B.A. in Religion. After receiving a Masters degree in Systematic Theology from Christendom Graduate School (where he was the valedictorian) he defended his doctoral dissertation “Aquinas on the Respective Roles of Prudence and Synderesis vis-à-vis the Ends of the Moral Virtues” with distinction and received his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology.

New Book: General Principles of Sacramental Theology

General Principles of Sacramental Theology addresses a current lacuna in English-language theological literature. Bernard Leeming's highly respected book Principles of Sacramental Theology was published more than sixty years ago. Since that time, there has been a noted decrease, especially in English-language sacramental theology, in treatments of the basic topics and principles—such as the nature of the sacraments of signs, sacramental grace, sacramental character, sacramental causality, sacramental intention, the necessity and number of the sacraments, sacramental matter and form, inter alia—which apply to all of the sacraments.

Rather than deconstruct the Church's tradition, as many recent books on the sacraments do, Roger Nutt offers a vibrant presentation of these principles as a sound foundation for a renewed appreciation of each of the seven sacraments in the Christian life as the divinely willed means of communion and friendship between God and humanity. The sacraments bestow and nourish the personal communion with Jesus Christ that is the true source of human happiness. Recourse to the patrimony of Catholic wisdom, especially St. Thomas Aquinas, can help to highlight the sacraments and their significance within the plan of salvation.

This book will be of use in seminary, graduate, and undergraduate courses. It is further offered as a source of hope to all those seeking deeper intimacy with God amidst the confusion, alienation, and disappointment that accompanies life in a fallen world. The sacraments play an irreplaceable role in pursuing a Universal Call to Holiness that is so central to Vatican II's teaching.

Roger W. Nutt is associate professor of theology at Ave Maria University, Florida

This book will help priests and laity alike to gain a fuller understanding of the worth and power of the sacraments. Prof. Nutt helps to move the conversation about the sacraments forward in a much-needed way in our day.
— Paul Keller, OP, The Athenaeum of Ohio

New Book: Thomism and Predestination

A new book entitled Thomism and Predestination: Principles and Disputations is now available from The Catholic University of America Press. See below for more details. 


"There is perhaps no aspect of traditional Thomistic thought so contested in modern Catholic theology as the notion of predestination as presented by the classical Thomist school. What is that doctrine, and why is it so controversial? Has it been rightly understood in the context of modern debates? At the same time, the Church's traditional affirmation of a mystery of predestination is largely ignored in modern Catholic theology more generally. Why is this the case? Can a theology that emphasizes the Augustinian notion of the primacy of salvation by grace alone also forego a theology of predestination?

Thomism and Predestination: Principles and Disputations considers these topics from various angles: the principles of the classical Thomistic treatment of predestination, their contested interpretation among modern theologians, examples of the doctrine as illustrated by the spiritual writings of the saints, and the challenges to Catholic theology that the Thomistic tradition continues to pose. This volume initiates readers―especially future theologians and Catholic intellectuals―to a central theme of theology that is speculatively challenging and deeply interconnected to many other elements of the faith.


Steven A. Long is a professor of Theology at Ave Maria University and author of Teleological Grammar of the Moral Act (Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University Publications). Roger W. Nutt is an associate professor of Theology, codirector of the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal, and editor-in-chief of Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University. Thomas Joseph White, OP, is the director of the Thomistic Institute at the Domincan House of Studies. He is the author of several books including The Incarnate Lord: A Thomistic Study in Christology (CUA Press), and coeditor of the theological journal Nova et Vetera."

Perfect Hatred? Aquinas Lecture in Berkeley

The 24th Annual Aquinas Lecture at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, CA, will be given by Dr. Diana Fritz-Cates, Associate Professor of Religious Ethics at The University of Iowa, on Wednesday, March 12, at 7:30 pm PST (10:30 pm EST). Entitled “Hatred in the Light of Love: A Thomistic Analysis,” the live-streamed presentation will present a conceptual and ethical analysis of hatred, based on the moral psychology of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Discounts and new texts from Critical Reprints

The proprietors of Critical Reprints, which produces reprints of Latin editions of important texts by Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, et al. through, have asked us to let our readers know about some coupons Lulu is offering through Dec. 15. Here are the coupon codes:

FREESHIP (free shipping through Dec. 15)

HOLIDAY25 (25% off through Dec. 15 on up to 14 books)

They have also forwarded us the below information about new texts and a giveaway.


New Reprints!

Critical Reprints is pleased to bring you several reprints of important scholarly texts from Thomas Aquinas, Alexander of Hales, and Albert the Great!

In addition to the many reprints of Thomas Aquinas we already stock (like the Leonine Summa theologiae and Summa contra Gentiles), we are now offering:

In addition to the reprints connected with Alexander of Hales we already stock (the whole Summa fratris Alexandri), we are now offering:

We've also added:

Quodlibetal Giveaway (Advent 2013)

For this holiday season, we are inaugurating our first semiannual Quodlibetal GiveawayQuodlibet means "whatever", and in the Middle Ages, magistri would hold seminannual quodlibetal questions in Advent and Easter, where anyone could ask whatever of the masters. Here at Critical Reprints, we're doing our own take on the medieval quodlibet, by giving you an opportunity to win one critical reprint from whatever we reprint every Advent and Easter.

Interview about Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas conference in Houston

Zenit has published an interview I conducted with John Hittinger (The Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, Houston and the John Paul II Forum) about the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas conference this Oct. 17-19 in Houston. You can find the interview here. John is one of the conference organizers. Tom Osborne, who teaches at The Center for Thomistic Studies and is a contributor, posted about the conference earlier this year.

Call for papers: Aquinas's moral philosophy

It is a little late to be posting this notice but I just came across it and, as they say, better late than never. The online journal Diametros, which is sponsored by the Institute of Philosophy at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, has announced a call for papers on Aquinas’s moral philosophy and contemporary practical ethics. The deadline is Tuesday, September 10! Here is the notice from PhilPapers:

The Editorial Board of Diametros - An Online Journal of Philosophy is planning to publish a special edition of the journal dedicated to actual and possible applications of Thomas Aquinas’ moral theory to the problems of contemporary practical ethics. The thematic scope of the publication is considerably broad, and that in two respects. On the one hand, we believe that there are a number of issues in St. Thomas’ moral philosophy, in particular his doctrine of natural law, which need to be considered in relation to contemporary practical ethics. On the other hand, Aquinas’ moral theory will certainly shed new light on many issues in practical ethics, especially in bioethics. Thus we do not wish to limit the scope of the articles published in the special edition. However, we would appreciate that the articles not be focused too narrowly on specific issues, so that the special edition will be of interest to a broader audience and not only to specialists in St. Thomas’ ethics.

Aquinas at S. Luigi dei Francesi in Rome

Dr. Andrew Dinan, who teaches classical languages here at AMU, not long ago helped lead a group of classics majors on a trip to Rome. As you can imagine, they spent a lot of time reading Latin inscriptions around the Eternal City.

Dr. Dinan shared with me the below photo of an inscription from San Luigi dei Francesi: 

 Here is my translation:





A. 3, AD 2


A. 3, QC. 3, AD 2

I have been to San Luigi a few times but never noticed this inscription. The text referred to in the inscription from the Sentences commentary is this:

[E]tiam pro pure spiritualibus potest fieri indulgentia, et fit quandoque: sicut quicumque orat pro rege Franciae, habet decem dies pro indulgentia a Papa Innocentio IV et similiter crucem praedicantibus datur quandoque eadem indulgentia que crucem accipientibus

In other words:

Indulgences also can be, and sometimes are, granted even for purely spiritual things. Thus Pope Innocent IV granted an indulgence of ten days to all who prayed for the king of France. And similarly whoever preaches a crusade or takes part in a crusade is granted the same indulgence.

The text from the Supplementum, being lifted from the Sentences commentary, is the same text.

Aquinas and Ontotheology

I’m going to be doing a few posts at the Ave Maria University philosophy department blog on Kevin Hart’s interpretation of Aquinas as an ontotheologian. Hart teaches in the religious studies department at the University of Virginia. His comments on Aquinas come from his book The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology, and Philosophy (1989/2000). The posts are revisions of a section of my dissertation (Fordham, 2008). I thought my reflections might be interesting to some of our readers. I put up the first post a couple days ago.

Oxford University Press Disappoints

Back in March I reported on Oxford University Press’s plans to bring out a new translation of Aquinas’s De Potentia by Richard J. Regan, SJ. I also expressed my disappointment that OUP had decided that the translation would be an abridgement rather than the full text. Here are some of my comments:

The information at the OUP site puts the page count of Fr. Regan’s abridgement at 368, which, admittedly, is still quite generous. The 1952 Newman Press unabridged single volume edition of the Shapcote translation comes to 476 pages. Is that really too much for OUP? One might guess that OUP, although they are a nonprofit, is concerned about the bottom line. That would not be an irrelevant consideration. After all, OUP would like to stay in business and we would like them to stay in business too. Their service to the academic world is invaluable. But consider the fact that in December they published — to take a random example — F.C. Beiser’s The German Historicist Tradition, a 608 page tome. While I would personally be interested in reading Beiser’s book, I cannot imagine that it would wildly outsell an unabridged version of the De Potentia. So why shortchange the latter?

I concluded thus:

No doubt there are factors of which I am unaware. Are they insurmountable? Perhaps there is still time for OUP to reconsider.

OUP did not reconsider. The volume is now out, abridged as can be. So much for the power of to change hearts and minds!

Our very own Michael Dougherty wrote in the comment box of my original post that Wipf and Stock have reprinted the old unabridged Shapcote translation. You can get it directly from the Wipf and Stock site (now for $13 less than Amazon!). And he also noted that the same edition is available in html format at Joseph Kenny OP’s site.

If you want the De Potentia in English, why get the OUP version when the complete text is readily available elsewhere?

Paul Ryan and Aquinas, Again

My last post on Paul Ryan and Aquinas has apparently caused something of a stir. I had only intended it as a bit of humor but some people took it more seriously. In response to that I have tried to put together some more substantive thoughts on Ryan’s relation to Aquinas at our new AMU Philosophy Department blog.

Paul Ryan: "Give me Thomas Aquinas"

I know I probably get the award for the most silly posts on But sometimes I can’t help myself. If you despise these silly posts of mine, then, please, read no further, for this one is sure to bother you too.

We all (at least we Americans) know by now that the big news in the US presidential race is that GOP contender Mitt Romney has just named Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate. Ryan, who is Catholic, has often been connected in the past with the economic views of Russian-American author Ayn Rand (not known for her embrace of Catholic social doctrine), for whom he does appear to have some appreciation.

But not long ago Ryan publicly distanced himself from Rand and let people know that, philosophically speaking, he’s more of a Thomist than a Randian. This is what emerges in an April interview with the National Review’s Robert Costa:

“I, like millions of young people in America, read Rand’s novels when I was young. I enjoyed them,” Ryan says. “They spurred an interest in economics, in the Chicago School and Milton Friedman,” a subject he eventually studied as an undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio. “But it’s a big stretch to suggest that a person is therefore an Objectivist.”

“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.

I couldn’t agree more.

By the way, in the same interview Ryan also talks about reading Benedict XVI’s Light of the World and mentions how the Catholic principle of subsidiarity has been an influence on his thinking.


UPDATE: I’ve discovered that others have beat me to the punch on this “headline,” some by a few months. I guess the news cycle is a little longer than the mainstream media’s, which makes sense, right? At any rate, there are pieces that applaud Ryan’s “Thomism,” others that claim his commitment to Randianism is deeper than he lets on, and still others that wonder about the incompatibility of Randianism and Thomism.

I don’t know whether will involve itself in this debate but it is certainly a worthy one to engage.