Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Book: John of St. Thomas, The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Cluny Media, 2016)


John of St. Thomas, O.P., The Gifts of the Holy Spiritwith an introduction by Cajetan Cuddy, O.P. (Tacoma, WA: Cluny Media, 2016), xiv + 403pp.

To my joy and amazement, Cluny Media just recently reprinted a translation of a section of John of St. Thomas' Cursus Theologicus, dedicated to the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. The translation by Dominic Hughes, O.P., was originally published in 1951 by Sheed & Ward under the title, The Gifts of the Holy Ghost.  But it had been long out of print and hard to find.  It is now available from the Cluny Media website for the affordable price of $24.95.  I have been working on a review of this book to submit it for publication in a scholarly journal.  Before I do so I would like to share with you some of my thoughts in draft form.
John of St. Thomas (1589-1644) is not only an exceptionally faithful commentator of St. Thomas' Summa; his Cursus Theologicus is also historically monumental insofar as it is in itself an original Thomistic synthesis, a theological masterpiece in its own right that goes beyond merely commenting on the text of St. Thomas.  For example, whereas St. Thomas treats of the Gifts in many different questions spread throughout the Secunda Pars (Ia-IIae, qq. 68-70; IIa-IIae, qq. 8-9, 19, 45, 52, 121, and 139), John of St. Thomas gathers together the entire discussion of the Gifts into a single Disputatio.  In a sense, the Cursus is the first of the theological manuals, that is, the predecessor to the many Thomistic treatises ad mentem Sancti Thomae of later centuries.  It is historically a turning point between the earlier commentatorial tradition and the later manualist tradition. 
Hughes’ English translation does tone down a bit the scholastic format of the Latin original.  'Articles' are translated into 'chapters', and the questions that John asks in each are rendered as statements or headings. Thus the original scholastic sense of a quest for an answer to a question is lost a bit in translation.  Also lost in translation is John’s constant and explicit reference to the logical structure of the arguments to which he is replying: expressions such as ad primam, major probaturminor constatcontra estare either missing, or glossed over in such a way that their logical precision is lost; for instance, ad minorem is paraphrased as "in response to the latter part of this argument."  But these tendencies seem to be almost inescapable among mid-20th century English translations of scholastic works; compare, for example, Garrigou-Lagrange's Beatitude, translated by Patrick Cummins, O.S.B., with Garrigou's original De beatitudine.  For a purist such as myself, this toning-down of the scholastic method is obviously a drawback.  But the relatively free-flowing English text of these translations is designed to appeal to a non-expert audience, and thus opens up a masterpiece from the heart of the Thomistic tradition to a wider readership.  This is surely something positive in its own way (perhaps a mixed blessing of sorts) and, realistically, it is necessitated by the financial imperative of selling more books.  If you want to be a strict 'purist', read the Latin text itself.  For, as the Italians say: "traduttore, traditore."  That said, Hughes' translation includes, over and above the original, very helpful outlines at the beginning of each of his chapters (articles), which are a great aid to the careful student of John’s text.  
            One minor aspect in the reprint that I do find entirely unnecessary and in a way regrettable is the change in title, and together with it the "minor editorial revisions to the original text, including the changing of ‘Holy Ghost’ to ‘Holy Spirit’ throughout."  Not that it is theologically erroneous to say 'Holy Spirit' instead of 'Holy Ghost'. Rather, I just think that the deliberate suppression of traditional Catholic expressions such as this one tends to promote a disconnect with tradition in subsequent generations of Catholics.  This suppression furthers yet a little more the linguistic distance between us and our ancestors in the faith.  It is not so much an issue of preserving a tiny feature of our Catholic language; rather what is at stake is promoting continuity between generations of Catholics.  English-speaking Catholics need to become more familiar with the faith, writings, and modes of expression of their forefathers, not less.  That said, the consistent replacement of the expression ‘Holy Ghost’ throughout the book was to me personally at most only a bit distracting, and did not detract from the sheer joy of holding and reading John of St. Thomas’s commentary on St. Thomas in translation.
         The reprint also includes a brand new introduction by Fr. Cajetan Cuddy, O.P., which aims to show to the average reader the relevance of John of St. Thomas’ work on the Holy Ghost.  Fr. Cuddy here offers a brief apologia of the Thomistic Commentatorial Tradition.  He argues that "truth did not die with Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1274" (p. v), and that this tradition is "a living tradition" because the men who represent it received the "essential first principles of doctrinal purity and cultural engagement from Saint Thomas" and then went on "expeditions through the cultural and intellectual jungles of their own periods" (pp. v-vi).  And John of St. Thomas, whom his contemporaries called ‘another Thomas’, excels among Thomists in that he had a "unique ability to adjudicate difficult questions amidst great confusion without deviating from the truth.  Speculative complexity did not deter or suffocate this Iberian priest" (p. vii).  The translator's introduction to the 1951 edition, also contained in the reprint, includes a rather valuable "historical introduction" to John of St. Thomas, which will prove very helpful to readers seeking to deepen their understanding of the life, work, and times of this great Thomist.
        All in all, Fr. Cajetan Cuddy and Cluny Media have done a great service to English-speaking readers of Thomism and Theology in general by making available again this gem of the Thomistic tradition in translation.  The volume is a great joy to have and to study. I sure hope to see more volumes of this kind in years to come. 

Be sure to look also at Cluny Media's other Thomistic titles, such as Brennan's Thomistic Psychology, as well as several other volumes published in their Thomistic Institute Series.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

New Downloadable PDF Collection (External Links)


Downloadable PDFs

(External Links)

As of late, I have been searching the internet for downloadable PDFs of works relevant to Thomism and to pretty much anything else related to traditional Catholic thought.  Below is what I've found so far.  

Highlights include much of St. Thomas' Leonine Edition and lots and lots of works by Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. and Santiago Ramírez, O.P. in various languages.  And I'm just getting started; there's lots more out there.

Many of the files I've found were originally scanned by us at Ite ad Thomam, and form part of the Ite ad Thomam Out-of-Print Library (ITOPL).  Most of the volumes were scanned between 2001 and 2009 from the libraries of FSSP's Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, near Lincoln, Nebraska, and of Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary in Oregon.  They have been shared and shared and by now made public on the internet.  As I find more of our files across the internet I will provide links to them.  Just remember you got them first from us!

will keep a list of links handy here on the Ite ad Thomam Institute website. Look for the 'tab' above labelled "Downloadable PDFs"; there, I will be adding links as I find them.

-Sertillanges, O.P. La philosophie morale de Saint Thomas d'Aquin.
-Sertillanges, O.P. Saint Thomas d'Aquin, v. 1.
-Sertillanges, O.P. Saint Thomas d'Aquin, v. 2.
-H. D. Gardeil, O.PIntroduction to the Philosophy of St. Thomas. Vol. 2: Cosmology.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PGod: His Existence and His Nature, vol. 1.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PGod: His Existence and His Nature, vol. 2.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDieu: Son existence et sa nature.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDios: Su Existencia.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDios: Su Naturaleza.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLe Réalisme du principe finalité.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PEl realismo del principio de finalidad.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P"Natural Object of the Intellect and First Object Understood".
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P"Non potest esse genuina sensatio sine sensato".
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. "Saint Thomas Commentateur d'Aristote"
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLes XXIV theses thomistes.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe analogia, vol. 1.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe analogia, vol. 2.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe analogia, vol. 3.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe ordine.
-Hirschberger. History of Philosophy
-Copleston. A History of Philosophy, Vol. 1 (Ancient)
-Copleston. A History of Philosophy, Vol. 2 (Medieval)
-Copleston. A History of Philosophy, Vol. 3 (Medieval)
-Copleston. A History of Philosophy, Vol. 7 (Modern)
-Douay-Rheims Bible (Challoner edition).

-De JournelEnchiridion Patristicum.


-Isidore of SevilleEtymologies.


-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 1: In Aristotelis libros Peri hermeneias et Posteriorum analyticorum, Ed. 1a.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 2: In Aristotelis libros Physicorum.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 3: In Aristotelis libros De caelo, De generatione et Meteorologicorum.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 4: Summa Theologiae I.1-49 (cum Cajetani commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 5: Summa Theologiae I.50-119 (cum Cajetani commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 6: Summa Theologiae I-II.1-70 (cum Cajetani commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 7: Summa Theologiae I-II.71-114 (cum Cajetani commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 8: Summa Theologiae II-II.1-56 (cum Cajetani commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 9: Summa Theologiae II-II.57-122 (cum Cajetani commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 10: Summa Theologiae II-II.123-189 (cum Cajetani commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 11: Summa Theologiae III.1-59 (cum Cajetani commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 12: Summa Theologiae III.60-90 (cum Cajetani commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 13: Summa Contra Gentiles 1 et 2 (cum Ferrarensis commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 14: Summa Contra Gentiles 3 (cum Ferrarensis commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 15: Summa Contra Gentiles 4 (cum Ferrarensis commentario).
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 16: Summa Theologiae et Summa Contra Gentiles, Indices.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 22.1: De veritate 1-7.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 22.2: De veritate 8-12.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 22.3: De veritate, 13-20.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 22.3: De veritate, 21-29.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 22.3: De veritate, indices.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 23: De malo.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 24.1: Quaestiones disputatae de anima.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 26: Super Job.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 28: Super Isaiam.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 40a: Contra errores graecorum.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 40de, De substantiis separatis, Super Decretales.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 41bc: De perfectione, Contra retrahentium.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 42: Opuscula varia.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 43, Opuscula varia.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 45-1, Sentencia libri De anima.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 45-1, Sentencia libri De sensu et De memoria.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 47.1: Sententia libri Ethicorum, 1-3.
-S. Thomae Opera ed. Leonina, t. 47.2: Sententia libri Ethicorum, 4-10.
-S. Thomas AquinasLiteral Commentary on the Book of Job.
-S. Thomas AquinasThe Academic Sermons.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe methodo S. Thomae.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe Deo Uno.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe Deo Trino et Creatore.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PThe Trinity and God the Creator.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe beatitudine.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PBeatitude.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe gratia.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PGrace.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe virtutibus theologicis.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe Christo Salvatore.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PChrist the Saviour (Word format).
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe Eucharistia et Poenitentia.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLa síntesis tomista.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PThe Essence and Topicality of Thomism.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PEssenza e attualita del tomismo.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe hominis beatitudine, vol. 1.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe hominis beatitudine, vol. 2.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe hominis beatitudine, vol. 3.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe passionibus animae.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe habitibus in communi, vol. 1.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe habitibus in communi, vol. 2.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe gratia Dei, vol. 1.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe gratia Dei, vol. 2.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.P¿Qué es un tomista?
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PIntroducción a Tomás de Aquino.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PDe Auctoritate Doctrinali S. Thomae Aquinatis.
-Santiago Ramírez, O.PThe Authority of St. Thomas Aquinas.


-Ambroise Gardeil, O.P. Le donné révelé et la théologie.
-WalsheThe Principles of Catholic Apologetics. (Summary of Garrigou-Lagrange's De Revelatione.)
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe Revelatione per Ecclesiam Catholicam Proposita, v. 1.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PDe Revelatione per Ecclesiam Catholicam Proposita, v. 2.
-Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PArticles on the Nouvelle Théologie (Angelicum).
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. "La nouvelle théologie: Ou va-t-elle?"
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. "La notion pragmatiste de la vérité et ses conséquences en théologie"
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. "On the Principle of Idealism ‘Whatever is Outside of the Mind is Unknowable’"
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. "Where is the New Theology Leading Us
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. "The structure of the encyclical Humani Generis"
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. "La struttura dell'Enciclica Humani generis"
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PEl sentido común.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. "Prémotion Physique"
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. "Providence selon la théologie"
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLe sens du mystere et le Clair-Obscur Intellectuel- Nature et Surnature.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PEl sentido del misterio.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PPredestination (English).
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLa predestination de los santos y la gracia.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLa Royauté universelle de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ"
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLife Everlasting.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLa vida eterna y la profundidad del alma.
-Pesch, S.JPraelectiones dogmaticaet. 1: Institutiones propedeuticae.
-Pesch, S.JPraelectiones dogmaticaet. 2: De Deo Uno et Trino.
-Pesch, S.JPraelectiones dogmaticaet. 3: De Deo Creante et Fine Ultimo.
-Pesch, S.JPraelectiones dogmaticaet. 4: De Verbo Incarnato; De Sanctis.
-Pesch, S.JPraelectiones dogmaticaet. 5: De gratia; De lege.
-Pesch, S.JPraelectiones dogmaticaet. 6: De Sacramentis I.
-Pesch, S.JPraelectiones dogmaticaet. 7: De Sacramentis II.
-Pesch, S.JPraelectiones dogmaticaet. 8: De virtutibus theologicis.
-Pesch, S.JPraelectiones dogmaticaet. 9: De virtutibus moralibus; De novissimis.
-HervéManuale Theologiae Dogmaticaev. 1: De revelatione, De Ecclesia, De fontibus.
-GibbonsThe Faith of Our Fathers.


-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PMother of the Saviour.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLa Madre del Salvador y nuestra vida interior.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PProvidence (Word format).
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLa providencia y la confianza en Dios.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PChristian Perfection and Contemplation.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.POur Saviour and His Love for Us.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PEl Salvador y su amor por nosotros.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PThe Love of God and the Cross of Jesus, vol. 1.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PThe Love of God and the Cross of Jesus, vol. 2.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PPriest in Union with Christ.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLa unión del sacerdote con Cristo sacerdote y víctima.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PPriesthood and Perfection.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLa santificación del sacerdote.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLe virtù eroiche nei bambini.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PThree Ages of the Interior Life, vol. 1.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PThree Ages of the Interior Life, vol. 2.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PLas tres edades de la vida interior.
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.PThe Last Writings.
-Royo Marín, O.P. Teología de la perfección cristiana.


-FortescueThe Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

St. Thomas: We Catholics Do Adore Images


Adapted from Francisco J. Romero Carrasquillo, "Aquinas’ Reception of John of Damascus’ Philosophy of Religious Worship," (forthcoming).  

You can download the original paper (draft) from my page.

Protestants have always accused Catholics of "worshipping images."  The standard response of Catholic apologists is simply to deny the charge, and instead respond that we really just 'venerate' the images.  This type of response is not only grossly insufficient, but actually runs afoul of the language of our tradition, as expressed in the writings of the saints.  For example, a Protestant can easily search through St. Thomas and find him saying that we do adore images.  When a Protestant brings this up to an untrained Catholic apologist, the apologist usually has nothing intelligent to say in reply.

In order to solve this puzzle, let's do what we do best: "Go to Thomas" (Ite ad Thomam).

According to St. Thomas, the first and most important of the exterior acts of religion (religio), i.e., of the virtue of worship (ST IIa-IIae, q. 81-100) is that of ‘adoration’ (adoratio).  The terminology here can be misleading.  We might be inclined to think of 'adoration' as simply being synonymous with ‘worship’, the kind of reverence that is reserved to God alone.  But Aquinas, who in this regard simply follows the received tradition, together with its complex and sophisticated theological language, already has a particular Latin term for divine worship, namely, látria (from the Greek, λατρεία, latréia).  Adoratio for Aquinas means concretely any kind of a physical humbling of the body, such as genuflections, prostrations, bowing down, etc., before something sacred or something that is worthy of respect or veneration.  As such, adoratio signifies primarily a physical act comprising a set of bodily postures.  Within the context of divine worship, these acts of adoratio are of course done as signs of an interior attitude of latria, but in themselves they are physical acts.  This is how it can be explained why we find St. Thomas saying that Catholics can and should 'adore' images.  

But the problem is deeper than that.  We actually find him saying that we should offer latria to images.  Yes, the worship due to God alone, should be given to images.  Why?

One of the most important practical points that St. Thomas makes in Christology is that Christ’s humanity, though in itself created, is deserving of the ‘adoration of latria’ in virtue of its Hypostatic or Personal Union with the Second Person of the Trinity: “the adoration of latria is not given to Christ’s humanity by reason of itself, but by reason of divinity to which it is united.”[i]  This is in contrast to the ‘adoration of dulia’, which is the kind of veneration given to the Saints and their relics, and that of hyperdulia, which is given to the Mother of God.

Yet, perhaps surprisingly, the humanity of Christ is not the only creature which is in some way deserving of latria.  There are other created things that are formally associated with Christ's humanity and thus are themselves deserving of latria (without this entailing the sin of idolatry): these are the true Cross of Christ—the actual historical instrument of Christ’s passion—as well as any image or icon of Christ.  By ‘icons’ or images we mean any pictorial representation of Christ, or of the Cross of Christ, whether in fresco form, or mosaics, “made of colors, pebbles, any other material that is fit, set in the holy churches of God, on holy utensils and vestments, on walls and boards, in houses and in streets,” in the words of the Second Council of Nicaea (AD 787), which addressed the issue of Iconoclasm, the anti-icon heresy that crept into the Church due to nascent Islam's hatred of religious imagery.[iv]

And interestingly, in another text, Aquinas relies again on St. John Damascene for a quote by St. Basil on this point. “Damascene quotes Basil as saying: ‘The honor given to an image reaches to the prototype,’ that is, the exemplar. But the exemplar itself, namely, Christ, is to be adored with the adoration of latria; therefore also His image.”[v]  What follows this quote is a remarkable text, where Aquinas uses Aristotelian semiotics as a basic premise to address to the issue on his own terms:

As the Philosopher says in the book De Memoria et Reminiscentia, there is a twofold movement of the mind towards an image: one indeed towards the image itself as a certain thing; another, towards the image insofar as it is the image of something else. And between these movements there is this difference; that the former, by which one is moved towards an image as a certain thing, is different from the movement towards the thing: whereas the latter movement, which is towards the image as an image, is one and the same as that which is towards the thing. Thus therefore we must say that no reverence is shown to Christ’s image, as a thing, for instance, carved or painted wood: because reverence is not due save to a rational creature. It follows therefore that reverence should be shown to it only insofar as it is an image. Consequently the same reverence should be shown to Christ’s image as to Christ Himself. Since, therefore, Christ is adored with the adoration of latria, it follows that His image should be adored with the adoration of latria.[vi]
In other words, we can think of an image in two ways: as a thing in itself, or as a sign.  When we think of it as a thing in itself, we do not necessarily treat it as we treat the object of which it is a sign, but when we do think of it as a sign, we treat it in the same way as we treat the object of which it is a sign.  For example, if I look at a picture of my wife, it is entirely reasonable for me to point to the picture and say “I love her.”  No one would think that what I mean is that I love the picture itself, qua inanimate object.  All of my affection in this case is directed at the person of my wife, almost as though the picture were not involved.  I do not give the picture itself a different kind of love from the love I give my wife.  To paraphrase Basil and Damascene, my attitude towards the image is directed at the exemplar.  Hence, it matters not whether I point to the picture and say “I love her” or actually point to my wife and say “I love her”: it is the same love that is expressed in both cases.  Aquinas is saying that similarly, in the case of religious worship, it matters not whether the latria given to Christ is given to Him directly or by means of an image or icon: it is latria all the same.  The worship given is not directed at the image in itself as a thing, but to Christ through the image, the latter being only a sign that leads the mind to Christ. 

Given this doctrine on the adoration of images, Aquinas has now the trouble of explaining why, even though in the Hebrew Scriptures the use of images was forbidden in worship, the prohibition nonetheless no longer applies since the coming of Christ.  He cannot simply claim that the prohibition is only of adoring images, and that Christians only venerate them, as many contemporary Christians would argue.  Rather, he is committed to the doctrine that images of Christ are deserving of latria.  His response focuses instead on the doctrine of the twofold movement of the mind towards an image, affirming that whereas in the case of Old Testament idolatry, the adoration of images was adoration of the gods of the gentiles, where since the coming of Christ the adoration of images is of God Himself made man.

[B]ecause, as was said above, the movement towards the image is the same as the movement towards the thing, adoration of images is forbidden in the same way as adoration of the thing whose image it is.  Therefore here we are to understand the prohibition to adore those images which the Gentiles made for the purpose of venerating their own gods.... But no corporeal image could be made of the true God Himself, since He is incorporeal; because, as Damascene says, “It is the highest absurdity and impiety to make a figure of what is Divine.” But because in the New Testament, God was made man, He can be adored in His corporeal image.[vii]

In other words, according to Aquinas, the great difference between the Judaism and Christianity in regards to the adoration of images is that in Judaism, God cannot be represented in imagery because God is strictly incorporeal, but in Christianity God is believed to have taken human flesh and it is therefore possible not only to represent Him, but also to worship him, through imagery.

A few points on the reception of this doctrine in later Catholic theology are in order here.  This analysis of the use of images in worship, which Aquinas shares not only with Damascene, but also with other prominent 13th Century sources such as Albert, Bonaventure, and the Summa Fratris Alexandri, is not standard within modern Catholic theology.  Later Catholic theologians such as Bellarmine, Bossuet, and Petavius taught that the proper attitude due to religious images is not that of latria, but a veneration along the lines of dulia.[viii]  And this latter opinion has become a commonplace in contemporary Catholic theology, catechesis, and especially apologetics.  And yet, rather inconsistently, John Damascene and Aquinas are still frequently used as reference points on the issue.  For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (AD 1992) teaches that “[t]he honor paid to sacred images is a ‘respectful veneration’ (reverens veneratio), not the adoration (adoratio) due to God alone.”[ix] Rather astonishingly, right after making this statement, the Catechism immediately quotes Aquinas' words for support:

The cultus of religio is not rendered to images as considered in themselves, as things, but insofar as they are images leading to God incarnate. Now the movement directed to an image insofar as it is an image does not stop at the image itself, but tends towards that of which it is an image.[x]

Although the quote in the Catechism ends here, the text of St. Thomas continues: “Hence neither latria nor the virtue of religion is differentiated by the fact that religious worship is paid to the images of Christ.”[xi]  Clearly, this text points to an account of the use of images in worship that is at odds with what the Catechism teaches in the preceding line, since the basic idea in this text of Aquinas is that the same latria is given to the image of Christ as to Christ Himself.

Some Thomists and commentators have used the language of ‘relative latria’, to describe the worship due to an image of Christ.  This terminology should not lead us to think that the latria offered to the image is of a different sort from the latria given to Christ.  The image is indeed being given latria in relation to Christ, Who is the terminus of the one movement of latria; but as Aquinas says, it is one movement of the mind that tends to both the image of Christ and to Christ Himself, one and the same latria being offered to both.

The take-home message is that we do adore images (i.e., we bow down to them, kneel before them, etc.).  But 'adoring' in this sense refers to just an exterior religious act.  The inner religious act that is expressed outwardly in adoration depends on what the image is of.  If the image is of Christ, then, yes, we give latria to the image; or more precisely, to Christ in the image.  We do not give latria to the image simply because it is an image, but because it is an image of Christ, the God-man.  And if the image is of a saint, then we give dulia to the image, or rather to the saint in the image.  And in the case of images of Our Lady, it is hyperdulia.  There is nothing wrong with doing this: it is the same movement of the mind that is directed to the image and to the person in the image.  Christ is thus deserving of the same latria, or worship, whether in person or in an image. To do otherwise would amount to a misuse of images.

So let us be traditional Catholics.  Let us not feel pressured by un-Catholic (ultimately Protestant) cultural sensibilities to miss the importance and value of Catholic iconography, religious sculpture, and sacred art in general.  Let us confidently adore Christ in our icons and statues.  And venerate our Saints in our images.  That is why these sacramentals fill our churches (or should fill them).   They are there as a powerful religious resource, and not as a 'mere symbol' or decoration.  The Church has so much confidence in them as powerful sacramentals, as "windows to heaven," that she dedicated a whole Ecumenical Council to defending them. 

The Eastern Churches have the beautiful tradition of celebrating this council, "The Triumph of Orthodoxy" as they call it, in their liturgies every year on the first Sunday of Great Lent by processing around their churches holding icons up high. It is quite a spectacle to behold.  Let us imitate them in defending the faith through these wonderful trophies of the Incarnation.


[i] ST III.25.2 ad 1: “Adoratio latriae non exhibetur humanitati Christi ratione sui ipsius, sed ratione divinitatis cui unitur.”
[ii] Ibid. s.c.: “Adoratio latriae non exhibetur humanitati Christi ratione sui ipsius, sed ratione divinitatis cui unitur.”
[iii] Ibid., c.: “Sed quia, ut dicit Damascenus, si dividas subtilibus intelligentiis quod videtur ab eo quod intelligitur, inadorabilis est ut creatura, scilicet adoratione latriae. Et tunc sic intellectae ut separatae a Dei verbo, debetur sibi adoratio duliae, non cuiuscumque, puta quae communiter exhibetur aliis creaturis; sed quadam excellentiori, quam hyperduliam vocant.” 
[iv] Second Council of Nicaea (Denzinger 302 [600]; Mansi 12, 377D): tam quae de coloribus et tessellis, quam quae ex alia materia congruenter in sanctis Dei ecclesiis, et sacris vasis et vestibus, et in parietibus ac tabulis, domibus et viis....
[v] ST III.25.3 s.c.: “Damascenus inducit Basilium dicentem, imaginis honor ad prototypum pervenit, idest exemplar. Sed ipsum exemplar, scilicet Christus, est adorandus adoratione latriae. Ergo et eius imago.” 
[vi] ST III.25.3c: Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut philosophus dicit, in libro de Mem. et Remin., duplex est motus animae in imaginem, unus quidem in imaginem ipsam secundum quod est res quaedam; alio modo, in imaginem inquantum est imago alterius. Et inter hos motus est haec differentia, quia primus motus, quo quis movetur in imaginem prout est res quaedam, est alius a motu qui est in rem, secundus autem motus, qui est in imaginem inquantum est imago, est unus et idem cum illo qui est in rem. Sic igitur dicendum est quod imagini Christi inquantum est res quaedam, puta lignum sculptum vel pictum, nulla reverentia exhibetur, quia reverentia debetur non nisi rationali naturae. Relinquitur ergo quod exhibeatur ei reverentia solum inquantum est imago. Et sic sequitur quod eadem reverentia exhibeatur imagini Christi et ipsi Christo. Cum igitur Christus adoretur adoratione latriae, consequens est quod eius imago sit adoratione latriae adoranda. 
[vii] ST III.25.3 ad 1: “Et quia, sicut dictum est, idem est motus in imaginem et in rem, eo modo prohibetur adoratio quo prohibetur adoratio rei cuius est imago. Unde ibi intelligitur prohiberi adoratio imaginum quas gentiles faciebant in venerationem deorum suorum.... Ipsi autem Deo vero, cum sit incorporeus, nulla imago corporalis poterat poni, quia, ut Damascenus dicit, insipientiae summae est et impietatis figurare quod est divinum. Sed quia in novo testamento Deus factus est homo, potest in sua imagine corporali adorari.
[viii] Cf. F. Cabrol, “The True Cross,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908.    
[ix] Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2132: “Honor sanctis imaginibus tributus est reverens veneratio, non adoratio quae soli Deo convenit.”
[x] ST II-II.81.3 ad 3: “Imaginibus non exhibetur religionis cultus secundum quod in seipsis considerantur, quasi res quaedam: sed secundum quod sunt imagines ducentes in Deum incarnatum. Motus autem qui est in imaginem prout est imago, non sistit in ipsa, sed tendit in id cuius est imago.”
[xi] Ibid.: “Et ideo ex hoc quod imaginibus Christi exhibetur religionis cultus, non diversificatur ratio latriae, nec virtus religionis.”