Saint Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Theology of the Body and Aquinas?

I ran across this video by Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P. in which he attempts to show that JPII's lectures on human sexuality, what is now referred to as 'The Theology of the Body', is in continuity with St. Thomas's view of human sexuality. I will say that I am not a fan of Christopher West or what he has presented as being JPII's 'Theology of the Body.' Fr. Thomas Petri claims that JPII's teaching on this subject has not been presented in a complete and proper way by many of the popular speakers, and he attempts to present it in a way in which he claims falls in continuity with the teachings of St. Thomas. I am not that familiar with these lectures given by JPII, only as it has been presented by West. For those who are familiar with JPII's material on this subject as well as St Thomas teachings, what are your thoughts on this particular lecture? At about minute 26 Fr. Petri delves into Thomistic principles that he thinks help to further illustrate JPIIs thought on this subject. I have been to a Christopher West talk before, and they way that the 'Theology of the Body' is presented in this video is not what I heard at West's talk.


Aquinas and the Theology of the Body from Province of Saint Joseph on Vimeo.

14 comments:

ronconte said...

We should not be trying to make every point in theology agree with Saint Thomas. Reginaldus over at the New Theological Movement makes this same type of mistake. Thomists who try to make Christianity revolve around Thomas are as bad as Christopher West, who tries to make Christianity revolve around sexuality.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Ron, I am curious, did you watch the video and even listen to what this priest said? If you are not interested in answering the question I presented on my post then why answer? I am asking in particular about this video and JPIIs' 'Theology of the Body.' I am not really interested in whether you personally think it is a mistake to see if the 'Theology of the Body' falls in line with Thomstic theology. This Dominican theologian, who seems to have studied both seems to think that it does. I did not however see where he tries to make every point fit, as you imply here. He seems to think that as a general teaching it falls in continuity with it. Did you listen to or watch this video?

Alan Aversa said...

You can read Pope John Paul II's entire series of Theology of the Body audiences here. They are light-years better than Christopher West's often lewd, disrespectful "re- and mis-"interpretations of them.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Ron, so I gather you never watched the video? So much for your unsubstantiated comments. As I told you before, Thomism is nothing more than recognizing reality. No mistakes here except for you who is making comments without first taking the time to learn the facts.

Alan Aversa said...

Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., STD gave a very good talk. Thanks for posting it

Alan Aversa said...

I liked how at the end he quoted Pope John Paul II on how phenomenology/personalism has its limitations and how a truly deeper understanding is returning to the metaphysics of being of St. Thomas Aquinas (cf. Fides et ratio, n. 43).

Matthew Bellisario said...

I agree Alan. We desperately need to return to Thomism. There are few theologians who are equipped to properly teach and explain moral theology today. I don't know how many are still trying to explain away the death penalty as a form of defense rather than punishment. Even JPII made this mistake. I even read a theologian today who was trying to say that the principle of double effect was the only way the execution of the death penalty could be justified. Anyways, thanks for stopping by.

Alan Aversa said...

I have been to a Christopher West talk before, and they way that the 'Theology of the Body' is presented in this video is not what I heard at West's talk.

You are right. See Alice von Hildebrand's criticism of Christopher West. She also mentions Popcak's book Holy Sex, which, just judging by the title itself, is definitely theologically amateurish, to say the least. It seems West and Popcak forget that we live in a postlapsarian world where the husband and wife both have original sin that often causes their lower passions to override their reason. Where is the mention that the generative act, when conception occurs, passes on original sin (an evil) while at the same time being procreative and unitive (a good)? Even Hildebrand speaks of the "sacredness of sex," but this seems to turn a blind eye to original sin.

I thought it was interesting that Fr. Petri said the "marriage debt" is really another way of saying the husband and wife must be oriented toward each other in mutual self-giving. Having mutual rights over the spouse's body isn't something to be abused for utilitarian purposes but is for the union of body and soul that materially and formally, respectively, constitutes the marriage union. St. Thomas calls marriage "a kind of joining."

Original sin is something Fr. Petri spoke of briefly and somewhat indirectly, but he probably would've emphasized more had he gone into more detail.

Also, I couldn't tell where he falls on the remedium concupiscentiae debate. West et al. seem to think the marriage act or just marriage in general is the "remedy of concupiscence," "a lawful outlet to sexual concupiscence (or lust), and hence married couples can legitimately yield to it," whereas Mgsr. Cormac Burke, a marriage expert, says "Saint Thomas especially speaks of marriage as a 'remedy against concupiscence' inasmuch as it offers graces to overcome the self-seeking concupiscence involves."

Alan Aversa said...

Also, when I say we live in a postlapsarian world, I do not mean that marriage as a sacrament suffered from original sin. It did not. Married people have.

Alan Aversa said...

Also, Fr. Petri seemed to imply that the marriage act is the union of body of soul that constitutes marriage; but according to St. Thomas, the marriage act is not essential to marriage. St. Joseph and St. Mary, e.g., were truly married, yet they remained perpetual virgins.

Alan Aversa said...

This article is quite revealing. Apparently Dietrich von Hildebrand was an early promoter of the theory that "The marital embrace is the sacrament, not procreation"! Obviously he hasn't read the article where St. Thomas writes that carnal intercourse is a "secondary perfection" of marriage, not integral to it.

Alan Aversa said...

This whole topic definitely opens a whole Pandora's box, the contents of which St. Thomas has already organized. Ite ad Thomam.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Very true. Many of the modern theologians have sought to move the primary end of marriage and the conjugal act away from procreation and the foundation of the family, to the unitive bonding aspect of it. Of course the two are inseparable, but the primary end of marriage and the conjugal act is for procreation and the family. This has been downplayed in recent times.

Alan Aversa said...

This post has two very pro-St. Thomas quotes of Pope John Paul II. Perhaps his Angelicum thesis advisor Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., influenced him more than we've thought.

"My personal philosophical outlook moves, so to speak, between two poles: Aristotelian Thomism and phenomenology. ...
"So there were two stages in my intellectual journey: In the first I moved from literature to metaphysics, while the second led me from metaphysics to phenomenology.

"When Schema 13 was being studied--later to become the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World--and I spoke on personalism, Father de Lubac came to me and said, encouragingly: 'Yes, yes, yes, that's the way forward,' and this meant a great deal to me, as I was relatively still young."

--Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way


"If we wish to speak rationally about good and evil, we have to return to St. Thomas Aquinas, that is, to the philosophy of being. With the phenomenological method, for example, we can study experiences of morality, religion, or simply what it is to be human, and draw from them a significant enrichment of our knowledge. Yet we must not forget that all these analyses implicitly presuppose the reality of the Absolute Being and also the reality of being human, that is, being a creature. If we do not set out from such 'realist' presuppositions, we end up in a vacuum."

--Memory and Identity

This second quote is what Fr. Petri read at the end of his talk.