Symposium Thomisticum IV, Rome, July 4-6, 2019

Fran O’Rourke informs us of the fourth Symposium Thomisticum coming up this summer in Rome. I have copied and pasted below the complete information as provided by Dr. O’Rourke. Notice the call for papers. The deadline for abstracts is January 1 and the deadline for completed papers is June 1.

The fourth Symposium Thomisticum will take place in Rome, 4 – 6 July 2019.

Theme of the symposium will be ‘Aquinas Philosopher Theologian’.

The venue is the Collegio Irlandese, centrally located near the church of St John Lateran.

Details are available at (google Symposium Thomisticum).

Speakers will include Serge-Thomas Bonino, Therese Cory, Kevin Flannery, Joshua Hochschild, Ed Houser, Gyula Klima, Patrick Masterson, Siobhan Nash-Marshall, John O’Callaghan, Paul O’Grady, Fran O’Rourke, Alice Ramos, Andrea Robiglio, Mary Catherine Sommers, Rudi Te Velde, Candace Vogler, Giovanni Ventimiglia, Kevin White. Other speakers to be confirmed.

Papers are invited for supplementary parallel sessions on the afternoon of Saturday 6 July. While topics on any aspect of Aquinas are welcome, priority will be given to those relating to philosophy and theology. To avoid overlap, initial proposals should be sent by email to Fran O’Rourke, Emeritus Professor, School of Philosophy, University College Dublin (

The deadline for abstracts is 1 January, and for completed papers 1 June 2019.

Papers will be circulated in advance; summaries will be presented at the symposium: papers will be discusssed rather than read.

Participation fee will be €150 to include refreshments and the conference banquet. Reduced student registration: €125.

Accommodation: Rooms are available at the Collegio Irlandese, approx $100 for bed and breakfast. All rooms are air conditioned; there is a swimming pool in the spacious grounds.

All inquiries to Fran O’Rourke, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin (

Call for Papers Torún (Poland), April 4-6, 2019

The Faculty of Theology at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torún, Poland is organizing it’s third international conference on the thought of Thomas Aquinas in April 2019. The first in 2015 was entitled “Towards a Biblical Thomism. The biblical exegesis of Thomas Aquinas and its contemporary relevance” and its proceedings were published by Brepols. The second conference in 2017 was devoted to “Towards a Biblical Thomism: Aquinas and the Renewal of Biblical Theology” and its proceedings have been published recently by Eunsa.

The third conference, which will be held April 4-6, 2019, is entitled “Identity and Tradition. Thomas Aquinas and the Church Fathers”.

The keynote and other main lectures will be given by Serge-Thomas Bonino O.P. (Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome), Carmelo Conticello (CNRS-Paris), Dominic Legge O.P. (Dominican House of Studies, Washington D.C.), Enrique Alarcón (University of Navarra, Pamplona) and Paul van Geest (Tilburg University).

Papers may be given preferably in English and the presentation should take 20-25 minutes. To submit a proposal, please send an abstract of approximately 300 words (along with your name, academic affiliation and contact information) to by November 15, 2018. Notification of acceptance will be given by December 15, 2018. For more info see or the full Call for Papers here.


Jörgen Vijgen

DR. JÖRGEN VIJGEN holds academic appointments in Medieval and Thomistic Philosophy at several institutions in the Netherlands. His dissertation, “The status of Eucharistic accidents ‘sine subiecto’: An Historical Trajectory up to Thomas Aquinas and selected reactions,” was written under the direction of Fr. Walter Senner, O.P. at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, Italy and published in 2013 by Akademie Verlag (now De Gruyter) in Berlin, Germany.

CfP: "Initiation and Mystagogy in Aquinas" Utrecht 2018

“From the Thomas Institute at the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology (the Netherlands) comes a Call for Papers for an International Conference entitled: “Initiation and Mystagogy in Thomas Aquinas: Theological, Philosophical, Liturgical, and Pedagogical Perspectives” to be held December 13-15, 2018 in Utrecht (the Netherlands). Keynote speakers include Bernard Blankenhorn O.P., Matthew Levering and Daria Spezzano. Those interested in presenting a paper should submit an abstract (including a title, a summary of their proposed paper, and their institutional affiliation) to by March 1st, 2018. Notification of acceptance will be given by April 15, 2018. For further information please check the website of the Thomas Institute,


Jörgen Vijgen

DR. JÖRGEN VIJGEN holds academic appointments in Medieval and Thomistic Philosophy at several institutions in the Netherlands. His dissertation, “The status of Eucharistic accidents ‘sine subiecto’: An Historical Trajectory up to Thomas Aquinas and selected reactions,” was written under the direction of Fr. Walter Senner, O.P. at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, Italy and published in 2013 by Akademie Verlag (now De Gruyter) in Berlin, Germany.

Symposium Thomisticum to be held in Athens June 7-9, 2018

Fran O'Rourke has sent us the following information on the upcoming Symposium Thomisticum in Athens, Greece.


The third Symposium Thomisticum will take place in Athens, Greece, 7-9 June 2018, kindly co-hosted by the University of Athens and Athens Academy.

Details are available at

The theme of the Symposium is Aquinas and the Greeks.

Speakers will include: Therese Cory, Lambros Coulobaritsis, John A Demetracopoulos, John Dillon, Gregory Doolan, Kevin Flannery, Lloyd Gerson, Athanasia Glycofrydi-Leontsini, John Haldane, Yannis Kalogerakos, Thomas Leinkauf, Eleni Leontsini, Patrick Masterson, Evanghelos Moutsopoulos, Siobhan Nash-Marshall, Turner Nevitt, Fran O'Rourke, Eric D Perl, Eleni Procopiou, Andrea Robiglio, Carlos Steel, Georgios Steiris, Richard Taylor, Rudi te Velde, David Twetten, Kevin White, John Wippel, Markus Woerner, John Zizoulas.

Papers are invited for a number of supplementary parallel sessions. The overall number of participants will be limited to sixty; priority will be given to those presenting papers. In order to avoid overlap of topics, initial proposals should be sent by email to Fran O'Rourke (

The deadline for abstracts is 1 December, and for completed papers 1 May 2018. Papers will be circulated in advance; summaries will be presented at the symposium: papers will be discussed rather than read.

Participation fee will be EUR125, to include refreshments and the conference banquet.

Participants will be responsible for their own accommodation.

Inquiries to Fran O'Rourke, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin (

Book Review: Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide

Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide. Randall B. Smith. Renewal Within Tradition. Matthew Levering, ed. Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Academic, 2016. xxxiv + 342 pages. $44.95. Hardcover. ISBN 9781941447970

Thanks to recent publications of the sermons of St. Thomas Aquinas, Randall B. Smith has delivered on a magnificent contribution to help build a bridge across a once-yawning chasm in Thomistic scholarship with his Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide. Such a text has been necessary for quite some time; so this text represents something of a historical marker in an already eventful period of Thomistic biblical theology. Thomas’s biblical theology is a much-underappreciated facet of his theology, but the increasing availability of his commentaries are bringing his biblical theology more to the fore. Smith's text will further illustrate Thomas’s mode of exegesis within the context of preaching the faith.

The collection of Thomas’s sermons is quite small compared with his other writings—Smith outlines 20 authentic sermons in the first appendix (21 sermons are listed, but Smith argues that sermon 10 is to be judged inauthentic). By comparison, many of the Fathers, such as Augustine, Jerome, Caesarius of Arles, Leo the Great, and others, left scores or even hundreds of sermons. I imagine that Thomas would have done the same had he lived beyond his fiftieth birthday.

Another aspect to consider when purchasing this text is that one should have the English translation of the homilies (Thomas Aquinas: The Academic Sermons, tr. Mark-Robin Hoogland, C.P., FOTC: Medieval Continuation 11, CUA Press, 2010). alongside Smith’s Beginner’s Guide. The author emphasizes the necessity of having both books (cf. xxxiv). For serious academics, the Dominican L.J. Bataillon has recently produced a critical edition of the sermons, vol. 44.1 in the Opera Omnia (Rome: Commissio Leonina, 2014). For those interested, the Dominican J.-P. Torrell also published a French translation of the sermons (Cerf, 2014).

Smith outlines those sermons deemed authentic very thoroughly in the first appendix. This is a valuable piece of the book in its own right, considering that this section comprises nearly a third of the volume (229–325). Perhaps before taking on the main body of text, this might even be the first place a more novice reader could start because it gives such a helpful overview of all the authentic sermons. This first appendix also has the effect of reinforcing the evidence presented in the main text of the rhetorical mastery of Thomas. The second appendix is also quite useful to the reader in that it pinpoints in a more condensed way the place in the liturgical cycle wherein Thomas would have given this sermon and whether each sermon contained a collatio, which was a part of the sermon given in the evening at university.

In the main body of the text, Smith begins with a specific sermon and then proceeds to unpack the intricacies of Thomas’s genre of preaching. The first chapter he devotes to giving an in-depth exposition of Thomas’s sermon 5, Ecce Rex Tuus (Thomas’s sermons, like church documents, have come to be titled by the first few Latin words.) Smith shows how Thomas uses the Old Testament scriptures in ways that might seem odd to contemporary commentators but which flow naturally from his Christocentric understanding of the Bible. In the second chapter, he takes up the specific sermon genre in which Thomas was schooled, the sermo modernus, that is, “the modern sermon” (a genre often prejudiced as a not-so-modern sermon). In this sermon style, the preacher begins with a Biblical thema, a verse often taken from the liturgical readings and upon which the sermon is based. This is easily illustrated by thumbing through the appendix. Thomas often joins the thema to a prothema, a different Scriptural verse which the preacher will connect with the thema. The preacher then goes back to the thema and divides its parts (divisio) before expanding upon them (dilatatio). Chapter three Smith devotes to the divisio and four to various methods of expansion in the dilatatio. But this text is not merely a text of medieval ecclesiastical rhetoric; it is thoroughly theological and conveys the blessedness it must have been to have heard this great preacher. It sets Aquinas before the reader as a true master of preaching, whose facility with the Sacred Page leaves little doubt as to why he has become the example for theologians to this day. As one can see, in addition to its theological and historical value, this text could also be used very well in college rhetoric classes or in homiletics classes in seminaries. Thomas, as Smith shows, employs the liturgical reading of the day in a way that leads to dogmatic exposition and exhortation of the faithful. And against a number of criticisms, Smith defends Thomas’s use of the sermo modernus, which, upon Smith’s examination proves to be a very effective mode of sermon preparation.

My biggest difficulty with this text is in its title, which I find somewhat misleading. In my opinion, such an academic tour de force should not be called a “beginner’s guide.” “Beginner’s guide” says more about the reader than it does about the text. The book is an introduction and then some: full of academic-level prose, rigorous research, lengthy footnotes, plenty of Latin, occasional Greek, and other features that restrict the intended audience of such a text to Thomistic scholars and graduate students (all of whom, of course, should have a copy of Smith’s book). In no sense does that take away from the text, but novices and younger students of theology may find themselves in over their heads. The table of contents is very thorough, which is most appreciated and nearly makes up for the regrettable absence of an index, which would be welcome should there be future editions. Leaving those criticisms aside, the cover is very attractive, the text is masterfully written, and it seems well edited with few noticeable errors. The spectrum of research into the sermons of Aquinas has been relatively small up until the past decade. This book opens the door to those sermons and clarifies their style for future scholars. In doing so, Smith ensures that scholars will take up those sermons and get to work. For my part, I hope to see more from this author on this topic.

Reviewed by Kevin M. Clarke, adjunct professor of theology, Ave Maria University.


Kevin Clarke

Kevin Clarke (biblical theology, Ph.D. Cand.) is writing his dissertation on Maximus the Confessor's Christological exegesis. He has edited and introduced a book for CUA Press on the Fathers of the Church and the capital vices, which he hopes to see in print in 2017. Before coming to Ave Maria, he taught Biblical Greek at John Paul Catholic University and high school in Southern California for five years. He has published in Nova et Vetera and has an article forthcoming in the Polish journal Vox Patrum. He has written in popular venues such as First Things: On the Square, Lay Witness, and Zenit News Agency. Before getting his master's in theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Kevin was once a copy editor at The Roanoke Times in Virginia.

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."

Person, Soul, & Consciousness - Berkeley Dominicans, Summer 2017


The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology is hosting its 2nd Triennial Dominican Colloquium in Berkeley on the intersection between Philosophy & Theology July 12-15, 2017; the theme will be Person, Soul and Consciousness. Philosophers and Theologians will engage this topic exploring questions of contemporary importance. The event will involve a significant engagement with the thought of St. Thomas, as the list of plenary-session speakers suggests: Lawrence Feingold, Thomas Hünefeldt, Steven Long, Nancey Murphy, David Oderberg, Ted Peters, Markus Rothhaar, Richard Schenk, OP, D.C. Schindler, Michael Sherwin, OP, Eleonore Stump, and Thomas Weinandy, OFM. Cap. The deadline for the Call for Papers is in March, 2017. A $500 award is available to the best graduate student submission. More information is available at Sponsored by the DSPT and the Friars of the Dominican Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Western USA).

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 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.

Free access to the first 43 years of the Revue thomiste

There are a lot of good things that you can access for free at Gallica, a digital text archive of the Bibliothèque National de France. Two years ago I reported that the first 14 volumes of the Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge are available there.

A month or so ago I discovered that you can also access all of the volumes of the Revue thomiste from 1893 to 1936 at Gallica. This is incredibly useful. Go here for the complete listing of the available volumes.

While you're there, you might want to spend a little time exploring the rest of Gallica to see what other treasures it yields.

UPDATE: I just realized that there are some gaps in the Revue thomiste volumes at Gallica. Three of those gaps (1915, 1916, 1917) I assume are due to suspension of publication during a part of World War I. I don't know what the explanation is for the other two gaps (1920, 1926). I had originally put "first 39 years" in the title of this post. 39 is the actual number of years that Gallica has volumes for between 1893 and 1936. 43 is simply the number of years between 1893 and 1936. I've decided to go with 43 but with the qualification about the gaps that I mention in this update.

Summer Program in Norcia on St. Thomas's Commentary on Hebrews

Since 2012, the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, in cooperation with the Benedictine Monks of Norcia, has offered a two-week summer theology program at the birthplace of SS. Benedict and Scholastica.

This year, for their fifth summer, the Center has planned a truly marvelous program: “The Transcendent Christ: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews.” Participants will study St. Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on Hebrews, exploring its rich doctrine on Christology, priesthood, sacrifice, sacraments, and worship. The Epistle offers the opportunity to explore the mystery of grace in its source, Jesus Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body, and how the excellence of the work of Christ has a threefold extension: to the whole of creation, to the rational creature, and to the justification of the saints. Seminars and lectures culminate in a full-scale scholastic disputation, with arguments offered on both sides by participants and an authoritative determination given by the appointed magister.

This will be the first year that I will be on the faculty of the summer program. Other faculty members include Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB, Fr. Thomas Crean, OP, John Joy, Christopher Owens, Daniel Lendman, and Br. Evagrius Hayden, OSB.

The goal of the AMCSS is to offer a meaningful academic experience of scholastic theology in its original fullness: studying Sacred Scripture, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Fathers of the Church, in the peaceful and enchanting setting of a medieval Italian town, imbued with the spiritual and liturgical life of the Benedictine monks (daily High Mass in the usus antiquior, fully chanted monastic office), and all the culinary delights of the prosciutto and black truffle capital of Italy — in other words, a Catholic feast for mind, soul, and body. This year the course dates include Norcia’s festive celebration of the feast of St. Benedict on July 11th. Pilgrimages to the nearby towns of Assisi and Cascia are included in the cost, with the option of participating in a weekend trip to Rome at the end.

The dates for the Summer program are July 10–24, 2016. Most remarkably, the cost for tuition, room, and half-board (a light breakfast and a five-course Italian dinner every day) is 900 Euros. Tuition includes a hardcover bilingual edition of the Commentary on Hebrews as well as any other course materials. A background in academic theology is not required. (Students working towards degrees may request a summary of the program with faculty credentials and a certificate of completion that they may submit for possible course credit elsewhere.)

For more information, please click here. I recommend exploring the site and letting other folks know about it. The AMCSS has a great thing going, and each year they seem to gain momentum. In addition to the (relatively few) departments of theology out there that engage seriously with the great medieval minds, we also need grassroots initiatives that offer a lively engagement with scholastic authors in a Catholic environment such as those authors enjoyed and presumed. For this, Norcia is an ideal setting.