‘St Thomas Aquinas’

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Course Description

This course, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catechectical Instructions, follows 59 sermons St. Thomas preached to the people of Naples during Lent of 1273, just prior to his death. They were delivered in the church of San Domenico in Thomas’ native Neapolitan dialect, rather than in Latin. One eyewitness tells us that “almost the whole population of Naples went to hear his sermons every day.”

Although the transcripts we have of these sermons were not actually written by St. Thomas, but by eyewitnesses who heard him preach, they are a precious record of the Universal Doctor of the Church speaking to the simply faithful about the most basic matters of Christian belief in a language that all can understand.

Thus our course follows Thomas’ explanations of the Apostles Creed, Sacraments, Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary.

The method of teaching Christian belief by giving detailed attention to these five aspects goes back to the early Church. One of the first great works embodying this division is St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s (315-387) Catechetical Instructions. The Council of Trent’s (1545-1563) Roman Catechism follows this order, as does the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (1993).

St. Thomas’ Catechetical Instructions were commonly used throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as manuals and text-books for priests and teachers of the Catholic faith.

What is most remarkable about St. Thomas’ Catechetical Instructions is the simplicity of their language in conveying such deep truths.

As with St. Thomas’ more famous work, his Summa theologiæ, these instructions convey a lucidity of explanation and an organicity of arrangement, such that all parts are brought into connection with each other so that they appear as one harmonious whole.

This is indeed a most beautiful course, especially for the beginner, but even for the more theologically experienced wishing to refresh their understanding and appreciation our Catholic faith.

Course Objectives

  1. To obtain a firm grasp of the fundamental truths of God’s revelation.
  2. To appreciate Aquinas’ Catechetical method.
  3. To gain a understanding of organicity of the Catholic faith.
  4. To fall more deeply in love with the Triune God who has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

Course Duration

30 Hours (i.e., one hour, one night a week, over a four term year).

Course Texts

Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Three Greatest Prayers: Commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Creed (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1990).

Saint Thomas Aquinas, God’s Greatest Gifts: the Commandments and the Sacraments (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1992).