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

Paper on Aquinas earns Brandon Wanless ACPA Young Scholar's Award

This is coming a little late but better late than never.

This year's winner of the American Catholic Philosophical Association's Young Scholar's award is Brandon Wanless. The award is given to the best paper submitted for the ACPA's annual conference by a scholar 35 years old or younger.

Mr. Wanless's paper is entitled “St. Thomas Aquinas on Original Justice and the Justice of Christ: A Case Study in Christological Soteriology and Catholic Moral Theology.” Here's the abstract from the ACPA conference program:

This paper discusses the theme of “personal justice” in the Summa theologiae, a concept inherited from the Nicomachean Ethics wherein Aristotle says that a man is just toward himself only metaphorically, insofar as the parts of man are appropriately ordered with the higher ruling the lower and the body subjugated to the soul. This paper demonstrates how Aquinas extensively utilizes this concept of metaphorical justice across the tripartite division of the Summa in his accounts of original justice in the prima pars, the humanity of Christ in the tertia pars, and justification of the sinner in the secunda pars. As a response to critiques that Thomistic moral theology is not properly centered in the person of Christ, I will show that, for Aquinas, Christ’s personal justice both fulfills the right ordering of humanity lost through sin and restores that integrity to mankind in the grace of justification—the root of the Christian’s entire moral life.

There are two things worth noting. First, the Young Scholar's Award is a philosophy award and the paper is, as you see, on a theological topic. Second, Mr. Wanless is completing his PhD in theology at Ave Maria University. (Full disclosure: I teach at AMU. But I teach philosophy, not theology.)

But these two things, in a way, shouldn't be surprising. After all, there's an awful lot of philosophy in Aquinas's theology (materially speaking). And there's a significant amount of philosophy in Mr. Wanless's paper (materially speaking). It should also be noted that justice was the theme of this year's conference.

Mr. Wanless received the award last month in San Francisco, where this year's ACPA conference was held. His paper will be published in the next issue of the Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

Call for papers: Conference on biblical Thomism in Poland

Our distinguished contributor Jörgen Vijgen has informed us of a call for papers for an upcoming conference entitled: "Towards a Biblical Thomism: Thomas Aquinas and the Renewal of a Biblical Theology." The conference will take place April 24-26, 2017 at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland. Abstracts of approximately 300 words should be submitted by January 31, 2017 to Piotr Roszak at piotrroszak@umk.pl. It is preferred that papers be in English.

The conference's keynote and other main lectures will be given by Michael Sherwin OP (University of Fribourg, Switzerland), Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary, United States), Enrique Alarcon (University of Pamplona, Spain), Giuseppe De Virgilio (Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome), Stefano Zamboni SCJ (Alphonsianum, Rome) and Michele Mazzeo OFM (Antonianum, Rome).

For further information check out the conference blog or download the CFP flyer.

The Refounded "Dominicana"

In 1916 the journal Dominicana was founded at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. It was operated by the studentate of the Province of St. Joseph until 1968, when it ceased publication. But last Spring the journal was happily resurrected. Here is an account of the events from the Spring 2011 issue:

Spring is a time of change. This spring marks the end of Dominican Review and the re-introduction of Dominicana. Dominicana was the original studentate publication of the the Province of St. Joseph, begun in 1916. It contained news about the Province and articles of interest. It also showcased the literary talents of the studentate. By renaming Dominican Review, we hope to reconnect with our past by drawing inspiration from our tradition and presenting it in a com­pelling way to our readers in 2011. The name of our publication is not the only change you will no­tice. We have moved to a smaller, neater, booklet format to facilitate reading and we have worked to diversify our content.

The Dominicana homepage says a little more about the projected content: 

The re-founded journal seeks to provide commentary on a wide array of topics from a Dominican, contemplative perspective. Entirely student-created, the journal features opinion pieces, spiritual reflections, debates, interviews, short fiction, poetry, and more.

Here is the subscription information, also from the journal’s homepage:

Those interested in subscribing to the print edition of the journal may do so by credit card or PayPal, or by writing to Dominicana Editor, 487 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, D.C. 20017. (Please make checks payable to Dominican Studentate.)

One-year subscriptions are available for $15. Religious houses may subscribe for $20 per year, and institutions and libraries may subscribe for $25 per year.

Among recent articles, readers of Thomistica.net might be especially interested in J. Augustine Di Noia’s “Theological Method and the Magisterium” from the Winter 2011 issue. I was able to access a pdf file of the article for free on Dominicana’s website. I don’t know whether this was because my institution has a subscription to the journal. But you can try for yourself. 

New Document from the International Theological Commission

Yesterday the International Theological Commission published a new document entitled “Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles, and Criteria.” Work began on the document in 2004. Here is a summary of its content from the press release:

The document examines a number of contemporary theological issues and sets forth, in light of the foundational principles of theology, methodological criteria which must be considered decisive for Catholic theology vis-à-vis other related disciplines, such as the religious sciences. The text is divided into three chapters: theology presupposes attentive listening to the word of God accepted in faith (chapter 1); it is practised in communion with the Church (chapter 2); and its aim is to ground a scientific approach to God’s truth within a horizon of authentic wisdom (chapter 3).