In the first of these three texts, Sanctifying Grace, Austin Woodbury uses an analogy, one for which he became well known, of the “humanisation of a tree,” in order to explain Sanctifying Grace. Here he shows how, by receiving Sanctifying Grace, one truly becomes a child of God. After identifying what he means by “nature” Woodbury investigates God’s three specific intrinsic activities: his mental life (what God knows), his volitional life (what he loves), and his happiness. This enables Woodbury to show how the life of grace is a participation in the life and activity of God: in this life through its reception and the exercise of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and in the next life through the Beatific Vision.
In his text, The Gifts of the Holy Ghost, Woodbury outlines the nature of the supernatural organism infused in the very depths of the soul along with Sanctifying Grace at Baptism. Using the notions of genius and heroicity, Woodbury explores the nature of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost showing how they dispose us to supernatural activity, enabling us to act in a supernatural manner. Woodbury then speaks of the necessity of the Gifts for Christian living and shows how they strengthen the virtues and relate to the beatitudes. Woodbury concludes by showing how the Gifts prepare the soul for the mystical life of infused contemplation.
Then, in The Indwelling of the Holy Trinity, Woodbury tackles the question of the existence and manner by which the Blessed Trinity resides in the souls of the just. He critiques positions held on this issue by three important theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The insights for Christian living provided in this text are truly magnificent!
Who was Father Austin Maloney Woodbury?
Father Austin Maloney Woodbury S.M. (1899-1979) was a Marist priest and an Australian Thomistic philosopher and theologian, who in the 1920s received doctorates in both Philosophy and Theology at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas in the City (the Angelicum) in Rome under the renowned Dominican theologian Father Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. (1877-1964). Woodbury founded Sydney’s Aquinas Academy in 1945, a school of Philosophy and Theology aimed at educating lay people in the rich intellectual tradition of Christianity. He headed the Academy until 1975, teaching a strictly scholastic Philosophy and Theology based on the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). In his own lifetime Woodbury was distinguished by some of his scholarly contemporaries as having penned “one of the greatest courses in philosophy ever written in the English language.”