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Faith in faith: reason, faith, and prayer in the theology of Servais Pinckaers, OP.

   The audacity of faith is to believe in a knowledge, a truth, a
   superior and more profound wisdom than "science." Moreover, it is
   to hold that there is no opposition between a believing intellect
   and authentic science insofar as each of them follow and respect
   the same love of truth, each according to their own nature and
   methodology. (1)

Though fundamental for theology, the relationship between faith and reason is much contested, at least in terms of the degree to which they overlap. It is a relationship intrinsically connected to those other much fought over pairings--theology and philosophy, and nature and grace. In this article I wish to survey the thinking of Servais Pinckaers, OP, the influential twentieth-century Belgian moral theologian. (2) Pinckaers presents a robust defense of the priority of faith in theology that is rooted in the need to see prayer as a source of theological reflection. Pinckaers's account of the role of faith does not resort to a Catholic fideism, but upholds reason's intrinsic place in Catholic theology, very much in the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Faith as the Starting Point in Theology

In his definition of moral theology (or, more precisely Christian ethics), Pinckaers states that moral theology needs to be studied in light of revelation and reason (and in that order). (3) He asks whether moral theology should be seen as primarily a rational science with revelation seen as having a role as confirmation or external inspiration. Or should moral theology consider revelation as its primary and direct source? Pinckaers answers:
   Without a moment's hesitation I choose the second alternative. I
   hold that the priority given to Scripture and faith in no way
   fetters the use of reason in theology, but rather supports it.
   Reason has its rightful place in my definition. But this faculty
   must not be viewed according to the rationalistic concept, which
   would separate it radically from faith. It should be viewed rather
   as the power of human intelligence simultaneously open to spiritual
   enlightenment and faithful to the rigorous discipline of thought.
   This is how the Fathers saw it. (4)

It is also, according to Pinckaers, how Aquinas sees it:
   The teaching method St. Thomas proposes to us, like that of the
   Fathers of the Church, includes two moments. The first consists in
   planting faith in the disciple as the root of the wisdom of God,
   placing it in mind and heart as a foundation and source of divine
   truth. Faith is the acceptance of the preaching of the Cross ... as
   a mystery hidden from human eyes. It is not contrary to reason but
   rises above it and summons us to abandon our human reasoning in
   order to receive this higher wisdom as a sheer gift of the Holy
   Spirit. (5)

Pinckaers believes that any renewal in moral theology will be ineffective if the fundamental methodological question is not addressed. This question involves asking what the primary source and starting point of moral theology is: faith or rational knowledge? (6) The answer for Pinckaers is faith. Theology must begin its research with an act of faith. This act of faith submits to the word of God as read and interpreted in the Church, that is, to something exterior. It is also an act that submits to the interior action of the Holy Spirit: "The theologian is not simply an intellectual, a scholar who chooses the text of revelation and the life of the church as an object of study. The theologian is before all else a believer, well aware that for the one who receives the Word of God with a docile mind, it becomes a source of light and life surpassing all human reason and communication." (7) In reflecting on the connection between the prologue of John's Gospel--the meditation on the preexisting word of God made manifest in the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth--and theology, Pinckaers states the following:
   These words [the prologue of John's Gospel] are addressed to us in
   our search for God through intellect and free will, in the search
   for light and life, the struggle with the darkness of sin and
   death--all this, in order to form faith in the human heart. We can
   say therefore, that at the beginning of creation, and also at the
   beginning of moral theology, was the Word, the Word of God, source
   of that divine wisdom that comes to us through Jesus Christ and
   through him alone. It is he who reveals to us the Father and the
   ways leading to him, he who is the light of our life. (8)

Pinckaers believes that starting with faith does not mean abandoning Catholic theology for a more Protestant theology (that is, separating faith and reason). Rather, he places himself in the tradition of St. Paul, St. Augustine, the Fathers of the Church, and Aquinas in placing the greatest importance on the Gospel, on Christ, on the New Law, on the action of the Holy Spirit, on grace, on the theological virtues, and on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (9) Pinckaers goes even further stating that in order to give true primacy to faith the theologian needs to make a leap of faith. Now the contemporary meaning of this expression translates as doing something perhaps irrational or, at the very least, something extremely risky. However, this is not what Pinckaers means exactly. For him, this leap of faith is to go beyond philosophical wisdom, beyond human sciences, beyond our own ideas, our own feelings, our own projects; to go beyond all of this in order to receive the wisdom and knowledge of God that is hidden in Christ. (10) He writes, "Let us give a name to this audacity. It is faith in faith, faith in the truth that faith's light is higher. Such an act inevitably brings us into confrontation with humanism, or more accurately, with humanism's temptation to make ourselves the principle, center, and end of our own lives, actions, and knowledge--even of the universe. Faith challenges us to find our principle end outside of ourselves, in God, through Jesus Christ." (11) Pinckaers believes that without this initial leap of faith there can be no true theology. If we don't believe in faith then theology really cannot get off the ground.

Pinckaers's reflection on faith is very much sapiential. When we take a leap of faith, or have faith in faith, it does not mean that we believe in the absurd or the obscure. Rather, faith brings about true knowledge and wisdom. He takes as true the Augustinian principle that we believe in order to know and understand. (12) Our faith is in truth, it is in the good. The wisdom of God purifies us and elevates human wisdom and knowledge "into a harmonious, living unity with faith." (13) This harmony was the norm in Catholic theology for centuries. Pinckaers highlights this with two principles that form two stages in the elaboration of theology. First, to affirm and defend the superiority of the wisdom of God, communicated through faith, over all human knowledge and wisdom, particularly by resisting the autonomy and anthropocentrism they inculcate. And second, to work in the pure light of faith joined to reason, for the forming of a Christian wisdom, which will be the fruit of the believing mind and will witness the truth of the Gospel to all people and all tenets. This is what, Pinckaers believes, one may call authentic Christian humanism. (14)

Pinckaers understands the relationship between faith and reason as being based on Aquinas's maxim: Gratia non tollit, sed perficit naturam, which, he says, could be rephrased: "Theology does not de stroy, but perfects philosophy." (15) Pinckaers does not see this Thomistic principle as meaning that a philosophy needs to be constructed first and then confirmed by grace. This for Pinckaers would result in too much of a split between the natural order of reason and theology. On the contrary, he states, the theologian must first believe and abandon him or herself to grace; to trust that grace will not destroy the good and the true in philosophy but rather make it truly Christian and give us a wider and deeper wisdom than is possible in any human thought. (16) Thus we see in Pinckaers an assent to the worth of philosophical reasoning but with a different emphasis than that found in some Thomistic ethicists. (17) The starting point (methodologically) for moral theology according to Pinckaers must be faith. Theology must begin its research with an act of faith. This act of faith submits to the word of God as read and interpreted in the Church, that is, to something exterior. It also submits to the interior action of the Holy Spirit. "The theologian is not simply an intellectual, a scholar who chooses the text of revelation and the life of the church as an object of study. The theologian is before all else a believer, well aware that for the one who receives the Word of God with a docile mind, it becomes a source of light and life surpassing all human reason and communication." (18) Therefore, for Pinckaers, the "methodological" chronology of the theologian is faith followed by philosophy and then theology. (19)

Faith and Humility

In order to see the importance that Pinckaers places on faith for theology in general and more specifically for Christian ethics I will look at his description of the ethics found in the writings of the apostle Paul. According to Pinckaers the foundation of Christian ethics in the letters of Paul is faith in Jesus Christ. (20) He identifies in the apostle's writings a basic juxtaposition between Greek moral wisdom, Jewish law, and Christian faith. (21) The virtue associated with the Greeks is wisdom; the virtue associated with the Jews is justice. The downfall of both according to Paul is pride. Pride led Jews to hypocrisy and the Greeks to shameful vices. The revolution of Christian ethics is faith and its corresponding virtue of humility. (22) This virtue was seen as weakness in the other ancient moral systems. This is what is radical in Christian ethics:
   Pride or faith, self-confidence or trust in Jesus, closing in upon
   oneself or a humble, docile opening to the spirit: this is a
   decisive choice St. Paul places at the frontier of all human moral
   systems. In doing this, the apostle changes the source, the tenor,
   and the quality of moral thought and action. For human wisdom and
   power he substitutes humility and the truth of faith which allows
   the light and power of the spirit to enter. The Spirit brings forth
   a justice, a virtue, a holiness that comes from God through Jesus
   Christ. In this way morality would be transformed in its entirety,
   in its inspiration, elements, structure, and applications. (23)

Faith then is an active, operative, and practical virtue. (24) Pinckaers wants to read Paul in a unified way so as to avoid, what he says, is the Protestant separation of faith from other aspects of life as a Christian. To see faith as both an operative and practical virtue is to unite dogma (what we need to believe) with moral theology (how we are to act). Faith in Jesus, according to Paul, brings about a new creation, a new being. (25) This change is ontological but it does not escape our perception. "True, it transcends ordinary thought and emotion, but it accesses them at their source at the spiritual level through a perception proper to faith enlightened by the wisdom of God. 'We have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us' (1 Cor 2:12)." (26)

Once this faith and love of the Cross of Christ has been firmly anchored in the disciple there comes a second movement, a movement especially associated with the one gifted and charged with teaching the Gospel. This movement is a return to human wisdom, first and foremost to philosophy, so as to "discern the truth and goodness they contain and subject it to the wisdom of God for the service of evangelical preaching." (27) This movement is inspired by Paul himself who, after imploring the Philippians to have the humble mind of Christ "who, though he was in the form of God ... emptied himself ... and ... humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:6-8), states that because of this faith they should do the following: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil 4:8-9). (28)

The Central Place of Prayer

The question of the importance of prayer for theology, very much connected with the relationship between holiness and theology, is a difficult one. (29) When the academic or scientific dimension of theology is seen as the priority, prayer or the pursuit of holiness is not seen as intrinsic to the theological exercise. There has, however, been a move back toward integrating prayer and holiness with theology. (30) Servais Pinckaers, in the realm of moral theology, certainly forms part of this move. For Pinckears, prayer, spirituality, and the pursuit of holiness are an intrinsic aspect of what it means to do theology. Let me recall Pinckaers's reflection on his sources of theology: "Looking back over the road I have traveled, I recognize that there are two principal sources that dominate and inspire my theological reflection: my discovery of the Word of God in the Scriptures and my attraction to the Eucharist." (31) Furthermore, in the preface of his Sources of Christian Ethics, Pinckaers states the following, "Particularly in the field of Christian ethics, I am convinced that work is useless unless it flows from faith and prayer. This applies equally to intellectual work, study, and daily effort. Theology is ecclesial work, and no one, whether concerned with minor details or the entire building, can build without the Holy Spirit." (32) To underline Pinckaers's concern on this question, two points will be addressed. First, I will highlight the importance of understanding the relationship between contemplation and theological knowledge in Aquinas. This relationship, as Pinckaers understands it, is vital in reharmonizing theology (and especially moral theology) and spirituality. Second, I will look at the importance of the Eucharist and the liturgy in Pinckaers's theology; that the Eucharist is truly a source of theological reflection.

In his reflection on Dominican moral theology in the twentieth century, Pinckaers looks at his own faculty in Fribourg. Here, inspired by Santiago Ramirez and Thomas Deman, (33) Pinckaers was to inherit some important principles in moral theology that would have a lasting influence. One of these was derived from the reaction of Ramirez and Deman to Jacques Maritain's influential work on epistemology, The Degrees of Knowledge. (34) In this book Maritain distinguishes between two types of knowledge: one that is speculative and practical represented in the work of Aquinas; and the other, a more practical moral knowledge represented by the mystics such as St. John of the Cross. This led to a distinction between a form of contemplation that was the highest form of human activity [Aquinas] and the contemplation that was passive and resulted in an emptying of the faculties [John]: a contemplation of the mind and will versus a contemplation where the mind and the will were emptied. This distinction was rejected by Ramirez and Deman; it is also rejected by Pinckaers. "Behind this reaction there could be seen on the Thomistic side a rejection of the distinction between moral theology and ascetical and mystical theology, a distinction that goes hand in hand with the morality of obligation of which St. Thomas was obviously not aware." (35) While Pinckaers does reject this dichotomy, he also acknowledges the obvious difference in tone and expression that exist between the two--the Scholasticism of Aquinas and the poetic, imaginative tone of John. This difference in tone extends to what Pinckaers says is a difference between speculation (Aquinas) and experience (John). (36) The fundamental unity between moral theology and spirituality (mystical theology or ascetical theology) was deeply respected by Pinckaers's teachers. (37)

In one of his earliest studies, Pinckaers looks at the particularly Thomistic understanding of speculation and contemplation. (38) Contra St. Bonaventure and St. Albert, Aquinas sees theology as primarily a speculative science and only secondarily as practical. This is because the vision of God (speculation) is the end of practical action. (39) This Thomistic priority has been misunderstood by those who see speculation in a more modern sense; a theology conceived in this way, Pinckaers believes, becomes a disincarnate and abstract science that sits above the Christian life. "On the contrary, for a St. Thomas, the Christian moral life takes its signification from its ordering to the 'speculation' of God, in light of his revelation." (40)

Pinckaers's interpretation of Aquinas, however, also highlights the connection between speculative knowledge (contemplation) and love. If the telos of theology is the vision of God, intrinsic to it must be the theological (infused) virtues of faith and love. (41) While the vision of God (in the speculative theological sense) for Aquinas is primarily intellectual, it is impossible for theology to arrive at this point without infused charity. (42) In seeking to understand the claim of Aquinas that beatitude lies in the contemplation of truth, Pinckaers states:
   We must realize that Aquinas does not separate the contemplative
   intellect (or demonstrative reason) from the will that loves and
   desires. For Aquinas, contemplative knowledge and loving desire are
   united. They collaborate, if we may put it this way, each for the
   other and each in the other. They join together in making a free
   choice and ordering it to an ultimate end that has become personal
   through the intervention of Christian revelation. (43)

For theology on the whole, for the individual theologian, for each human person, knowledge and love are constitutive of the vision of God. It is important when one speaks of contemplation in the Thomistic sense that one does not move into intellectual or spiritual abstractions that drift away from the concrete reality of the human life. "The separation of the contemplative intellect from loving desire was established by nominalism and modern rationalism. Rather, Aquinas speaks of a life that lays hold of all of a person's desires in their totality and grows in intensity, depth, and richness in the measure in which that person moves toward the one Object capable of fulfilling both mind and heart." (44)

According to Pinckaers, theology is organically related to the liturgy, and especially to the Eucharist. (45) We have already seen how Pinckaers saw in the Eucharist a principle source of his theological reflection. (46) He also relates an intuition of his regarding the Eucharistic inspiration of Aquinas's theology. He wonders if the spiritual source of Aquinas's theology does not lie in his faith in the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. As evidence for this intuition Pinckaers cites Aquinas's composition of the liturgy of the feast of Corpus Christi. These hymns are written in a very personal and very passionate style, which, so says Pinckaers, reveals a literary talent and mystical genius. (47)
   We can veritably speak of a spirituality and even of a mysticism in
   the best sense of the word, which is at once personal because of
   its expressive mode, scriptural by its evangelical and Pauline
   sources, theological by its doctrine, and ecclesial by its scope
   and liturgical form. Thus, we would dare say that faith and
   devotion to the body of Christ in the Eucharist and also in his
   ecclesial body--in their strongest meaning--are a primary
   inspiration and source of St. Thomas's theology. It is like a
   primary experience, hidden under the toil of reflection, which
   belongs to the realm of prayer and spiritual attraction, as the
   Holy Spirit forms them in us. (48)

This connection between the moral and liturgical life is expanded upon by Pinckaers, inspired by Paul:
   The background of this moral teaching is very beautiful: the
   Christian life, which consists in a "spiritual" worship--according
   to the wisdom of the Spirit--in which we offer our body, our person
   and our life, "as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God"
   This transforms our idea of life and shows us "what is the will of
   God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Moral life thus
   becomes the prolongation and activation in our daily life of the
   Eucharistic liturgy where we communicate in the Body of Christ to
   which we have been united by baptism. There is a close bond,
   therefore, for Paul, a vital contact between liturgical prayer and
   the moral life. Before all theory and doctrine, the moral life is
   first nourished by the Body of Christ, his presence in the
   Eucharist. Today we can once more affirm this relationship between
   the liturgy and morality, since in the Mass readings, preserved
   through the ages, the texts of St. Paul are still offered for our
   meditation, texts far more helpful than any books on morality. But
   do we, whether theologians or the faithful, pay close enough
   attention to them? (49)


In a recent essay Douglas Farrow uses the striking image of "the borderlands" to describe the relationship between philosophy-reason and theology-faith. (50) This is an apt image in that it highlights the autonomy of the two while noting the peace required for each to inhabit the other as "semi-autonomous members of an intellectual commonwealth." (51) In the theology of Servais Pinckears one finds a peace--inspired by what Farrow calls a Pax Thomistica--between faith and reason; a peace upheld by a life of prayer and an emphasis on the virtue of humility; a peace that begins with faith in faith.


(1.) "L'audace de la foi est de croire a une connaissance, a une verite, a une sagesse superieures a 'la science', plus profondes qu'elle, et de penser cependant qu'il n'y a pas de contrariete entre l'intelligence croyante et la veritable science, dans la mesure ou l'une et l'autre obeissent a un meme amour de la verite et se respectent, chacune dans son ordre et selon sa methode," Servais Pinckaers, La vie selon l'Esprit: Essai de theologie spirituelle selon saint Paul et saint Thomas d'Aquin (Luxembourg: Editions Saint Paul, 1996), 24 (translation mine).

(2.) For an overview of the significance of Pinckaers's theology see, inter alia, Romanus Cessario, OP, "On the Place of Servais Pinckaers (+ 7 April 2008) in the Renewal of Catholic Theology," The Thomist 73 (2009): 1-27; Romanus Cessario, OP, "Hommage au Pere Servais-Theodore Pinckaers, OP--The Significance of His Work," Nova et Vetera, English Edition, vol. 5, no. 1,(2007): 1-16; Craig Steven Titus, "Servais Pinckaers and the Renewal of Catholic Moral Theology," Journal of Moral Theology 1:1 (January 2012): 43-68; Levio Melina, "Foi et vie morale: Les voies de la theologie morale pour depasser l'extrinsecisme," Renouvelle toutes choses en Christ: vers un renouveau thomiste de la theologie morale--Hommage a Servais-Theodore Pinckaers, OP, ed. Michael Sherwin, OP and Craig Steven Titus (Fribourg: Academique Presse, 2010), 20.

(3.) Servais Pinckaers, OP, The Sources of Christian Ethics, trans. Sr. Mary Thomas Noble OP (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1995), 8.

(4.) Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, 13.

(5.) Servais Pinckaers, OP, "Aquinas's Pursuit of Beatitude--From the Commentary on the Sentences to the Summa Theologiae," trans. Sr. Mary Thomas Noble, OP in The Pinckaers Reader--Renewing Thomistic Moral Theology (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2005), ed. John Berkman and Craig Steven Titus, 110.

(6.) Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, 294.

(7.) Ibid.

(8.) Ibid.

(9.) Ibid. Note here how Pinckaers highlights the priority of grace in Aquinas's theology: For him [St. Thomas], as a theologian, the gift of grace has primacy in theology, since it is a participation in the very source of the divine light and love, whence theology ensues. I believe, therefore, that Thomas's saying should be interpreted from the vantage point of grace, under a twofold aspect: 1. First of all, for us, it means: do not be afraid to hand yourself over to grace, to open your mind to its light through faith; for faith, far from destroying reason's work, will develop it and give it a new dimension. 2. Then, for believers, it means: do not be afraid of philosophers and scholars, do not be afraid to make use of their research and their arguments, for in the measure in which they contain truth, they can perfectly serve the work of grace. It is up to you to sort out the teachings proposed to you and weigh their precise value, with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is how the Fathers of the Church made use of the philosophers of their times, in full Christian freedom. (Servais Pinckaers, "Aquinas on Nature and the Supernatural," trans. Sr. Mary Thomas Noble, OP, in The Pinckaers Reader, 367)

(10.) Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, 295.

(11.) Ibid. (Emphasis mine).

(12.) This is exhibited in the following reflection by Pinckaers on the Eucharist:

The Eucharist belongs to the realm of faith and it imparts deep understanding: "fides quaerens intellectum" This eucharistic devotion is in harmony with the devotion exhibited by St. Thomas in the liturgical texts that he composed for the feast of Corpus Christi, whose Latin hymns and melodies are particularly stunning. Moreover, the feast of Corpus Christi has its origins in Liege, the city of my birth, and was supported by the fervor of the young Dominicans present in Liege, precisely at the time St. Thomas was studying in nearby Cologne with Albert the Great. Eucharistic prayer, it seems to me, was one of the spiritual and Dominican sources of St. Thomas's works. (Servais Pinckears, "My Sources," Communio: International Catholic Review [English Edition] 26 [1999], 913).

(13.) Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, 296.

(14.) Ibid.

(15.) Servais Pinckaers, "The Place of Philosophy in Moral Theology," trans. Michael Sherwin, OP, in The Pinckaers Reader, 72.

(16.) Ibid. In many respects Pinckaers's account of Aquinas is in tune with that of Etienne Gilson: "Thus to resort to human reason in expounding the teaching of faith does not do violence to its nature. On the contrary, 'since grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it, natural reason should minister to faith as the natural inclination of the will ministers to charity' (ST I, q. 1, a. 8, ad 2)." Etienne Gilson, The Elements of Christian Philosophy (New York: Mentor-Omega, 1960), 42. Pinckaers sees in St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians a reflection of the harmony between reason and faith, what he calls "apostolic casuistry":

First of all, there are the criteria belonging to the order of reason, such as can be found in the thought of the philosophers and rabbis. In the case of fornication, for example: "Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body" (I Cor 6:8). At the same time, criteria based on faith come into play: our relationship to Christ, to the Spirit, and the bond of charity: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?" (1 Cor 6:15, 19). We thus see here an intimate link between the understanding of the human and the understanding of Christ. Each penetrates and reinforces the other, but the Christian criteria become predominant, particularly through the work of charity which unites believers as brothers and sisters, as members of the same Body by the impulse of the Spirit. Pauline moral teaching in the Epistle to the Romans, as well as in that to the Ephesians, is also situated within this framework of the Church seen as the Body of Christ. In brief, we already find in Paul what later theology will develop--a close union between the moral virtues (e.g., sobriety, justice, chastity, gentleness, discernment) and the theological virtues--the latter providing the higher and decisive criteria." (Pinckaers, "The Place of Philosophy in Moral Theology," 71)

(17.) See Martin Rhonheimer, "Christian Morality and Moral Reasonableness: of what is the Law of the Gospel a Fulfillment?," Josephinum Journal of Theology 17, no. 2 (Summer/Fall 2010): 305-18. Rhonheimer sees in Pinckaers's work grounds for a certain error; namely an introduction of a new split between a Christian ethic of the beatitudes and infused charity on one side and a rational, argument-based morality on the other.

(18.) Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, 294.

(19.) Pinckaers differs from Rhonheimer (see article cited in note 17 above) in terms of this chronology, but does not in essence differ in terms of methodology per se; both underline the importance of philosophy for theology.

(20.) Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, 115.

(21.) Pinckaers cites two texts to demonstrate this. Against the Greeks (pagans): "For although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves" (Rom 1:21-25). And against the Jews:

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely upon the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth--you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?" (Rom 2:17-24)

(22.) "Faith is humility before the truth of a humble word telling us of the one who humbled himself even to the obedience of the cross. In faith we move beyond ourselves, trust ourselves to another in all that most deeply concerns us, our justice, our wisdom, our sin, our happiness, our entire moral life. Faith breaks the human heart even in the avowal of its sinfulness, and opens it to the power of the Spirit and the pure grace of the Risen One." Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, 115.

(23.) Ibid.

(24.) Ibid.,117.

(25.) "And for anyone who is in Christ there is a new creation; the old creation is gone, and now the new one is here" (2 Cor 5:17).

(26.) Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, 117, 118.

(27.) Pinckaers, "Aquinas's Pursuit of Beatitude," 110.

(28.) Ibid., 110-11.

(29.) The primary reason for this difficulty is that prayer (or holiness) is impossible to measure. Thus, how much should I pray if I want to do theology? Is it the case that the more I pray the better theologian I will become?

(30.) Gregory LaNave cites the work of Francois-Marie Lethel who wrote, rather boldly, "All saints are theologians, and only saints are theologians." Francois-Marie Lethel, Connaitre Tamour du Christ qui surpasse toute connaissance: La theologie des saints (Venasque: Editions du Carmel, 1989), 3. Cited by LaNave, "Why Holiness is Necessary for Theology: Some Thomistic Distinctions," The Thomist 74 (2010): 437. LaNave gives a list of others who have sought to integrate the two and as the list demonstrates the attempts have come from a variety of theological traditions: Hans Urs von Balthasar, "Theology and Sanctity" in Explorations in Theology, vol. 1, The Word Made Flesh, trans. A. V. Littledale and Alexander Dru (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989), 181-209; Harvey D. Egan, "Theology and Spirituality," in Declan Marmion and Mary E. Hines, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Karl Rahner (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 13-28; Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology (New York: Seabury Press, 1972), esp. 237-45 ("Conversions and Breakdowns"); William M. Thompson, Fire and Light: The Saints and Theology (New York: Paulist Press, 1987); Jon Sobrino, Spirituality of Liberation: Toward Political Holiness, trans. Robert R. Barr (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1988); Nicholas Lash, Holiness, Speech, and Silence: Reflections on the Question of God (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2004); James Keating, ed., Seminary Theology: Teaching in a Contemplative Way (Omaha, NE: Institute for Priestly Formation, 2010); Jean-Pierre Torrell, "Theologie et saintete," Revue Thomiste 71 (1971): 205-21; Torrell, "Theology and Spirituality," in Saint Thomas Aquinas, vol. 2, Spiritual Master, trans. Robert Royal (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2003), 1-21; Fainche Ryan, Formation in Holiness: Thomas Aquinas on "Sacra Doctrina" (Leuven: Peeters, 2007). See LaNave, "Why Holiness is Necessary for Theology," 437:> n.3.

(31.) Pinckaers, "My Sources," 913.

(32.) Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, xxi.

(33.) Thomas Deman, OP, wrote what is considered a classic treatise on Probabilism: "Probabilisme," Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, 13:417-619.

(34.) Jacques Maritain, The Degrees of Knowledge, trans. Bernard Wall (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1937).

(35.) Servais Pinckaers, OP, "Dominican Moral Theology in the 20th Century," trans. Sr. Mary Thomas Noble, OP, in The Pinckaers Reader, 78.

(36.) "St. Thomas moves at the speculative, ontological level, exposing things according to their nature, from a basically analytical viewpoint that reminds one of an anatomical dissection.... St. John of the Cross moves at the experiential level, with a more directly practical aim and a more global view, using more ordinary language, by preference symbolic and poetic. It would be good, therefore, to re-establish in theological thought a regular movement back and forth between experience and speculation." Pinckaers, "Dominican Moral Theology in the 20th Century," 87.

(37.) "It was also a refusal to distinguish between moral theology and spirituality--the names in use since the beginning of the 20th century--even if it's most esteemed representatives, such as the Spanish mystics, had made such a distinction. This doubtless explains the fact that a regular, required course in spirituality has never been included in the program of our faculty, nor did we ever dream of creating a chair of spirituality, as is done at other centers of theological study." Pinckaers, "Dominican Moral Theology in the 20th Century," 78.

(38.) Servais Pinckaers, "Recherche de la signification du terme 'speculatif'," Nouvelle revue theologique 81 (1959): 673-95.

(39.) Sacred doctrine, being one, extends to things which belong to different philosophical sciences because it considers in each the same formal aspect, namely, so far as they can be known through divine revelation. Hence, although among the philosophical sciences one is speculative and another practical, nevertheless sacred doctrine includes both; as God, by one and the same science, knows both Himself and His works. Still, it is speculative rather than practical because it is more concerned with divine things than with human acts; though it does treat even of these latter, inasmuch as man is ordained by them to the perfect knowledge of God in which consists eternal bliss. (Aquinas, ST I, q. 1, a. 4).

(40.) "Pour un saint Thomas au contraire la vie morale chretienne prend sa signification dans son ordination a la 'speculation' de Dieu, au progres de sa revelation." Pinckaers, "Recherche de la signification du terme 'speculatif,'" 110 (translation mine).

(41.) "The end of this doctrine [sacra doctrina] is the contemplation of the first truth in heaven." Aquinas, I Sent., pro., q. 1, a. 3, sol. 1, as cited by LaNave, "Why Holiness is Necessary for Theology," 447.

(42.) The important distinction between the theologian and theology must be noted here. It is usual to say that charity is necessary for the theologian but only as a Christian and is not necessary for theology per se as this is purely an intellectual exercise. LaNave agrees with Pinckaers (citing Aquinas--see previous note and the citation from his Commentary on the Sentences) that this is not the case; theology's end, like the end of the individual person is the beatific vision and therefore requires the supernatural virtue of love. It follows therefore that the theologian, both as an individual Christian and as an academic theologian, needs charity.

(43.) Pinckaers, "Aquinass Pursuit of Beatitude--From the Commentary on the Sentences to the Summa Theologiae," 99.

(44.) Ibid.

(45.) On this point we should note the attempt by Jeremy Driscoll who, writing from the Benedictine tradition, has sought to place the study of theology around the study of and participation in the Eucharist. See Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, "Theology at the Eucharistic Table: Master Themes in the Theological Tradition," Pro Ecclesia XI, no. 4 (2002): 389-401, and Theology at the Eucharistic Table (London: Gracewing, 2003).

(46.) Pinckaers, "My Sources," 913.

(47.) Servais Pinckaers, OP, "The Body of Christ: the Eucharistic and Ecclesial Context of Aquinas's Ethics," trans. Craig Steven Titus, in The Pinckaers Reader, 44.

(48.) Pinckaers, "The Body of Christ," 45.

(49.) Servais Pinckaers, OP, "Conscience and the Christian Tradition," trans. Sr. Mary Thomas Noble, OP in The Pinckaers Reader, 325.

(50.) Douglas Farrow, "Theology and Philosophy: Inhabiting the Borderlands," Nova et Vetera 11, no. 3 (Summer 2013): 673-706.

(51.) Ibid., 706.
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Author:Morrissey, Paul
Publication:Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2015
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