Reason with faith heals and elevates

At our Theology on Tap on November 15, 2010, Fr. Gilles Mongeau, SJ spoke on St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, a compilation of all of the main theological teachings of the 13th century.  Attempting to summarize the Summa Theologica into an evening lecture is an impossible task.  However, Fr. Mongeau presented insights and contexts that inspired attendees to study the work in greater depth.

Aquinas teaches readers that knowing truth and growing in wisdom gives men and women the freedom to respond to God's love.  Through reason, man can accept God's truth.  However, reason is impoverished due to the sin of man, and man's desire to manipulate creation to his own ends.  When faith resides in reason, reason will be capable of leading to truth that is supernatural.  A spiritual leader must help lead each member of his or her flock to the supernatural truth.

In the 13th century, increased urbanization and the influx of young people into cities represented a pastoral crisis.  Previously, church teaching involved ministering to people in the countryside who had a rural culture and outlook.  The Summa Theologica represented a contemporary way to form preachers and confessors who could minister to the urban population.  Around the same period, the founding of the University of Paris theological school and the formation of the Dominicans helped the church develop its teaching methods.

The Summa Theologica continues to be relevant to the increasingly urban population of the 21st century.  Fr. Mongeau lamented the lack of faithful public reason in the modern, urban world.  Modern media uses images and information that provoke reaction but result in reasoning that is lacking in faith.  Reason with faith heals and elevates.  Aquinas' words help develop our reasoning such that faith resides within it.

By a Theology on Tap volunteer