The Introduction
Natural Theology
The Nicomachean Ethics
The Politica
1. The Nature of Providence
2. Scope and Reach of Providence
1. Scriptural Foundation
2. Definition of Predestination
3. Questions
a) Creation ex Nihilo.
b) Creation a Free Act
c) Creation in Time
1. St. Thomas and the Immaculate Conception
2. Mary's Fullness of Grace
1. Definition and Division
2. Principle and Qualities of Merit
1. Hope tends to eternal life, i. e.: God possessed eternally
2. The Certitude of Hope []
1. The Generative Principle
1. Cosmology
2. Anthropology
3. Criteriology
4. Freedom and morality
5. Natural theology
Pragmatism Must Return to Tradition


IN THIS work we are incorporating the article on Thomism which we 
wrote for the Dictionnaire de theologie catholique. To that 
article we add: first, occasional clarifications; secondly, at the 
end, a hundred pages on the objective bases of the Thomistic 
synthesis, chiefly philosophic pages, which were not called for in 
a dictionary of theology. 

Contradictory views, intellectual and spiritual, of St. Thomas 
have been handed down to us. The Averroists reproached him as but 
half-Aristotelian; the Augustinians saw in him an innovator too 
much attached to the spirit, principles, and method of Aristotle. 
This second judgment reappeared, sharply accented, in Luther, [1] 
and again, some years ago, in the Modernists, who maintained that 
St. Thomas, a Christian Aristotelian, was rather Aristotelian than 

In other words, some scholars saw in the work of St. Thomas "a 
naturalization of revealed truth, " [2] a depreciation of 
Christian faith, faith losing its sublimity, by a kind of 
rationalism, by exaggeration of the power and rights of reason. 
Now this rationalization of faith is indeed found in Leibnitz. [3] 
It is certainly not to be found in St. Thomas. 

But these contrary judgments, however inadmissible, serve by 
contrast to set in relief the true physiognomy of the master, whom 
the Church has canonized and entitled Doctor Communis. 

His whole life, all his intelligence, all his forces, were bent to 
the service of the Christian faith, both in his doctrinal battles 
and in the serenity of contemplation. Justification of this 
statement appears in the way he conceived his vocation as teacher. 
You find therein an ascending gradation which arouses admiration. 

1. Whereas on the one hand he fully recognizes all that is 
excellent, from the philosophical standpoint, in the teaching and 
method of Aristotle, he shows, on the other hand, against the 
Averroists, that reason can prove nothing against the faith. This 
latter task he accomplished by demonstrating against them from 
philosophy itself, that God's creative act is free, that creation 
need not be ab aeterno, that man's will is free, that the human 
soul is characterized by personal immortality. 

2. In opposition to the Augustinians, who, repeating their master 
by rote, were in large measure unfaithful to that master, he 
carefully distinguishes reason from faith, but, far from 
separating these two, he rather unites them. [4]. 

3. He shows that philosophy deserves to be studied, both for its 
own sake, and also to establish, by arguments drawn simply from 
reason, that the praeambula fidei are attainable by the natural 
force of human intelligence. 

4. As regards the purposes of theology, which he calls "sacred 
doctrine, " he shows, first, that it is not to be studied merely 
for personal piety or for works of edification or to comment on 
Holy Scripture or to assemble patristic compilations or, finally, 
to explain the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Theology must rather, 
he goes on to show, be studied as a branch of knowledge, which 
establishes scientifically a system of doctrine with objectivity 
and universal validity, a synthesis that harmonizes supernatural 
truths with the truths of the natural order. Theology is thus 
conceived as a science, in the Aristotelian sense of the word, a 
science of the truths of faith. [5]. 

5. This position granted, it follows that reason must subserve 
faith in its work of analyzing the concepts and deepening the 
understanding of revealed truths, of showing that many of these 
truths are subordinated to the articles of faith which are 
primary, and of deducing the consequences contained virtually in 
the truths made known by revelation. 

6. Nor does faith by thus employing reason lose aught of its 
supernatural character. Just the contrary. For St. Thomas, faith 
is an infused virtue, essentially supernatural by its proper 
object and formal motive, a virtue which, by an act that is simple 
and infallible, far above all apologetic reasoning, makes us 
adhere to God revealing and revealed. [6]. Infused faith, 
therefore, is superior not only to the highest philosophy, but 
also to the most enlightened theology, since theology can never be 
more than an explanatory and deductive commentary on faith. 

7. Further, this conception of theology does not in any way lower 
Christian faith from its elevation. For, as the saint teaches, the 
source of theology is contemplation, [7] that is, infused faith, 
vivified, not only by charity, but also by the gifts of knowledge, 
understanding, and wisdom, gifts which make faith penetrating and 
pleasant of taste. Thus theology reaches a most fruitful 
understanding of revealed mysteries, by finding analogies in 
truths which we know naturally, and also by tracing the 
intertwining of these mysteries with one another and with the last 
end of our life. [8]. 

Such is the conception formed by St. Thomas on his vocation as 
Catholic doctor and particularly as theologian. And his sanctity, 
added to the power of his genius, enabled him to reply fully to 
his providential calling. 

In his doctrinal controversies carried on exclusively in defense 
of the faith, he was always humble, patient, and magnanimous, 
courageous indeed, but always prudent. Trust in God led him to 
unite prayer to study. William de Tocco, his biographer, writes of 
him: "Whenever he was to study, to undertake a solemn disputation, 
to teach, write, or dictate, he began by retiring to pray in 
secret, weeping as he prayed, to obtain understanding of the 
divine mysteries. And he returned with the light he had prayed 
for. " [9]. 

The same biographer [10] gives two striking examples. While 
writing his commentary on Isaias, the saint came to a passage 
which he did not understand. For several days he prayed and fasted 
for light. Then he was supernaturally enlightened. To his 
confrere, Reginald, he revealed the extraordinary manner in which 
this light came to him, namely, by the apostles Peter and Paul. 
This account was confirmed by one of the witnesses in the saint's 
canonization process. 

A second example is reported. [11] In the friary at Naples, when 
the saint was writing of the passion and the resurrection of 
Christ, [12] he was seen, while praying before a crucifix in the 
church, to be lifted up from the floor. Then it was that he heard 
the words: "Thomas, thou hast written well of Me. ". 

Daily, after celebrating Mass, he assisted at a second, where 
often he was the humble server. To solve difficulties, he would 
pray before the tabernacle. He never, we might say, went out of 
the cloister, he slept little, passed much of the night in prayer. 
When, at compline during Lent, he listened to the antiphon: "Midst 
in life we are in death, " [13] he could not restrain his tears. 
Prayer gave him light and inspiration when he wrote the Office of 
the Blessed Sacrament. William de Tocco tells us also that the 
saint was often seen in ecstasy, and that, one day, while he was 
dictating a long article of the Trinity, he did not notice that 
the candle in his hand had gone so low that it was burning his 
fingers. [14]. 

Toward the end of his life he was favored with an intellectual 
vision, so sublime and so simple that he was unable to continue 
dictating the treatise on Penance which he had commenced. He told 
his faithful companion that he was dying as a simple religious, a 
grace he had prayed the Lord to grant him. His last words were 
given to a commentary on the Canticle of Canticles. 

Let these traits suffice to show that St. Thomas reached the 
heights of contemplation, and that in his own life he exemplified 
his own teaching on the source of theology: theology pouring forth 
"from the fullness of contemplation. " [15] This truth the Church 
recognizes by calling him Doctor Communis and by commending his 
teaching in numerous encyclicals, especially by the Aeterni Patris 
of Leo XIII. 

The present work is an exposition of the Thomistic synthesis, an 
exposition devoted to the principles often formulated by the saint 
himself. We do not undertake to prove historically that all the 
doctrinal points in question are found explicitly in the works of 
St. Thomas himself, but we will indicate the chief references to 
his works. And our main task will be to set in relief the 
certitude and universality of the principles which underlie the 
structure and coherence of Thomistic doctrine. 

First, then, we will note the chief works that expound this 
Thomistic synthesis, and likewise point out the most faithful and 
most penetrating among the saint's commentators. There will follow 
a philosophic introduction, to underline that metaphysical 
synthesis which is presupposed by Thomistic theology. Then we will 
emphasize the essential points in this doctrine by noting their 
force in the three treatises, De Deo uno, De Verbo incarnato, De 
gratia. Finally we will note briefly their importance in the other 
parts of theology. 


THE Thomistic synthesis, prepared gradually by the saint's 
commentaries on Scripture, on Aristotle, on the Master of the 
Sentences, by the Summa contra Gentes, by the Disputed Questions, 
reached definite form in the Summa theologiae. We will speak first 
of his philosophical writings, then of his theological works. 

Here come first the commentaries on Aristotle. 

1. On interpretation (Peri hermenias, on the act of judgment). 

2. The Later Analytics (a long study of method in finding 
definitions, of the nature and validity of demonstration). 

3. The Physica (natural philosophy). 

4. De coelo et mundo. 

5. De anima. 

6. The Metaphysica. 

7. Ethical works. 

In searching Aristotle the saint fastens attention, not so much on 
the last and highest conclusions concerning God and the soul, but 
rather on the first elements of philosophy, just as we go to 
Euclid for the axioms of geometry. Nevertheless Aquinas often 
finds that these elements are deepened and their formulation most 
exact when Aristotle transcends the contrary deviations, first of 
Parmenides and Heraclitus, secondly of Pythagorean idealism and 
atomistic materialism, thirdly of Platonism and Sophistry. In 
Aristotle the saint discovers what has justly been called the 
natural metaphysics of human intelligence, a metaphysics which, 
commencing from sense experience, rises progressively till it 
reaches God, the pure act, the understanding of understanding 
(Noesis noeseos). 

In commenting on the Stagirite, St. Thomas discards Averroistic 
interpretations contrary to revealed dogma, on Providence, on 
creation, on the personal immortality of the human soul. Hence it 
can be said that he "baptizes" Aristotle's teaching, that is, he 
shows how the principles of Aristotle, understood as they can be 
and must be understood, are in harmony with revelation. Thus he 
builds, step by step, the foundations of a solid Christian 

In these commentaries St. Thomas also combats certain theses 
sustained by his Augustinian predecessors, but held by the saint 
to be irreconcilable with the most certain of Aristotle's 
principles. Aristotle conceives the human soul as the only 
substantial form of the human body. He maintains the natural unity 
of the human composite. Human intelligence, he maintains, is on 
the lowest rank of intelligences, and has as object the lowest of 
intelligible objects, namely, the intelligibility hidden in things 
subject to sense. Hence the human intelligence must use the sense 
world as a mirror if it would know God. And only by knowing the 
sense world, its proper object, can the human soul come, by 
analogy with that sense world, to know and define and characterize 
its own essence and faculties. 


At the court of Urban IV, St. Thomas had as companion William de 
Moerbecke, O. P.: who knew Greek perfectly. The saint persuaded 
William to translate from Greek into Latin the works of Aristotle. 
This faithful translator assisted the saint in commenting on 
Aristotle. Thus we understand why Aquinas has such a profound 
understanding of the Stagirite, an understanding far superior to 
that of Albert the Great. On many points of Aristotelian 
interpretation St. Thomas is the authentic exponent. 

Here we proceed to underline the capital points of Aristotle's 
teaching, as presented by St. Thomas. 

In the saint's commentaries we often meet the names of Aristotle's 
Greek commentators: Porphyry, Themistius, Simplicius, Alexander of 
Aphrodisia. He is likewise familiar with Judaeo-Arabian 
philosophy, discerning perfectly where it is true and where it is 
false. He seems to put Avicenna above Averroes. 

In regard to form, as is observed by de Wulf, the saint 
substituted, in place of extended paraphrase, a critical procedure 
which analyzes the text. He divides and subdivides, in order to 
lay bare the essential structure, to draw out the principal 
assertions, to explain the minutest detail. Thus he appears to 
advantage when compared with most commentators, ancient or modern, 
since he never loses sight of the entire corpus of Aristotelian 
doctrine, and always emphasizes its generative principles. These 
commentaries, therefore, as many historians admit, are the most 
penetrating exposition ever made of Greek philosophy. Grabmann 
[16] notes that scholastic teachers [17] cited St. Thomas simply 
as "The Expositor. " And modern historians [18] generally give 
high praise to the saint's methods of commentating. 

Aquinas does not follow Aristotle blindly. He does point out 
errors, but his corrections, far from depreciating Aristotle's 
value, only serve to show more clearly what Aristotle has of 
truth, and to emphasize what the philosopher should have concluded 
from his own principles. Generally speaking, it is an easy task to 
see whether or not St. Thomas accepts what Aristotle's text says. 
And this task is very easy for the reader who is familiar with the 
personal works of the saint. 

St. Thomas studied all Aristotle's works, though he did not write 
commentaries on all, and left unfinished some commentaries he had 


From Aristotle's corpus of logic, called Organon, Thomas omitted 
the Categories, the Former Analytics, the Topics, and the 
Refutations. He explained the two chief parts. 

1. De interpretatione (Peri hermenias) [19]. 

2. The Later Analytics [20]. 

In De interpretatione he gives us a most profound study of the 
three mental operations: concept, judgment, reasoning. The 
concept, he shows, surpasses immeasurably the sense image, because 
it contains the raison d'etre, the intelligible reality, which 
renders intelligible that which it represents. Then he proceeds to 
arrange concepts according to their universality, and shows their 
relation to objective reality. He finds that the verb "to be" is 
the root of all other judgments. We see that Aristotle's logic is 
intimately related to his metaphysics, to his teaching on 
objective reality, to his principle of act and potency. We have 
further a penetrating study of the elements in the proposition: 
noun, verb, and attribute. We see how truth is found formally, not 
in the concept, but in the objectively valid judgment. We are thus 
led to see ever more clearly how the object of intelligence 
differs from the object of sensation and imagination, how our 
intellect seizes, not mere sense phenomena, but the intelligible 
reality, which is expressed by the first and most universal of our 
concepts, and which is the soul of all our judgments, wherein the 
verb "to be" affirms the objective identity of predicate with 

The saint proceeds to justify Aristotle's classification of 
judgments. In quality, judgments are affirmative or negative or 
privative, and true or false. In modality they are possible or 
contingent or necessary. And at this point [21] enter problems on 
necessity, on contingency, on liberty. Finally we are shown the 
great value of judgments in mutual opposition, as contradictories, 
or contraries, and so on. We know how often this propositional 
opposition, studied by all logicians since Aristotle, is employed 
in the theology of Aquinas. 


St. Thomas expounds and justifies the nature of demonstration. 
Starting with definition, demonstration leads us to know 
(scientifically) the characteristics of the thing defined, e. g.: 
the nature of the circle makes us see the properties of the 
circle. Then, further, we see that the principles on which 
demonstration rests must be necessarily true, that not everything 
can be demonstrated, that there are different kinds of 
demonstration, that there are sophisms to be avoided. 

In the second chapter of this same work, he expounds at length the 
rules we must follow in establishing valid definitions. A 
definition cannot be proved since it is the source of 
demonstration. Hence methodical search for a real definition must 
start with a definition that is nominal or popular. Then the thing 
to be defined must be put into its most universal category, whence 
by division and subdivision we can compare the thing to be defined 
with other things like it or unlike it. St. Thomas in all his 
works follows his own rules faithfully. By these rules he defends, 
e. g.: the Aristotelian definitions of "soul, " "knowledge, " 
"virtue. " Deep study of these commentaries on the Later Analytics 
is an indispensable prerequisite for an exact knowledge of the 
real bases of Thomism. The historians of logic, although they have 
nearly all recognized the great value of these Thomistic pages, 
have not always seen their relation to the rest of the saint's 
work, in which the principles here clarified are in constant 


Here the saint shows, in the first book, the necessity of 
distinguishing act from potency if we would explain "becoming, " 
i. e.: change, motion. Motion we see at once is here conceived as 
a function, not of rest or repose (as by Descartes): but of being, 
reality, since that which is in motion, in the process of 
becoming, is tending toward being, toward actual reality. 

Attentive study of the commentary on the first book of the Physica 
shows that the distinction of act from potency is not a mere 
hypothesis, however admirable and fruitful, nor a mere postulate 
arbitrarily laid down by the philosopher. Rather it is a 
distinction necessarily accepted by the mind that would reconcile 
Heraclitus with Parmenides. Heraclitus says: "All is becoming, 
nothing is, nothing is identified with itself. " Hence he denied 
the principle of identity and the principle of contradiction. 
Parmenides, on the contrary, admitting the principle of identity 
and of contradiction, denied all objective becoming. St. Thomas 
shows that Aristotle found the only solution of the problem, that 
he made motion intelligible in terms of real being by his 
distinction of act from potency. What is in the process of 
becoming proceeds neither from nothingness nor from actual being, 
but from the still undetermined potency of being. The statue 
proceeds, not from the statue actually existing, but from the 
wood's capability to be hewn. Plant or animal proceeds from a 
germ. Knowledge proceeds from an intelligence that aspires to 
truth. This distinction of potency from act is necessary to render 
becoming intelligible as a function of being. The principle of 
identity is therefore, for Aristotle and Thomas, not a hypothesis 
or a postulate, but the objective foundation for demonstrative 
proofs of the existence of God, who is pure act. 

From this division of being into potency and act arises the 
necessity of distinguishing four causes to explain becoming: 
matter, form, agent, and purpose. The saint formulates the 
correlative principles of efficient causality, of finality, of 
mutation, and shows the mutual relation of matter to form, of 
agent to purpose These principles thereafter come into play 
wherever the four causes are involved, that is, in the production 
of everything that has a beginning, whether in the corporeal order 
or in the spiritual. 

Treating of finality, St. Thomas defines "chance. " Chance is the 
accidental cause of something that happens as if it had been 
willed. The grave-digger accidentally finds a treasure. But the 
accidental cause necessarily presupposes a non-accidental cause, 
which produces its effect directly (a grave). Thus chance can 
never be the first cause of the world, since it presupposes two 
non-accidental causes, each of which tends to its own proper 

This study of the four causes leads to the definition of nature. 
Nature, in every being (stone, plant, animal, man): is the 
principle which directs to a determined end all the activities of 
the being. The concept of nature, applied analogically to God, 
reappears everywhere in theology, even in studying the essence of 
grace, and of the infused virtues. In his Summa the saint returns 
repeatedly to these chapters, [23] as to philosophical elements 
comparable to geometric elements in Euclid. 

In the following books [24] Aquinas shows how the definition of 
motion is found in each species of motion: in local motion, in 
qualitative motion (intensity): in quantitative motion 
(augmentation, growth). He shows likewise that every continuum 
(extension, motion, time): though divisible to infinity, is not, 
as Zeno supposed, actually divided to infinity. 

In the last books [25] Of the Physica we meet the two principles 
which prove the existence of God, the unchangeable first mover. 
The first of these principles run thus: Every motion presupposes a 
mover. The second thus: In a series of acting movers, necessarily 
subordinated, we cannot regress to infinity, but must come to a 
first. In a series of past movers accidentally subordinated an 
infinite regression would not be self-contradictory (in a supposed 
infinite series of past acts of generation in plants, say, or 
animals, or men). But for the motion here and now before us there 
must be an actually existing center of energy, a first mover, 
without which the motion in question would not exist. The ship is 
supported by the ocean, the ocean by the earth, the earth by the 
sun, but, in thus regressing, you are supposing a first, not an 
interminable infinity. And that first, being first, must be an 
unchangeable, immovable first mover, which owes its activity to 
itself alone, which must be its own activity, which must be pure 
act, because activity presupposes being, and self-activity 
presupposes self-being. 


St. Thomas commented further, on the two books of De generatione 
et corruptione. [26] Of the. 

De meteoris [27] he explained the first two books. Of the De coelo 
et mundo, [28] the first three books. 

Reading the work last mentioned, De coelo, [29] we see that 
Aristotle had already observed the acceleration of speed in a 
falling body and noted that its rate of speed grows in proportion 
to its nearness to the center of the earth. Of this law, later to 
be made more precise by Newton, St. Thomas gives the following 
foundation: The speed of a heavy body increases in proportion to 
its distance from the height whence it fell. [30]. 

In regard to astronomy, let the historians have the word. 
Monsignor Grabmann [31] and P. Duhem [32] give Aquinas the glory 
of having maintained, [33] speaking of the Ptolemaic system, that 
the hypotheses on which an astronomic system rests do not change 
into demonstrated truths by the mere fact that the consequences of 
those hypotheses are in accord with observed facts. [34]. 


In psychology Aquinas expounds the three books of De anima, [35] 
the opusculum De sensu et sensato, [36] and the De memoria. [37]. 

In De anima, he examines the opinions of Aristotle's predecessors, 
particularly those of Empedocles, Democritus, and Plato. He 
insists on the unity of the soul in relation to its various 
functions. [38] Following Aristotle, he shows that the soul is the 
first principle of vegetative life, of sense life, of rational 
life, since all vital faculties arise from the one soul. [39]. 

How are these faculties to be defined? By the objects to which 
they are proportioned. [40] Having studied vegetative functions, 
he turns to sensation. Here we have penetrating analysis of the 
Aristotelian doctrine on characteristic sense objects (color, 
sound, and so on): and on sense objects per accidens (in a man, 
say, who is moving toward us). These sense objects per accidens 
(called in modern language "acquired perceptions") explain the so-
called errors of sense. [41]. 

St. Thomas gives also [42] a profound explanation of this text 
from Aristotle: "As the action of the mover is received into the 
thing moved, so is the action of the sense object, of sound, for 
example, received into the sentient subject: this act belongs both 
to the thing sensed and to the thing sentient. " St. Thomas 
explains as follows: Sonation and audition are both in the 
sentient subject, sonation as from the agent, audition as in the 
patient. " [43]. 

Hence the saint, approving realism as does Aristotle, concludes 
that sensation, by its very nature, is a relation to objective 
reality, to its own proper sense object, and that, where there is 
no such sense object, sensation cannot exist. Hallucination indeed 
can exist where there is no sense object, but hallucination 
presupposes sensation. Echo, says Aristotle, presupposes an 
original sound, and even before Aristotle it had been observed 
that a man born blind never has visual hallucinations. 

The commentary [44] insists at length that the thing which knows 
becomes, in some real sense, the object known, by the likeness 
thereof which it has received. Thus, when the soul knows necessary 
and universal principles, it becomes, in some real fashion, all 
intelligible reality. [45] This truth presupposes the 
immateriality of the intellective faculty. [46]. 

This same truth further presupposes the influence of the "agent 
intellect, " [47] which, like an immaterial light, actualizes the 
intelligible object, contained potentially in sense objects, [48] 
and which imprints that object on our intelligence. That 
imprinting results in apprehension from which arises judgment and 
then reasoning. [49] The saint had already formulated the precise 
object [50] of human intelligence, namely, the intelligible being 
in sense objects. In the mirror of sense we know what is 
spiritual, namely, the soul itself, and God. 

Just as intelligence, because it reaches the necessary and 
universal, is essentially distinct from sense, from sense memory, 
and from imagination, so too, the will (the rational appetite): 
since it is ruled only by unlimited universal good and is free in 
face of all limited, particular good, must likewise be distinct 
from sense appetite, from all passions, concupiscible or 
irascible. [51]. 

Immortality, a consequence of spirituality, immortality of the 
human intellect and the human soul, may seem doubtful in certain 
texts of Aristotle. [52] Other texts, more frequent, [53] affirm 
this immortality. These latter texts are decisive, if the agent 
intellect is, as St. Thomas understands, a faculty of the soul to 
which corresponds a proportionate intelligence which knows the 
necessary and universal, and hence is independent of space and 
time. These latter texts are further clarified by a text in the 
Nicomachean Ethics, [54] which seems to exclude all hesitation. 


The saint's commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysica has three chief 

1. Introduction to the Metaphysica. 

2. Ontology. 

3. Natural Theology. 

The Introduction

Metaphysics is conceived as wisdom, science pre-eminent. Now 
science is the knowledge of things by their causes. Metaphysics, 
therefore, is the knowledge of all things by their supreme causes. 
After examining the views of Aristotle's predecessors, Thomas 
shows that it is possible to know things by their supreme causes, 
since in no kind of cause can the mind regress to infinity. The 
proper object of metaphysics is being as being. From this superior 
viewpoint metaphysics must again examine many problems already 
studied by the Physica from the viewpoint of becoming. 

This introduction concludes with a defense, against the Sophists, 
of the objective validity of reason itself, and of reason's first 
principle, the principle of contradiction. [55] He who denies this 
principle affirms a self-destructive sentence. To deny this 
principle is to annihilate language, is to destroy all substance, 
all distinction between things, all truths, thoughts, and even 
opinions, all desires and acts. We could no longer distinguish 
even the degrees of error. We would destroy even the facts of 
motion and becoming, since there would be no distinction between 
the point of departure and the point of arrival. Further, motion 
could have none of the four causes as explanation. Motion would be 
a subject which becomes, without efficient cause, without purpose 
or nature. It would be attraction and repulsion, freezing and 
melting, both simultaneously. 

A more profound defense of the objective validity of reason and 
reason's first law has never been written. Together with the 
saint's defense of the validity of sensation, it can be called 
Aristotle's metaphysical criticism, Aristotelian criteriology. 
"Criticism" is here employed, not in the Kantian sense of the 
word, but in its Greek root (krinein): which means "to judge" and 
the correlate noun derived from that verb (krisis) [56] Genuine 
criticism, then, is self-judgment, judgment reflecting on its own 
nature, in order to be sure it has attained its essential, natural 
object, namely, objective truth, to which it is naturally 
proportioned, as is the eye to color, the ear to sound, the foot 
to walking, and wings to flying. He who wishes to understand the 
saint's work De veritate must begin by absorbing his commentary on 
the fourth book of Aristotle's Metaphysica. 


This name may be given to the saint's commentary on the fifth 
book. It begins with Aristotle's philosophic vocabulary. Guided by 
the concept of being as being, St. Thomas explains the principal 
terms, nearly all of them analogical, which philosophy employs. 
Here is a list of these terms: principle, cause, nature, 
necessity, contingence, unity (necessary or accidental): 
substance, identity, priority, potency, quality, relation, and so 

Further, he treats of being as being in the sense order, where he 
considers matter and form, not now in relation to becoming, but in 
the very being of bodies inanimate or animated. [57] Then he shows 
the full value of the distinction between potency and act in the 
order of being, affirming that, on all levels of being, potency is 
essentially proportioned to act; whence follows the very important 
conclusion: act is necessarily higher than the potency 
proportioned to that act. In other words, the imperfect is for the 
sake of the perfect as the seed for the plant. Further, the 
perfect cannot have the imperfect as sufficient cause. The 
imperfect may indeed be the material cause of the perfect, but 
this material cannot pass from potentiality to actuality unless 
there intervenes an anterior and superior actuality which acts for 
that superior end to which it is itself proportioned. Only the 
superior can explain the inferior, otherwise the more would come 
from the less, the more perfect from the less perfect, contrary to 
the principles of being, of efficient causality, of finality. Here 
lies the refutation of materialistic evolutionism, where each 
successive higher level of being remains without explanation, 
without cause, without reason. [58]. 

Book X treats of unity and identity. The principle of identity, 
which is the affirmative form of the principle of contradiction, 
is thus formulated: "That which is, is, " or again: "Everything 
that is, is one and the same. " From this principle there follows 
the contingence of everything that is composed, of everything that 
is capable of motion. Things that are composite presuppose a 
unifying cause, because elements in themselves diverse cannot 
unite without a cause which brings them together. Union has its 
cause in something more simple than itself: unity. 

Natural Theology

The third part of Aristotle's Metaphysica can be called natural 
theology. St. Thomas comments on two books only, the eleventh and 
the twelfth, omitting the others which deal with Aristotle's 

The eleventh book is a recapitulation, dealing with the 
preliminaries for proving the existence of God. The twelfth book 
gives the actual proofs for the existence of God, of pure act. 
Since act is higher than potency, anything at all which passes 
from potency to act supposes, in last analysis, an uncaused cause, 
something that is simply act, with no admixture of potentiality, 
of imperfection. Hence God is "thought of thought, " 
"understanding of understanding, " not only independent, 
subsistent being, but likewise subsistent understanding, ipsum 
intelligere subsistens. Pure act, being the plenitude of being, is 
likewise the Supreme Good, which draws to itself all else. In this 
act of drawing, in this divine attraction, St. Thomas, in 
opposition to many historians, sees not merely a final cause, but 
also an efficient cause, because, since every cause acts for an 
end proportioned to itself, the supreme agent alone is 
proportioned to the supreme end. Subordination of agents 
corresponds to subordination of ends. Since the higher we rise, 
the more closely do agent and purpose approach, the two must 
finally be one. God, both as agent and as goal, draws all things 
to Himself. [59]. 

Let us note on this point the final words of St. Thomas. "This is 
the philosopher's conclusion: [60} There is one Prince of the 
universe, namely, He who is the first mover, the first 
intelligible, and the first good, He who above is called God, who 
is unto all ages the Blessed One. Amen. ". 

But what he does not find in Aristotle is the explicit concept of 
creation from nothing, nor of eternal creation, and far less of 
free and non-eternal creation. 


St. Thomas comments on two works of Aristotle's ethical and moral 

1. The Nichomachean Ethics. [61]. 

2. The Politica. [62]. 

The Nicomachean Ethics

Following Aristotle, the saint here shows that ethics is the 
science of the activity of the human person, a person who is free, 
master of his own act, but who, since he is a rational being, must 
act for a rational purpose, a purpose that is in itself good, 
whether delectable or useful, but higher than sense good. In this 
higher order of good man will find happiness, that is, the joy 
which follows normal and well-ordered activity, as youth is 
followed by its flowering. Man's conduct, therefore, must be in 
harmony with right reason. He must pursue good that is by nature 
good, rational good, and thus attain human perfection, wherein, as 
in the goal to which nature is proportioned, he will find 
happiness. [63]. 

By what road, by what means do we reach this goal, this human 
perfection? By the road of virtue. Virtue is the habit of acting 
freely in accord with right reason. This habit is acquired by 
repeated voluntary and well-ordered acts. It grows thus into a 
second nature which these acts make easy and connatural. [64]. 

Certain virtues have as goal the control of passions. Virtue does 
not eradicate these passions, but reduces them to a happy medium, 
between excess and defect. But this medium is at the same time the 
summit. Thus fortitude, for example, rises above both cowardice 
and rashness. Temperance, above intemperance and insensibility. 

Similarly, generosity holds the highway, between prodigality and 
avarice. Magnificence, between niggardliness and ostentation. 
Magnanimity, between pusillanimity and ambition. Meekness defends 
itself, without excessive violence, but also without feebleness. 

But disciplining the passions does not suffice. We must likewise 
regulate our relations with other persons by giving each his due. 
Here lies the object of justice. And justice has three fields of 
operation. Commutative justice acts in the world of material 
exchanges, where the norm is equality or equivalence. Above it 
lies distributive justice, which assigns offices, honors, rewards, 
not by equality, but by proportion, according to each man's 
fitness and merit. Highest of all is legal justice, which upholds 
the laws established for the well-being of society. Finally we 
have equity, which softens the rigor of the law, when, under the 
circumstances, that rigor would be excessive. [67]. 

These moral virtues must be guided by wisdom and prudence. Wisdom 
is concerned with the final purpose of life, that is, the 
attainment of human perfection. Prudence deals with the means to 
that end. It is prudence which finds the golden middle way for the 
moral virtues. [68]. 

Under given circumstances, when, for instance, our fatherland is 
in danger, virtue must be heroic. [69]. 

Justice, indispensable for social life, needs the complement which 
we call friendship. Now there are three kinds of friendship. There 
is, first, pleasant friendship, to be found in youthful 
associations devoted to sport and pleasure. There is, secondly, 
advantageous friendship, as among business-men with common 
interests. Finally there is virtuous friendship, uniting those, 
for example, who are concerned with public order and the needs of 
their neighbor. This last kind of friendship, rising above 
pleasure and interest, presupposes virtue, perseveres like virtue, 
makes its devotees more virtuous. It means an ever active good 
will and good deed, which maintains peace and harmony amid 
division and partisanship. [70]. 

By the practice of these virtues man can reach a perfection still 
higher, namely, that of the contemplative life, which gives 
genuine happiness. Joy, in truth, is the normal flowering of well-
ordered activity. Hence the deepest joy arises from the activity 
of man's highest power, namely, his mind, when that power is 
occupied in contemplating its highest object, which is God, the 
Supreme Truth, the Supreme Intelligible. [71]. 

Here we find those words of Aristotle which seem to affirm most 
strongly the personal immortality of the soul. St. Thomas is 
pleased to underline their importance. Aristotle's words on 
contemplation run as follows: "It will in truth, if it is 
lifelong, constitute perfect happiness. But such an existence 
might seem too high for human condition. For then man lives no 
longer as mere man, but only is as far as he possesses some divine 
character. As high as this principle is above the composite to 
which it is united, so high is the act of this principle above 
every other act. Now if the spirit, in relation to man, is 
something divine, divine likewise is such a life. Hence we must 
not believe those who counsel man to care only for human affairs 
and, under pretext that man is mortal, advise him to renounce what 
is immortal. On the contrary, man must immortalize himself, by 
striving with all his might to live according to what is most 
excellent in himself. This principle is higher than all the rest. 
It is the spirit which makes man essentially man. ". 

Many historians have noted, as did St. Thomas, that in this text 
the Greek [72] word for mind signifies a human faculty, a part of 
the soul, a likeness which is participated indeed from the divine 
intelligence, but which is a part of man's nature. Man it is whom 
Aristotle counsels to give himself to contemplation, thus to 
immortalize himself as far as possible. He goes so far as to say 
that this mind [73] constitutes each of us. 

This summary may let us see why St. Thomas made such wide use of 
these ethical doctrines in theology. They serve him in explaining 
why acquired virtue is inferior to infused virtue. They serve 
likewise to explore the nature of charity, which is supernatural 
friendship, uniting the just man to God, and all God's children to 
one another. [74]. 

The Politica

St. Thomas commented the first two books, and the first six 
chapters of the third book. What follows in the printed commentary 
comes from Peter of Auvergne. [75]. 

We note at once how Aristotle differs from Plato. Plato, 
constructing a priori his ideal Republic, conceives the state as a 
being whose elements are the citizens and whose organs are the 
classes. To eliminate egoism, Plato suppresses family and 
property. Aristotle on the contrary, based on observation and 
experience, starts from the study of the family, the first human 
community. The father, who rules the family, must deal, in one 
fashion with his wife, in another with his children, in still 
another with his slaves. He remarks that affection is possible 
only between determinate individuals. Hence, if the family were 
destroyed there would be no one to take care of children, who, 
since they would belong to everybody, would belong to nobody, just 
as, where property is held in common, everyone finds that he 
himself works too much and others too little. 

Aristotle, presupposing that private ownership is a right, finds 
legitimate titles to property in traditional occupation, in 
conquest, in labor. He also holds that man is by his nature 
destined to live in society, since he has need of his fellow men 
for defense, for full use of exterior goods, for acquiring even 
elementary knowledge. Language itself shows that man is destined 
for society. Hence families unite to form the political unity of 
the city, which has for its purpose a good common to all, a good 
that is not merely useful and pleasurable, but is in itself good, 
since it is a good characteristic of rational beings, a good based 
on justice and equity, virtues that are indispensable in social 

These are the principal ideas proposed by Aristotle in the first 
books of the Politica, and deeply expounded by St. Thomas. In the 
Summa [76] he modifies Aristotle's view of slavery. Still, he 
says, the man who cannot provide for himself should work for, and 
be directed by, one wiser than himself. 

In the second book of the Politica we study the constitutions of 
the various Greek states. Thomas accepts Aristotle's inductive 
bases, and will employ them in his work De regimine principum. 
[77] In the nature of man he finds the origin and the necessity of 
a social authority, represented in varying degree by the father in 
the family, by the leader in the community, by the sovereign in 
the kingdom. 

He distinguishes, further, good government from bad. Good 
government has three forms: monarchical, where one alone rules, 
aristocratic, where several rule, democratic, where the rule is by 
representatives elected by the multitude. But each of these forms 
may degenerate: monarchy into tyranny, aristocracy into oligarchy, 
democracy into mob-rule The best form of government he finds in 
monarchy, but, to exclude tyranny, he commends a mixed 
constitution, which provides, at the monarch's side, aristocratic 
and democratic elements in the administration of public affairs. 
[78] Yet, he adds, if monarchy in fact degenerates into tyranny, 
the tyranny, to avoid greater evils, should be patiently 
tolerated. If, however, tyranny becomes unbearable, the people may 
intervene, particularly in an elective monarchy. It is wrong to 
kill the tyrant. [79] He must be left to the judgment of God, who, 
with infinite wisdom, rewards or punishes all rulers of men. 

On the evils of election by a degenerate people, where demagogues 
obtain the suffrages, he remarks, citing St. Augustine, that the 
elective power should, if it be possible, be taken from the 
multitude and restored to those who are good. St. Augustine's 
words run thus: "If a people gradually becomes depraved, if it 
sells its votes, if it hands over the government to wicked and 
criminal men, then that power of conferring honors is rightly 
taken from such a people and restored to those few who are good. " 

St. Thomas commented [81] also the book De causis. This book had 
been attributed to Aristotle, but the saint shows that its origin 
is neo-Platonic. He likewise expounded [82] a work by Boethius: De 
hebdomadibus. His commentary on Plato's Timaeus has not been 

All these commentaries served as broad and deep preparation for 
the saint's own personal synthesis. In that synthesis he reviews, 
under the double light of revelation and reason, all these 
materials he had so patiently analyzed. The synthesis is 
characterized by a grasp higher and more universal of the 
principles which govern his commentaries, by a more penetrating 
insight into the distinction between potency and act, into the 
superiority of act, into the primacy of God, the pure act. 

The saint knew and employed some of Plato's dialogues: Timaeus, 
Menon, Phaedrus. He also knew Plato as transmitted by Aristotle. 
And St. Augustine passed on to him the better portion of Plato's 
teaching on God and the human soul. Neo-Platonism reached him 
first by way of the book De causis, attributed to Proclus, and 
secondly by the writings of pseudo-Dionysius, which he also 

Among the special philosophic books which the saint wrote, we must 
mention four: De unitate intellectus (against the Averroists): De 
substantiis separatis, De ente et essentia, De regimine principum. 


The saint's chief theological works are:

1. Commentaries. 

a) on Scripture. 

b) on the Sentences. 

c) on the Divine Names. 

d) on the Trinity. 

e) on the Weeks. 

2. Personal works. 

a) Summa contra Gentes. 

b) Disputed Questions. 

c) the Quodlibets. 

d) The Summa theologiae. 

St. Thomas commented on these books of the Old Testament:

a) the Book of Job. 

b) b) the Psalms (I-5 I). 

c) the Canticle of Canticles. 

d) the Prophet Isaias. 

e) the Prophet Jeremias. 

f) the Lamentations. 

In the New Testament, he commented on the following books:

a) the Four Gospels. 

b) the Epistles of St. Paul. 

He wrote further a work called Catena aurea ("chain of gold"): a 
running series of extracts from the Fathers on the four Gospels. 

Here follows a list of those Fathers of the Church whom, 
throughout these works, the saint cites most frequently: 
Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Leo the Great, Gregory the 
Great, Basil, John Damascene, Anselm, Bernard. 

In his commentary on the Sentences, we see that the saint is 
keenly aware of the omissions and imperfections of previous 
theological work, and we observe how his own personal thought 
becomes more precisely established. Peter the Lombard had divided 
theology, not according to its proper object, but in relation to 
two acts of the will: to enjoy; to use. 

a) Things to be enjoyed: the Trinity, God's knowledge, power, and 

b) Things to be used: the angels, man, grace, sin. 

c) Things to be both enjoyed and used: Christ, the sacraments, de 

St. Thomas sees the necessity of a more objective division, based 
on the proper object of theology, namely, God Himself. Hence his 
division of theology:

1. God, the source of all creatures. 

2. God, the goal of all creatures. 

3. God, the Savior, who, as man, is man's road to God. 

In the Sentences, moreover, moral questions are treated, 
accidentally, as occasioned by certain dogmatic questions. Thomas 
notes the necessity of explicit treatment, on beatitude, on human 
acts, on the passions, on the virtues, on the states of life, and 
he becomes ever more conscious of the value of the principles 
which underlie his synthesis, on God, on Christ, on man. 

The work Contra Gentes defends the Christian faith against the 
contemporary errors, especially against those which came from the 
Arabians. In the first books the saint examines truths which are 
demonstrable by reason, the preambles of faith. Then in the fourth 
book he deals with supernatural truths. Here St. Thomas treats 
especially of the mysteries, of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the 
sacraments, the way to heaven. 

In each chapter of this work he sets forth a great number of 
arguments bound together by simple adverbs: "again, " "further, " 
"likewise, " "besides. " You may at first think the arguments 
proceed by mere juxtaposition. Nevertheless they are well ordered. 
Some are direct proofs, others are indirect, showing how his 
opponent tends to absurdity or inadmissible consequences. We do 
not have as yet the simple step-by-step procedure of the Summa 
theologiae, where we often find, in the body of the article, only 
one characteristic proof, ex propria ratione. And, when many 
proofs do occur, we clearly see their order, and the reason why 
each is introduced (e. g.: a special kind of causality). 

In the Disputed Questions the saint examines the more difficult 
problems, beginning each article with as many as ten or twelve 
arguments for the affirmative, proceeding then to give as many to 
the negative, before he settles determinately on the truth. 
Through this complexity, for and against, he marches steadily 
onward to that superior simplicity which characterizes the Summa, 
a simplicity pregnant with virtual multiplicity, a precious and 
sublime simplicity, unperceived by many readers who see there only 
the platitudes of Christian common sense, because such readers 
have not entered by patient study of the Disputed Questions. Here, 
in these extended questions, the saint's progress is a slow, hard 
climb to the summit of the mountain, whence alone you can survey 
all these problems in unified solution. 

The most important of the Disputed Questions are these four: De 
veritate, De potentia, De malo, De spiritualibus creaturis. The 
Quodlibets represent the same mode of extended research on various 
contemporary questions. 

The Summa itself, then, gives us that higher synthesis, formed 
definitively in the soul of St. Thomas. This work, he says, in the 
prologue, was written for beginners. [83] Its order is logical. 
[84] It excludes everything that would hinder the student's 
advance: overlapping, long-windedness, useless questions, 
accessory and accidental arguments. 

For this end he first determines theology's proper object: God, as 
revealed, inaccessible to mere reason. [85] This proper object 
determines the divisions, [86] as follows:

1. God, one in nature, three in person, Creator of the world. 

2. God, the goal of creatures. 

3. God, incarnate in Christ, who is the road to God. 

This work reveals the saint at his best. He is master of all 
details studied in previous works. More and more he sees 
conclusions in their first principles. He exemplifies [87] his own 
teaching on "circular" contemplation, which returns always to one 
central, pre-eminent thought, better to seize all the force of its 
irradiation. His principles, few in number but immense in reach, 
illumine from on high a great number of questions. 

Now intellectual perfection is based precisely on this unity, on 
this pre-eminent simplicity and universality, which imitates that 
one simple knowledge whereby God knows all things at a glance. 
Thus, in the Summa, we may single out, say, fifty articles which 
illumine the other three thousand articles, and thus delineate the 
character of the Thomistic synthesis. We think therefore that the 
proper kind of commentary on the Summa is one which does not lose 
itself in long disquisitions, but rather emphasizes those higher 
principles which illumine everything else. Genuine theological 
science is wisdom. Its preoccupation is, not so much to elicit new 
conclusions, as to reduce all conclusions, more numerous or less, 
to the same set of principles, just as all sides of a pyramid meet 
at the summit. This process is not lifeless repetition. Rather 
this timely insistence on the supreme point of the synthesis is a 
higher fashion of approaching God's manner of knowing, whereof 
theology is a participation. 

This permanent value of the saint's doctrine finds its most 
authoritative expression in the encyclical Aeterni Patris. Leo 
XIII speaks there as follows: "St. Thomas synthesized his 
predecessors, and then augmented greatly this synthesis, first in 
philosophy, by mounting up to those highest principles based on 
the nature of things, secondly by distinguishing precisely and 
thus uniting more closely the two orders of reason and faith, 
thirdly by giving to each order its full right and dignity. Hence 
reason can hardly rise higher, nor faith find more solid support. 
" Thus Leo XIII. 

Definitive recognition of the authority of St. Thomas lies in the 
words of the Code of Canon Law: "Both in their own study of 
philosophy and theology, and in their teaching of students in 
these disciplines, let the professors proceed according to the 
Angelic Doctor's method, doctrine and principles, which they are 
to hold sacred. " [88]. 


WE deal here with those commentators only who belong to the 
Thomistic school properly so called. We do not include eclectic 
commentators, who indeed borrow largely from Thomas, but seek to 
unite him with Duns Scotus, refuting at times one by the other, at 
the risk of nearly always oscillating between the two, without 
ever taking a definite stand. 

In the history of commentators we may distinguish three periods. 
During the first period we find defensiones against the various 
adversaries of Thomistic doctrine. In the second period 
commentaries appear properly so called. They comment the Summa 
theologiae. They comment, article by article, in the methods we 
may call classical, followed generally before the Council of 
Trent. In the third period, after the Council, in order to meet a 
new fashion of opposition, the commentators generally no longer 
follow the letter of the Summa article by article, but write 
disputationes on the problems debated in their own times. Each of 
the three methods has its own raison d'etre. The Thomistic 
synthesis has thus been studied from varied viewpoints, by 
contrast with other theological systems. Let us see this process 
at work in each of these periods. 

The first Thomists appear at the end of the thirteenth century and 
the beginning of the fourteenth. They defend St. Thomas against 
certain Augustinians of the ancient school, against the 
Nominalists and the Scotists. We must note in particular the works 
of Herve de Nedellec against Henry of Ghent; of Thomas Sutton 
against Scotus, of Durandus of Aurillac against Durandus of Saint-
Pourcain and against the first Nominalists. 

Next, in the same period, come works on a larger scale. Here we 
find John Capreolus, [89] whose Defensiones [90] earned him the 
title princeps thomistarum. Capreolus follows the order of the 
Lombard Sentences, but continually compares the commentaries of 
Thomas on that work with texts of the Summa theologiae and of the 
Disputed Questions. He writes against the Nominalists and the 
Scotists. Similar works were written in Hungary by Peter Niger, 
[91] in Spain by Diego of Deza, [92] the protector of Christopher 
Columbus. With the introduction of the Summa as textbook, explicit 
commentaries on the Summa theologiae began to appear. First in the 
field was Cajetan (Thomas de Vio). His commentary [93] is looked 
upon as the classic interpretation of St. Thomas. Then followed 
Conrad Kollin, [94] Sylvester de Ferraris, [95] and Francis of 
Vittoria. [96] Vittoria's work remained long in manuscript and was 
lately published. [97] A second work of Vittoria, Relectiones 
theologicae, was likewise recently published. [98]. 

Numerous Thomists took part in the preparatory work for the 
Council of Trent. Noted among these are Bartholomew of Carranza, 
Dominic Soto, Melchior Cano, Peter de Soto. The Council [99] 
itself, in its decrees on the mode of preparation for 
justification, reproduces the substance of an article by St. 
Thomas. [100] Further, in the following chapter on the causes of 
justification, the Council again reproduces the teaching of the 
saint. [101] When on April 11 1567, four years after the end of 
the Council, Thomas of Aquin was declared doctor of the Church, 
Pius V, [102] in commending the saint's doctrine as destruction of 
all heresies since the thirteenth century, concluded with these 
words: "As clearly appeared recently in the sacred decrees of the 
Council of Trent. " [103]. 

After the Council of Trent, the commentators, as a rule, write 
Disputationes. Dominic Banez, an exception, explains still article 
by article. The chief names in this period are Bartholomew of 
Medina, [104] and Dominic Banez. [105] We must also mention Thomas 
of Lemos 1629): Diego Alvarez (1635): John of St. Thomas (1644): 
Peter of Godoy (1677). All these were Spaniards. In Italy we find 
Vincent Gotti (1742): Daniel Concina (1756): Vincent Patuzzi 
(1762): Salvatore Roselli (1785). In France, Jean Nicolai (1663): 
Vincent Contenson (1674): Vincent Baron (1674): John Baptist Gonet 
(1681): A. Goudin (1695): Antonin Massoulie (1706): Hyacinth Serry 
(1738). In Belgium, Charles Rene Billuart (1751). Among the 
Carmelites we mention: the Complutenses, Cursus philosophicus, 
[106] and the Salmanticenses, Cursus theologicus. [107]. 

Let us here note the method and importance of the greatest among 
these commentators. Capreolus [108] correlates, as we saw above, 
the Summa and the Disputed Questions with the Sententiae of the 
Lombard. Answering the Nominalists and the Scotists, he sets in 
relief the continuity of the saint's thought. 

Sylvester de Ferraris shows that the content of the Contra Gentes 
is in harmony with the higher simplicity of the Summa theologiae. 
He is especially valuable on certain great questions: the natural 
desire to see God [109]: the infallibility of the decrees of 
providence; [110] the immutability in good and in evil of the soul 
after death, from the first moment of its separation from the 
body. [111] Sylvester's commentary is reprinted in the Leonine 
edition of the Summa contra Gentes. 

Cajetan comments on the Summa theologiae article by article, shows 
their interconnection, sets in relief the force of each proof, 
disengages the probative medium. Then he examines at length the 
objections of his adversaries, particularly those of Durandus and 
Scotus. His virtuosity as a logician is in the service of 
intuition. Cajetan's sense of mystery is great. Instances will 
occur later on when he speaks of the pre-eminence of the Deity. 
Cajetan is likewise the great defender of the distinction between 
essence and existence. [112] His commentary on the Summa 
theologiae was reprinted in the Leonine edition. [113]. 

Dominic Banez is a careful commentator, profound, sober, with 
great powers, logical and metaphysical. Attempts have been made to 
turn him into the founder of a new theological school. But, in 
reality, his doctrine does not differ from that of St. Thomas. 
What he adds are but more precise terms, to exclude false 
interpretations. His formulas do not exaggerate the saint's 
doctrine. Even such terms as "predefinition" and 
"predetermination" had been employed by Aquinas in explaining the 
divine decrees. [114] A Thomist may prefer the more simple and 
sober terms which St. Thomas ordinarily employs, but on condition 
that he understands them well and excludes those false 
interpretations which Banez had to exclude. [115]. 

John of St. Thomas wrote a very valuable Cursus philosophicus 
thomisticus. [116] Subsequent authors of philosophic manuals, E. 
Hugon, O. P.: J. Gredt, O. S. B.: X. Maquart, rest largely on him. 
J. Maritain likewise finds in them much inspiration. In John's 
theological work, Cursus theologicus, [117] we find disputationes 
on the great questions debated at his time. He compares the 
teaching of St. Thomas with that of others, especially with that 
of Suarez, of Vasquez, of Molina. John is an intuitionist, even a 
contemplative, rather than a dialectician. At the risk of 
diffusiveness, he returns often to the same idea, to sound its 
depths and irradiations. He may sound repetitious, but this 
continual recourse to the same principles, to these high 
leitmotifs, serves well to lift the penetrating spirit to the 
heights of doctrine. John insists repeatedly on the following 
doctrines: analogy of being, real distinction between essence and 
existence, obediential potency, divine liberty, intrinsic 
efficaciousness of divine decrees and of grace, specification of 
habits and acts by their formal object, the essential 
supernaturalness of infused virtue, the gifts of the Holy Spirit 
and infused contemplation. John should be studied also on the 
following questions: the personality of Christ, Christ's grace of 
union, Christ's habitual grace, the causality of the sacraments, 
the transubstantiation, and the sacrifice of the Mass. 

In their methods the Carmelites of Salamanca, the Salmanticenses, 
resemble John of St. Thomas. They first give, in summary, the 
letter of the article, then add disputationes and dubia on 
controverted questions, discussing opposed views in detail. Some 
of these dubia on secondary questions may seem superfluous. But he 
who consults the Salmanticenses on fundamental questions must 
recognize in them great theologians, in general very loyal to the 
teaching of St. Thomas. You may test this statement in the 
following list of subjects: the divine attributes, the natural 
desire to see God, the obediential potency, the absolute 
supernaturalness of the beatific vision, the intrinsic 
efficaciousness of divine decrees and of grace, the essential 
supernaturalness of infused virtues, particularly of the 
theological virtues, the personality of Christ, His liberty, the 
value, intrinsically infinite, of His merits and satisfaction, the 
causality of the sacraments, the essence of the sacrifice of the 

Gonet, who recapitulates the best of his predecessors, but also, 
on many questions, does original work, is marked by great clarity. 
So likewise is Cardinal Gotti, who gives a wider attention to 
positive theology. Billuart, more briefly than Gonet, gives a 
substantial summary of the great commentators. He is generally 
quite faithful to Thomas, often quoting in full the saint's own 

While we do not cite in detail the works of contemporary Thomists, 
we must mention N. del Prado's two works: De veritate fundamentali 
philosophiae christianae, [118] and De Gratia et libero arbitrio. 
[119] He closely follows Banez. Further, A. Gardeil's three works: 
La credibilite et l'apologetique, [120] Le donne revele et la 
theologie, [121] and La structure de l'ame et l'experience 
mystique. [122] Inspired chiefly by John of St. Thomas, his work 
is still personal and original. 

Among those who contributed to the resurgence of Thomistic study, 
before and after Leo XIII, we must mention eight names: 
Sanseverino, Kleutgen, S. J.: Cornoldi, S. J.: Cardinal Zigliara, 
O. P.: Buonpensiere, O. P.: L. Billot, S. J.: G. Mattiussi, S. J.: 
and Cardinal Mercier. 

FIRST PART: Metaphysical Synthesis of Thomism

The metaphysical synthesis is above all a philosophy of being, an 
ontology, differing entirely from a philosophy of appearance 
(phenomenalism): from a philosophy of becoming (evolutionism): and 
from a philosophy of the ego (psychologism). Hence our first 
chapter will deal with intelligible being, the primary object of 
intelligence, and with the first principles arising from that 
object. A second chapter will show the precision given to the 
metaphysical synthesis by the first principle of act and potency, 
with the chief applications of this rich and fruitful principle. 


ST. THOMAS, following Aristotle, teaches that the intelligible 
being, the intelligible reality, existing in sense objects is the 
first object of the first act of our intellect, i. e.: that 
apprehension which precedes the act of judging. Listen to his 
words: "The intellect's first act is to know being, reality, 
because an object is knowable only in the degree in which it is 
actual. Hence being, entity, reality, is the first and proper 
object of understanding, just as sound is the first object of 
hearing. " [123] Now being, reality, is that which either exists 
(actual being) or can exist (possible being): "being is that whose 
act is to be. " [124] Further, the being, the reality, which our 
intellect first understands, is not the being of God, nor the 
being of the understanding subject, but the being, the reality, 
which exists in the sense world, "that which is grasped 
immediately by the intellect in the presence of a sense object. " 
[125] Our intellect, indeed, is the lowest of all intelligences, 
to which corresponds, as proper and proportioned object, that 
intelligible reality existing in the world of sense. [126] Thus 
the child, knowing by sense, for example, the whiteness and the 
sweetness of milk, comes to know by intellect the intelligible 
reality of this same sense object. "By intellect he apprehends as 
reality that which by taste he apprehends as sweet. " [127]. 

In the intelligible reality thus known, our intellect seizes at 
once its opposition to non-being, an opposition expressed by the 
principle of contradiction: Being is not non-being. "By nature our 
intellect knows being and the immediate characteristics of being 
as being, out of which knowledge arises the understanding of first 
principles, of the principle, say, that affirmation and denial 
cannot coexist (opposition between being and non-being): and other 
similar principles. " [128] Here lies the point of departure in 
Thomistic realism. 

Thus our intellect knows intelligible reality and its opposition 
to nothing, before it knows explicitly the distinction between me 
and non-me. By reflection on its own act of knowledge the 
intellect comes to know the existence of that knowing act and its 
thinking subject. Next it comes to know the existence of this and 
that individual object, seized by the senses. [129] In 
intellective knowledge, the universal comes first; sense is 
restricted to the individual and particular. 

From this point of departure, Thomistic realism is seen to be a 
limited realism, since the universal, though it is not formally, 
as universal, in the individual sense object, has nevertheless its 
foundation in that object. This doctrine rises thus above two 
extremes, which it holds to be aberrations. One extreme is that of 
absolute realism held by Plato, who held that universals (he calls 
them "separated ideas") exist formally outside the knowing mind. 
The other extreme is that of Nominalism, which denies that the 
universal has any foundation in individual sense objects, and 
reduces it to a subjective representation accompanied by a common 
name. Each extreme leads to error. Platonist realism claims to 
have at least a confused intuition of the divine being (which it 
calls the Idea of Good). Nominalism opens the door to empiricism 
and positivism, which reduce first principles to experimental laws 
concerning sense phenomena. The principle of causality, for 
example, is reduced to this formula: every phenomenon presupposes 
an antecedent phenomenon. First principles then, conceived 
nominalistically, since they are no longer laws of being, of 
reality, but only of phenomena, do not allow the mind to rise to 
the knowledge of God, the first cause, beyond the phenomenal 

This limited moderate realism of Aristotle and Aquinas is in 
harmony with that natural, spontaneous knowledge which we call 
common sense. This harmony appears most clearly in the doctrine's 
insistence on the objective validity and scope of first 
principles, the object of our first intellectual apprehension. 
These principles are laws, not of the spirit only, not mere 
logical laws, not laws merely experimental, restricted to 
phenomena, but necessary and unlimited laws of being, objective 
laws of all reality, of all that is or can be. 

Yet even in these primary laws we find a hierarchy. One of them, 
rising immediately from the idea of being, is the simply first 
principle, the principle of contradiction; it is the declaration 
of opposition between being and nothing. It may be formulated in 
two ways, one negative, the other positive. The first may be given 
either thus: "Being is not nothing, " or thus: "One and the same 
thing, remaining such, cannot simultaneously both be and not be. " 
Positively considered, it becomes the principle of identity, which 
may be formulated thus: "If a thing is, it is: if it is not, it is 
not. " This is equivalent to saying: "Being is not non-being. " 
Thus we say, to illustrate: "The good is good, the bad is bad, " 
meaning that one is not the other. [130] According to this 
principle, that which is absurd, say a squared circle, is not 
merely unimaginable, not merely inconceivable, but absolutely 
irrealizable. Between the pure logic of what is conceivable and 
the concrete material world lie the universal laws of reality. And 
here already we find affirmed the validity of our intelligence in 
knowing the laws of extramental reality. [131]. 

To this principle of contradiction or of identity is subordinated 
the principle of sufficient reason, which in its generality may be 
formulated thus: "Everything that is has its raison d'etre, in 
itself, if of itself it exists, in something else, if of itself it 
does not exist. " But this generality must be understood in senses 
analogically different. 

First. The characteristics of a thing, e. g.: a circle, have their 
raison d'etre in the essence (nature) of that thing. 

Secondly. The existence of an effect has its raison d'etre in the 
cause which produces and preserves that existence, that is to say, 
in the cause which is the reason not only of the "becoming, " but 
also of the continued being of that effect. Thus that which is 
being by participation has its reason of existence in that which 
is being by essence. 

Thirdly. Means have their raison d'etre in the end, the purpose, 
to which they are proportioned. 

Fourthly. Matter is the raison d'etre of the corruptibility of 

This principle, we see, is to be understood analogically, 
according to the order in which it is found, whether that order is 
intrinsic (the nature of a circle related to its characteristics): 
or extrinsic (cause, efficient or final, to its effects). When I 
ask the reason why, says St. Thomas, [132] I must answer by one of 
the four causes. Why has the circle these properties? By its 
intrinsic nature. Why is this iron dilated? Because it has been 
heated (efficient cause). Why did you come? For such or such a 
purpose. Why is man mortal? Because he is a material composite, 
hence corruptible. 

Thus the raison d'etre, answering the question "why" (propter 
quid): is manifold in meaning, but these different meanings are 
proportionally the same, that is, analogically. We stand here at a 
central point. We see that the efficient cause presupposes the 
very universal idea of cause, found also in final cause, and in 
formal cause, as well as in the agent. [133] Thus the principle of 
sufficient reason had been formulated long before Leibnitz. 

We come now to the principle of substance. It is thus formulated: 
"That which exists as the subject of existence [134] is substance, 
and is distinct from its accidents or modes. " [135] Thus in 
everyday speech we call gold or silver a substance. This principle 
is derived from the principle of identity, because that which 
exists as subject of existence is one and the same beneath all its 
multiple phenomena, permanent or successive. The idea of substance 
is thus seen to be a mere determination of the idea of being. 
Inversely, being is now conceived explicitly as substantial. Hence 
the conclusion: The principle of substance is simply a 
determination of the principle of identity: accidents then find 
their raison d'etre in the substance. [136]. 

The principle of efficient causality also finds its formula as a 
function of being. Wrong is the formula: "Every phenomenon 
presupposes an antecedent phenomenon. " The right formula runs 
thus: "Every contingent being, even if it exists without 
beginning, [137] needs an efficient cause and, in last analysis, 
an uncreated cause. " Briefly, every being by participation (in 
which we distinguish the participating subject from the 
participated existence) depends on the Being by essence. [138]. 

The principle of finality is expressed by Aristotle and Aquinas in 
these terms: "Every agent acts for a purpose. " The agent tends to 
its own good. But that tendency differs on different levels of 
being. It may be, first, a tendency merely natural and 
unconscious, for example, the tendency of the stone toward the 
center of the earth, or the tendency of all bodies toward the 
center of the universe. Secondly, this tendency may be accompanied 
by sense knowledge, for example, in the animal seeking its 
nourishment. Thirdly, this tendency is guided by intelligence, 
which alone knows purpose as purpose, [139] that is, knows purpose 
as the raison d'etre of the means to reach that purpose. [140]. 

On this principle of finality depends the first principle of 
practical reason and of morality. It runs thus: "Do good, avoid 
evil. " It is founded on the idea of good, as the principle of 
contradiction on the idea of being. In other words: The rational 
being must will rational good, that good, namely, to which its 
powers are proportioned by the author of its nature. [141]. 

All these principles are the principles of our natural 
intelligence. They are first manifested in that spontaneous form 
of intelligence which we call common sense, that is, the natural 
aptitude of intelligence, before all philosophic culture, to judge 
things sanely. Common sense, natural reason, seizes these self-
evident principles from its notion of intelligible reality. But 
this natural common sense could not yet give these principles an 
exact and universal formulation. [142]. 

As Gilson [143] well remarks, Thomistic realism is founded, not on 
a mere postulate, but on intellectual grasp of intelligible 
reality in sense objects. Its fundamental proposition runs thus: 
[144] The first idea which the intellect conceives, its most 
evident idea into which it resolves all other ideas, is the idea 
of being. Grasping this first idea, the intellect cannot but grasp 
also the immediate consequences of that idea, namely, first 
principles as laws of reality. If human intelligence doubts the 
evidence of, say, the principle of contradiction, then -as 
Thomists have repeated since the seventeenth century -the 
principle of Descartes [145] simply vanishes. If the principle of 
contradiction is not certain, then I might be simultaneously 
existent and non-existent, then my personal thought is not to be 
distinguished from impersonal thought, nor personal thought from 
the subconscious, or even from the unconscious. The universal 
proposition, Nothing can simultaneously both be and not be, is a 
necessary presupposition of the particular proposition, I am, and 
I cannot simultaneously be and not be. Universal knowledge 
precedes particular knowledge. [146]. 

This metaphysical synthesis, as seen thus far, does not seem to 
pass notably beyond ordinary natural intelligence. But, in truth, 
the synthesis, by justifying natural intelligence, does pass 
beyond it. And the synthesis will rise higher still by giving 
precision to the doctrine on act and potency. How that precision 
has been reached is our next topic. 


THE doctrine on act and potency is the soul of Aristotelian 
philosophy, deepened and developed by St. Thomas. [147]. 

According to this philosophy, all corporeal beings, even all 
finite beings, are composed of potency and act, at least of 
essence and existence, of an essence which can exist, which limits 
existence, and of an existence which actualizes this essence. God 
alone is pure act, because His essence is identified with His 
existence. He alone is Being itself, eternally subsistent. 

The great commentators often note that the definition of potency 
determines the Thomistic synthesis. When potency is conceived as 
really distinct from all act, even the least imperfect, then we 
have the Thomistic position. If, on the other hand, potency is 
conceived as an imperfect act, then we have the position of some 
Scholastics, in particular of Suarez, and especially of Leibnitz, 
for whom potency is a force, a virtual act, merely impeded in its 
activity, as, for example, in the restrained force of a spring. 

This conceptual difference in the primordial division of created 
being into potency and act has far-reaching consequences, which it 
is our task to pursue. 

Many authors of manuals of philosophy ignore this divergence and 
give hardly more than nominal definitions of potency and act. They 
offer us the accepted axioms, but they do not make clear why it is 
necessary to admit potency as a reality between absolute nothing 
and actually existing being. Nor do they show how and wherein real 
potency is distinguished, on the one hand, from privation and 
simple possibility, and on the other from even the most imperfect 

We are now to insist on this point, and then proceed to show what 
consequences follow, both in the order of being and in the order 
of operation. [148]. 


According to Aristotle, [149] real distinction between potency and 
act is absolutely necessary if, granting the multiplied facts of 
motion and mutation in the sense world, facts affirmed by 
experience, we are to reconcile these facts with the principle of 
contradiction or identity. Here Aristotle [150] steers between 
Parmenides, who denies the reality of motion, and Heraclitus, who 
makes motion and change the one reality. 

Parmenides has two arguments. The first runs thus: [151] If a 
thing arrives at existence it comes either from being or from 
nothing. Now it cannot come from being (statue from existing 
statue). Still less can it come from nothing. Therefore all 
becoming is impossible. This argument is based on the principle of 
contradiction or identity, which Parmenides thus formulates: Being 
is, non-being is not; you will never get beyond this thought. 

Multiplicity of beings, he argues again from the same principle, 
is likewise impossible. Being, he says, cannot be limited, 
diversified, and multiplied by its own homogeneous self, but only 
by something else. Now that which is other than being is non-
being, and non-being is not, is nothing. Being remains eternally 
what it is, absolutely one, identical with itself, immutable. 
Limited, finite beings are simply an illusion. Thus Parmenides 
ends in a monism absolutely static which absorbs the world in God. 

Heraclitus is at the opposite pole. Everything is in motion, in 
process of becoming, and the opposition of being to non-being is 
an opposition purely abstract, even merely a matter of words. For, 
he argues, in the process of becoming, which is its own sufficient 
reason, being and non-being are dynamically identified. That which 
is in the process of becoming is already, and nevertheless is not 
yet. Hence, for Heraclitus, the principle of contradiction is not 
a law of being, not even of the intelligence. It is a mere law of 
speech, to avoid self-contradiction. Universal becoming is to 
itself sufficient reason, it has no need of a first cause or of a 
last end. 

Thus Heraclitus, like Parmenides, ends in pantheism. But, whereas 
the pantheism of Parmenides is static, an absorption of the world 
into God, the pantheism of Heraclitus is evolutionist, and 
ultimately atheistic, for it tends to absorb God into the world. 
Cosmic evolution is self-creative. God, too, is forever in the 
process of becoming, hence will never be God. 

Aristotle, against Heraclitus, holds that the principle of 
contradiction or of identity is a law, not merely of the inferior 
reason and of speech, but of the higher intelligence, and 
primarily of objective reality. [152] Then he turns to solve the 
arguments of Parmenides. 

Plato, attempting an answer to Parmenides, had admitted, on the 
one side, an unchangeable world of intelligible ideas, and on the 
other, a sense world in perpetual movement. To explain this 
movement, he held that matter, always transformable, is a medium 
between being and nothing, is "non-being which somehow exists. " 
Thus, as he said, he held his hand on the formula of Parmenides, 
by affirming that non-being still in some way is. [153] 
Confusedly, we may say, he prepared the Aristotelian solution, 
deepened by St. Thomas. 

Aristotle's solution, more clear and profound than Plato's, rests 
on his distinction of potency from act, a distinction his thought 
could not escape. [154]. 

In fact, that which is in process of becoming cannot arise from an 
actual being, which already exists. The statue, in process of 
becoming, does not come from the statue which already exists. But 
the thing in process of becoming was at first there in potency, 
and hence arises from unterminated being, from real and objective 
potency, which is thus a medium between the existing being and 
mere nothing. Thus the statue, while in process, comes from the 
wood, considered not as existing wood, but as sculptilis. Further, 
the statue, after completion, is composed of wood and the form 
received from the sculptor, which form can give place to another. 
The plant is composed of matter and specific (substantial) form 
(oak or beech): and the animal likewise (lion, deer). 

The reality of potency is thus a necessary prerequisite if we are 
to harmonize the data of sense (e. g.: multiplicity and mutation) 
with the principle of contradiction or of identity, with the 
fundamental laws, that is, of reality and of thought. That which 
begins, since it cannot come either from actuality or from 
nothing, must come from a reality as yet undetermined, but 
determinable, from a subject that is transformable, as is the 
prime matter in all bodies, or as is second matter, in wood, say, 
or sand, or marble, or seed. In the works above cited St. Thomas 
gives explicit development to this conception of the Stagirite. 
Let us briefly note these clarifications. 

a) Potency, that which is determinable, transformable, is not mere 
nothing. "From nothing nothing comes, " [155] said Parmenides. And 
this is true, even admitting creation ex nihilo, because creation 
is instantaneous, unpreceded by a process of becoming, [156] with 
which we are here concerned. 

b) Potency, the transformable, is not the mere negation of 
determined form, not the privation, in wood, say, of the statue 
form. For negation, privation, is in itself nothing, hence again 
"from nothing comes nothing. " Further, the privation of statue-
form is found in gases and liquids, say, out of which the statue 
cannot be made. 

c) Potency, the determinable, out of which arises the statue, is 
not the essence of the wood, which makes wood to be actually wood. 
Neither is it the actual figure of the wood to be carved, because 
what already is is not in process of becoming. [157]. 

d) Neither is potency identified with the imperfect figure of the 
statue that is in process of becoming, for that figure is 
imperfect actuality. The imperfect figure is not the determinable 
potency, but is already motion toward the statue to be. 

But now this determinableness, transformableness: what is it 
positively? What is this real, objective potency, presupposed to 
motion, to mutation, to transformation? It is a real capacity to 
receive a definite, determined form, the form, say, of the statue, 
a capacity which is not in air or water, but is in wood, or 
marble, or sand. This capacity to become a statue is the statue in 

Here lies Aristotle's superiority to Plato. Plato speaks of "non-
being which in some way is. " He seems to be thinking of privation 
or simple possibility, or of an imperfect actuality. His 
conception of matter, and of non-being in general, remains quite 
obscure when compared with the Aristotelian concept of potency, 
passive or active. 

St. Thomas excels in explaining this distinction, just now noted, 
between passive potency and active potency. Real passive potency 
is not simple possibility. Simple possibility is prerequired and 
suffices for creation ex nihilo. But it does not suffice as 
prerequisite for motion, change, mutation. Mutation presupposes a 
real subject, determinable, transformable, mutable, whereas 
creation is the production of the entire created being, without 
any presupposed real potency. [158] Now, since active potency, 
active power, must be greater in proportion to its passive 
correlative, it follows that when passive potency is reduced to 
zero, the active potency must be infinite. In other words, the 
most universal of effects, the being of all things, cannot be 
produced except by the most universal of all causes, that is, by 
the Supreme Being. [159]. 

Real potency admitted, we have against Parmenides the explanation, 
not merely of mutation and becoming, but also of multiplicity. 
Form, of itself unlimited, is limited by the potency into which it 
is received. The form then, say of Apollo, can be multiplied by 
being received into different parts of wood or marble. And from 
this viewpoint, as long as that which was in potency is now in 
act, this real potency remains beneath the act. The wood, by 
receiving the statue-form, limits and holds this form and can even 
lose it and receive another form. The form of Apollo, as long as 
it remains in this particular piece of wood, is thereby limited, 
individualized, and as such, irreproducible. But a similar form 
can be reproduced in another portion of matter and that in 


Act, being completion, perfection, is not potency, which is the 
capacity to receive perfection: and act, perfection, is limited 
only by the potency which is its recipient. This truth is thus 
expressed in two texts of St. Thomas: "Form, even the lowest 
material form, if it be supposed, either really or mentally, 
separate from matter, is specifically one and one only. If 
whiteness, e. g.: be understood as apart from any subject of 
whiteness, it becomes impossible to suppose many whitenesses. " 
[160] Again: "Things which agree in species and differ by number, 
agree in form and differ only in matter. Hence since the angels 
are not composed of matter and form, it is impossible to have two 
angels agreeing in species. " [161]. 

This doctrine is embodied in the second of the twenty-four theses, 
approved by the Sacred Congregation of Studies in 1914. That 
thesis runs thus: "Act, perfection, is limited only by potency, 
which is the capability of receiving perfection. Hence, in an 
order of pure act, only one unlimited act can exist. But where act 
is limited and multiplied, there act enters into real composition 
with potency. " [162]. 

From this principle, upheld by St. Thomas and his entire school, 
follow many consequences, both in the order of being and in the 
order of activity, since activity is proportioned to the agent's 
mode of being. 


First we will indicate, rising from lower to higher, the 
consequences in the order of being. 

a) Matter is not form; it is really distinct from form. Let us 
look attentively at substantial mutation. We take two instances. 
First, a lion is burned, and there remain only ashes and bones. 
Secondly, food, by assimilative, digestive power, is changed into 
human flesh. These substantial mutations necessarily presuppose in 
the thing to be changed a subject capable of a new form but in no 
way as yet determined to that form, because, if it had already 
some such determination, that determination would have to be a 
substance (like air or water): and the mutations in question would 
no longer be substantial, but only accidental. 

The subject of these mutations, therefore, must be purely 
potential, pure potency. Prime matter is not combustible, not 
"chiselable, " and yet is really determinable, always 
transformable. This pure potency, this simple, real capacity, to 
receive a new substantial form, is not mere nothing (from nothing, 
nothing comes) ; nor is it mere privation of the form to come; nor 
is it something substantial already determined. It is not, says 
St. Thomas, [163] substance or quality or quantity or anything 
like these. Nor is it the beginning (inchoatio) of the form to 
come. It is not an imperfect act. The wood which can be carved is 
not yet, as such, the beginning of the statue-form. the imperfect 
act is already motion toward the form. It is not the potency 
prerequired before motion can begin. 

This capacity to receive a substantial form is therefore a 
reality, a real potency, which is not an actuality. It is not the 
substantial form, being opposed to it, as the determinable, the 
transformable, is opposed to its content. Now, if, in reality, 
antecedently to any act of our mind, matter, pure potency, is not 
the substantial form, then it is really distinct from form. 
Rather, it is separable from form, for it can lose the form it has 
received, and receive another though it cannot exist deprived of 
all form. Corruption of one form involves necessarily the 
generation of another form. [164]. 

From the distinction, then, of potency from act arises between 
prime matter and form that distinction required to explain 
substantial mutation. Consequently prime matter has no existence 
of its own. Having no actuality of itself, it exists only by the 
existence of the composite. Thomas says: "Matter of itself has 
neither existence nor cognoscibility " [165]. 

In this same manner Aquinas, after Aristotle, explains the 
multiplication of substantial form, since matter remains under 
form, limits that form, and can lose that form. The specific form 
of lion, a form which is indefinitely multipliable, is, by the 
matter in which it exists, limited to constitute this individual 
lion, this begotten and corruptible composite. 

Aristotle already taught this doctrine. In the first two books of 
his Physica he shows with admirable clearness the truth, at least 
in the sense world, of this principle. Act, he says, is limited 
and multiplied by potency. act determines potency, actualizes 
potency, but is limited by that same potency. The figure of Apollo 
actualizes this portion of wax, but is also limited by it, 
enclosed in it, as content in vessel, and as such is thus no 
longer multipliable, though it can be multiplied in other portions 
of wax or marble. [166]. 

Aristotle studied this principle in the sense world. St. Thomas 
extends the principle, elevates it, sees its consequences, not 
only in the sense world, but universally, in all orders of being, 
spiritual as well as corporeal, even in the infinity of God. 

b) Created essence is not its own existence, but really 
distinguished from that existence. The reason, says St. Thomas, 
why the substantial, specific form is limited in sense objects (e. 
g.: lion) lies precisely in this: Form, act, perfection, precisely 
by being received into a really containing capacity, is thereby 
necessarily limited (made captive) by that container. Under this 
formula, the principle holds good even in the supersense order: 
Act, he says, being perfection, can be limited only by the 
potency, the capacity which receives that perfection. [167] Now, 
he continues, existence is actuality, even the ultimate actuality. 
[168] And he develops this thought as follows: "Existence is the 
most perfect of realities. It is everywhere the ultimate 
actuality, since nothing has actuality except as it is. Hence 
existence is the actuality of all things, even of forms 
themselves. Hence existence is never related as receiver is 
related to content, but rather as content to receiver. When I 
speak of the existence of a man, say, or of a horse, or of 
anything else whatever, that existence is in the order of form, 
not of matter. It is the received perfection, not the subject 
which receives existence. " [169]. 

Further, since existence (esse) is of itself unlimited, it is 
limited in fact only by the potency into which it is received, 
that is, by the finite essence capable of existence. By 
opposition, then "as the divine existence (God's existence) is not 
a received existence, but existence itself, subsistent, 
independent existence, it is clear that God is infinitely and 
supremely perfect. " [170] Consequently God is really and 
essentially distinct from the world of finite things. [171]. 

This doctrine is affirmed by the first of the twenty-four 
Thomistic theses: Potency and act divide being in such fashion 
that everything which exists is either pure act, or then is 
necessarily composed of potency and act, as of two primary and 
intrinsic principles. [172]. 

For Suarez, on the contrary, everything that is, even prime 
matter, is of itself in act though it may be in potency to 
something else. Since he does not conceive potency [173] as the 
simple capacity of perfection, he denies the universality of the 
principle: act is limited only by potency. Here are his words: 
"Act is perhaps limited by itself, or by the agent which produces 
the act. " [174]. 

The question arises: Does this principle, "act is limited only by 
potency, " admit demonstration? In answer, we say that it cannot 
be proved by a direct and illative process of reasoning, because 
we are not dealing here with a conclusion properly so called, but 
truly with a first principle, which is self-evident (per se 
notum): on condition that we correctly interpret the meaning of 
its terms, subject and predicate. Nevertheless the explanation of 
these terms can be expressed in a form of reasoning, not illative, 
but explicative, containing at the same time an indirect 
demonstration, which shows that denial of the principle leads to 
absurdity. This explicative argument may be formulated as here 

An act, a perfection, which in its own order is of itself 
unlimited (for example, existence or wisdom or love) cannot in 
fact be limited except by something else not of its own order, 
something which is related to that perfection and gives the reason 
for that limitation. Now, nothing else can be assigned as limiting 
that act, that perfection, except the real potency, the capacity 
for receiving that act, that perfection. Therefore that act, as 
perfection of itself unlimited, cannot be limited except by the 
potency which receives that act. 

The major proposition of this explicative argument is evident. If, 
indeed, the act (of existence, of wisdom, of love) is not of 
itself limited, it cannot in fact be limited except by something 
extraneous to itself, something which gives the reason for the 
limitation. Thus the existence of the stone (or plant, animal, 
man) is limited by its nature, by its essence, which is 
susceptible of existence (quid capax existendi). Essence, nature, 
gives the reason of limitation, because it is intrinsically 
related to existence, it is a limited capability of existence. 
Similarly wisdom in man is limited by the limited capacity of his 
intelligence, and love by the limited capacity of his loving 

Nor is the minor proposition of the argument less certain. If you 
would explain how an act, a perfection, of itself unlimited is in 
point of fact limited, it is not sufficient, pace Suarez, to 
appeal to the agent which produces that act, because the agent is 
an extrinsic cause, whereas we are concerned with finding the 
reason for this act's intrinsic limitation, the reason why the 
being, the existence, of the stone, say (or of the plant, the 
animal, the man): remains limited, even though the notion of 
being, of existence implies no limit, much less of different 
limits. Just as the sculptor cannot make a statue of Apollo 
limited to a portion of space, unless there is a subject (wood, 
marble, sand) capable of receiving the form of that statue: so 
likewise the author of nature cannot produce the stone (or the 
plant, the animal, the man) unless there is a subject capable of 
receiving existence, and of limiting that existence according to 
the different capacities found in stone, plant, and animal. 

Hence St. Thomas says: "God produces simultaneously existence and 
the subject which receives existence. " [175] And again: "In the 
idea of a made thing lies the impossibility of its essence being 
its existence because subsistent, independent existence is not 
created existence. " [176]. 

Were this position not admitted, the argument of Parmenides, 
renewed by Spinoza, would be insoluble. Parmenides denied 
multiplicity in the sense world, because being cannot be limited, 
diversified, multiplied of itself, he says, but only by something 
other than itself, and the only thing other than being is non-
being, is pure nothing. 

To this argument our two teachers reply: Besides existence there 
is a real capacity which receives and limits existence. [177] This 
capacity, this recipient, which limits existence, is not nothing, 
is not privation, is not imperfect existence; it is real objective 
potency, really distinct from existence, just as the transformable 
wood remains under the statue figure it has received, just as 
prime matter remains under the substantial form, really distinct 
from that form which it can lose. As, antecedently to 
consideration by our mind, matter is not form, is opposed to form, 
as that which is transformable is opposed to that which informs, 
thus likewise the essence of the stone (the plant, the animal) is 
not its existence. Essence, as essence (quid capax existendi): 
does not contain actual existence, which is a predicate, not 
essential, but contingent. Nor does the idea of existence as such 
imply either limitation or diversity in limitation (as, say, 
between stone and plant). 

To repeat: Finite essence is opposed to its existence as the 
perfectible to actualizing perfection, as the limit to the limited 
thing, as the container to the content. Antecedently to any 
thought of ours, this proposition is true: Finite essence is not 
its own existence. Now, if in an affirmative judgment, the verb 
"is" expresses real identity between subject and predicate, [178] 
then the negation denies this real identity and thus affirms real 

How is this distinction to be perceived? Not by the senses, not by 
the imagination, but by the intellect, which penetrating more 
deeply (intus legit): sees that finite essence, as subject, does 
not contain existence, which is not an essential predicate, since 
it is contingent. 

A wide difference separates this position from that which says: 
Being is the most simple of ideas, hence all that in any way 
exists is being in act, though it may often be in potency to 
something else. Thus prime matter is already imperfectly in act, 
and finite essence is also in act, and is not really distinct from 
its existence Thus Suarez. [179]. 

A follower of Suarez, P. Descoqs, S. J.: writes thus concerning 
the first [180] of the twenty-four Thomistic theses: "Now if it is 
maintained that this thesis reproduces faithfully the teaching of 
Cajetan, and of subsequent authors inspired by Cajetan, I would 
certainly not demur. But however hard he tries, no one will show, 
and the chief commentators, however hard they have tried, have not 
been able to show, that the said teaching is found in the Master. 
" [181]. 

Must we then say that the Congregation of Studies was in error, 
when, in 1914, it approved as genuine expression of the doctrine 
of St. Thomas, both that first thesis here in question and the 
other theses derived from that first? Is it true, as the article 
just cited maintains, [182] that St. Thomas never said that, in 
every created substance there is, not merely a logical 
composition, but a real composition of two principles really 
distinct, one of these principles, essence, subjective potency, 
being correlated to the other, existence, which is its act?

Now surely St. Thomas does say just this, and says it repeatedly. 
Beyond texts already cited, listen to the following passage: 
"Everything that is in the genus of substance is composed by a 
real composition, because, being substance, it is subsistent 
(independent) in its being. Hence its existence is something other 
than itself, otherwise it could not by its existence differ from 
other substances with which in essence it agrees, this condition 
being required in all things which are directly in the 
predicaments. Hence everything that is in the genus of substance 
is composed, at least of existence and essence (quod est). " [183] 
The beginning of this passage shows that the composition in 
question is not merely logical, but is real. Thus the passage says 
exactly what the first of the twenty-four theses says. 

Let us hear another passage. "Just as every act (existence) is 
related to the subject in which it is, just so is every duration 
related to its now. That act however, that existence, which is 
measured by time, differs from its subject both in reality 
(secundum rem): because the movable thing is not motion, and in 
succession, because the substance of the movable thing is 
permanent, not successive. But that act, which is measured by 
aevum, namely, the existence of the thing which is aeviternal, 
differs from its subject in reality, but not in succession, 
because both subject and existence are each without succession. 
Thus we understand the difference between aevum and its now. But 
that existence which is measured by eternity is in reality 
identified with its subject, and differs from it only by way of 
thought. " [184]. 

The first text just quoted says that in every predicamental 
substance there is a real composition between potency and act. The 
second text says that in substances measured by aevum (the angels) 
there is real distinction between existence and its subject. This 
is exactly the doctrine expressed by the first of the twenty-four 

We may add one more quotation from St. Thomas: "Hence each created 
substance is composed of potency and act, that is, of subject and 
existence, as Boethius says, [185] just as the white thing is 
composed of white thing and whiteness. " [186] Now the saint 
certainly holds that there is real distinction between the white 
subject and its whiteness, between substance and accident. In both 
cases then, between substance and accident, and between essence 
and existence, we have a distinction which is not merely logical, 
subsequent to our way of thinking, but real, an expression of 
objective reality. 

Antecedently to our way of thinking, so we may summarize 
Aristotle, matter is not the substantial form, and matter and form 
are two distinct intrinsic causes. St. Thomas supplements 
Aristotle with this remark: In every created being there is a real 
composition of potency and act, at least of essence and existence. 
[187] Were it otherwise, the argument of Parmenides against 
multiplicity of beings would remain insoluble. As the form is 
multiplied by the diverse portions of matter into which it is 
received, just so is existence (esse) multiplied by the diverse 
essences, or better, diverse subjects, [188] into which it is 

To realize this truth you have but to read one chapter in Contra 
Gentes. [189] The composition there defended is not at all merely 
logical composition (of genus and differentia specifica, included 
in the definition of pure spirits): but rather a real composition: 
essence is not really identified with existence, which only 
contingently belongs to essence. 

Throughout his works, St. Thomas continually affirms that God 
alone is pure act, that in Him alone is essence identified with 
existence. [190] In this unvaried proposition he sees the deepest 
foundation of distinction between uncreated being and created 
being. [191] Texts like these could be endlessly multiplied. See 
Del Prado, [192] where you will find them in abundance. 

The first of the twenty-four theses, then, belongs to St. Thomas. 
In defending that thesis we are not pursuing a false scent, a 
false intellectual direction, on one of the most important points 
of philosophy, namely, the real and essential distinction between 
God and the creature, between pure act, sovereignly simple and 
immutable, and the creature always composed and changing. [193]. 

On this point, it is clear, there is a very notable difference 
between St. Thomas and Suarez, who in some measure returns to the 
position of Duns Scotus. Now this difference rests on a difference 
still more fundamental, namely, a difference in the very idea of 
being (ens): which ontology deals with before it deals with the 
divisions of being. To this question we now turn. 


Being, for St. Thomas, [194] is a notion, not univocal but 
analogous, since otherwise it could not be divided and 
diversified. A univocal idea (e. g.: genus) is diversified by 
differences extrinsic to genus (animality, e. g.: by specific 
animal differences). Now, nothing is extrinsic to being (ens). 
Here Parmenides enters. Being, he says, cannot be something other 
than being, and the only other thing than being is nothing, is 
non-being, and non-being is not. St. Thomas replies: "Parmenides 
and his followers were deceived in this: They used the word being 
(ens) as if it were univocal, one in idea and nature, as if it 
were a genus. This is an impossible position. Being (ens) is not a 
genus, since it is found in things generically diversified. " 

Duns Scotus [196] returns in a manner to the position of 
Parmenides, that being is a univocal notion. Suarez, [197] seeking 
a middle way between Aquinas and Scotus, maintains that the 
objective concept of being (ens) is simply one (simpliciter unus): 
and that consequently everything that is in any manner (e. g.: 
matter and essence) is being in act (ens in actu). This viewpoint 
granted, we can no longer conceive pure potency. It would be extra 
ens, hence, simply nothing. The Aristotelian notion of real 
potency (medium between actuality and nothing) disappears, and the 
argument of Parmenides is insoluble. 

We understand now why, shortly after the Council of Trent, a 
Thomist, Reginaldus, O. P.: [198] formulated as follows the three 
principles of St. Thomas:

Ens (being) is a notion transcendent and analogous, not univocal. 

God is pure act, God alone is His own existence. 

Things absolute have species from themselves; things relative from 
something else. 


From this initial ontological divergence we have noted between St. 
Thomas and Suarez there arises another divergence, this time at 
the summit of metaphysics. Thomists maintain that the supreme 
truth of Christian philosophy is the following: In God alone are 
essence and existence identified. Now this is denied by those who 
refuse to admit the real distinction between created essence and 

According to Thomists this supreme truth is the terminus, the 
goal, of the ascending road which rises from the sense world to 
God, and the point of departure on the descending road, which 
deduces the attributes of God and determines the relation between 
God and the world. [199]. 

From this supreme truth, that God alone is His own existence, 
follow, according to Thomists, many other truths, formulated in 
the twenty-four Thomistic theses. We will deal with this problem 
later on, when we come to examine the structure of the theological 
treatise, De Deo uno. Here we but note the chief truths thus 


God, since He is subsisting and unreceived being, is infinite in 
perfection. [200] In Him there are no accidents, because existence 
is the ultimate actuality, hence cannot be further actualized and 
determined. [201] Consequently He is thought itself, wisdom 
itself, [202] love itself. [203]. 

Further, concerning God's relations to creatures we have many 
other consequences of the real distinction between act and 
potency. Many positions which we have already met on the ascending 
road now reappear, seen as we follow the road descending from on 
high. There cannot be, for example, two angels of the same 
species, for each angel is pure form, irreceivable in matter. 
[204] The rational soul is the one sole substantial form of the 
human composite, since otherwise man would not be simply a 
natural, substantial unity, [205] but merely one per accidens (as 
is, e. g.: the unity between material substance and the accident 
of quantity). For substantial unity cannot arise from actuality 
plus actuality, but only from its own characteristic potency and 
its own characteristic actuality. [206] Consequently the human 
composite has but one sole existence (see the sixteenth of the 
twenty-four Thomistic theses). Similarly, in every material 
substance there is but one existence, since neither matter nor 
form has an existence of its own; they are not id quod est, but id 
quo [207] (see the ninth of the twenty-four). The principle of 
individuation, which distinguishes, e. g.: two perfectly similar 
drops of water, is matter signed with quantity, the matter, that 
is, into which the substantial form of water has been received, 
but that matter as proportioned to this quantity (proper to this 
drop) rather than to another quantity (proper to another drop). 

Again, prime matter cannot exist except under some form, for that 
would be "being in actuality without act, a contradiction in 
terms. " [209] Prime matter is not "that which is (id quod est): " 
but "that by which a thing is material, and hence limited. " [210] 
Consequently "matter of itself has no existence, and no 
cognoscibility. " [211] Matter, namely, is knowable only by its 
relation to form, by its capacity to receive form. The form of 
sense things, on the contrary, being distinct from matter, is of 
itself and directly knowable in potency. [212] Here is the reason 
for the objectivity of our intellectual knowledge of sense 
objects. Here also the reason why immateriality is the root of 
both intelligibility and intellectuality. [213]. 


We come now to the applications of our principle in the order of 
action, operation, which follows the order of being. [214] Here we 
will briefly indicate the chief consequences, on which we must 
later dwell more at length. 

Powers, faculties, habitudes differ specifically, not of 
themselves, but by the formal object, the act to which they are 
proportioned. [215] Consequently the soul faculties are really 
distinct from the soul, and each is really distinct from all 
others. [216] No sense faculty can grasp the proper object of the 
intelligence, nor sense appetite the proper object of the will. 

"Whatever is moved (changed) is moved by something else. " [218] 
This principle is derived from the real distinction between 
potency and act. Nothing can pass from potency to act except by a 
being already in act, otherwise the more would come from the less. 
In this principle is founded the proof from motion, from change, 
for God's existence. [219] Now, for Suarez, this principle is 
uncertain, for he says, "there are many things which, by virtual 
acts, are seen to move and reduce themselves to formal acts, as 
may be seen in appetite or will. " [220] Against this position we 
must note that if our will is not its own operation, its own act 
of willing, if "God alone is His own will, as He is His own act of 
existence, and His own act of knowing, " then it follows that our 
will is only a potency, only a capability of willing, and cannot 
consequently be reduced to act except by divine motion. Were it 
otherwise, the more would come from the less, the more perfect 
from the less perfect, contrary to the principle of causality. 
[221] St. Thomas speaks universally: "However perfect you conceive 
any created nature, corporeal or spiritual, it cannot proceed to 
its act unless it is moved thereto by God. " [222]. 

The next consequence deals with causal subordination. In a series 
of causes which are subordinated necessarily (per se, not per 
accidens): there is no infinite regress; we must reach a supreme 
and highest cause, without which there would be no activity of 
intermediate causes, and no effect. [223]. 

We are dealing with necessary subordination. In accidental 
subordination, regress in infinitum is not an absurdity. In human 
lineage, for example, the generative act of the father depends, 
not necessarily, but accidentally, on the grandfather, who may be 
dead. But such infinite regress is absurd in a series necessarily 
subordinated, as, for example, in the following: "the moon is 
attracted by the earth, the earth by the sun, the sun by another 
center, and thus to infinity. Such regress, we must say, is 
absurd. If there is no first center of attraction, here and now in 
operation, then there would be no attraction anywhere. Without an 
actually operating spring the clock simply stops. All its wheels, 
even were they infinite in number, cause no effect. " [224]. 

This position Suarez denies. He speaks thus: "In causes 
necessarily (per se) subordinated, it is no absurdity to say that 
these causes, though they be infinite in number, can nevertheless 
operate simultaneously. " [225] Consequently Suarez [226] denies 
the demonstrative validity of the proofs offered by St. Thomas for 
God's existence. He explains his reason for departing from the 
Angelic Doctor. He substitutes for divine motion what he calls 
"simultaneous cooperation. " [227] The First Cause, he says, does 
not bring the intermediate second cause to its act, is not the 
cause of its activity. In a series of subordinated causes, higher 
causes have influence, not on lower causes, but only on their 
common effect. All the causes are but partial causes, influencing 
not the other causes, but the effect only. [228] All the causes 
are coordinated rather than subordinated. Hence the term: 
simultaneous concursus, illustrated in two men drawing a boat. 

This view of Suarez is found also in Molina. Molina says: "When 
causes are subordinated, it is not necessary that the superior 
cause moves the inferior cause, even though the two causes be 
essentially subordinated and depend on each other in producing a 
common effect. It suffices if each has immediate influence on the 
effect. " [230] This position of Molina supposes that active 
potency can, without impulse from a higher cause, reduce itself to 
act. But he confuses active potency with virtual act, which of 
itself leads to complete act. Now, since a virtual act is more 
perfect than potency, we have again, contrary to the principle of 
causality, the more perfect issuing from the less perfect. 

St. Thomas and his school maintain this principle: No created 
cause is its own existence, or its own activity, hence can never 
act without divine premotion. In this principle lies the heart of 
the proofs, by way of causality, for God's existence. [231]. 

All these consequences, to repeat, follow from the real 
distinction between potency and act. From it proceed. 

the real distinction between matter and form,

the real distinction between finite essence and existence,

the real distinction between active potency and its operation. 

In the supernatural order we find still another consequence from 
the idea of potency, namely, obediential potency, that is, the 
aptitude of created nature, either to receive a supernatural gift 
or to be elevated to produce a supernatural effect. This potency 
St. Thomas conceives as the nature itself, of the soul, say, as 
far as that nature is suited for elevation to a superior order. 
This suitableness means no more than non-repugnance, since God can 
do in us anything that is not self-contradictory. [232]. 

For Suarez, [233] on the contrary, this obediential potency, which 
he regards as an imperfect act, is rather an active potency, as if 
the vitality of our supernatural acts were natural, instead of 
being a new, supernatural life. Thomists answer Suarez thus: An 
obediential potency, if active, would be natural, as being a 
property of our nature, and simultaneously supernatural, as being 
proportioned to an object formally supernatural. [234]. 

A last important consequence, again in the supernatural order, of 
the real distinction between potency and act, between essence and 
existence, runs as follows: In Christ there is, for both natures, 
the divine and the human, one sole existence, the existence, 
namely, of the Word who has assumed human nature. [235] Suarez, on 
the contrary, who denies real distinction between created essence 
and its existence, has to admit two existences in Christ. This 
position reduces notably the intimacy of the hypostatic union. 

Such then are the principal irradiations of the Aristotelian 
distinction between potency and act. Real, objective potency is 
not act, however imperfect. But it is essentially proportioned to 
act. [236] Next come consequences in the four kinds of causes, 
with the absurdity, in necessary causal subordination, of regress 
in infinitum, either in efficient causality or in final causality. 
Culmination of these consequences is the existence of God, pure 
act, at the summit of all existence, since the more cannot come 
from the less, and in the giver there is more than in the 
receiver. The first cause, therefore, of all things cannot be 
something that is not as yet, but is still in process of becoming, 
even if you call that process self-creating evolution. The first 
cause is act, existing from all eternity, is self-subsisting 
Being, in whom alone essence and existence are identified. Already 
here we see that nothing, absolutely no reality, can exist without 
Him, without depending on Him, without a relation to Him of causal 
dependence on Him. Our free act of will, being a reality, has to 
Him the same relation of causal dependence, and is thereby, as we 
shall see, not destroyed, but on the contrary, made an actual 
reality. [237]. 

This metaphysical synthesis, as elaborated by Aquinas, while far 
more perfect than the doctrine explicitly taught by Aristotle, is 
nevertheless, philosophically speaking, merely the full 
development of that doctrine. In Aristotle the doctrine is still a 
child. In Aquinas it has grown to full age. Now this progress, 
intrinsically philosophic, was not carried on without the 
extrinsic concurrence of divine revelation. Revelation, for St. 
Thomas, was not, in philosophy, a principle of demonstration. But 
it was a guiding star. The revealed doctrine of free creation ex 
nihilo was, in particular, a precious guide. But under this 
continued extrinsic guidance, philosophy, metaphysics, guarded its 
own formal object, to which it is by nature proportioned, namely, 
being as being, known in the minor sense world. By this formal 
object, metaphysics remains specifically distinct from theology, 
which has its own distinctive formal object, namely, God as He is 
in Himself, [238] God in His own inner life, known only by divine 
revelation. And here we can already foresee what harmony, in the 
mind of St. Thomas, unites these two syntheses, a harmony wherein 
metaphysics gladly becomes the subordinated instrument of 
theology. [239]. 

SECOND PART: Theology and De Deo Uno


MUCH has been written in recent years on the nature of theological 
development and in widely divergent directions, also by disciples 
of St. Thomas. One much ventilated question is that of the 
definability of theological conclusions properly so called, 
namely, conclusions obtained by a genuinely illative process, from 
one premise of faith and one premise of reason. On this question 
Father Marin-Sola [240] is far from being in accord with Father 
Reginald M. Schultes, O. P. [241] We have personally written on 
this subject, refusing with Father Schultes to admit definability 
of the theological conclusion as above defined. [242]. 

Father Charlier, [243] still more recently, has entered the lists 
in diametrical opposition to Father Marin-Sola. His thesis runs 
thus: Demonstration, in the strict sense of the word, cannot be 
employed in theology. Theology, he argues, cannot of itself arrive 
with certitude at these conclusions, which belong to the 
metaphysics that the theologian employs rather than to theology 
itself. Theology must be content to explain and to systematize the 
truths of faith. But, of itself, it can never deduce with 
certitude conclusions which are only virtually revealed. [244]. 

One position then, that of Marin-Sola, holds that theological 
reasoning strictly illative can discover truths capable of being 
defined as dogmas of faith. The contrary position, that of 
Charlier, holds that theology is of itself incapable even of 
discovering such truths with certitude. 

Neither of these opposed positions is, we think, in accord with 
the teaching of St. Thomas and his chief commentators. Genuine 
Thomistic teaching, we hold, is an elevated highway, running above 
these two extremes. Extended quotation, from the saint and his 
best interpreters, would sustain our view. We have elsewhere [245] 
followed this method. Here we must be content to attain our goal 
by enumerating and outlining the various steps of theological 


Theology is a science made possible by the light of revelation. 
Theology, therefore, presupposes faith in revealed truths. Hence 
the proper object of theology is the inner life of God as knowable 
by revelation and faith. By this object theology rises above 
metaphysics, which sees in God the first and supreme being, the 
author of nature, whereas theology attains God as God (sub ratione 
Deitatis). [246]. 

How does theology differ from faith? The object of theology, in 
the theologian who is still viator, is not the Deity clearly seen, 
[247] as in the beatific vision, but the Deity known obscurely by 
faith. [248] Theology, then, is distinguished from faith, which is 
its root, because theology is the science of the truths of faith, 
which truths it explains, defends, and compares. Comparing these 
truths with one another, theology sees their mutual relations, and 
the consequences which they virtually contain. But to use this 
method for attaining its proper object, the inner life of God as 
God, theology must presuppose metaphysics which sees God as the 
Supreme Being. That this is the object of metaphysics is clear, we 
may note, from revelation itself. When God says to Moses: "I am 
who am, " [249] we recognize in those words the equivalent 
statement: God alone is subsistent existence. [250]. 

Theology, therefore, though here below it proceeds from principles 
which are believed, not seen as evident in themselves, is 
nevertheless a branch of knowledge, a science in the proper sense 
of the word. The characteristic of science is to show "the reason 
why this thing has just these properties. " Theology does just 
that. It determines the nature and properties of sanctifying 
grace, of infused virtue, of faith, of hope, of charity. St. 
Thomas, in defining theology, uses the Aristotelian definition of 
science which he had explained in his commentary on the Later 
Analytics. [251] To know scientifically, he says, is to know this 
thing as what it is and why it cannot be otherwise. Theology then 
is a science, not merely in the broad sense of certain knowledge, 
but also in the strict sense of conclusions known by principles. 

Such is theology here below. But when the theologian is no longer 
viator, when he has received the beatific vision, then, without 
medium, in the Word, he will behold the inner life of God, the 
divine essence. Then he will know, with fullest light, what before 
he knew by faith. And beyond that, extra Verbum, he will see the 
conclusions derivable from faith. In heaven, theology will be 
perfect, its principles evident. But here below, theology is in an 
imperfect state. It has not, so to speak, become adult. 

Hence theology, as attainable here below, while it is a science, 
and is a subalternate science, resting on the mind of God and the 
blessed in heaven, is nevertheless, when compared with all merely 
human knowledge, a wisdom specifically higher than metaphysics, 
though not as high as the infused faith which is its source. 
Theology then, generated by the theological labor, is by its root 
essentially supernatural. [253] If, consequently, the theologian 
loses faith (by grave sin against that virtue): there remains in 
him only the corpse of theology, a body without soul, since he no 
longer adheres, formally and infallibly, to revealed truths, the 
sources of the theological habit. And this is true, even if, 
following his own will and judgment, he still holds materially one 
or the other of these truths. 

So much on the nature of theology. We must now consider the 
different steps, the different procedures, to be followed by the 
theologian, if he would avoid opposed and exaggerated extremes. 


These steps are pointed out by St. Thomas, first in the first 
question of the Summa, [254] secondly, more explicitly, when he 
treats of specific subjects: eternal life, for example, 
predestination, the Trinity, the mysteries of the Incarnation, the 
Redemption, the Eucharist, and the other sacraments. We 
distinguish six such successive procedures. 

1. The positive procedure. 

2. The analytic procedure. 

3. The apologetic procedure. 

4. The manifestative procedure. 

5. The explicative procedure. 

6. The illative procedure. 

a) of truths explicitly revealed. 

b) of truths not explicitly revealed. 

c) of truths virtually revealed. 

1. Theology accepts the depositum fidei, and studies its 
documents, Scripture and tradition, under the guidance of the 
teaching Church. This is positive theology, which includes study 
of biblical theology, of the documents and organs of tradition, of 
the various forms of the living magisterium. 

2. The next step is analysis of revealed truths, in particular of 
the more fundamental truths, to establish the precise meaning of 
the subject and the predicate by which that truth is expressed. 
Take, for example, this sentence: The Word was made flesh. 
Theological analysis shows that the sentence means: The Word, who 
is God, became man. This labor of conceptual analysis appears in 
his first articles when St. Thomas begins a new treatise, on the 
Trinity, for example, or the Incarnation. In these articles you 
will search in vain for a theological conclusion. You will find 
but simple analysis, sometimes grammatical, but generally 
conceptual, of the subject and predicate of the revealed 

3. On the next step theology defends revealed truths by showing 
either that they are contained in the deposit of faith, or that 
they contain no manifest impossibility. [255] No effort is made to 
demonstrate positively the intrinsic possibility of the mystery. 
If such possibility could be demonstrated by reason alone, then 
would the existence of the mystery be likewise demonstrated, for 
the Trinity is a being, not contingent, but necessary. The only 
thing attempted in this apologetic procedure is to show that there 
is no evident contradiction in the proposition which enunciates 
the dogma. God is triune, and one. He is "one" by nature, and 
"triune" in so far as this unique nature is possessed by three 
distinct persons, as in a triangle, to illustrate, the three 
angles have the same surface. 

4. On the fourth level theology uses arguments of appropriateness, 
to illumine, not to demonstrate, revealed truth. Thus, to clarify 
the dogma, say, of the Word's eternal generation or that of the 
redemptive Incarnation, theology appeals to the following 
principle: God is by nature self-diffusive; and the more elevated 
good is, the more intimately and abundantly does it communicate 
itself. [256] Hence it is appropriate that God, the supreme Good, 
communicate His entire nature in the eternal generation of the 
Word, and that the Word be incarnate for our salvation. [257] 
These mysteries, so runs the common theological doctrine, cannot 
be proved, and cannot be disproved, and although they do have a 
persuasive probability, they are held with certitude by faith 
alone. [258]. 

5. Further, theology has recourse to explicative reasoning, to 
demonstrate, often in strictest form, a truth, not new, but 
implicitly contained in a revealed truth. This procedure passes 
from a confused formulation of a truth to a more distinct 
formulation of the same truth. To illustrate: take the sentence, 
The Word, which was God, was made flesh. Against the Arians, that 
sentence was thus expressed: The Word, consubstantial with the 
Father, was made man. This consubstantiality with the Father, 
whatever some writers say, is much more than a theological 
conclusion, deduced illatively from a revealed truth. It is a 
truth identical, only more explicitly stated, with that found in 
the Prologue of St. John's Gospel. 

A second illustration: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will 
build My church, and gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 
[259] This same truth is expressed, only more explicitly, as 
follows: The sovereign pontiff, successor of St. Peter, is 
infallible when ex cathedra he teaches the universal Church in 
matters of faith and morals. This latter formula does not 
enunciate a new truth deduced from the first. In each sentence we 
have the same subject and the same predicate, joined by the verb 
"to be. " But the language, metaphorical in the first formula, 
becomes proper, scientific, in the second. 

6a. Again, theology uses reasoning, not merely explicative, but 
strictly and objectively illative, to draw from two revealed 
truths a third truth, revealed elsewhere, often less explicitly, 
in Scripture and tradition. This kind of illative reasoning, 
frequent in theology, unites to the articles of the Creed other 
truths of faith, and thus forms a body of doctrine, with all 
constituent truths in mutual relation and subordination. This body 
of doctrine [260] stands higher than all theological systems, 
higher even than theological science itself. Thus we understand 
the title: De sacra doctrina, given by St. Thomas to the first 
question in the Summa theologiae. The first article of that 
question is entitled, doctrina fidei. In the following articles, 
the subject is doctrina theologica, sacra theologia, which is 
declared to be a science, itself superior to systems that have 
not, properly speaking, attained the status of science. How the 
various elements of this body of doctrine are grouped around the 
articles of faith becomes apparent only by that objective illative 
procedure, of which we are now speaking, which from two revealed 
truths deduces a third which has also been revealed, even at times 
explicitly, in Scripture or tradition. To illustrate, let us take 
these two statements: first, "Jesus is truly God, " second, "Jesus 
is truly man. " From these two statements there follows, by a 
strictly illative process, this third statement: Jesus has two 
minds and two wills. And this third truth is elsewhere explicitly 
revealed, in the words of Jesus Himself: "Not as I will, but as 
Thou wilt. " [261]. 

Now a conclusion of this kind, a conclusion revealed elsewhere, 
can evidently be defined by the Church as a dogma of faith. Does 
it follow, then, as is sometimes said, that in such cases 
theological reasoning is useless? Not at all. Reasoning in such 
cases gives us understanding of a truth which before we accepted 
only by faith. The characteristic of demonstration is not 
necessarily to discover a new truth, but to make the truth known 
in its source, its cause. In this kind of reasoning we realize the 
full force of the classic definition of theology: faith seeking 
self-understanding. [262] This realization is very important. 

6b. Theology uses reasoning, illative in the proper sense, to 
deduce from two revealed truths a third truth not revealed 
elsewhere, that is, not revealed in itself, but only in the other 
two truths of which it is the fruit. Thomists generally admit that 
such a conclusion, derived from two truths of faith, is 
substantially revealed, and hence can be defined as dogma. 
Reasoning enters here only to bring together two truths which of 
themselves suffice to make the third truth known. The knowledge of 
the third truth depends on the reasoning, not as cause, but only 
as condition. [264]. 

6c. Lastly, from one truth of faith and one of reason, theology, 
by a process strictly illative, deduces a third truth. Such a 
truth, since it is not revealed simply and properly speaking 
(simpliciter): is revealed only virtually, that is, in its cause. 
A truth of this kind, strictly deduced, lies in the domain, not of 
faith, but of theological science. 

A subdivision enters here. In every reasoning process the major 
proposition, being more universal, is more important than the 
minor. Now, in the present kind of argument the truth of faith may 
be either the major or the minor. If the major is of faith, the 
conclusion is nearer to revelation than is a conclusion where the 
truth of faith forms the minor. 

Many theologians, in particular many Thomists, [265] maintain that 
a conclusion of this kind, where either premise is a truth of 
reason, cannot be defined as a dogma of faith. They argue thus: 
Such a conclusion has, simply speaking, not been revealed. It has 
been revealed only in an improper sense (secundum quid): only 
virtually, in its cause. It is, properly speaking, a deduction 
from revelation. It is true, the Church can condemn the 
contradictory of such a conclusion, but if she does, she condemns 
it, not as heretical, that is, as contrary to the faith, but as 
erroneous, that is, contrary to an accepted theological 

Exemplifications of the six theological procedures we have now 
outlined appear throughout the Summa, particularly in the first 
question, and in the structure of all the theological treatises of 
St. Thomas. 

The reason is now clear, we think, why we cannot admit the two 
contrary opinions we spoke of at the beginning of this section. 
Not all theological conclusions can be defined as dogmas of faith. 
In particular, we cannot admit that the Church can define as 
dogma, as simply revealed by God, a truth which is not revealed 
simpliciter, but only virtually, secundum quid, in causa. 

On the other hand, theology can very well reach certitude in such 
a conclusion which lies in its own proper domain, which is more 
than a conclusion of metaphysics placed at the service of 
theology. Further, the most important task of theology is 
evidently not the drawing of these conclusions, but rather the 
explanation of the truths of faith themselves, penetration into 
their deeper meaning, into their mutual relation and 
subordination. In this task theology has, as aids, the gifts of 
knowledge and wisdom, by which theological labor becomes more 
penetrating and savorous. Conclusions are thus sought, not for 
their own sake, but as a road to more perfect understanding of the 
truths of faith. Such labor, manifesting the deep inner power of 
faith, is proportioned to the scope so beautifully expressed by 
the Council of the Vatican: to attain, God granting, some 
understanding of the mysteries, an understanding in every way most 
fruitful. [266]. 


The conception of theology outlined in the foregoing pages, though 
it denies the definability of theological conclusions properly so 
called, still occupies an important place in the evolution of 

St. Thomas is certainly not unacquainted with dogmatic progress. 
Let us but recall his remarks concerning venatio ("hunting"): in 
his commentary on the Later Analytics, [267] on how to find, first 
a definition that is merely nominal (quid nominis): which 
expresses a confused notion of the thing to be defined, and, 
second, how to pass from this nominal definition to one that is 
clear, distinct and real. The most important task both of 
philosophy and of theology lies in this methodic step from the 
confused concept of common sense (or of Christian sense) to a 
concept that is clear and distinct. This process is not that from 
premise to conclusion. Rather, we deal with one concept all the 
way through, a concept, at first generic, becoming by precision 
specific, and then, by induction, distinguished from concepts 
which more or less closely resemble it. In this fashion have been 
reached the precise definitions now prevailing, of substance, of 
life, of man, of soul, of intellect, of will, of free will, of all 
the various virtues. 

This same conceptual analysis has furnished great contributions to 
the refining of concepts indispensable in dogmatic formulas, of 
being, say, created and uncreated, of unity, of truth, of 
goodness, ontological and moral; concepts, further, of analogy 
relative to God, of divine wisdom, of the divine will, of 
uncreated love, of providence, of predestination; or again, of 
nature, of person, of relation, in giving precise formulas to the 
teaching on the Trinity and the Incarnation; of grace, free will, 
merit, sin, virtue, faith, hope, charity, justification; of 
sacrament, character, sacramental grace, transubstantiation, 
contrition; of beatitude, pain in purgatory and in hell, and so 

Thus we see that immense conceptual labor is prerequired before we 
can proceed to deduce theological conclusions. Confused concepts, 
expressed in nominal definitions or in current terms of Scripture 
and tradition, must become distinct and precise, if we would 
refute the heresies that deform revelation itself. Long schooling 
is needed before we can grasp the profound import, sublimity, and 
fertility of the principles which faith gives us. 

Here lies the most important contribution of theological science 
to dogmatic development. And the degree of merit which a 
theological system will have in efficacious promotion of this 
development will depend on the universality of its synthesis. A 
synthesis generated from the idea of God, author of all things in 
the order both of nature and of grace, must necessarily be 
universal, whereas a synthesis dominated by particular, partial, 
and subordinated concepts, the free will of man, say, cannot reach 
a true universality, attainable only under a spiritual sun which 
illumines all parts of the system. 

As image of the relation between theological systems and faith, we 
suggest a polygon inscribed in a circle. The circle stands for the 
simplicity and superiority of the doctrines of faith. The 
inscribed polygon, with its many angles, contains the rich details 
of the theological system. The polygon traced by Nominalism 
differs by far from that initiated by St. Augustine and elaborated 
by St. Thomas. But even if it is conceived as perfect as possible, 
the polygon can never have the transcendent simplicity of the 
circle. Theology, likewise, the more it advances, the more does it 
humiliate itself before the superiority of that faith which it 
never ceases to set in relief. Theology is a commentary ever 
drawing attention to the word of God which it comments on. 
Theology, like the Baptist, forgets itself in the cry: Behold the 
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. 


To show the structure and style of the treatise De Deo uno, as 
that treatise is found in the Summa, as understood by the 
Thomistic school, our first consideration must be given to the 
proofs there given for God's existence, since these proofs are 
starting points in deducing all divine attributes. Next, we will 
dwell on the pre-eminence of the Deity, and the nature and limits 
of our knowledge, natural and supernatural, of that divine nature. 
The last chapters, then, will speak of God's wisdom, of His will 
and His love, of providence and predestination. 

In the Summa, St. Thomas reassumes, from a higher viewpoint, 
proofs for God's existence already given by Aristotle, Plato, Neo-
Platonists, and Christian philosophers. After a synthetic 
exposition of these five arguments, we will examine their validity 
and point of culmination. 


Examining these five ways, the saint finds in them generic types 
under which all other proofs may be ranged. We have given 
elsewhere [268] a long exposition of this problem. 

St. Thomas does not admit that an a priori proof of God's 
existence can be given. [269] He grants indeed that the 
proposition, God exists, is in itself evident, and would therefore 
be self-evident to us if we had a priori face-to-face knowledge of 
God; then we would see that His essence includes existence, not 
merely as an object of abstract thought, but as a reality 
objectively present. [270] But in point of fact we have no such a 
priori knowledge of God. [271] We must begin with a nominal 
definition of God, conceiving Him only confusedly, as the first 
source of all that is real and good in the world. From this 
abstract knowledge, so far removed from direct intuition of God's 
essence, we cannot deduce a priori His existence as a concrete 

It is true we can know a priori the truth of this proposition: If 
God exists in fact, then He exists of Himself. But in order to 
know that He exists in fact, we must begin with existences which 
we know by sense experience, and then proceed to see if these 
concrete existences necessitate the actual objective existence of 
a First Cause, corresponding to our abstract concept, our nominal 
definition of God. [272]. 

This position, the position of moderate realism, is intermediary, 
between the agnosticism of Hume on the one hand, and, on the 
other, that excessive realism, which in varying degree we find in 
Parmenides, Plato, and the Neoplatonists, and which in a certain 
sense reappears in St. Anselm, and later, much accentuated, in 
Spinoza, in Malebranche and the Ontologists, who believe that they 
have an intuition and not merely an abstract concept of God's 

The five classical proofs for God's existence rest, one and all, 
on the one principle of causality, expressed in ever deepening 
formulas, as follows. First: whatever begins has a cause. Second: 
every contingent thing, even if it should be ab aeterno, depends 
on a cause which exists of itself. Third: that which has a share 
in existence depends ultimately on a cause which is existence 
itself, a cause whose very nature is to exist, which alone can 
say: I am who am. Wherever, then, we do not find this identity, 
wherever we find composition, union between essence and existence, 
there we must mount higher, for union presupposes unity. 

Most simply expressed, causality means: the more does not come 
from the less, the more perfect cannot be produced by the less 
perfect. In the world we find things which reach existence and 
then disappear, things whose life is temporary and perishable, men 
whose wisdom or goodness or holiness is limited and imperfect; 
then above all this limited perfection we must find at the summit 
Him who from all eternity is self-existing perfection, who is life 
itself, wisdom itself, goodness itself, holiness itself. 

To deny this is to affirm that the more comes from the less, that 
the intelligence of a genius, that the goodness of a saint, come 
from blind material fatality. In this general formula are 
contained all a posteriori proofs, all founded on the principle of 

To see the validity of these arguments we may recall here what was 
said above on the law of necessary subordination in causes. In 
looking for the cause here and now required for this and that 
existent reality, we cannot have recourse to causes that no longer 
exist. Without grandfather and father this son would not exist. 
But he can now exist, though they and all his ancestors may be 
dead. They too, like himself, were contingent, not necessary, and, 
like him, compel us to look for a cause that gave them existence. 
They had each received existence, life, intelligence. None among 
them, progenitor or descendant, could ever say: I am the life. In 
all forms of life the same principle holds good. The first source, 
the first ancestor, would have to be its own cause. [273]. 

Further, must we admit at all that contingent existences 
necessarily had a beginning? St. Thomas says: No, this is a 
question of past fact which we cannot know a priori. [274] But 
contingent existence, though it should be without beginning, can 
simply not be conceived without origin, without a cause, which had 
and has an unreceived existence and life, the eternal source of 
received existence and life. 

The saint gives us an illustration. The footprint on the sand 
presupposes the foot from which it came, but if the foot were 
eternally placed on the sand, the footprint too would be eternal, 
without beginning, but not without origin. The priority of the 
foot is a priority, not of time and duration, but of origin and 
causality. Thus the whole world, with or without beginning, has 
its origin in the Supreme Cause. [275]. 

The cause demanded by existing facts, therefore, is not to be 
found in a series accidentally subordinated, in which previous 
causes are just as poor as subsequent causes, whose order itself 
might have been inverted. [276] The cause necessarily required for 
this existing fact can be found only in a series of causes 
essentially subordinated, and here and now actually existing. This 
is what metaphysicians term the "search for the proper cause, " 
that is, the cause necessarily required here and now for the 
effect in question. This is the meaning of the words: Any effect 
suffices to show that its proper causes exists. [277] We do not 
say "that its proper cause once existed. " From a son's actual 
existence we cannot conclude that his father still exists. The 
son's existence which, in becoming, in fieri, at the moment of 
generation depended on the father's existence, does not thus 
depend quoad esse, for continued existence. [278]. 

This dependence of effect on its proper cause is as necessary and 
immediate as is the dependence of characteristic properties on the 
nature of the circle, from which they are derived. Illustrative 
examples: the murderer murders, light illuminates, fire heats. 

Let us see this principle at work in the first of the five ways of 
proving God's existence. Motion is not self-existent; we 
instinctively ask for the source, the moving agent. If motion is 
not self-explanatory, then nothing else that is in motion is self-
explanatory. Hence the proper cause of motion is something that is 
not in motion, an unmoved mover, the source of all movement, of 
all change, local, quantitative, qualitative, vital, intellectual, 
voluntary, a mover which is its own uncaused and unreceived 

In illustration, take an example already given: the sailor 
supported, in ascending order, by the ship, by the waves, by the 
earth, by the sun, by some still higher cosmic center. Here we 
have a series of causes, necessarily subordinated and here and now 
existent. Were there here no ultimate and supreme center, no 
unmoved mover, then there could not be any intermediate center, 
and the fact we started from would be nonexistent. For the whole 
universe, with its all but numberless movements and intermediate 
sources of movement, you still need a supreme mover, just as 
necessarily, to illustrate, as you need a spring in your watch if 
the hands are to move. The wheels in the watch, whether few or 
many, can move the hands only so far as they are themselves moved 
by the spring. This proof is valid. But a wrong conception of 
causality can render it invalid. [279]. 

Let us now look at the five different ways on which St. Thomas 
follows the applications of the principle of causality. 

1. If movement is not self-explanatory, whether the movement is 
corporeal or spiritual, it necessitates a first mover. 

2. If interconnected efficient causes are here and now actually 
operating, air and warmth, say, to preserve my life, then there 
must be a supreme cause from which here and now these causes 
derive their preservative causality. 

3. If there exist contingent beings, which can cease to exist, 
then there must be a necessary being which cannot cease to exist, 
which of itself has existence, and which, here and now, gives 
existence to these contingent beings. If once nothing at all 
existed, there would not be now, or ever, anything at all in 
existence. To suppose all things contingent, that is, of 
themselves non-existent, is to suppose an absurdity. 

4. If there are beings in the world which differ in their degree 
of nobility, goodness, and truth, it is because they have but a 
share, a part, because they participate diversely, in existence, 
in nobility, goodness, and truth. Hence there is, in each of them, 
a composition, a union, between the subject which participates and 
the perfection, existence, goodness, truth, which are participated 
to them. Now composition, union, presupposes the unity which it 
participates. [280] Hence, at the summit, there must be one cause, 
one source of all perfection, who alone can say, not merely "I 
have existence, truth, and life, " but rather "I am existence, 
truth, and life. ". 

5. Lastly, if we find in the world, inanimate and animated, 
natural activities manifestly proportioned to a purpose, this 
proportioned fitness presupposes an intelligence which produces 
and preserves this purposeful tendency. If the corporeal world 
tends to a cosmic center of cohesion, if plant and animal tend 
naturally to assimilation and reproduction, if the eye is here for 
vision and the ear for hearing, feet for walking and wings for 
flying; if human intelligence tends to truth and human will to 
good, and if each man by nature longs for happiness, then 
necessarily these natural tendencies, so manifestly ordained to a 
proportioned good, a proportioned purpose, presuppose a supreme 
ordinator, a supreme intelligence, which knows and controls the 
raison d'etre of all things and this supreme ordinator must be 
wisdom itself and truth itself. For again, union presupposes 
unity, presupposes absolute identity. A thing uncaused, says St. 
Thomas, [281] is of itself, and immediately (i. e.: without 
intermediary) being itself, one by nature, not by participation. 


All these proofs rest on the principle of causality: Anything that 
exists, if it does not exist of itself, depends in last analysis 
on something that does exist of itself. To deny this principle 
leads to absurdity. To say "a thing contingent, that is, a thing 
which of itself does not have existence, is nevertheless uncaused" 
is equivalent to saying: A thing may exist of itself and 
simultaneously not exist of itself. Existence of itself would 
belong to it, both necessarily and impossibly. Existence would be 
an inseparable predicate of a being which can be separated from 
existence. All this is absurd, unintelligible. Kant here objects. 
It is absurd, he says, for human intelligence, but not perhaps in 
itself absurd and unintelligible. 

In answer, let us define absurdity. Absurd is that which cannot 
exist because it is beyond the bounds of objective reality, 
without any possible relation to reality. It is agreement between 
two terms which objectively can never agree. Thus, an uncaused 
union of things in themselves diverse is absurd. [283] The only 
cause of union is unity. [284] Union means a share in unity, 
because it presupposes things which are diverse, brought together 
by a higher unity. When you say: "Anything (from angel to grain of 
sand) can arise without any cause from absolute nothing, " then 
you are making a statement which is not merely unsupported and 
gratuitous, but which is objectively absurd. Hence, we repeat: A 
being which is not self-existent, which only participates in 
existence, presupposes necessarily a Being which by nature is 
self-existent. Unity by participation presupposes unity by 
essence. [285]. 

We have here presented the principle of causality, as St. Thomas 
does in question three, by the way that ascends from effect to 
cause. [286] The same truth can be treated in the descending 
order, from cause to effect, [287] as it is in fact treated later 
in the Summa. [288] Many modern authors proceed from this second 
viewpoint. But the first order ought to precede the second. [289]. 

To proceed. The denial of the principle of causality is not, it is 
true, a contradiction as immediately evident as if I were to say: 
"The contingent is not contingent. " St. Thomas [290] gives the 
reason why this is so. In denying causality, he says, we do not 
deny the definition itself of the contingent. What we do deny is, 
not the essence [291] Of the contingent, but an immediate 
characteristic (proprium) [292] Of that essence. But to deny the 
principle as thus explained is as absurd as to affirm that we 
cannot, knowing the essence of a thing (e. g.: of a circle): 
deduce from that essence its characteristics. Hence to deny 
essential dependence of contingent being on its cause leads to 
absurdity, because such denial involves the affirmation that 
existence belongs positively to a thing which is not by nature 
self-existent and still is uncaused. Thus we would have, in one 
subject, the presence both of unessential existence and of non-
dependence on any cause of its existence: a proposition 
objectively absurd. 

But we find the denial of this principle of causality in ways that 
are still less evidently contradictory (in Spinoza, for example) 
where the contradiction is, at first sight, hidden and unapparent. 
To illustrate. Some who read the sentence, "Things incorporeal can 
of themselves occupy a place, " cannot at once see that the 
sentence contains a contradiction. And still it is absurd to think 
that a spirit, which lives in an order higher than the order of 
quantity and space, should nevertheless be conceived as of itself 
filling place, place being a consequence of quantity and space. 

Likewise there are contradictions which emerge only under the 
light of revelation. Suppose, as illustration, a man says there 
are four persons in God. Faith, not reason, tells us the 
proposition is absurd. Only those who enjoy the beatific vision, 
who know what God is, can see the proposition's intrinsic 

If denial or doubt of the principle of causality leads to doubt or 
denial of the principle of contradiction, then the five classic 
proofs, truly understood, of God's existence cannot be rejected 
without finding absurdity at the root of all reality. We must 
choose: either the Being who exists necessarily and eternally, who 
alone can say "I am truth and life, " or then a radical absurdity 
at the heart of the universe. If truly God is necessary Being, on 
which all else depends, then without Him the existence of anything 
else becomes impossible, inconceivable, absurd. In point of fact, 
those who will not admit the existence of a supreme and universal 
cause, which is itself existence and life, must content themselves 
with a creative evolution, which, lacking any raison d'etre, 
becomes a contradiction: universal movement, without subject 
distinct from itself, without efficient cause distinct from 
itself, without a goal distinct from itself, an evolution wherein, 
without cause, the more arises from the less. Contradiction, 
identity, causality, all first principles go overboard. Let us 
repeat. Without a necessary and eternal being, on which all else 
depends, nothing exists and nothing can exist. To deny God's 
existence and simultaneously to affirm any existence is to fall 
necessarily into contradiction, which does not always appear on 
the surface, in the immediate terms employed, but which is always 
there if you will but examine those terms. Many of Spinoza's 
conclusions contain these absurdities. A fortiori, they lie hidden 
in atheistic doctrine which denies God's existence. Hence 
agnosticism, which doubts God's existence, can thereby be led to 
doubt even the first principle of thought and reality, the 
principle of contradiction. 

Having thus shown the validity of the five ways to prove God's 
existence we now turn to dwell on their unity, the point where 
they all converge and culminate. 


This point is found in the idea of self-subsistent being. [294] 
This idea unifies the five ways as a common keystone unifies five 
arches. Five attributes appear, one at the end of each way, in 
ascending order thus: first mover of the universe, corporeal and 
spiritual, first efficient cause, first necessary being, supreme 
being, supreme directing intelligence. Now these five attributes 
are to be found only in self-subsistent being, who alone can say: 
"I am who am. " Let us look at each of the five. 

The prime mover must be his own activity. But mode of activity 
follows mode of being. Hence the prime mover must be his own 
subsistent being. 

The first cause, being uncaused, must have in itself the reason 
for its existence. But the reason why it cannot cause itself is 
that it must be before it can cause. Hence, not having received 
existence, it must be existence. 

The first necessary being also implies existence as an essential 
attribute, that is, it cannot be conceived as merely having 
existence, but must be existence. 

The supreme being, being absolutely simple and perfect, cannot 
have a mere participated share of existence, but must be of itself 

Lastly, the supreme directing intelligence cannot be itself 
proportioned to an object other than itself; it must itself be the 
object actually and always known. Hence it must be able to say, 
not merely "I have truth and life, " but rather "I am truth and 
life. ". 

Here, then, lies the culminating keystone point, the metaphysical 
terminus of the road that ascends from the sense world to God. 
This ascending road [295] ends where begins the higher road, [296] 
the road of the wisdom which, from on high, judges the world by 
its supreme cause. [297]. 

Thus again, at the summit of the universe reappears the 
fundamental Thomistic truth. In God alone are essence and 
existence identified. [298] In this supreme principle lies the 
real and essential distinction of God from the world. This 
distinction reveals God as unchangeable and the world as 
changeable (the first three proofs for His existence). It becomes 
more precise when it reveals God as absolutely simple and the 
world as multifariously composed (fourth and fifth proofs). It 
finds its definitive formula when it reveals God as "He who is, " 
whereas all other things are only receivers of existence, hence 
composed of receiver and received, of essence and existence. The 
creature is not its own existence, it has existence after 
receiving it. If the verb "is" expresses identity of subject and 
predicate, the negation "is not" denies this identification. 

This truth is vaguely grasped by the common sense of natural 
reason, which, by a confused intuition, sees that the principle of 
identity is the supreme law of all reality, and hence the supreme 
law of thought. As A is identified with A, so is supreme reality 
identified with absolutely one and immutable Being, transcendently 
and objectively distinct from the universe, which is essentially 
diversified and mutable. This culminating point of natural reason, 
thus precisioned by philosophic reason, is at the same time 
revealed in this word of God to Moses: "I am who am. " [299]. 

Now we understand the formulation given to the twenty-third of the 
twenty-four theses. It runs thus: The divine essence, since it is 
identified with the actual exercise of existence itself, that is, 
since it is self-subsistent existence, is by that identification 
proposed to us in its well-formed metaphysical constitution, and 
thereby gives us the reason for its infinite perfection. [300] To 
say it briefly: God alone is self-subsistent existence, in God 
alone are essence and existence identified. This proposition, 
boundless in its range, reappears continually on the lips of St. 
Thomas. [301] But it loses its deep meaning in those who, like 
Scotus and Suarez, refuse to admit in all creatures a real 
distinction between essence and existence. 

To repeat. According to St. Thomas and his school God alone is His 
own existence, uncaused, unparticipated self-existence, whereas no 
creature is its own existence; the existence it has is 
participated, received, limited, by the essence, by the objective 
capacity which receives it. This truth is objective, a reality 
which antecedes all operation of the mind. Hence the composition 
of essence and existence is not a mere logical composition, but 
something really found in the very nature of created reality. 
[302] Were it otherwise, were the creature not thus composed, then 
it would be act alone, pure act, no longer really and essentially 
distinct from God. [303]. 

Self-existent understanding [304] is given by some Thomists as the 
metaphysical essence of God, as the point where the five ways 
converge and culminate. While we prefer the term self-existent 
being, self-existent existence, [305] the difference between the 
two positions is less great than it might at first seem to be. 
Those who see that culminating point in ipsum esse subsistens, 
begin by teaching that God is not body but pure spirit. [306] From 
that spirituality follow the two positions in question: first, 
that God is the supreme Being, self-existent in absolute 
spirituality at the summit of all reality; second, that He is the 
supreme intelligence, the supreme truth, the supreme directive 
intelligence of the universe. 

On this question, then, of God's metaphysical essence according to 
our imperfect way of understanding, the two positions agree. They 
agree likewise when the question arises: What is it that formally 
constitutes the essence of God as He is in Himself, as He is known 
by the blessed in heaven who see Him without medium, face to face? 
The answer runs thus: Deity itself, not self-subsistent existence, 
not self-existent understanding. Self-subsisting existence indeed 
contains all divine attributes, but only implicitly, as deductions 
to be drawn therefrom in order, one by one. But Deity, God as He 
is in Himself, contains in transcendent simplicity all these 
divine attributes explicitly. The blessed in heaven, since they 
see God as He is, have no need of progressive deduction. 

The pre-eminence of the Deity, this transcendent simplicity, will 
be our subject in the chapter which now follows. 


WE give here the chief characteristics of the knowledge creatures 
may have of God: first by the beatific vision; secondly by the 
analogical knowledge we must be content with here below. 


The Deity, the divine essence as it is in itself, cannot be 
naturally known by any created intelligence, actual or possible. 
Created intelligence can indeed know God as being and First Being, 
starting from the analogical concept of being as the most 
universal of ideas. [308] But such knowledge will never lead to 
positive and proper knowledge of the Deity as Deity. [309] No 
creature, solely by its own natural powers, can ever see God 
without medium. "No one has ever seen God. " [310] "He dwells in 
light inaccessible. " [311]. 

This impossibility, according to St. Thomas and his school, is an 
absolute impossibility, resting, not on a decree of God's free 
will, as some authors say, but on the transcendence of God's 
nature. The proper object of the created intelligence is that 
intelligible reality to which, as mirrored in creatures, it is 
proportioned. For the angels, that object is mirrored by spiritual 
realities, [312] for man by sense realities. [313] Thus man's 
faculties are specifically distinguished by their formal objects, 
[314] the human intellect, feeblest of intellects, by the 
intelligible realities of the sense world, the angel's more 
vigorous intellect by the intelligible realities of the spirit 
world, the divine intellect by the uncreated reality of the divine 
essence itself. [315] Hence, to say that created intelligence can, 
solely by its own natural powers, positively and properly know the 
divine essence, Deity in itself, can even see that essence without 
medium, is equivalent to saying that the created intellect has the 
same formal object as has the uncreated intellect. And that is the 
same thing as to say that the intellective creature has the same 
nature as uncreated intelligence, that is, is God Himself. But a 
created and finite God is an absurdity, found in pantheism, which 
cannot distinguish uncreated nature from created nature, which 
forgets that God is God and creature is creature. 

Further, if the created intellect can, by its own natural power, 
see God as He is, then elevation to the supernatural order of 
grace becomes impossible, since our soul, by its own spiritual 
nature itself would be a formal participation in the divine 
nature, which is the very definition of supernatural grace. Our 
natural intelligence would have the same formal object as have 
infused hope and infused charity. Hence these infused virtues 
would no longer be essentially supernatural. Only accidentally 
could they be infused, as might geometry, if God so willed. And 
this holds good also in the angels. 

It is then an impossibility that a creature were able, solely by 
its own powers, to know, positively and properly, the divine 
essence, or even to see it without medium. And this impossibility 
is based on objective reality, on the unchangeable transcendence 
of the divine nature. Hence this impossibility is a metaphysical 
and absolute impossibility. Sense objects, says St. Thomas, which 
come from God as cause, are not the adequate effect of their 
cause. Hence, by knowing the sense world we cannot know God's full 
power nor, consequently, see His essence. [316] These conclusions 
are equally valid in the world of spiritual realities. [317]. 

According to St. Thomas and his school, then, the creature's 
natural impossibility to see God, does not arise, as Duns Scotus 
maintains, from a decree of divine liberty, but from the 
unchangeable transcendence of the divine nature. According to 
Scotus, God could have willed that human intelligence could see 
Him naturally, that the light of glory and the beatific vision be 
properties of created nature, human or angelic, but that in fact 
God did not so will. Thus the distinction between the order of 
nature and the order of grace would be, not necessary, but 
contingent, resting on a decree of God's free will. [318] Hence, 
according to Scotus, there is in our soul an inborn natural desire 
for the beatific vision. [319] A vestige of this Scotistic 
doctrine appears in the "active obediential potency" of Suarez. 

Thomists reply as follows: An inborn natural appetite for the 
beatific vision, and also an active obediential potency, would be, 
on the one hand, something essentially natural, as being a 
property of our nature, and, on the other hand, simultaneously 
something essentially supernatural, as being specifically 
proportioned to an object which is essentially supernatural. 
Thomists in general say further that the natural desire to see 
God, of which St. Thomas speaks, [321] cannot be inborn. It is, 
they say, an elicited desire, that is, a desire which presupposes 
a natural act of knowledge, and that, as elicited, it is not an 
absolute and efficacious desire, but one that is conditional or 
inefficacious, to be realized in fact only on condition that God 
freely raises us to the supernatural order. Let us recall that, in 
1567, the Church condemned the doctrine of Baius which admitted 
desire of such exigence that elevation to the order of grace would 
be due to our original nature and not a gratuitous gift. Thus he 
confounds the order of grace with the order of nature. [322] Any 
efficacious natural desire would be exigent, grace would be due 
(debita) to nature. 

St. Thomas, in speaking of conditional and inefficacious desire, 
uses the term "first will, " [323] meaning thereby that attitude 
of the will which precedes the efficacious intention to attain an 
end. To illustrate. The farmer desires rain, really but 
inefficaciously. The merchant in a storm wills inefficaciously to 
save his goods, but efficaciously he wills to throw them into the 
sea. [324] St. Thomas finds this distinction also in God's will. 
God wills all men to be saved. If God willed this efficaciously, 
all men in fact would be saved. Hence we must admit in God an 
antecedent will, not indeed fruitless, but conditional and 
inefficacious. [325]. 

This desire to see God, natural but inefficacious, arises thus: 
Our intelligence seeks naturally to know the essence of the First 
Cause. But its natural knowledge of this cause rests on analogical 
concepts, many indeed, but all imperfect, which cannot make 
manifest the nature of that First Cause as it is in itself, in its 
absolute perfection and supreme simplicity. In particular, these 
limited concepts (justice, say, as contrasted with mercy) cannot 
show us how in God infinite mercy is identified with infinite 
justice, or omnipotent goodness with permission of evil. 
Dissatisfaction with our limitations leads to a natural 
inefficacious desire to see God without medium, if He would deign, 
gratuitously, to elevate us to see Him face to face. 

Is this desire supernatural? Not properly and formally speaking, 
say the Thomists, but only materially, because it is by the 
natural light of the reason that we know this object to be 
desirable, and the object we desire is the immediate vision of the 
Author of nature whose existence is naturally known. The desire in 
question is not a supernatural desire like that of hope and 
charity, which under the light of faith carries us toward the 
vision of the triune God, the author of grace. [326] Thus we 
safeguard the principle that acts are formally distinguished by 
their object, which object must be in the same order as the acts. 
This would not be so if the desire in question were inborn, rising 
from the weight of nature, [327] anteceding natural knowledge, and 
specifically proportioned to an object formally supernatural. 

This natural desire is indeed a sign that the beatific vision is 
possible. It furnishes an argument of appropriateness for this 
possibility, an argument very deep and inviting, but not an 
argument that is apodictic. Such at least is the common view of 
Thomists, since there is here question of the intrinsic 
possibility of a supernatural gift, and what is essentially 
supernatural cannot be naturally demonstrated. Mysteries 
essentially supernatural are beyond the reach of the principles of 
natural reason. [328] We cannot positively demonstrate the 
possibility of the Trinity. All that the created intellect, human 
or angelic, can at its utmost show, is this: not that the 
mysteries are possible, but that their impossibility cannot be 

This then is the proposition upheld generally by Thomists: The 
possibility and a fortiori the existence of mysteries essentially 
supernatural, cannot naturally be either proved or disproved; and 
though they are supported by persuasive arguments of 
appropriateness, they are held with certainty by faith alone. 

The entire Thomistic school holds also that the gratuitous gift 
called the light of glory is absolutely necessary for the 
immediate vision of God. [330] Any created intellectual faculty, 
angelic or human, since of itself it is intrinsically incapable of 
seeing God without medium, must of necessity, if it be called to 
such vision, be rendered capable thereto by a gift which raises it 
to a life altogether new, to a life which, since it gives to the 
intellectual faculty itself a supernatural vitality, makes also 
the intellectual act essentially supernatural. [331] Here appears 
the marvelous sublimity of eternal life, which rises not only 
above all forces but also above all exigencies of any nature 
created or creatable. [332] On this point Thomists differ notably 
from Suarez [333] and from Vasquez. [334]. 

The beatific vision, finally, excludes all mediating ideas, [335] 
even all infused ideas however perfect. [336] Any created idea is 
only participatedly intelligible, and hence cannot make manifest 
as He is in Himself Him who is being itself, who is self-
subsistent existence, who is self-existent intellectual 

But this beatific vision, which without the medium of any created 
idea sees God directly as He is, can still not comprehend God, 
that is, know Him with an act of knowledge as infinite as God 
Himself. God alone comprehends God. Hence the blessed in heaven, 
even while they see God face to face, can still not discover in 
Him the infinite multitude of possible beings which He can create. 
Their act of intellect, which knows Him without medium, is still a 
created act which knows an infinite object in a finite manner, 
[337] with a limited penetration, proportioned to its degree of 
charity and merit. St. Thomas [338] illustrates. A disciple can 
grasp a principle (subject and predicate) just as well as his 
master. But his knowledge does not equal that of the master in 
seeing all the consequences which that principle contains 
virtually. He sees the whole, but not wholly, totally. 


If the Deity as it is in itself cannot be known naturally, and not 
even by the supernatural gift of faith, how can our natural 
knowledge, remaining so imperfect, be nevertheless certain and 

The answer to this question rests on the validity of analogical 
knowledge. Here, as we said above, Scotists, and also Suarez, do 
not entirely agree with Thomists. This lack of agreement rests on 
different definitions of analogy. Scotus admits a certain 
univocity between God and creatures. [340] Suarez [341] was 
certainly influenced on this point by Scotus. 

The teaching of St. Thomas appears in its most developed form in 
the thirteenth question of the first part of the Summa. All 
articles of that question are concerned to show God's pre-eminent 
transcendence. They may be summarized in a formula which is still 
current: All perfections are found in God, not merely virtually 
(virtualiter): but in formal transcendence (formaliter eminenter). 

What is the exact sense of this formula? Our answer, by citing 
freely the first five articles, [342] will again show that St. 
Thomas runs on an elevated highway between two contrary doctrines: 
between Nominalism, which, accepting the opinion attributed to 
Maimonides, leads to agnosticism, and a kind of anthropomorphism, 
which substitutes for analogy a minimum of univocity. 

Our saint, then, establishes three positions. 

1. Absolute perfections, [343] which do not imply any imperfection 
and which it is always better to have than not to have, existence, 
for example, and truth, goodness, wisdom, love, are found formally 
in God, because they are in Him essentially and properly. They are 
found in Him essentially [344] because, when we say "God is good, 
" we do not mean merely that He is the cause of goodness in 
creatures. If that were our meaning then we would say "God is a 
body, " since He is the cause of the corporeal world. Further, 
these perfections are in God properly speaking, that is, not 
metaphorically, as when we say "God is angry. ". 

The reason for this double assertion is that these absolute 
perfections, in contrast to mixed perfections, [345] do not in 
their inner formal meaning [346] imply any imperfection, although 
in creatures they are always found to be finite in mode and 
measure. Manifestly the first cause of perfection must precontain, 
in pre-eminent fashion, all those perfections which imply no 
imperfection, which it is better to have than not to have. Were it 
otherwise, the first cause could not give these perfections to His 
creatures, since perfection found in the effect must be first 
found in its cause. Hence no perfection can be refused to God 
unless it implies attributing to Him also an imperfection. On this 
truth theologians in general agree. Absolute perfections, then, we 
repeat, are in God essentially and formally. 

2. The names which express these absolute perfections are not 
synonyms. Here Thomists, Scotists, and Suaresians are in 
agreement, and hence opposed to the Nominalists, who hold that 
these names are synonymous, distinguished only logically and 
quasi-verbally, as "Tullius" is distinguished from "Cicero. " They 
argue thus: Since in God all these perfections, being infinite, 
are really identified each with all others, we can substitute any 
one of them (e. g.: mercy) for any other (e. g.: justice): just as 
in a sentence about Cicero we can, without any change of meaning, 
write "Tullius" instead of "Cicero. ". 

Now this nominalistic position, which would allow us to say, for 
example, that God punishes by mercy and pardons by justice, makes 
all divine attributes meaningless and leads to full agnosticism, 
which says that God is absolutely unknowable. 

3. Absolute perfections are found both in God and in creatures, 
not univocally, and not equivocally, but analogically. This is the 
precise meaning of the term formaliter eminenter, where eminenter 
is equivalent to "not univocally, but analogically. " Let us 
listen to St. Thomas: [347]. 

"Any effect which does not show the full power of its cause 
receives indeed a perfection like that of its cause, but not in 
the same essential fullness [that is, in context, not univocally]: 
but in a deficient measure. Hence the perfection found divided and 
multiplied in effects pre-exists in unified simplicity in their 
cause. " Hence all perfections found divided among numerous 
creatures pre-exist as one, absolute, and simple unity in God. 

This text is very important. It contains precisely the saint's 
idea of analogy, an idea to which Suarez did not remain faithful. 
Suaresians often define analogy as follows: [348] The idea 
conveyed by an analogous predicate ("being" [ens]: e. g.: in the 
expressions "Deus est ens, creatura est ens") is, simply speaking, 
one idea, and only in a sense diversified. Thomists, on the 
contrary, speak thus: [349] The idea conveyed by an analogous term 
(as above) is, simply speaking, diversified, and only in a sense 
one, that is, one proportionally, by similarity of proportions. 

This formula agrees perfectly with the text just cited from St. 
Thomas. In that same article he adds: [351] "When God is called 
'wise' and man is called 'wise', the idea conveyed by the one word 
is not found in the same way in both subjects. " Wisdom in God and 
wisdom in man are proportionally one, since wisdom in God is 
infinite and causative, whereas wisdom in man is a created thing, 
measured and limited by its object. And what holds good of wisdom 
holds good of all other absolute perfections. 

This manner of speaking is entirely in harmony with the common 
teaching in logic on the distinction between analogical and 
univocal. The genus animal, animality, e. g.: is univocal, because 
it everywhere signifies a character found simply in the same 
meaning, in all animals, even in such a worm as does not have all 
the five exterior senses found in higher animals. In contrast, 
take the analogous term "cognition. " It expresses a perfection, 
essentially not one, but diversified, which, while found in sense 
cognition, is not found there in essentially the same way as it is 
found in intellective cognition. It is an idea proportionally one, 
in the sense that, just as sensation is related to sense object, 
so the intellective act is related to intelligible object. "Love" 
is similarly an idea proportionally one, love in the sense order 
being essentially different from love in the spiritual order. 

Hence it follows that analogical perfection, in contrast to 
univocal, is not a perfectly abstract idea, because, since it 
expresses a likeness between two proportions, it must actually, 
though implicitly, express the two subjects thus proportioned. 
Animality is a notion perfectly abstracted from its subjects, 
expressing only potentially, in no wise actually, the subjects in 
which it is found. But cognition cannot be thought of without 
actual, though implicit, reference to the difference between 
subjects endowed only with sense and those endowed also with 
intellect. Hence the difficulty in so defining cognition as to 
make the definition applicable both to sense cognition, and to 
intellective cognition, and uncreated cognition. 

If, then analogical perfection is only proportionally one, it 
follows [352] that when we speak of God, there is an infinite 
distance between the two analogues, that is, between God as wise, 
say, and man as wise, although the analogical idea (wisdom) is 
found in each, not metaphorically, but properly. Wisdom in God is 
infinitely above wisdom in man, though wisdom in the proper sense 
is found both in God and in man. This truth may surprise us less 
if we recall that there is already an immeasurable distance 
between sense cognition and intellective cognition, though each is 
cognition in the proper sense of the word. 

The terminology of St. Thomas and of the Thomistic definition of 
analogy are in full accord with these words of the Fourth Lateran 
Council: [353] "Between Creator and creature there can never be 
found a likeness ever so great without finding in that likeness a 
still greater unlikeness. " This declaration is equivalent to 
saying that analogical perfection is, in its analogues, simply 
diversified, and only in a sense one, proportionally one. 

Hence in the formula commonly accepted, viz.: absolute perfections 
are in God formally, the word "formally" must be understood thus: 
formally, not univocally, but analogically, yet properly, and not 
metaphorically. The adverb "formally" thus explained, we now turn 
to explain the second adverb, "pre-eminently. ". 

4. From what has already been said we see that the infinite mode 
in which the divine attributes exist in God remains hidden to us 
here below. Only negatively and relatively can we express that 
mode, as when we say "wisdom unlimited, " "wisdom supreme, " 
"sovereign wisdom. " Listen again to St. Thomas: "When this term 
'wise' is said of man, the term somehow circumscribes and incloses 
the thing signified [the man's wisdom, distinct from his essence, 
from his existence, from his power, etc. ]. But not so when it is 
said of God. Said of God, the term presents the thing signified 
(wisdom) as uncircumscribable, as transcending the meaning of the 
term. " [354] This is the meaning of "preeminently" in the term 
"formally pre-eminently"; [355] but we must make that meaning 
still more precise. 

It is clear from the foregoing conclusion that Scotus is wrong 
when he maintains that the divine perfections are distinguished 
one from the other by a formal-actual-natural distinction. [356] 
This distinction, as explained by Scotus, is more than a virtual 
distinction, since it antecedes all act of our mind. Now such a 
distinction, anteceding human thought, must be real and objective. 
[357] Such distinction in the attributes of God is irreconcilable 
with His sovereign simplicity, wherein all His attributes are 
identified. "In God all perfections are one and the same reality, 
except in terms that are relatively opposed. " [358]. 

Distinction then among divine attributes must be but a virtual 
distinction, even a minor virtual distinction, since each 
attribute contains all others actually, but not explicitly, only 
implicitly, while genus contains its species, in no wise actually, 
but only potentially, virtually. Yet, on the other hand, against 
the Nominalists, we must also maintain that the names applied to 
God (e. g.: mercy and justice) are not synonyms. The distinction 
between them is not merely verbal ("Tullius" and "Cicero"). 

Hence arises a difficult question: How can these perfections be 
really identified with one another in God without destroying one 
another? How can each remain in Him formally, that is, 
essentially, properly, non-synonymously, and simultaneously be in 
Him pre-eminently, transcendently, infinitely? We can easily see, 
to illustrate, how the seven rainbow colors are precontained with 
virtual eminence in white light, since white light, formally, is 
not blue, say, or red. But the pre-eminent Deity is, not merely 
virtually, but formally, true and good and intelligent and 
merciful. To say that the Deity has all these attributes only 
virtually (just as it is virtually corporeal because it produces 
bodies) is to return to the error of Maimonides. 

Let us repeat our question: How can the divine perfections be 
formally in God, if in Him they are all one identical reality? 
Scotus answers thus: They cannot be each formally in God unless 
they are, antecedently to any action of our mind, formally 
distinct one from another. Cajetan gives a profound answer to this 
difficulty, and his solution is generally held by Thomists. He 
writes: "Just as the reality called wisdom and the reality called 
justice are found identified with that higher reality called Deity 
and hence are one reality in God: so the idea (ratio formalis) of 
wisdom and the idea of justice are identified with the higher idea 
called the idea of Deity as such, and hence are an idea, one 
indeed in number, but precontaining each of the two ideas 
transcendentally, not merely virtually, as the idea of light 
contains the idea of heat, but formally. Hence the conclusion 
drawn by the divine genius of St. Thomas: the idea of wisdom is of 
one order in God, of another in creatures. " [359]. 

Hence Cajetan elsewhere [360] gives us the formula: An analogical 
idea is one idea, not one absolutely (simpliciter): but one 
proportionally. Thus we see that Deity, in its formal raison 
d'etre, is absolutely preeminent, transcending all realities 
expressed by being, unity, goodness, wisdom, love, mercy, justice, 
and hence precontains all these realities, eminently and yet 
formally. This is equivalent to the truth, admitted by all 
theologians, that the Deity, both as it is in itself and as seen 
by the blessed, contains, actually and explicitly, all the divine 
perfections, which therefore are known in heaven without 
deduction, whereas here on earth, where we know God merely as 
self-subsistent being, which contains all these perfections, 
actually indeed, but implicitly, we can know these divine 
attributes only by progressive deduction. 

Guided thus by Cajetan, we may now see the Thomistic meaning of 
the two adverbs: formaliter, eminenter. Formaliter means: 
essentially and not only causally, properly, and not merely 
metaphorically, but analogically. Eminenter excludes formal actual 
distinction in the divine attributes, and expresses their 
identification, better, their identity, in the transcendent raison 
d'etre of the Deity, whose mode of being, which in itself is 
hidden from us here below, can be known only negatively and 
relatively. It is in this sense that we say there is a 
transcendent world which, antecedently to the act of our mind, 
excludes all real and formal distinction, so that in God the only 
real distinction is that of the divine persons relatively opposed 
one to another. [361]. 

Let us listen to another passage from St. Thomas: "Now all these 
perfections pre-exist in God absolutely as one unit, whereas they 
are received in creatures as a divided multitude. Hence to our 
varied and multiple ideas there corresponds in God one altogether 
simple unity, which by these ideas is known imperfectly. " And 
again: "The many ideas expressed by these many names are not empty 
and nugatory, because to each of them there corresponds one simple 
unity, represented only imperfectly by all of them taken together. 
" [362]. 

In the transcendental pre-eminence of the Deity, therefore, all 
these divine attributes, far from destroying one another, are 
rather identified one with another. Each is in God formally, but 
not as formally distinct from all others. [363]. 

Further: these attributes, thus identified and in no way self-
destructive, find in God's transcendence their fullest, purest 
perfection. Thus existence in God is essential existence. His act 
of understanding is self-subsistent, His goodness is essential 
goodness, His love self-subsistent. 

This identification is rather easily understood when the 
perfections in question are on the same level of thought, and are 
thus distinguished, virtually and extrinsically, by reference to 
creatures. Thus the faculty of intellect, and its act, and its 
object, three distinct realities in the creature, are in the 
Creator manifestly identified, since He is the self-subsistent act 
of understanding. 

But when the perfections in questions are in different lines of 
being, identification is less easily explained. Take intelligence 
and love, for example, or justice and mercy. But that all such 
seemingly opposite perfections are really identified in God is 
evidently clear from the foregoing pages. And that this 
identification is commonly accepted appears in phrases like the 
following: "the light of life, " "affectionate knowledge, " "the 
glance of love, " "love awful and sweet. " When God is seen face 
to face, this identification becomes clearly seen. But here below, 
in the light of faith only, even the mystics [364] speak of the 
"great darkness. " Overwhelming splendor becomes obscurity, in the 
spirit still too feeble to support that splendor, just as the 
shining sun seems dark to the bird of night. 

What distinction is there further between the divine essence and 
the divine relation, or between the divine nature which is 
communicable and the paternity which is incommunicable? This 
distinction is not formal and actual, but virtual and minor. 
Listen to Cajetan: "Speaking secundum se, not quoad nos, there is 
in God one only formal reality, not simply absolute, nor simply 
relative, not simply communicable nor simply incommunicable, but 
precontaining, transcendentally and formally, all there is in God 
of absolute perfection and also all the relative perfection 
required by the Trinity. For the divine reality antecedes being 
and all its differentiations. That reality is above ens, above 
unum, etc. " [365]. 

We conclude. The divine reality, as it is in itself, transcends 
all its perfections, absolute and relative, which it contains 
formally preeminently. 


From this high doctrine of God's transcendent pre-eminence there 
follows a number of corollaries. Here we shall notice only three 
of very special importance. 

1. Reason, of its own sole force, by discovering the transcendence 
and inaccessibility of the Deity, can demonstrate thereby the 
existence in God of a supernatural order of truth and life. But to 
know that such supernatural truths exist is not the same thing as 
knowing what those truths are. The Deity, the whatness of God, 
manifestly surpasses all the natural powers of all created or 
creatable intelligence. Thus St. Thomas, [366] having granted that 
man can clearly know the existence in God of truths which far 
surpass man's power of knowing them in their nature, goes on to 
show, a few lines farther down, that the Deity as such is 
inaccessible to the natural powers even of the angels. [367]. 

2. Sanctifying grace, defined thus, "a participation in the divine 
nature, " is a participation, physical, formal, and analogical, in 
the Deity as it is in itself, not merely in God conceived 
naturally as self-subsistent existence, or as self-subsisting 
intelligence. Hence sanctifying grace, when it reaches 
consummation, is the radical principle of the beatific vision 
which knows Deity as it is in itself. Is grace, then, a 
participation in divine infinity? Not subjectively, because 
participation means limitation. But grace does, objectively, 
proportion us to see the infinite God as He is. 

Created analogical resemblances to God form an ascending scale: 
minerals by existence, plants by life, man and angels by 
intelligence, all have likeness unto God. But grace alone is like 
unto God as God. 

3. We cannot, as long as we are here below (in via): see clearly 
the harmony between God's will of universal salvation and the 
gratuitousness of predestination. That means we cannot see how, in 
the transcendent pre-eminence of the Deity, are harmonized and 
identified these three attributes: infinite mercy, infinite 
justice, and that supreme liberty which in mercy chooses one 
rather than another. 

Theological contemplation of this pre-eminence of Deity, if it 
proceeds from the love of God, disposes us to receive infused 
contemplation, which rests on living faith illumined by the gifts 
of knowledge and wisdom. This infused contemplation, though 
surrounded by a higher and ineffable darkness, still attains that 
Deity, whom St. Paul [368] calls "light inaccessible": 
inaccessible, that is, to him who has not received the light of 


THE next step in the Thomistic synthesis is to apply its 
fundamental principles to the manner and nature of God's 
omniscience. The essential points are. 

1. God's knowledge in general. 

2. God's knowledge of the conditional future. 


Immateriality is the root of knowledge. The more immaterial a 
being is, the more capable it is of knowing. Now God is altogether 
immaterial, because He transcends the limits, not of matter 
merely, but even of essence, since He is infinite in perfection. 
Hence He is transcendently intelligent. [370]. 

Hence God knows Himself, rather, comprehends Himself, since He 
knows Himself as far as He is knowable, that is, infinitely. [371] 
His intellect is not a faculty, distinct from its act and from its 
object, since He is the self-subsistent act of understanding. Nor 
does He have to form first an idea of Himself, that is, form an 
interior accidental concept and word, because His essence is not 
only actually intelligible, but is subsistent truth, actually and 
eternally understood. [372] When revelation tells us that God the 
Father expresses Himself in His Word, we are meant to understand 
this as an expression of superabundance, not of indigence. 
Besides, the divine Word is not, as in us, an accident, but 
substance. Hence all elements of thought (thinking subject, 
faculty of thought, actual thinking, idea, and object) are all 
identified in God, who is pure act. And His actual thinking, far 
from being an accident, is identified with His substance. [373] 
God, says Aristotle, is understanding of understanding, an unmixed 
intellectual splendor eternally self-subsistent. 

How does God know what He Himself is not, that is, realities that 
are possible, realities that actually exist, and future events? 
First of all, divine knowledge, cannot, like ours, depend on, be 
measured by, created things. Such dependence, being passive, is 
irreconcilable with the perfection of pure act. On the contrary, 
nothing can be possible, existent, or future except in dependence 
on essential existence, since it is clear that any conceivable 
existence outside of the First Cause must necessarily carry with 
it a relation of dependence on that First Cause. Things other than 
Himself, says St. Thomas, are known by God not in themselves (by 
dependence on them): but in Himself. [374] Whereas we, in order to 
know God, must look up from below, from the sense world which 
mirrors God, God, on the contrary, does not have to look down, but 
knows us there on high, in Himself as mirror. By knowing His own 
creative power God knows all that He could do if He willed, all 
that He is doing now, all that He still will do, all that He would 
do did He not have some higher purpose, all, lastly, that He 
permits for the sake of a higher good. There is no need of 
neologisms, of new special terms. The traditional terms of common 
usage suffice to express well this omniscience of God. In Himself, 
the creative mirror, God knows all things. 

How does God know the possible world, that absolutely numberless 
and truly infinite multitude of worlds which could exist but never 
will in fact exist? The answer is: God knows them by knowing the 
omnipotence of His creative power. [375]. 

Further, by knowing what He willed to do in the past and what He 
wills to do in the future and what He is actually doing now, God 
knows all things, past, present, and future, all that creatures 
have done, are doing now, and will do. And all this world of time, 
past, present, and future, He knows not in general and confusedly, 
but in particular and distinctly, since from Him, the First Cause, 
comes all reality, even prime matter, which is the source of all 
individual differences in the corporeal world. Hence even the 
minutest particularity in creatures, since it is a reality, 
depends on God for its existence, even when it gets that 
existence, not by creation, but by God's concurrence with created 
causes. But this knowledge, infinitely distinct and 
particularized, is still not discursive, but intuitive, taking in 
with one instantaneous glance all that God does or could do. 

This divine knowledge is the cause of things, since it is united 
to God's free will, which, among all possible things, chooses one 
particular thing to exist rather than another. [377] God's 
knowledge of possible things, since it presupposes no decree of 
the divine will, is called simple intelligence. But His knowledge 
of actual things, since it does presuppose such a decree, is 
called "knowledge of approbation, " approbation, not of evil, but 
of all that is real and good in the created universe. 

How then does God know evil? He knows it by its opposition to the 
good wherein alone evil can exist. Hence God knows evil by knowing 
what He permits, what He does not hinder. [378] No evil, physical 
or moral, can come to be unless, for a higher good, God permits it 
to be. Knowing what He permits, God knows by that permission all 
evil that has been, is, or will ever be. 


When God permits evil, what is His will regarding the good opposed 
to that evil? That good cannot be willed efficaciously, otherwise 
it would be. But it can be willed by God conditionally. Thus God 
would wish to preserve the life of the gazelle, did He not will to 
permit that death for the life of the lion. He would hinder 
persecution, did He not judge good to permit it for the 
sanctification of the just and the glory of the martyrs; He would 
will the salvation of the sinner, Judas, for example, did He not 
permit his loss as manifestation of divine justice. 

Starting from this point, we understand how God knows the 
conditional future. [379] God knows all that He would will to be 
realized, all that He would bring to pass, did He not renounce it 
for a higher end. Hence God's knowledge of the conditioned future 
presupposes a conditional decree of God's will. The futuribilia 
are a medium between a merely possible future and a future really 
to be. It would be a grave error to confound them with the merely 
possible. This is the teaching of all Thomists, in opposition to 
the Molinistic theory, that is, an intermediate knowledge 
(scientia media): a knowledge, preceding any divine decree, of the 
conditional future free acts of the creature. This theory, 
Thomists maintain, leads to admitting in God's knowledge a 
passivity, dependent on something in the created order. If God 
does not determine (by His own decree): then He is determined 
(made to know) by something else. This dilemma seems to Thomists 
to be insoluble. 

As regards the knowledge of the contingent future, of what a free 
creature, say, will be actually willing a hundred years from now, 
God knows it not as future, but as present. For this knowledge is 
not measured by time, does not have to wait until future becomes 
present. It is measured, as God Himself is measured, by the 
unchangeable now of eternity, which surrounds [380] and envelops 
all other durations. Thus, to illustrate, the culminating point of 
a pyramid is simultaneously present to all points of its base. An 
observer, on the summit of a mountain, sees the entire army 
defiling in the valley below. [381]. 

Now it is evident that the event, in itself future, would not be 
present even in eternity, had not God willed it (if it is good): 
or permitted it (if it is evil). The conversion of St. Paul is 
present in eternity only because God willed it, and the 
impenitence of Judas only because God permitted it. 

This knowledge too is intuitive, because it is the knowledge of 
what God either wills to be or permits to be. God sees His own 
eternal action, creative or permissive, though the effect of that 
action is in time, coming into existence at the instant chosen for 
it by God from eternity. His eternal permissions He sees in 
relation to that higher good of which He alone is judge. 

Our free and salutary acts God sees in His own eternal decision to 
give us the grace to accomplish those acts. In Himself, in His own 
creative light, He sees them freely done, under that grace which, 
far from destroying our liberty, actualizes it, strongly and 
sweetly, [382] so that we cooperate with that grace for His glory 
and our own. This doctrine will become more explicit in the 
following chapter, where we study God's will and love. 


WILL is a consequence of intelligence. Divine intelligence, 
knowing the Supreme Being, cannot be conceived without divine 
will, which loves the good, pleases itself in good. This will of 
God cannot be, as it is in us, a mere faculty of willing. Divine 
will would be imperfect if it were not, by its own nature, an 
unceasing act of willing, an unceasing act of loving, unceasing 
love of good, a love as universal and spiritual as the 
intelligence which directs it. All acts of God's will proceed from 
His love of good, with its consequent hatred of evil. Hence, 
necessarily, there is in God one act, spiritual and eternal, of 
love of all good, and primarily of Supreme Good, the Infinite 
Perfection. This first divine love is indeed spontaneous, but it 
is not free. It is something higher than liberty. Infinite good, 
known as it is in itself, must be loved with infinite love. And 
the Good and the Love, both infinite, are identified one with the 
other. [383]. 


In willing the existence of creatures God is entirely free. This 
follows from what has just been said. Only an infinite good 
necessitates the will. Hence, while God, we may say, is inclined 
to creation, since good is of itself diffusive, He nevertheless 
creates freely, without any necessity, physical or moral, because 
His happiness in possessing Infinite Good cannot be increased. 
Creatures can add nothing to infinite perfection. Inclination to 
self-diffusion is not the same thing as actual diffusion. While it 
is not free in causes which are non-intelligent (the sun, for 
example): it is free in causes which are intelligent (e. g.: in 
the sage dispensing wisdom). This free diffusion, this free 
communication, does not make God more perfect, but it does make 
the creature more perfect. 

"God would be neither good nor wise had He not created. " Thus 
Leibnitz. [384] Bossuet answers: "God is not greater for having 
created the universe. " Bossuet's sentence is a simple and 
splendid summary of Aquinas. [385] The creative act does not 
impart to God a new perfection. This free act is identified with 
the love God has for Himself. In regard to Himself as object, 
God's love is spontaneous and necessary, whereas in regard to 
creatures it is spontaneous and free, because creatures have no 
right to existence, and God has no need of them. Purpose and agent 
give perfection to the effect, but are not themselves made more 
perfect by that effect. This doctrine, the freedom of creation, 
puts St. Thomas high above Plato and Aristotle, for whom the world 
is a necessary radiation of God. [386]. 


God's will is not only free in producing and preserving creatures, 
but it is the cause by which He produces and preserves. Herein 
God's causality differs, for example, from man's generative 
causality. Man is free indeed to exercise this causality, but if 
he does exercise it, he is not free to engender aught else than a 
man, since his generative faculty is by its nature limited to the 
human race. Man's free will is not of itself productive, but 
depends on a limited faculty distinct from itself. God's free will 
is itself infinitely productive. Let us listen to St. Thomas:

"A natural agent, since it is limited, is in its activity limited 
by that nature. Now, since divine nature is not limited within 
certain bounds, but contains in itself all the perfection of 
being, it follows that its boundless causality does not act by 
natural necessity (unless you absurdly conceive God as producing a 
second God). And if God does not create by natural necessity, then 
it is only by the decrees of God's will and intellect that limited 
created effects arise from His infinite perfection. " [387] In 
these words lies the refutation of a capital thesis of Averroism. 
God, the saint repeats, acts only by His uncaused will. There are 
not in God, as in us, two acts of will, one willing the end, the 
other willing the means. By one sole act God wills both end and 
means. The phrase "for the sake of" modifies, not God's will, but 
the object, the effect which God wills. Hence the proper 
expression is not: For the sake of life God wills food, but 
rather, God wills food to exist for the sake of life. [388]. 

Now we understand that God's efficacious will is always infallibly 
fulfilled. [389] Nothing that is in any way real and good can 
reach existence except in dependence on God's universal causality, 
because no second cause can act unless actuated by the first 
cause, and evil can never come to be without divine permission. 

So much on the efficacious will of God. In what sense, then, do we 
speak of God's inefficacious will? This will, says St. Thomas, 
[391] is a conditioned will, an antecedent will, which wills all 
that is good in itself, independently of circumstances. Now this 
conditional, antecedent will remain inefficacious because, in view 
of a higher good of which He alone is judge, God permits that this 
or that good thing does not come to pass, that defectible 
creatures sometimes fail, that this or that evil comes to pass. 
Thus, in view of that higher good, God permits, to illustrate, 
that harvests do not reach maturity, that the gazelle becomes the 
prey of the lion, that the just suffer persecution, that this or 
that sinner dies in final impenitence. Sometimes we see the higher 
good in question, sometimes we cannot. In permitting final 
impenitence, for example, God may be manifesting infinite justice 
against obstinacy in evil. 

Such is the Thomistic distinction of antecedent (inefficacious) 
will from consequent (efficacious) will. On this distinction as 
foundation rests, further, the distinction of sufficient grace 
(which depends on antecedent will) from efficacious grace (which 
depends on consequent will). Sufficient grace is really 
sufficient, it makes fulfillment of precepts really and 
objectively possible. [392] But efficacious grace gives the actual 
fulfillment of the precepts here and now. Actual fulfillment is 
something more than real power to fulfill, as actual vision is 
something more than the real power of sight. [393]. 

To illustrate. God willed, by consequent will, the conversion of 
St. Paul. This conversion comes to be, infallibly but freely, 
because God's will, strong and sweet, causes Paul's will to 
consent freely, spontaneously, without violence, to his own 
conversion. God did not on the other hand will, efficaciously, the 
conversion of Judas, though He, conditionally, inefficaciously, 
antecedently, certainly willed it, and He permitted Judas to 
remain, freely, in final impenitence. What higher good has God in 
mind? This, at least: the manifestation of infinite justice. 

We must add this remark: Resisting sufficient grace is an evil 
which comes solely from ourselves. But non-resistance is a good, 
which, in last analysis, comes from God, source of all good. 
Further, sufficient grace, however rich in the order of power, 
proximate power, still differs from efficacious grace, which 
effectively causes the salutary act itself, which is something 
more than the power. And to say that he who does not have 
efficacious grace, which causes the salutary act, cannot have even 
the real power to place that act is equivalent to saying that a 
sleeping man is blind, because, forsooth, since he does not 
actually see, he cannot have even the power of sight. [395]. 


This dilemma runs thus: In regard to any created and limited good, 
if God's knowledge is not unlimited and independent, then God's 
knowledge would be dependent on, determined by, something created. 

But scientia media is dependent on something finite and created, 
the creature's act of choice. 

The efficacious will of God, far from forcing the sinner at the 
moment of conversion, actualizes the free will, carries it on, 
strongly and sweetly, to make its own free choice of good. From 
all eternity God willed efficaciously that Paul, at that 
particular hour, on the road to Damascus, hic et nunc, would 
consent to be converted. God's will, entering into all details of 
space and time, is infallibly fulfilled by actualizing, not by 
forcing created liberty. Similarly, from all eternity God willed 
efficaciously that Mary, on Annunciation Day, would freely consent 
to the realization of the mystery of the Incarnation and that 
divine will was infallibly fulfilled. 

On this point Thomists have written much against "simultaneous 
concursus" as defended by Molina and Suarez. For this 
"simultaneous concursus" is a divine causality which is 
indifferent, that is, can be followed, in fact, either by an evil 
act or by a good act. Thomists, on the contrary, to defend God's 
efficacious acts of will, call these acts "predetermining divine 
decrees, " which are all summed up in the term "physical 
premotion. " They insist that this physical premotion does not 
force the created will, does not destroy created liberty, but, in 
us and with us, actualizes the essential freedom of our choice. If 
even a beloved creature, they argue, can lead us to choose freely 
what that creature wills we would choose, how much more the 
Creator, who is more deeply intimate with us than we ourselves 
are! [396]. 

Let us here note the harmony of this doctrine with a commonly 
accepted theological principle. All theologians agree in admitting 
that, since all good comes from God, the best thing on earth, 
sanctity, is a special gift of God. Now what is the chief element 
of sanctity, not as it is in heaven, but as it is in the saints 
who still live here on earth? It is their meritorious acts, 
especially their acts of charity. Even sanctifying grace, a far 
higher thing than the soul which has received that grace, even the 
infused virtues, and charity in particular, have a purpose beyond 
themselves, namely, free and meritorious acts, in particular acts 
of love for God and neighbor. Free choice makes these acts what 
they are. Without free and self-determined choice the act would 
have no merit; and eternal life must be merited. 

Hence this free self-determination, this choice as such, must come 
from God, who alone by His grace brings it to be a reality in us. 
Think of what is best in Peter and Paul at the moment of 
martyrdom. Think of the merit of Mary at the foot of the cross. 
Think, above all, of that free and self-determined act of love in 
the soul of Jesus when He cried: "Consummatum est. ". 

According to Molina, this free self-determination of the 
meritorious act does not come from the divine motion, from divine 
causality, but solely from us, in the presence indeed of the 
object proposed by God, but under a grace of light, of objective 
attractiveness, which equally solicits both him who is not 
converted and him who is converted. [397]. 

Simultaneous concursus gives no more to the one than it does to 
the other. Let us suppose that from God comes the nature and 
existence of the soul and its faculties, and sanctifying grace, 
and actual grace in the form of objective attractiveness, and also 
a general divine concursus under which man can will evil as well 
as good. Let us further suppose two just men, who have received 
all these gifts in equal measure. If one of these men freely 
determines himself to a new meritorious act, even to an act of 
heroism, whereas the other freely falls into grievous sin and thus 
loses sanctifying grace -- then the first man's free and 
meritorious self-determination, that by which he is better than 
the second, does not come from God, since He is not the author of 
that which precisely distinguishes the first from the second. 
Here, then, since God is not the creative and determining source 
of this self-determining meritorious act, God's knowledge of that 
act is dependent on, determined by, the act of God's creature. God 
is spectator, not author, of what is best in the heart of God's 
saints. How can this doctrine be reconciled with the infinite 
independence of God, the Author of all good?

Now listen to St. Thomas: "Since God's act of love is the source 
of all good in creatures, no creature can be better than another, 
did not God give to that creature a higher good than He gives to 
another. " [398]. 

And again: "Certain authors, since they cannot understand how God 
can cause an act of will without harm to our liberty, give of 
these verses [399] a wrong exposition. The words 'to will' and 
'fulfill' they expound thus: God gives the power of willing, but 
not the actual choice between this and that. [400]... But 
Scripture is evidently against this exposition. Isaias, for 
example, in 36: 12, speaks thus: 'All our deeds Thou hast wrought 
for us, O Lord!' Hence we have from God not only our power of 
willing, but also our act of willing. " [401]. 

Let us now summarize. If God is the cause of our faculties, then a 
fortiori He is cause of that which is still better than our 
faculties, since a faculty exists only for the sake of its act. 
Hence man's free and self-determined choice, which comes entirely 
from man as second cause, comes likewise entirely from God as 
first cause. Thus, to illustrate, the apple belongs entirely both 
to the tree and to the branch. 


We must now examine some texts wherein St. Thomas seems at first 
sight not to be in accord with his own texts just cited. Here is 
one such text. [402]. 

"God, as universal mover, moves the will of man to the universal 
object of the will, to good, namely, and without this universal 
motion man cannot will anything. But man by reason determines 
himself to will this or that, either to a true good, that is, or 
to an apparent good. ". 

The text, even as it stands, is thus interpreted by Thomists: Man, 
as second cause, certainly determines himself, since he 
deliberates only to make a choice. His deliberation ends, either 
in a salutary act, under actual operating grace, or then in an 
evil act, under that universal motion treated in our text, which 
motion is not the cause of the act as evil, just as, to 
illustrate, the energy of a lame man is the cause of his walk, but 
not of the limp. But the text cited does not at all prove that the 
divine motion toward the salutary free act is never 
predetermining, or that it remains indifferent, so that from it an 
evil act might as equally come forth as a good act. 

So far the text as it stands. But, in that same response, [403] 
the saint adds these words: "Yet sometimes God moves some men in a 
special manner to will determinately something which is good, as 
in those whom He moves by grace. " [404] This is particularly true 
of gratia operans, of special inspiration. But now, if even in one 
sole case divine motion infallibly produces a salutary act, which 
must be free (Mary's fiat, for example, or Paul's conversion): it 
follows evidently that the divine motion does not destroy the 
creature's freedom of will. 

Now let us consider another text [405] from which an objection has 
been drawn. It runs thus: "The will is an active principle, not 
limited to one kind of object. Hence God so moves the will that it 
is not of necessity determined to one act, but that its act 
remains contingent and not necessary, except in objects to which 
it is moved by nature" [406] (e. g.: happiness, beatitude). 

Is this text opposed to common Thomistic doctrine? Not at all. 
Throughout this whole question the two expressions, non ex 
necessitate movet and movet sed non ex necessitate, are used 
interchangeably. Similarly, voluntas ab aliquo objecto ex 
necessitate movetur, ab alio autem non (in art. 2) and voluntas 
hominis non ex necessitate movetur ab appetitu sensitivo (in art. 
3). Moreover, in the very same article from which the objection is 
taken, the saint in the third response writes as follows: "If God 
moves the will to act, then, under this supposition, it is 
impossible that the will should not act. Nevertheless, speaking 
simply and absolutely, it is not impossible that the will should 
not act. Hence it does not follow that the will is moved by God ex 
necessitate. " [407]. 

Clearly, the meaning of the passage is this: The divine motion 
obtains infallibly its effect, i. e.: man's act of actual choice, 
but without forcing, necessitating, that choice. Thus, on 
Annunciation Day, the divine motion infallibly brought Mary to say 
freely her fiat. Far from forcing the act, far from destroying 
Mary's freedom, the divine motion instead actualized her freedom. 
When efficacious grace touches the free will, that touch is 
virginal, it does no violence, it only enriches. 

Let us listen again to the saint, in a passage where he first 
presents an objection incessantly repeated down to our day, and 
then gives his own answer. The objection runs thus: If man's will 
is unchangeably (infallibly) moved by God, it follows that man 
does not have free choice in willing. [408] The answer is this: 
[409] God moves the will infallibly (immobiliter) by reason of the 
efficacy of His moving power; [410] but, since our will can choose 
indifferently among various possibilities, its act remains, not 
necessary, but free. 

God moves each creature according to its nature. That is the 
saint's central thought. If the creature has free will, God 
actualizes that freedom to act freely, selectively, by choice, 
just as, in plants, He actualizes the vegetative power, or in 
animals the sense power, to act without choice, each in accord 
with its nature. If the musician can evoke from each instrument 
the natural vibrations suited to express his inspirations, how 
much more easily can the divine musician, who lives in us more 
intimately than our own freedom does, evoke from one free 
instrument (e. g.: St. Paul) vibrating chords, fully natural and 
fully free, yet so different from those he evokes from a second 
free instrument (e. g.: St. John). 

Again St. Thomas: "If God's intention is that this man, whose 
heart He is moving, shall receive (sanctifying) grace, then that 
man receives that grace infallibly. " Why? Because, as he says 
three lines earlier: "God's (efficacious) intention cannot fail, 
that is, as Augustine says, by God's gifts, all who are saved are 
infallibly (certissime) saved. " [411]. 

Further, St. Thomas often speaks of a divine predetermination 
which does not necessitate the will. Thus, in explaining our 
Lord's words: [412] "My hour is not yet come, " he says: " 'Hour' 
in this text means the time of Christ's passion, an hour imposed 
on Him, not by necessity, but by divine providence. [413] And this 
holds good of all the acts freely done by Christ in that hour of 
His passion. Here are the saint's own words: "That hour was 
imposed on Him, not by the necessity of fate, but by the eternal 
sentence of the entire Trinity. " [414] Here we have a 
predetermining decree, with no allusion to anything like scientia 
media, a knowledge, that is, which would depend on prevision of 
our free consent. [415]. 

We must return again and again to the principle: God's knowledge, 
being uncreated, can never be dependent on, determined by, 
anything created, which, though it be only a future conditional 
thing, would never be at all had God not first decided it should 
be. And nothing can, here and now, come to pass unless God has 
from all eternity efficaciously willed it so, and no evil unless 
He has permitted it. In this sense St. Thomas, following St. Paul 
and St. Augustine, understands the words of the Psalmist: "In 
heaven and on earth whatever God willed, that He has done. " 

Elsewhere our saint reduces this doctrine to a simple formula: 
"Whatever God wills simpliciter, comes to pass, though what He 
wills antecedently does not come to pass. " Thus, God, who willed 
the conversion of one thief simpliciter, willed that of the other 
antecedenter. Admitting, as we must, that we are here faced with 
an impenetrable mystery, the mystery, that is, of predestination, 
we must nevertheless hold that whatever there is of good in our 
free choice comes from God as first cause, and that nothing in any 
way good come to pass here and now unless God has from all 
eternity willed it so. 

The saint does not tire of reiteration. Whatever there is of 
reality and goodness [417] in our free acts comes from the Author 
of all good. Only that which is evil in our acts cannot come from 
Him, just as, to repeat, the limp of the lame man does not come 
from the energy by which he walks. 

In this sense, then, we understand certain formulas coined by 
Thomists. The divine motion, they say, prescinds perfectly from 
the evil in a bad act, [418] that is to say, malice, moral evil, 
is not contained in the adequate object of God's will and power, 
just as, to illustrate, sound is not contained in the adequate 
object of sight. This leads to a second formula: Nothing is more 
precisive (praecisivum) than the formal object of any power. [419] 
Thus truth is the precisive object of intelligence, and good is 
that of the will. Evil, disorder, cannot be the object of divine 
will and divine power, and hence cannot have other source than the 
second cause, defectible and deficient. 


To show the harmony between this doctrine and generally received 
theological principles, let us recall that all theologians 
maintain that what is best in the souls of saints on earth must 
come from God. Now that which is best in these saints is precisely 
their self-determined free choice of meritorious acts, above all 
of love for God and neighbor. To this end are ordained and 
proportioned all forms of grace: habitual grace, infused virtues, 
the gifts of the Spirit, all illumination, all attractive, 
persuasive, actual graces. This general principle, accepted by all 
theologians, surely inclines to accepting the Thomist doctrine. 
Without that doctrine we rob the divine causality of what is best 
in us, and insert into uncreated causality a knowledge dependent 
on our free choice, which, as such, would not come from Him. 

In the light of this principle the saint shows the nature of God's 
love for us, how God loves those who are better by giving them 
that by which they are better. 420 He shows further that mercy and 
justice are the two great virtues of the divine will, and that 
their acts proceed from love of the Supreme Good. Love of the 
Supreme Good, which has the right to be preferred to all other 
good, is the principle of justice. This love of the Supreme Good, 
which is self-diffusive, is the principle of mercy, a principle 
higher than justice, since, as radiating goodness, it is the first 
expression of love. 


PRESUPPOSING the Thomistic doctrine on God's knowledge and God's 
will, we are now to draw from that doctrine a few essential 
conclusions on providence and predestination. [421]. 


The proof a posteriori of the existence of divine providence is 
drawn from the fifth proof of God's existence. [422] The proof 
quasi a priori rests on what was said in the foregoing chapter 
about the divine intelligence and the divine will. It can be 
formulated as follows: In every intelligent agent there pre-exists 
an intelligent plan, that includes the special reason for each of 
the intended results. But God's intelligence is the cause of every 
created good, and consequently of the relation which each created 
good has to its purpose, above all to its ultimate purpose. 
Therefore there pre-exists in God's intelligence an intelligent 
plan for the whole created universe, a plan which includes the 
special relation of each created being to its purpose, proximate 
and ultimate. The name we give to this universal plan is 

This notion of providence implies no imperfection. On the 
contrary, by analogy, starting from created prudence and 
prevision, as seen, say, in the father of a family or in the head 
of a state, we must assign the word "providence" to God, not in 
the metaphorical, but in the proper sense of the word. Divine 
providence is the complete and ordered plan of the universe, a 
plan pre-existing in God's eternal mind. Divine government is the 
execution of that plan. [423] But providence presupposes God's 
efficacious will to bring about the purpose of that plan. Whatever 
He ordains, whatever He prescribes, is what He must do to attain 
His purpose. 

1. The Nature of Providence

The nature of providence, so Thomists generally hold, includes 
these four elements:

a) God wills, as purpose of the universe, the manifestation of His 

b) Among possible worlds known to Him by simple intelligence, 
anterior to any decree of His will, He selected as suited to that 
purpose this present world, which involves, first, an order of 
nature subordinated to the order of grace, second, the permission 
of sin, third, the hypostatic order of redemptive Incarnation. 

c) He freely chooses, as means suited to manifest His divine 
goodness, this present world with all its orders and parts. 

d) He commands the execution of this choice of decree by the 
imperium, an intellectual act, which presupposes two efficacious 
acts of will, one the intention of purpose, the other the choice 
of means. Divine providence consists, properly and formally, in 
this imperium, [424] whereas divine government is the execution in 
time of that eternal plan which is providence. 

Hence we see that providence presupposes, not merely God's 
conditional, inefficacious, antecedent will, but also God's 
consequent, absolute, efficacious will, to manifest His goodness 
through His own chosen ways and means, by the present orders of 
nature and of grace, which includes permission of sin with the 
consequent order of redemptive Incarnation. This order manifestly 
presupposes, first, God's antecedent will to save all men in 
virtue of which He makes really and truly possible to all men the 
fulfilling of His precepts. It presupposes, secondly, God's 
consequent will to save all men who will in fact be saved. Thus 
predestination, by its object, is a part, the highest part of 

Is providence infallible? Thomists in general answer Yes, with a 
distinction. Providence, inasmuch as it presupposes God's 
consequent will, is infallible, both in the end to be obtained and 
in the ways and means that lead to that end. But in as far as it 
presupposes solely God's antecedent will, it is infallible only 
with regard to ways and means. Here lies the distinction between 
general Providence, which makes salvation genuinely possible for 
all men, and predestination, which infallibly leads the elect to 
their preordained good. 

2. Scope and Reach of Providence

All creation down to tiniest detail is ruled by providence. "Not a 
sparrow falls to earth without your Father's permission. " "The 
very hairs of your head are numbered. " [425] Hence the question 
arises: How can providence govern these multitudinous details, 
without suppressing contingency, fortune, and liberty, without 
being responsible for evil?

We answer with St. Thomas: "Since every agent acts for an end, the 
preordaining of ways and means to reach that end extends, when the 
First Cause is in question, as far as extends the efficient 
causality of that First Cause. Now that causality extends to all 
created things, not only as regards their specific characters, but 
also to their utmost individual differences. Hence all created 
reality must be preordained by God to its end, must be, that is, 
subject to providence. " [426] Even the least detail of the 
material world is still a reality, hence known by God, since He is 
cause not only of its form, but also of its matter, which is the 
principle of all individual differences. [427]. 

When we talk of events which men ascribe to fortune, good or evil, 
we must remember that we are dealing only with the second causes 
of those events. In relation to the First Cause such events are in 
no wise accidental and fortuitous, since God eternally foresees 
all results, however surprising to men, that come from complicated 
series of created causes. 

Evil as such is not a positive something, but is the privation of 
good in the created thing. God permits it only because He is 
strong enough and good enough to draw from evil a higher good, the 
crown of martyrdom, say, from persecution. [428] And God's 
causality, as we saw above, far from destroying, actualizes 
liberty. [429] The mode of contingency, and the mode of liberty, 
says St. Thomas, being modes of created being, fall under divine 
Providence, the universal cause of being. A great poet expresses 
with equal perfection sentiments the strongest or the sweetest. 
God, who can do all things He wills as He wills, can bring it 
about that the stone falls necessarily and that man acts freely. 
God moves each creature according to the nature which He gave to 
that creature. 

Here emerges a rule for Christian life. We must work out our 
salvation, certainly. But the chief element in that work is to 
abandon ourselves to providence, to God's wisdom and goodness. We 
rest more surely on God's design than on our own best intentions. 
Our only fear must be that we are not entirely submissive to God's 
designs. To those who love God, who persevere in His love, all 
things work together unto good. [430] This abandonment evidently 
does not dispense us from doing our utmost to fulfill the divine 
will signified by precepts, counsels, and the events of life. But, 
that done, we can and should abandon ourselves completely to God's 
pleasure, however hidden and mysterious. Such abandonment is a 
higher form of hope; it is a union of confidence and love of God 
for His own sake. Its prayer unites petition and adoration. It 
does not pray, indeed, to change the dispositions of providence. 
But it does come from God, who draws it forth from our heart, like 
an earthly father, who, resolved on a gift to his child, leads the 
child first to ask for the gift. 


What we here attempt is a summary of the principles which underlie 
Thomistic doctrine on the high mystery of predestination. [431]. 

1. Scriptural Foundation

St. Thomas studied deeply those texts in St. John and St. Paul 
which express the mystery of predestination, its gratuitousness, 
and its infallibility. Here follow the chief texts. 

a) "Those whom Thou gavest Me have I kept: and none of them is 
lost but the son of perdition that the Scripture may be fulfilled. 
" [432]. 

b) "My sheep hear My voice. And I know them, and they follow Me. 
And I give them life everlasting: and they shall not perish 
forever. And no man shall pluck them out of My hand. That which My 
Father hath given Me is greater than all: and no one can snatch 
them out of the hand of My Father. " [433]. 

c) "For many are called, but few are chosen. " [434]. 

St. Thomas, based on tradition, interprets these texts as follows: 
There are elect souls, chosen by God from all eternity. They will 
be infallibly saved; if they fall, God will raise them up, their 
merits will not be lost. Others, like the son of perdition, will 
be lost. Yet God never commands the impossible, and gives to all 
men genuine power to fulfill His precepts at the moment when these 
precepts bind according to the individual's knowledge. Repentance 
was genuinely possible for Judas, but the act did not come into 
existence. Remark again the distance between potency and act. The 
mystery lies chiefly in harmonizing God's universal will of 
salvation with the predestination, not of all, but of a certain 
number known only to God. 

This same mystery we find often affirmed by St. Paul, implicitly 
and explicitly. Here are the chief texts. 

a) "For what distinguisheth thee? or what hast thou that thou hast 
not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as 
if thou hadst not received? " [435] This is equivalent to saying: 
No one would be better than another, were he not more loved and 
strengthened by God, though for all the fulfillment of God's 
precepts is genuinely possible. "It is God who worketh in you, 
both to will and to accomplish, according to His good will. " 

b) "He chose us in Him [Jesus Christ] before the foundation of the 
world that we should be holy and unspotted in His sight. He hath 
predestinated us to be His adopted children through Jesus Christ, 
according to the good pleasure of His will, to make shine forth 
the glory of His grace, by which He has made us pleasing in His 
eyes, in His beloved son. " [437]. 

This text speaks explicitly of predestination. So St. Augustine. 
So St. Thomas and his school. St. Thomas sets in relief both the 
good pleasure of God's will and the designs of God's mind, to show 
the eternal freedom of the act of predestination. 

c) "We know that to them who love God all things work together 
unto good, to those who are called according to His designs. For 
those whom He foreknew, these also He predestinated to be made 
conformable to the image of His son, that His son might be the 
firstborn among many brethren. And whom He predestinated, these He 
also called, and whom He called, these He also justified. And whom 
He justified, these He also glorified. " [438]. 

"Those whom He foreknew, these also He predestinated. " How does 
St. Thomas, following St. Augustine, understand these salient 
words? Nowhere does he understand them of simple prevision of our 
merits. Such a meaning has no foundation in St. Paul, and is 
excluded by many of his affirmations. [439] The real meaning is 
this: "Those whom God foreknew with divine benevolence, these He 
predestinated. " And for what purpose? That His Son might be the 
first among many brethren. This is the genuine meaning of 
"foreknew. ". 

d) This same idea appears clearly in the commentary on Romans, 
[440] where St. Paul is magnifying the sovereign independence of 
God in dispensing His graces. The Jews, the chosen people of old, 
have been rejected by reason of their unbelief, and salvation is 
being announced to the pagans. St. Paul sets forth the underlying 
principle of God's predilection, applicable both to nation and to 

"What shall we say? Is there injustice in God? Far from it. For He 
says to Moses: 'I will have mercy on whom I will, I will have 
compassion on whom I will. ' This then depends not on him who 
wills, not on him who runs, but on God who shows mercy. " [441] If 
predestination includes a positive act of God, hardening of the 
heart, on the contrary, is only permitted by God and comes from 
the evil use which man makes of his freedom. Let no man, then, 
call God to account. Hence the conclusions: "Oh unsounded depth of 
God's wisdom and knowledge! How incomprehensible are His 
judgments, how unsearchable His ways!. Who hath first given to 
Him, that recompense should be made? For of Him and by Him and in 
Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. " [442]. 

2. Definition of Predestination

The Scripture texts just quoted are the foundation of the 
doctrine, Augustinian and Thomistic, of predestination. The 
definition of St. Augustine runs thus: Predestination is God's 
foreknowledge and preparation of those gifts whereby all those who 
are saved are infallibly saved. [443] By predestination, he says 
elsewhere, God foreknew what He Himself would do. [444]. 

The definition of St. Thomas runs thus: That plan in God's mind 
whereby He sends the rational creature to that eternal life which 
is its goal, is called predestination, for to destine means to 

This definition agrees with that of St. Augustine. In God's mind 
there is an eternal plan whereby this man, this angel, reaches his 
supernatural end. This plan, divinely ordained and decreed, 
includes the efficacious ways and means which lead this man, this 
angel, to his ultimate goal. This is the doctrine of Scripture. 
[445] This is the doctrine of the two saints, Augustine and 

3. Questions

Why did God choose certain creatures, whom, if they fall, He 
raises ever again, while He rejects others after permitting their 
final impenitence?

The answer of St. Thomas, based on revelation, runs as follows: In 
the predestined, God manifests His goodness under the form of 
mercy. In the reprobate, He manifests His goodness under the form 
of justice. This answer comes from St. Paul: "If God, willing to 
show His wrath (His justice): and to make His power known, endured 
(permitted) with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for 
destruction, and if He willed to show the riches of His glory in 
the vessels of mercy which He had prepared for glory... (where is 
the injustice?). ". 

Divine goodness, we recall, tends to communicate itself, and thus 
becomes the principle of mercy. But divine goodness, on the other 
hand, has the inalienable right to the supreme love of creatures, 
and thus becomes the principle of justice. Both the splendor of 
infinite justice and the glory of infinite mercy are necessary for 
the full manifestation of God's goodness. Thus evil is permitted 
only in view of a higher good, a good of which divine wisdom is 
the only judge, a good which the elect will contemplate in heaven. 
To this doctrine Thomists add nothing. They simply defend it. And 
this holds good likewise of the answer to the following question. 

Why does God predestine this creature rather than the other?

Our Lord says: "No man can come to Me unless the Father who hath 
sent Me draw him. " [446] St. Augustine [447] continues: Why the 
Father draws this man, and does not draw that man, judge not 
unless you would misjudge. Why did not the saint find an easier 
answer? He could have said: God predestines this man rather than 
the other because He foresaw that the one, and not the other, 
would make good use of the grace offered or even given to him. But 
then one man would be better than the other without having been 
more loved and strengthened by God, a position contrary to St. 
Paul [448] and to our Lord. [449] The merits of the elect, says 
St. Thomas, far from being the cause of predestination, are, on 
the contrary, the effects of predestination. [450]. 

Let us here repeat the saint's formula of the principle of 
predilection: "Since God's love is the source of all created 
goodness, no creature would in any way be better than another, did 
God not will to give it a good greater than the good He gives to 
another. " [451] Hence, as the saint says elsewhere, [452] God's 
love precedes God's choice, and God's choice precedes God's 
predestination. And in that same article he adds that 
predestination to glory precedes predestination to grace. [453]. 

The Pelagians thought of God as spectator, not as author, of that 
salutary consent which distinguishes the just from the wicked. The 
Semi-Pelagians said the same of the initium fidei et bonae 
voluntatis. St. Thomas, following St. Augustine, teaches that from 
God comes everything there is in us of good, from the beginning of 
a good will to the most intimate goodness of our free and self-
determined salutary acts. 

To the question, then, of God's motive in choosing one rather than 
the other, St. Thomas answers that the future merits of the elect 
cannot be the reason of their predestination, since these merits 
are, on the contrary, the effect of their predestination. Then he 
adds: "Why God chose these for glory and reprobated others finds 
answer only in the divine will. [454] Of two dying men, each 
equally and evilly disposed, why does God move one to repentance 
and permit the other to die impenitent? There is no answer but the 
divine pleasure. [455]. 

Thomists restrict themselves to defending this doctrine against 
Molinism and congruism. They add to it nothing positive. The more 
explicit terms they employ have no other purpose than to exclude 
from the doctrine false interpretations, which favor simultaneous 
concursus or premotio indifferens. 

Mystery there is in this doctrine, mystery unfathomable but 
inevitable. How harmonize God's gratuitous predestination with 
God's will of salvation for all men? How harmonize infinite mercy, 
infinite justice, and infinite freedom? Mystery there is, but no 
contradiction. There would be contradiction, if God's salvific 
will were illusory, if God did not make fulfillment of His 
precepts really and genuinely possible. For thus He would, 
contrary to His goodness, mercy, and justice, command the 
impossible. But if these precepts are really possible for all, 
whereas they are in fact kept by some and not by all, then those 
who do keep them, being better, must have received more from God. 

St. Thomas [456] thus sums up the matter: "One who gives by grace 
(not by justice) can at his good pleasure give more or less, and 
to whom he pleases, if only he denies to no one what justice 
demands. [457] Thus, the householder says: 'Take what is thine and 
go. Or is it not lawful for me to do as I will? ' " [458]. 

This doctrine is expressed by the common language of daily life. 
When of two great sinners one is converted, Christians say: God 
showed him special mercy. This solution of daily life accords with 
that of St. Augustine and St. Thomas when they contemplate the 
mysterious harmony of infinite mercy and infinite justice. When 
God with sovereign freedom grants to one the grace of final 
perseverance, it is a gift of mercy. When He does not grant it to 
another, it is a deed of justice, due to last resistance to a last 

Against all deviations in this matter, toward predestinationism, 
Protestantism, and Jansenism, on the one hand, and, on the other, 
toward Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, we must hold fast these 
two truths, central and mutually complementary: first, "God never 
commands the impossible, " and second, "No one would be better 
than another were he not loved more by God. " Guided by these 
truths we can begin to see where the mystery lies. Infinite 
justice, infinite mercy, sovereign liberty are all united, are 
even identified, in the Deity's transcendent pre-eminence, which 
remains hidden from us as long as we do not have the beatific 
vision. But in the chiaro oscuro of life here below, grace, which 
is a participation of the Deity, tranquillizes the just man, and 
the inspirations of the Holy Spirit console him, strengthen his 
hope, and make his love more pure, disinterested, and strong, so 
that in the incertitude of salvation he has the ever-growing 
certitude of hope, which is a certitude of tendency toward 
salvation. The proper and formal object of infused hope is not, in 
fact, our own effort, but the infinite mercy of the "God who aids 
us, " [459] who arouses us here to effort and who will there 
crown-that effort. [460]. 


OMNIPOTENCE is the immediate source of God's external works. God's 
productive action cannot, properly speaking, be transitive, since 
that would imply imperfection, would imply that God's action is an 
accident, something emanating from God and received into a 
creature. Speaking properly, God's action is immanent, is 
identified with the very being of God. But it is virtually 
transitive, since it produces an effect distinct from God. 

God's active power is infinite because, the more perfect a being 
is, the more perfect is its power of acting. Hence God, who is 
pure act, who is actuality itself, has a power which is boundless, 
which can give existence to whatever is not self-contradictory. 
[461] This infinite power is seen, first in creation, secondly in 
preservation, thirdly in divine motion. Hence the three articles 
which now follow. 


According to revelation, God freely created heaven and earth, not 
from eternity, but in time, at the origin of time. Here we have 
three truths. 

a) God created the universe ex nihilo. 

b) God created the universe freely. 

c) God did not create the universe ab aeterno. 

The first two truths are demonstrable by reason, hence belong to 
the preambles of faith. The third, so St. Thomas, is 
indemonstrable, is an article of faith. [462] Let us look more 
closely at each of these three truths. 

a) Creation ex Nihilo. 

Creation from nothing means a productive act where there is no 
material cause, no subject matter to work on, so that the entire 
being of created things comes from their creative cause. Before 
creation, nothing of the created thing existed, not even its 
matter, however unformed you may suppose it. This production of 
the entire created being [463] has indeed an efficient cause and a 
final cause and an exemplary cause (the divine idea): but no 
material cause. 

St. Thomas [464] shows that the distance is infinite between 
creation from nothing and production, however masterly, of 
something from preexisting matter. The sculptor makes the statue, 
not from nothing, but from pre-existing marble or clay. The father 
begets the son from the pre-existing germ. The thinker builds a 
system from pre-existing facts and principles. Our will produces a 
free act from its own pre-existing power to act. The teacher 
fashions, he does not create, his pupil's intelligence. No finite 
agent can create, properly speaking, it can but transform what 
pre-exists. Creative power, says St. Thomas, [465] cannot, even by 
miracle, be communicated to any creature. This conclusion, he 
says, follows from the distinction between God and the world. 
Since in God alone are essence and existence identified, God alone 
who is essential existence can bring forth from nothing 
participated existence, a being composed of essence and existence. 
Though that creature be merely a particle of dust, God alone can 
create it. Those who, like Suarez, [466] follow notably different 
principles regarding essence and existence, are much less clear 
and affirmative in their doctrine on creation. 

Between Aristotle and St. Thomas there is also at this point a 
great distance. Plato and Aristotle, though they admitted an 
eternal creation, did not rise to the explicit notion of creation 
from nothing. [467] They did indeed see the dependence of the 
world on God, but were unable to make precise the mode of that 
dependence. Nor did they see that the creative act is free, 
sovereignly free. The world seemed to them a necessary radiation 
from God, like the rays from the sun. This double truth, free 
creation and creation from nothing, accessible to reason under the 
influence of revelation, is of capital importance in Christian 
philosophy, and signalizes immense progress beyond Aristotle. 

Yet in attaining this truth St. Thomas employs Aristotle's [468] 
own principle: "The most universal effect comes from the most 
universal cause. " St. Thomas argues from this principle as 
follows: "Being as being is the most universal of effects. Hence 
the production of being as such, of the whole being (even of the 
tiniest thing): must come from the supreme cause, which is the 
most universal of causes. As only fire heats, as only light 
shines, so that cause alone which is being itself, existence 
itself, can produce the whole being of its effect. The adequate 
object of omnipotence is being, the whole being, and no created 
power can have an object so universal. ". 

From this vantage point new light falls on Aristotle's very 
definition of metaphysics, which is: Knowledge of things through 
their supreme cause, knowledge of being as such. Why? Aristotle 
did not give the explicit reason, but St. Thomas did: In every 
finite thing being as such is the proper and exclusive effect of 
the supreme cause. 

This immense progress, though attained under the light of 
revelation, is nevertheless a truth of reason, reached by 
philosophic demonstration. The traditional doctrine of potency and 
act, adolescent still in Aristotle, reaches maturity in Aquinas. 
Revelation did indeed facilitate the demonstration, by pointing 
out its goal, but did not furnish the principle of that 
demonstration. In the Christian milieu, the doctrine of potency 
and act can produce new fruits, which rise from this principle, 
though Aristotle himself did not see those fruits. 

St. Thomas [469] adds a confirmation of this truth: "The poorer is 
the matter to be transformed, i. e.: the more imperfect is passive 
power, the greater must be the active power. Hence, when passive 
power is simply nothing, active power must be infinite. Hence no 
creature can create. " [470]. 

b) Creation a Free Act

The doctrine of free creation is not less important than that of 
creation from nothing. Why must creation be a free act of God? We 
gave the reason above. God, possessing infinite goodness and 
infinite joy, has no need of creatures. The act of creation itself 
adds no new perfection to God. God, says Bossuet, [471] is none 
the greater by having created the universe. He was not less 
perfect before creation, and He would not have been less perfect 
had He never created. Revelation, indeed, shows us the infinite 
fecundity of the divine nature, in the generation of the Word and 
in the spiration of the Holy Spirit. But divine goodness, thus 
necessarily self-communicative within (ad intra): is just as 
freely self-communicative without (ad extra). 

The chief opponents of St. Thomas on the liberty of the creative 
act were the Averroists. Against them he speaks frequently. Let us 
listen to a few sentences: [472] "God can do all things. " 
"Neither the divine intellect nor the divine will is limited to 
determined finite effects. " "God can act beyond the order of 
nature. ". 

The reasons laid down in these articles are equally valid against 
the pantheistic determinism of Spinoza and of numerous modern 
philosophers, and also against the moral necessity of creation 
taught by Leibnitz, [473] who maintained an absolute optimism, 
according to which, he says: "Supreme wisdom was obliged to 
create, and could not fail to choose the best of possible worlds. 

This position of Leibnitz was refuted beforehand by St. Thomas. 
Here are the saint's words: "The plan in fact realized by infinite 
wisdom is not adequate to the ideals and inventive power of that 
wisdom. A wise man chooses means proportionate to his purpose. If 
the end is proportioned to the means, then those means are imposed 
by necessity. But divine goodness, which is the purpose of the 
universe, surpasses infinitely all things created (and creatable): 
and is beyond all proportion to them. Hence divine wisdom is not 
limited to the present order of things, and can conceive another. 
" [474]. 

Leibnitz treated this problem as a mathematical problem: "While 
God calculates, the world comes into being. " [475] He forgot 
that, whereas in a mathematical problem all elements stand in 
mutual and limited proportion, finite things have no such 
proportion to the infinite goodness which they manifest. 

To the objection of Leibnitz that infinite wisdom could not fail 
to choose the best, St. Thomas had already replied: "The 
proposition, 'God can do something better than what He actually 
does, ' has two meanings. If the term 'better' is understood as 
modifying 'something, ' the proposition is true, because God can 
ameliorate all existing things and can make things which are 
better than those things He has made. [476] But if the term 
'better' is understood adverbially, as modifying 'do, ' then the 
proposition is false, because God always acts with infinite wisdom 
and goodness. " [477]. 

The actual world, so we conclude, is a masterpiece, but a better 
masterpiece is possible. Thus, to illustrate: the plant's organism 
is wonderfully adapted to its purpose, but the animal's organism 
is still more perfect. Any symphony of Beethoven is a masterpiece, 
but does not exhaust his genius. 

Thus are solved the difficulties which seem to have held Aristotle 
from affirming divine liberty and divine providence. 

c) Creation in Time

Revelation teaches that God created the universe in time, at the 
origin of time, not from eternity. This truth, says St. Thomas, 
[478] since it cannot be demonstrated by reason, is an article of 

Why? Because creation depends on divine freedom, which could have 
created millions of ages earlier, and even beyond that still 
earlier, in such wise that the world would be without beginning, 
but not without origin, since by nature and causality it would be 
eternally dependent on God, just as, to illustrate, the footprint 
on the sand presupposes the foot that makes it, so that if the 
foot were from eternity on the sand, the footprint too would be 
without beginning. Further, since, as revelation teaches, 
spiritual creatures will never cease to exist, and even men's 
bodies, after the general resurrection, will live on without end, 
so likewise could the world exist, without beginning, created from 
eternity and forever preserved by God. [479]. 

On the other hand, as the saint [480] shows against the 
Averroists, it is not necessary that the world must have been 
created from eternity. The creative action in God, yes, that is 
eternal, since it is, properly speaking, immanent, and only 
virtually transitive, but since it is free, it can make its effect 
commence in time, at the instant chosen from eternity. Thus there 
would be "a new divine effect without new divine action. " [481]. 


The doctrine of creation, well understood, has as consequence the 
doctrine of preservation. [482] If God, even for an instant, 
ceased to preserve creatures, they would instantly be annihilated, 
just as, if luminous bodies were no more, light too would cease to 
be. The reason is that the very being of creatures, composed as 
they are of essence and existence, is being by participation, 
which always and necessarily depend on Him who is essential being, 
in whom alone essence is identified with existence. [483]. 

God, in fact, is the cause, not only of the creature's coming into 
existence, but also, and directly, of its continued being. The 
human father who begets a son is the direct cause only of the 
son's coming into existence, and hence the son can continue to 
exist after the death of his father. But, even in creatures, there 
are causes on which depends the continued existence of their 
effects. Without atmospheric pressure and solar heat, even the 
most vigorous animal will not delay in dying. Light without its 
source is no more. Sensation without its sense object disappears. 
In the intellectual order, he who forgets principle can no longer 
grasp conclusion, and he who no longer wills the end can have no 
desire of means. 

Where cause and effect belong both to the same specific level of 
being, there cause is cause only of the effect's coming into 
being. The continued being of that effect cannot depend directly 
on that cause, since the cause, equally with the effect, has 
participated existence, which each must receive from a cause 
higher than both. 

It is characteristic, on the contrary, of a cause which is of a 
higher order than its effects, to be the direct cause both of 
becoming and of continuing to be. Principles, in relation to 
consequences, and ends in relation to means, are such causes. Now 
God, the supreme cause, is subsistent being itself, whereas His 
effects are beings by participation, beings composed of essence 
and existence. Hence each and every creature must be preserved by 
God if it is to continue in existence. And this preservative 
action, outside and above movement and time, is simply continued 
creative action, somewhat illustrated by the continued influence 
of the sun on light. [484] God, the Preserver, who thus without 
medium preserves the very existence of His creatures, is more 
intimately inexistent in creatures than are creatures themselves. 


Scripture speaks often of God working in us: "Thou hast wrought 
all our works in us. " [486] "In Him we live and move and are. " 
[487] "He works all things in all. " [488] On texts like these is 
based the doctrine that God moves to their operations all second 
causes. [489]. 

We are not to imitate the occasionalists, who understand this 
doctrine to mean that God is the sole cause, that fire, for 
instance, does not warm us, but that, by the occasion of fire, God 
alone warms us. But neither are we to go to the opposite extreme 
and maintain that the second cause can act without previous divine 
motion, and that consequently the second cause is rather 
coordinated than subordinated to the first cause, like a second 
man who aids a first man to draw a boat. 

Here again the position of St. Thomas is a higher synthesis, which 
marches between these two mutually opposed conceptions. Causality 
follows being, and the mode of causality follows the mode of 
being. Hence, only the causality of God, who is existence itself, 
is self-initiated, whereas the creature, existing by 
participation, in dependence on God, must also in its causality be 
dependent on previous divine motion. 

Let us listen to the saint: "God not only gives to creatures the 
form which is their nature, but also preserves them in existence 
and moves them to act, and is the purpose of their actions. " 

Were it not so, if the creature, without divine motion, could pass 
from potency to act, then the more would come from the less, the 
principle of causality would fail, and the proofs of God's 
existence, proofs based on motion and created causality, would 
lose their validity. [491]. 

Here is another text, still more explicit: "God is the cause of 
every created action, both by giving the power of acting and by 
preserving that power, and by moving it to act, so that by His 
power every other power acts. " [492] Then he adds: "A natural 
created thing cannot be raised so as to act without divine 
operation. " [493] Thomists have never said anything more 
explicit. [494]. 

Here Molina [495] objects. He cannot see, he says, what that 
motion should be, that application to act in second causes, of 
which St. Thomas speaks. Molina himself maintains that God's act 
of concurring with the second cause does not move that cause to 
act, but influences immediately the effect of that cause, as when 
two men draw a boat. [496] Suarez [497] retains this manner of 

Thomists reply thus: Then the second cause is, in its causality, 
coordinated with, not subordinated to, the first cause. Its 
passage from potency to act is inexplicable. We must say, on the 
contrary, that the created cause is necessarily subordinated to 
the first, and in such manner that the effect is entirely from God 
as first cause, and entirely from the creature as second cause, 
just as, to illustrate, the fruit comes entirely from the tree as 
its radical principle, and from the branch as proximate principle. 
And just as God, the first cause, actualizes the vital function of 
plant and animal, so also He illuminates our intelligence and 
actualizes our freedom of will without violence. [498]. 

The De Deo uno concludes with a short treatise on God's beatitude, 
which rests on His infinite knowledge and love of Himself, whereas 
the knowledge and love which even beatified creatures have of God 
remain forever finite. 


On the subject of the Thomistic synthesis as regards the mystery 
of the Trinity, we will first examine what St. Thomas owes to St. 
Augustine, then the doctrine of St. Thomas himself on the divine 
processions and relations and persons, and on the notional acts of 
generation and spiration. This doctrine then will enable us to see 
better why the Blessed Trinity is unknowable by natural reason. 
Next we will study the law of appropriation, and lastly the manner 
of the Trinity's indwelling in the souls of the just. Throughout 
we will emphasize the principles which underlie the development of 
theological science


IN his commentaries on the New Testament, St. Thomas carefully 
examined the principal texts regarding the Blessed Trinity, in the 
Synoptic Gospels, in the Gospel of St. John, and in the Epistles 
of St. Paul. He analyzes with special emphasis the formula of 
baptism, our Lord's discourse before His passion, and especially 
St. John's prologue. His guides throughout are the Fathers, Greek 
and Latin, who refuted Arianism and Sabellianism. 

These scriptural studies led him to see clearly the part played by 
St. Augustine in penetrating into the meaning of our Lord's words 
on this supreme mystery. This debt of Thomas to Augustine must be 
our first study. We find here a very interesting and important 
chain of ideas. Unless we recall both the advantages and the 
difficulties presented by the Augustinian conception, we shall not 
be able to understand fully the teaching of St. Thomas. 

Sabellius had denied real distinction of persons in the Trinity. 
Arius, on the other hand, had denied the divinity of the Son; 
Macedonius, that of the Holy Spirit. In refuting these opposite 
heresies, the Greek Fathers, resting on scriptural affirmation of 
three divine persons, had sought to show how this trinity of 
persons is to be harmonized with God's unity of nature. This 
harmony they found in the term "consubstantial, " a term which by 
controversy grew more precise, and was definitively adopted by the 
Council of Nicaea. The Son, said the Greek Fathers, led 
particularly by St. Athanasius, [499] is consubstantial with the 
Father, because the Father who begets the Son communicates to that 
Son His own divine nature, not a mere participation in that 
nature. And since this Son is the Son of God, His redemptive 
merits have infinite value. And. the Holy Spirit, proceeding from 
the Father and the Son, is likewise God, consubstantial with the 
Father and the Son, without which consubstantiality He could not 
be the sanctifier of souls. [500]. 

Now these Greek Fathers thought of the divine processions rather 
as donations than as operations of the divine intelligence and the 
divine will. The Father, in begetting the Son, gives to that Son 
His own nature. And the Father and the Son give that divine nature 
to the Holy Spirit. The mode, they add, of this eternal generation 
and spiration is inscrutable. Further, following the order of the 
Apostles' Creed, they spoke of the Father as Creator, of the Son 
as Savior, of the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier. But their 
explanations left the road open to many questions. 

Why are there two processions, and only two? How does the first 
procession differ from the second? Why is that first procession 
alone called generation? Why must there be one Son only? And why, 
in the Creed, is the Father alone called Creator, since creative 
power, being a characteristic of the divine nature, belongs also 
to the Son [501] and to the Holy Spirit? The Latin doctrine of 
appropriation is not found explicitly in the Greek Fathers. 

St. Thomas, reading Augustine's work, [502] realized that this 
greatest of the Latin Fathers had taken a great step forward in 
the theology of the Trinity. St. Augustine's point of departure is 
the unity of God's nature, already demonstrated philosophically. 
Guided by revelation, he seeks the road leading from that unity of 
nature to the trinity of persons. This road, followed also by St. 
Thomas, is the inverse of that followed by the Greek Fathers. 

In St. John's prologue, our Lord is called "the Word" and the 
"Only-begotten. " These terms struck St. Augustine. Did they not 
offer an explanation of that generation which the Greek Fathers 
called inscrutable? The Son, proceeding from the Father, is called 
the Word. That divine Word is, not an exterior, but an interior 
word, a mental, intellectual word, spoken by the Father from all 
eternity. The Father begets the Son by an intellectual act, as our 
spirit conceives its own mental word. [503] But while our mental 
word is an accidental mode of our intellectual faculty, the divine 
word, like the divine thought, is substantial. [504] And while our 
spirit slowly and laboriously conceives its ideas, which are 
imperfect, limited, and necessarily manifold, to express the 
diverse aspects of reality, created and uncreated, the Father, on 
the contrary, conceives eternally one substantial Word, unique and 
adequate, true God of true God, perfect expression of all that God 
is and of all that God does and could do. Much light is thus 
thrown on the intimate mode of the Word's eternal generation. 

The saint also explains, in similar fashion, the eternal act of 
spiration. [506] The human soul, created to the image of God, is 
endowed with intelligence and with love. It not only understands 
the good, but also loves the good. These are its two highest 
faculties. If then the Only-begotten proceeds from the Father as 
the intellectual Word, we are led to think that the Holy Spirit 
proceeds from both by a procession of love, and that He is the 
terminus of this latter procession. Here, then, enter the divine 
relations. [507] The saint speaks thus: "It is demonstrated that 
not all predicates of God are substantial, but that some are 
relative, that is, as belonging to Him, not absolutely, but 
relatively to something other than Himself. " The Father is Father 
by relation to the Son, the Son by relation to the Father, the 
Holy Spirit by relation to the Father and the Son. [508] This 
doctrine is the basis of Thomistic doctrine on the divine 

So far, then, we have the reason why there are two processions in 
God, and only two, and why the Holy Spirit proceeds, not only from 
the Father, but also from the Son, just as in us love proceeds 
from knowledge. St. Augustine, however, does not see why only the 
first procession is called generation, and why we are not to say 
that the Holy Spirit is begotten. On this point, and on many 
others, St. Augustine's doctrine awaits precision by St. Thomas. 

A similar remark must be made on St. Augustine's doctrine 
concerning the question of appropriation. Starting from the 
philosophically demonstrated unity of God's nature, and not from 
the trinity of persons, he easily shows that not the Father alone 
is Creator, but also the Son and the Holy Spirit, since creative 
power is a characteristic of the divine nature, which is common to 
all three persons. This doctrine, through the course of centuries, 
becomes more precise by successive pronouncements of the Church. 
[509] St. Thomas is ever recurring to it. The three persons are 
one and the same principle of external operation. If then, in the 
Apostles' Creed, the Father is in particular called the Creator, 
He is so called by appropriation, by reason, that is, of the 
affinity between paternity and power. Similarly, the works of 
wisdom are appropriated to the Word, and those of sanctification 
to the Spirit of love. This theory of appropriation, initiated by 
St. Augustine, [510] finds final precision in St. Thomas, [511] 
and definitive formulation in the Council of Florence. [512]. 

Other difficulties still remain in St. Augustine's trinitarian 
conception, difficulties which St. Thomas removes. [513] Here we 
note briefly the chief difficulties. 

The generation of the Word is an intellective process. Now, since 
the intellective act is common to the three persons, it seems that 
generation, even to infinity, belongs to all three persons. St. 
Thomas answers. From the essential act of understanding, common to 
the three, we must distinguish the personal "act of speaking" 
(dictio): which is characteristic of the Father alone. [514]. 

A similar difficulty attends the second procession, which is the 
mode of love. Since all three persons love infinitely, each of 
them, it seems, should breathe forth another person, and so to 
infinity. But again, from that essential love which is common, we 
must distinguish, first, notional love, that is, active spiration, 
and secondly personal love, which is the Holy Spirit Himself. 

These distinctions are not to be found explicitly in St. 
Augustine. But in St. Thomas they appear as natural developments 
of St. Augustine's principles, in contrast to the conception 
prevalent in the Greek Fathers Let us note the chief advantages of 
this Augustino-Thomistic conception. 

a) Starting from De Deo uno, it proceeds methodically, from what 
is better known to us to what is less knowable, the supernatural 
mystery of three divine persons. 

b) It explains, by analogy with our own soul life, of mind and 
love, the number and characteristics of the divine processions, 
which the Greek Fathers declared to be inscrutable. Thus it gives 
the reason why there are two and only two processions, and why the 
Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the Father but also from the 

c) It shows more clearly why the three persons are but one single 
principle of operations ad extra, since divine activity derives 
from omnipotence, which is common to all three persons. Here lies 
also the reason why this mystery is naturally unknowable, since 
creative power is common to all three. [516]. 

These positive arguments of appropriateness show how far St. 
Augustine had progressed from the Greek conception, attained from 
a different viewpoint. The difficulties left unsurmounted by St. 
Augustine himself are due, not to deficient method, but to the 
sublimity of the mystery, whereas the difficulties in the Greek 
conception are due to imperfect method, which, instead of 
ascending from natural evidence to the mysterious, descends rather 
from the supernatural to the natural. 

We will now examine the structure of De Trinitate as it appears in 
the Summa, [517] dwelling explicitly on the fundamental questions 
which virtually contain all the others. First, then, the divine 



FOLLOWING revelation, particularly as recorded in St. John's 
prologue, St. Thomas shows that there is in God an intellectual 
procession, "an intellectual emanation of the intelligible Word 
from the speaker of that Word. " [518]. 

This procession is not that of effect from cause (Arianism): nor 
that of one subjective mode from another (Modalism). This 
procession is immanent in God, but is a real procession, not 
merely made by our mind, a procession by which the Word has the 
same nature as has the Father. "That which proceeds intellectually 
(ad intra) has the very nature of its principle, and the more 
perfectly it proceeds therefrom the more perfectly it is united to 
its principle. " [519] This is true even of our own created ideas, 
which become more perfect by being more perfectly united to our 
intellect. Thus the Word, conceived from eternity by the Father, 
has no other nature than that of the Father. And the Word is not 
like our word, accidental, but substantial, because God's act of 
knowledge is not an accident, but self-subsisting substance. 

In Contra Gentes St. Thomas devotes long pages to this argument of 
appropriateness. The principle is thus formulated: "The higher the 
nature, the more intimately is its emanation united with it. " 
[520] He illustrates by induction. Plant and animal beget exterior 
beings which resemble them, whereas human intelligence conceives a 
word interior to it. Yet this word is but a transient accident of 
our spirit, where thought follows after thought. In God, the act 
of understanding is substantial, and if, as revelation says, that 
act is expressed by Word, that Word must itself be substantial. It 
must be, not only the idea of God, but God Himself. [521]. 

Under this form St. Thomas keeps an ancient formula, often 
appealed to by the Augustinians, in particular by St. Bonaventure. 
It runs thus: Good is essentially self-diffusive. [522] The 
greater a good is, the more abundantly and intimately does it 
communicate itself. [523] The sun spreads light and heat. The 
plant, the animal, beget others of their kind. The sage 
communicates wisdom, the saint causes sanctity. Hence God, the 
infinite summit of all that is good, communicates Himself with 
infinite abundance and intimacy, not merely a participation in 
being, life, and intelligence, as when He creates stone, plant, 
animal, and man, not even a mere participation of His own nature, 
as when He creates sanctifying grace, but His own infinite and 
indivisible nature. This infinite self-communication in the 
procession of the Word reveals the intimacy and fullness of the 
scriptural sentence: "My Son art Thou, this day I beget Thee. " 

Further, [525] this procession of the only-begotten [526] Son is 
rightly called generation. The living thing, born of a living 
thing, receives a nature like that of its begetter, its generator. 
In the Deity, the Son receives that same divine nature, not 
caused, but communicated. Common speech says that our intellect 
conceives a word. This act of conception is the initial formation 
of a living thing. But this conception of ours does not become 
generation, because our word is, not a substance, but an accident, 
so that, even when a man mentally conceives his own substantial 
self, that conception is still but an accidental similitude of 
himself, whereas the divine conception, the divine Word, is 
substantial, is not merely a similitude of God, but is God. Divine 
conception, then, is rightly called generation. Intellectual 
conception, purified from all imperfection, is an "intellectual 
generation, " just as corporeal conception terminates in corporeal 

In this argument we have the highest application of the method of 
analogy. The Word of God, far from being a mere representative 
similitude of God the Father, is substantial like the Father, is 
living like the Father, is a person as is the Father, but a person 
distinct from the Father. [527]. 


There is in God a second procession, by the road of love, as love 
in us proceeds from the knowledge of good. [528] But this second 
procession is not a generation, [529] because love, in contrast 
with knowledge, does not make itself like its object, but rather 
goes out to its object. [530]. 

These two processions alone are found in God, as in us 
intelligence and love are the only two forms of our higher 
spiritual activity. [531] And in God, too, the second procession, 
spiration, presupposes the first, generation, since love derives 
from knowledge. 

Further on St. Thomas [532] solves some difficulties inherent in 
St. Augustine's teaching on the divine processions. The three 
persons, he shows, have in common one and the same essential act 
of intellect, but it is the Father only who speaks the Word, a 
Word adequate and hence unique. To illustrate: Of three men faced 
with a difficult problem, one pronounces the adequate solution, 
while all three understand that solution perfectly. Similarly the 
three persons love by the same essential love, but only the Father 
and the Son breathe (by notional love) the Holy Spirit, who is 
personal love. [533] Thus love in God, whether essential or 
notional or personal, is always substantial. 


IF there are real processions in God, then there must also be real 
relations. As in the order of nature, temporal generation founds 
two relations, of son to father and father to son, so likewise 
does the eternal generation of the Word found the two relations of 
paternity and filiation. And the procession of love also found two 
relations, active spiration and "passive" spiration. [534]. 

Are these relations really distinct from the divine essence? No. 
Since in God there is nothing accidental, these relations, 
considered subjectively in their inherence (esse in) are in the 
order of substance and are identified with God's substance, 
essence and existence. It follows then that the three persons have 
one and the same existence. [535] The existence of an accident is 
inexistence. [536] Now in God, this inexistence of the relations 
is substantial, hence identified with the divine existence, hence 
one and unique. 

This position, so simple for St. Thomas, was denied by Suarez, 
[537] who starts from different principles on being, essence, 
existence, and relation. Suarez holds that even in the created 
order essence is not really distinct from existence, that 
relation, subjectively considered, in its inexistence, in its esse 
in, is identified with its objective essence, its esse ad. Hence 
the divine relations, he argues, cannot be real, unless each has 
its own existence. Thus he is led to deny that in God there is 
only one existence. [538] This is an important divergence, similar 
to that on the Incarnation, where the proposition of St. Thomas, 
that in Christ there is only one existence, [539] is also denied 
by Suarez. 

Those divine relations which are in mutual opposition are by this 
very opposition really distinct one from the other. [540] The 
Father is not the Son, for nothing begets itself. And the Holy 
Spirit is not the Father nor the Son. Yet the Father is God, the 
Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Thus, by increasing precision, 
we reach the formula of the Council of Florence: In God everything 
is one, except where relations are opposite. [541]. 

Here enters the saint's response to an objection often heard. The 
objection runs thus: Things which are really identified with one 
and the same third thing are identified with one another. But the 
divine relations and the divine persons are really identified with 
the divine essence. [542] Hence the divine relations and the 
divine persons are identified with one another. 

The solution runs thus: Things which are really identified with 
one and the same third thing are identified with one another; yes, 
unless their mutual opposition is greater than their sameness with 
this third thing. Otherwise I must say No. To illustrate. Look at 
the three angles of a triangle. Are they really distinct one from 
the other? Most certainly. Yet each of them is identified with one 
and the same surface. 

Suarez, [543] having a different concept of relation, does not 
recognize the validity of this response. Instead of admitting with 
St. Thomas, [544] that the three divine persons by their common 
inexistence (esse in): have one and the same existence (unum 
esse): Suarez, on the contrary, admits three relative existences. 
Hence his difficulty in answering the objection just now cited. He 
solves it thus: The axiom that things identified with one third 
thing are identified with one another -- this axiom, he says, is 
true in the created order only, but not universally, not when 
applied to God. 

Thomists reply. This axiom derives without medium from the 
principle of contradiction or identity, and hence, analogically 
indeed, but truly, holds good also in God, for it is a law of 
being as such, a law of all reality, a law absolutely universal, 
outside of which lies complete absurdity. 

Thus the doctrine of St. Thomas safeguards perfectly the pre-
eminent simplicity of the Deity. [545] The three persons have but 
one existence. Hence the divine relations do not enter into 
composition with the divine essence, since the three persons, 
constituted by relations mutually opposed, are absolutely equal in 
perfection. [546]. 

A conclusion follows from the foregoing discussion. Real relations 
in God are four: paternity, filiation, active spiration, "passive" 
spiration. But the third of these four, active spiration, while it 
is opposed to passive spiration, is not opposed to, and hence not 
really distinct from, either paternity or filiation. [547]. 

This doctrine, perfectly self-coherent, shows the value of St. 
Augustine's conception, which is its foundation and guaranty. 


PERSON in general is a being which has intelligence and freedom. 
Its classic definition was given by Boethius: Person is an 
individual subject with an intellectual nature. [548] Hence 
person, generally, is a hypostasis or a suppositum, and, 
specifically, a substance endowed with intelligence. [549] 
Further, since person signifies substance in its most perfect 
form, it can be found in God, if it be stripped of the imperfect 
mode which it has in created persons. Thus made perfect, it can be 
used analogically of God, analogically, but still in its proper 
sense, in a mode that is transcendent and pre-eminent. Further, 
since revelation gives us two personal names, that is, the Father 
and the Son, the name of the third person, of the Holy Spirit, 
must also be a personal name. Besides, the New Testament, in many 
texts, represents the Holy Spirit as a person. [550]. 

Now, since there are three persons in God, they can be distinct 
one from the other only by the three relations which are mutually 
opposed (paternity, and filiation, and passive spiration): 
because, as has been said, all else in God is identical. 

These real relations, since they are subsistent (not accidental): 
and are, on the other hand, incommunicable (being opposed): can 
constitute the divine persons. In these subsistent relations we 
find the two characteristics of person: substantiality and 

A divine person, then, according to St. Thomas and his school, is 
a divine relation as subsistent. [551] Elsewhere the saint gives 
the following definition: [552] A divine person is nothing else 
than a relationally distinct reality, subsistent in the divine 

These definitions explain why there are in God, speaking properly, 
not metaphorically, three persons, three intellectual and free 
subjects, though these three have the same identical nature, 
though they understand by one and the same intellective act, 
though they love one another by one and the same essential act, 
and though they freely love creatures by one and the same free act 
of love. 

Hence, while we say: The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy 
Spirit is God, we also say: The Father is not the Son, and the 
Holy Spirit is not the Father, and the Holy Spirit is not the Son. 
In this sentence the verb "is" expresses real identity between 
persons and nature, and the negation "is not" expresses the real 
distinction of the persons from each other. 

These three opposed relations, then, paternity, filiation, and 
passive spiration, belong to related and incommunicable 
personalities. Thus there cannot be in God many Fathers, but one 
only. Paternity makes the divine nature incommunicable as Father, 
though that divine nature can still be communicated to two other 
persons. To illustrate. When you are constructing a triangle, the 
first angle, as first, renders the entire surface incommunicable, 
though that same surface will still be communicated to the other 
two angles; and the first angle will communicate that surface to 
them without communicating itself, while none of the three is 
opposed to the surface which they have in common. 

Here appears the profundity of Cajetan's [553] remark: the divine 
reality, as it is in itself, is not something purely absolute 
(signified by the word "nature") nor something purely relative 
(signified by the name "person"): but something transcending both, 
something which contains formally and eminently [554] that which 
corresponds to the concepts of absolute and relative, of absolute 
nature and relative person. Further, the distinction between 
nature and the persons is not a real distinction, but a mental 
distinction (virtual and minor): whereas the distinction between 
the persons is real, by reason of opposition. On this last point 
theologians generally agree with Thomists. 


THERE are two notional acts: generation and active spiration. They 
are called notional because they enable us to know the divine 
persons better. Their explanation serves St. Thomas [555] as a 
kind of final synthesis, a recapitulation of trinitarian doctrine. 

Here we find the most difficult of the objections raised against 
that Augustinian conception which St. Thomas defends. The 
objection runs thus: [556] The relation called paternity is 
founded on active generation, hence cannot precede generation. But 
the personality of the Father must be conceived as preceding 
active generation, which is its operation. Hence the personality 
of the Father which precedes generation, cannot be constituted by 
the subsisting relation of paternity which follows generation. 

In other words, we have here a vicious circle. 

St. Thomas replies [557] as follows: "The personal characteristic 
of the Father must be considered under two aspects: first, as 
relation, and as such it presupposes the notional act of 
generation. But, secondly, we must consider the personal 
characteristic of the Father, not as relation, but as constitutive 
of His own person, and thus as preceding the notional act of 
generation, as person must be conceived as anterior to the 
person's action. ". 

Hence it is clear that we have here no contradiction, no vicious 
circle, because divine paternity is considered on the one hand as 
anterior to the eternal act of generation, and on the other hand 
as posterior to that same act. Let us look at illustrations in the 
created order. 

First, in human generation. At that one and indivisible instant 
when the human soul is created and infused into its body, the 
ultimate disposition of that body to receive that soul -- does it 
precede or does it follow the creation of the soul? It both 
precedes and follows. In the order of material causality, it 
precedes. In all other orders of causality, formal, efficient, and 
final, it follows. For it is the soul which, in the indivisible 
moment of its creation, gives to the human body its very last 
disposition to receive that soul. Hence, from this point of view, 
that disposition is in the human body as a characteristic deriving 
from the soul. 

Secondly, in human understanding. The sense image precedes the 
intellectual idea. Yet that same image, completely suited to 
express the new idea, follows that idea. At that indivisible 
instant when the thinker seizes an original idea, he 
simultaneously finds an appropriate image to express that idea in 
the sense order. 

Again, in human emotion. The sense emotion both precedes and 
follows intellectual love, is both antecedent and consequent. 

Again, still more strikingly, in human deliberation. At the 
terminus of deliberation, in one and the same indivisible instant, 
the last practical judgment precedes the voluntary choice, and 
still this voluntary choice, by accepting this practical judgment, 
makes that judgment to be the last. 

Again, look at the marriage contract. The man's word of acceptance 
is not definitively valid before it is accepted by the woman. The 
man's consent thus precedes the woman's consent, and hence is not 
yet actually related to her consent, which has not yet been given. 
Only by her consent does his consent have actual matrimonial 
relation to his wife. 

Lastly, look again at the triangle. In an equilateral triangle, 
the first angle drawn, though it is as yet alone, constitutes, 
nevertheless, the geometric figure, but does not as yet have 
actual relation to the two angles still undrawn. 

In all these illustrations, there is no contradiction, no vicious 
circle. Neither is there contradiction when we say that the divine 
paternity constitutes the person of the Father anteriorly to the 
eternal act of generation, although that same paternity, as actual 
relation to the Son, presupposes the act of generation. 

To proceed. These notional acts, generation and spiration, belong 
to the persons. [558] They are not free acts, but necessary, 
though the Father. 

wills spontaneously to beget His Son, just as He spontaneously 
wills to be God. And active spiration proceeds indeed from the 
divine will, but from that will, not as free, but as natural and 
necessary, like our own desire of happiness. [559] Generative 
power belongs to the divine nature, as that nature is in the 
Father. [560] "Spiratory power also belongs to the divine nature, 
but as that nature is in both the Father and the Son. Thus the 
Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from one sole 
principle: [561] there is but one Breather (Spirator): though two 
are breathing (spirantes). " [562]. 

If these two powers, generative and spiritave, belonged to the 
divine nature as such, as common to the three persons, then each 
of the three persons would generate and breathe, just as each of 
them knows and loves. Hence the word of the Fourth Lateran 
Council: "It is not the essence or nature which generates, but the 
Father by that nature. " [563] Hence the formula, [564] common 
among Thomists: "The power of generating signifies directly (in 
recto) the divine nature, indirectly (in obliquo) the relation of 
paternity. ". 

What is the immediate principle (principium quo) of the divine 
processions? It is, so Thomists generally, the divine nature, as 
modified by the relations of paternity and active spiration. To 
illustrate. When Socrates begets a son, the principium quo of this 
act of generation is indeed human nature, but that nature as it is 
in Socrates. Were it otherwise, were human nature the principium 
quo, as common to all men, then all men without exception would 
generate, as they all desire happiness. Similarly, the surface of 
a triangle, as far as it is in the first angle drawn, is 
communicated to the second, and by the second to the third; but as 
it is in the third it is no longer communicable. If it were, then 
we would have a fourth person, and for the same reason a fifth, 
and thus on to infinity. 

So much on Thomistic doctrine concerning the notional acts. It is 
in perfect harmony with the foregoing chapters. 


NUMERIC unity of nature and existence makes the three persons 
perfectly equal. And unity of existence means unity of wisdom, 
love, and power. Thus, to illustrate, the three angles of an 
equilateral triangle are rigorously equal. Hence, in God, to 
generate is not more perfect than to be generated. The eternal 
generation does not cause the divine nature of the Son, but only 
communicates it. This divine nature, uncreated in the Father, is 
no less uncreated in the Son and in the Spirit. The Father is not 
a cause on which the Son and the Spirit would depend. He is rather 
a principle, from which, without dependence, the Son and the 
Spirit proceed, in the numerical identity of the infinite nature 
communicated to them. 

Again to illustrate. In the equilateral triangle we have an order, 
of origin indeed, but not of causality. The first angle drawn is 
not cause, but principle, of the second, and the principle also, 
by the second, of the third. Each angle is equally perfect with 
the others. The illustration is deficient, since you may start 
your triangle with any angle you choose. But illustrations, 
however deficient, are useful to the human intellect, which does 
not act unless imagination cooperates. 

This perfect equality of the divine persons expresses, in supreme 
fashion, the life of knowledge and love. Goodness, the higher it 
is, the more is it self-diffusive. The Father gives His infinite 
goodness to the Son and, by the Son, to the Holy Spirit. Hence of 
the three divine persons each comprehends the other with the same 
infinite truth and each knows the other with the same essential 
act of understanding. Of their love the same must be said. Each 
embraces the other with infinite tenderness, since in each the act 
of love is identified with infinite good fully possessed and 

The three persons, purely spiritual, are thus open to possession 
one by the other, being distinguished only by their mutual 
relations. The Father's entire personality consists in His 
subsistent and incommunicable relation to the Son, the ego of the 
Son is His relation to the Father, the ego of the Holy Spirit in 
His relation to the first two persons. 

Thus each of the three persons, since He is what He is by His 
relationship to the others, is united to the others precisely by 
what distinguishes Him from them. An illustration: recall again 
the three angles in a triangle. How fertile is that fundamental 
principle that in God everything is identically one and the same 
except where we find opposition by relation!

The three divine persons, lastly, are the exemplar of the life of 
charity. Each of them speaks to the others: All that is mine is 
thine, all that is thine is mine. [565] The union of souls in 
charity is but a reflection from the union of the divine persons: 
"That all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee, that 
they also be one in Us. " [566] As Father and Son are one by 
nature, so the faithful are one by grace, which is a participation 
in the divine nature. 


THE Trinity is a mystery essentially supernatural. St. Thomas 
[567] expounds the reason for this truth much more clearly than 
his predecessors did. By natural reason, he says, we know God only 
as Creator. Now God creates by His omnipotence, which is common to 
all three persons, as is the divine nature of which omnipotence is 
an attribute. Hence natural reason cannot know the distinction of 
persons in God, but only His one nature. In this argument we have 
one of the most explicit expressions of the distinction between 
the natural order and the supernatural order. 

Hence it follows, as Thomists in general remark, that natural 
reason cannot positively demonstrate even the intrinsic 
possibility of the mystery. After the mystery is revealed, we can 
indeed show that it contains no manifest contradiction, but we 
cannot show, apodictically, by reason alone, that it contains no 
latent contradiction. Mysteries, says the Vatican Council, [568] 
cannot, by natural principles, be either understood or 

Further. If reason alone could demonstrate, positively and 
apodictically, the objective possibility of the Trinity, it would 
likewise demonstrate the existence of the Trinity. Why? Because, 
in things which necessarily exist, we must, from real possibility, 
deduce existence. [569] If, for example, infinite wisdom is 
possible in God, then it exists in God. 

In this matter, the possibility, namely, and the existence of the 
Trinity, theology can indeed give reasons of appropriateness, 
reasons which are profound and always fruitful, but which are not 
demonstrative. Theology can likewise show the falseness, or at 
least the inconclusiveness, [570] of objections made against the 
mystery. Here is a formula held by theologians generally: The 
possibility, and a fortiori the existence, of supernatural 
mysteries cannot be proved, and cannot be disproved, but can be 
shown to be appropriate, and can be defended against impugners. 

The analogies introduced to clarify the mystery rise in value when 
they are pointed out by revelation itself. Thus, when St. John 
[572] says that the only-begotten Son proceeds as God's mental 
Word, we are led to think that the second procession is one of 


PROPER names aid us to understand better the characteristics of 
each divine person. 

The First Person is called by four proper names: The Father, the 
Unbegotten, the Ungenerated, Principle-not-from-principle. [573] 
Further, by appropriation, He is called the Creator, because 
creative power, though common to all three persons, has a special 
affinity with the first, in this sense that He has this creative 
power of Himself, that is, has not received it from another 
person. [574]. 

The Second Person has three proper names: Son, Word, Image. [575] 
Hence appropriation assigns to him the works of wisdom. 

To the Third Person are assigned three proper names: Holy Spirit, 
Love, and Uncreated Gift. [576] Love, as proper name, signifies, 
not essential love, not notional love, but personal love. By 
appropriation, there are assigned to him the works of 
sanctification and indwelling in the just soul, since this 
indwelling presupposes charity: the charity of God is poured forth 
in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to Us. [577] Charity 
gives us a greater likeness to the Holy Spirit than faith does to 
the Word. Perfect assimilation to the Word is given by the light 
of glory. 


We cannot here treat of the missions of the divine persons. [578] 
But we must look briefly at Thomistic doctrine concerning the mode 
of the Trinity's indwelling in the souls of the just. 

This doctrine derives from the words of our Savior: [579] "If 
anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, 
and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. " What will 
come? Not merely created effects, sanctifying grace, infused 
virtues, the seven gifts, but the divine persons themselves, the 
Father and the Son, from whom the Holy Spirit is never separated. 
Besides, the Holy Spirit was explicitly promised by our Lord and 
was sent visibly on Pentecost. [580] This special presence of the 
Trinity in the just differs notably from the presence of God as 
preserving cause of all creatures. 

We must note three different explanations of this indwelling: that 
of Vasquez, that of Suarez, and that of St. Thomas. 

Vasquez reduces all real indwelling of God in us to the general 
presence of immensity, by which God is present in all things which 
He preserves in existence. As known and loved, God is in no way 
really present in the just man. He is there only as represented, 
like a loved friend who is absent. This view allows very little to 
the special presence of God in the just. 

Suarez, on the contrary, maintains that God, even if He were not 
present by immensity, would still, by the charity which unites men 
to Him, be really and substantially present in the just. This 
opinion has to face a very grave objection, which runs thus: When 
we love the humanity of our Lord and Savior, or the Blessed 
Virgin, it does not follow that they are really present in our 
souls. Charity certainly is an affective union and creates a 
desire for real union, but cannot itself constitute that union. 

Here again the thought of St. Thomas [581] dominates two opposed 
views, one of Vasquez, the other of Suarez. 

According to the Angelic Doctor, [582] the special presence of the 
Trinity in the just presupposes the general presence of immensity. 
This is against Suarez. But again (and this is what Vasquez did 
not see): God, by sanctifying grace, by infused virtues, by the 
seven gifts, becomes really present in a new and higher manner, as 
object experimentally knowable, which the just soul can enjoy, 
which it at times knows actually. God is not like a loved friend 
who is absent, but He is really present. 

The saint [583] assigns the reason. The soul in the state of 
grace, he says, has God as its supernatural object of knowledge 
and of love and with that object the power of enjoying God. 

To say truly that the divine persons dwell in us, we must be able 
to know them, not in abstract fashion, like distant friends, but 
in a manner quasi-experimental, with the vibrancy of infused 
charity, which gives a connatural intimacy with the inner life of 
God. [584] It is the very characteristic of experimental knowledge 
that it terminates in an object really present. 

But this experimental knowledge need not always be actual. Thus 
the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity lasts even during sleep. But 
as long as, by grace, virtue, and gifts, this indwelling 
continues, this experimental knowledge will, from time to time, 
become actual, when God makes Himself known to us as the soul of 
our soul, the life of our life. "You have received, " says St. 
Paul, "the spirit of adoption wherein we cry Abba, Father. It is 
the Spirit Himself who testifies that we are children of God. " 

Commenting on this passage in Romans, St. Thomas speaks thus: The 
Holy Spirit gives this testimony, by the filial love He produces 
in us. And elsewhere [586] he traces this experimental knowledge 
to the gift of wisdom which clarifies living faith. And in another 
passage [587] he is still more explicit. Not merely any kind of 
knowledge, he says, is in question when we speak of the mission 
and indwelling of a divine person. It must be a mode of knowledge 
coming from a gift appropriated to that person, a gift by which we 
are conjoined to God. That gift, when the Holy Spirit is given, is 
love, and therefore the knowledge is quasi-experimental. 

Here lies the meaning of our Savior's words: [588] "The Spirit of 
truth, whom the Father will send in My name, will be in you, and 
will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind 
whatsoever I have said to you. ". 

If the Blessed Trinity lives in the just soul as in a temple, 
[589] a living temple of knowledge and love even while the just 
man lives on earth, how wondrously intimate must be this 
indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the blessed who form the 
temple of heaven! [590]. 

This doctrine of the indwelling leads from the treatise on the 
Trinity to the treatise on grace. Grace is the created gift, 
brought forth and preserved in us by the Holy Spirit, who, by 
appropriation, is the Uncreated Gift, or by the Blessed Trinity, 
wholly present in us. Adoptive filiation, says St. Thomas, [591] 
comes to us, by appropriation, from the Father, who is the 
principle of natural filiation; but it comes also by the gift of 
the Holy Spirit, who is the love of the Father and the Son. The 
act of adoption by grace, he says elsewhere, [592] though it is 
common to the entire Trinity, is appropriated nevertheless to each 
person singly, to the Father as author, to the Son as exemplar, to 
the Holy Spirit as imprinting on us the likeness of that exemplar. 

Grace, we may recall in conclusion, depends by its very nature on 
the divine nature common to all three persons; but, as merited for 
all redeemed souls, it depends on Christ the Redeemer. 

Fourth Part: Angel and Man


IT is sometimes thought that the treatise of St. Thomas on the 
angels is an a priori construction, having as its sole foundation 
the book of Pseudo-Dionysius, called De coelesti hierarchia. This 
is a misconception. Scripture itself is the foundation on which 
St. Thomas rests. Scripture gives him the existence of angels, 
their knowledge, their number, their differences in good and evil, 
their relations to men. Pertinent and numerous texts appear 
already in the Old Testament, in Genesis, Job, Tobias, Isaias, 
Daniel, the Psalms. Angels appear in the New Testament, at our 
Lord's birth, Passion, and Resurrection. St. Paul enumerates them: 
thrones, dominations, principalities, powers. [593]. 

Here lies the foundation of the treatise on the angels. These 
testimonies show that the angels are creatures indeed, but higher 
than men. Though at times they appear under a sense form, the 
common term by which they are called, i. e.: spirits, justifies us 
in saying that they are purely spiritual creatures, 
notwithstanding the difficulties which several early Fathers found 
in conceiving a creature to be real unless it had at least an 
ethereal body. 

To this spirituality of the angels, St. Thomas gave greater scope 
and precision. By distinguishing also in the angels the orders of 
nature and grace, by deduction from the interior life of God, from 
the character of the beatific vision, which is a supernatural gift 
for any intelligence inferior to God, from the doctrine on grace 
and the infused virtues, St. Thomas defended and explained the 
tradition, summarized thus by St. Augustine: [594] Who gave to the 
good angels their good will? No one but He who, at their creation, 
founded their nature, and, simultaneously, gave them the gift of 

In this outline of the treatise on the angels we will emphasize 
its essential principles, noting opportunely the opposition raised 
by Scotus, [595] and in part by Suarez, who, as often elsewhere, 
searches here also for a middle ground between St. Thomas and 
Scotus. These differences appear chiefly in the doctrines relating 
to the nature of angels, their modes of knowing and loving, and to 
the manner of their merits under grace. Those who seek detailed 
exposition can easily find it in the works cited. Our chief 
interest in this treatise on angels is to clarify from on high the 
treatise of St. Thomas on man. 



ST. THOMAS [596] teaches clearly that the angels are creatures 
purely spiritual, subsistent forms without any matter. Scotus says 
they are composed of form and incorporeal matter, without 
quantity, because, being creatures, they must have an element of 
potentiality. The Thomistic reply runs thus: This potential 
element is first the angelic essence, really distinct, as in all 
creatures, from existence. Secondly, the real distinction between 
person and existence, between quod est and existence. Thirdly, 
real distinction of substance from faculties, and of faculties 
from acts. All these distinctions are explicitly formulated by St. 
Thomas himself. [597]. 

From their pure spirituality St. Thomas concludes that there 
cannot be two angels of the same species, because the only 
principle by which a substantial form can be individualized is 
matter, matter capable of this quantity rather than any other. 
Thus, to illustrate, two drops of water, perfectly similar, are by 
their matter and quantity two distinct individuals. But angels 
have no matter. [598]. 

Scotus, on the contrary, since he admits a certain kind of matter 
in the angels, maintains also that there can be many angels of one 
and the same species. Suarez, in his eclecticism, admits this 
conclusion of Scotus, although he sides with St. Thomas in 
maintaining that the angels are purely spiritual and immaterial 
beings. Thomists reply: if the angels are purely spiritual, you 
can find in them no principle of individuation, no principle 
capable of multiplying within one and the same species. 

Form unreceived in matter, they say with St. Thomas, is simply 
unique. Whiteness, for example, if conceived as unreceived in this 
or that white thing, would be one and unique. If you deny this, 
then you simultaneously deny the principle which demonstrates the 
unicity of God, the principle, namely, which St. Thomas thus 
formulates: [599] Existence unreceived is necessarily subsistent 
and unique. 


There are three orders of knowledge: human, angelic, divine. The 
object of knowledge in general is intelligible reality. The proper 
object of human intelligence is the intelligible being of sense 
objects, because the human intellect has as its proportioned 
object the lowest order of intelligible reality, the shadowy 
reality of the sense world. By opposition, then, the proper object 
of angelic intelligence is the intelligible reality of spiritual 
creatures. Hence, the proper intelligible object of each 
particular angel is that angel's own essence, just as God's proper 
intelligible object is His own divine essence. [600]. 

This position granted, let us see its consequences. The human 
idea, by which man knows, is an abstract and universal idea, drawn 
forth, by the intellect agent, from particular sense objects. But 
the angelic idea, not being drawn from external sense objects, is 
a natural endowment of the angelic intellect, infused into it by 
God at the moment of creation. Hence the angelic idea is at once 
universal and concrete. The angel's infused idea of the lion, say, 
represents not only the nature of the lion, but all individual 
lions that either actually exist or have in the past been objects 
of the angel's intellect. Angelic ideas are thus participations in 
God's own creative ideas. Infused ideas, then, which Plato and 
Descartes falsely ascribed to men, are, on the contrary, an 
angelic characteristic. 

Thus these angelic ideas, at once universal and concrete, 
represent whole regions of intelligible reality, and each angel 
has his own distinctive suprasensible panorama. The higher the 
angel, the stronger is his intelligence and the fewer are his 
ideas, since they are more rich and universal. Thus, with ever 
fewer ideas, the higher angels command immense regions of reality, 
which the lower angels cannot attain with such eminent simplicity. 
[601] A human parallel is the sage, who, in a few simple 
principles, grasps an entire branch of knowledge. The stronger is 
the created intellect, to say it briefly, the more it approaches 
the preeminent simplicity of the divine intellect. 

A further consequence. The nature of his ideas, at once universal 
and concrete, make the angel's knowledge intuitive, not in any way 
successive and discursive. He sees at a glance the particular in 
the universal, the conclusion in the principle, the means in the 
end. [602]. 

For the same reason his act of judging does not proceed by 
comparing and separating different ideas. [603] By his purely 
intuitive apprehension of the essence of a thing, he sees at once 
all characteristics of that essence, for example, he 
simultaneously sees all man's human and created characteristics, 
for instance, that man's essence is not man's existence, then 
man's existence is necessarily given and preserved by divine 
causality. [604]. 

Why this immense distance between angel and man? Because, seeing 
intuitively, the angel sees without medium, as in clearest midday, 
an immensely higher object, sees the intelligible world of 
spirits, whereas man's intellect, the most feeble of all 
intellects, having as object the lowest order of intelligibility, 
must be satisfied with twilight glances into the faint mirror of 
the sense world. 

A further consequence is that the angel's intuitive vision is also 
infallible. But while he can make no mistake in his natural 
knowledge, he can deceive himself in the supernatural order, on 
the question, for example, whether this or that individual man is 
in the state of grace. Likewise he may deceive himself in 
forecasting the contingent future, above all in attempting to know 
the future free acts of men, or the immanent secrets of man's 
heart, secrets which are in no way necessarily linked with the 
nature of our soul or with external physical realities. The 
secrets of the heart are not fragments of the material world, they 
do not result from the interplay of physical forces. [605]. 

Contrary to this view, Scotus holds that the angel, though he has 
no sense faculties, can still receive ideas from sense objects. 
This view arises from his failure to distinguish intellects 
specifically by their proper and proportioned object. Thus he goes 
on to say that, had God so willed, the unmediated vision of the 
divine essence would be natural to both angels and men. Thus the 
distinction between uncreated intelligence and created 
intelligence is, for Scotus, a distinction not necessary, but 
contingent. A fortiori, then, he denies any necessary distinction 
between the proper object of the human intellect and that of the 
angelic intellect. 

Scotus further denies that the ideas by which higher angels know 
are less numerous and more universal than those of lower angels. 
Perfection of knowledge, he says, derives less from the 
universality of ideas than from their clearness and brightness. 
Here Thomists distinguish. In the empiric order, yes, clearness 
does not depend on the universality of ideas. But in the order of 
perfection, in the order of higher principles, themselves 
concatenated with the supreme principle -- in this order doctrinal 
clearness most certainly depends on the universality of its ideas. 

Scotus holds also that the angel can know discursively, can engage 
in reasoning, a view which notably depreciates the perfection of 
the pure spirit. On the other hand, he holds that the angel can 
know, naturally and with certitude, the secrets of man's heart, 
though God, he adds, refuses this knowledge to the demons. 

Suarez, again eclectically, admits with St. Thomas that the 
angelic ideas are innate, but holds, with Scotus, that the angel 
can use reasoning, and can be mistaken regarding the 
characteristics of the object he knows. 


ST. THOMAS seeks to understand the angelic will by the object to 
which that will is specifically proportioned. Scotus insists 
rather on the subjective activity of that will. 

Studying the object of the angelic will, St. Thomas concludes that 
certain acts of that will, though voluntary and spontaneous, are 
nevertheless not free, but necessary, by reason of an object in 
which the angelic intelligence sees no imperfection, but perfect 
happiness. As regards angelic freedom of will, he holds that 
angelic choice, like human choice, is always determined by the 
last practical act of judgment, but that the act of choice by 
accepting that judgment makes it to be the last. Scotus, on the 
contrary, holds that freedom belongs essentially to all voluntary 
acts, and that free choice is not always determined by the last 
practical act of judgment. On this point Suarez follows Scotus. 
Against them Thomists invoke the following principle: "If nothing 
can be willed unless it be foreknown as good, then nothing can be 
here and now preferred unless it be here and now foreknown as 
better. " [606] In other words, there can be no will movement, 
however free, without intellectual guidance, otherwise we confound 
liberty with haphazard, with impulse, which acts necessarily and 
without reflection. Here lies the source of the chief doctrinal 
divergences concerning the angelic will. 

St. Thomas teaches that the objects which the angel loves, not 
freely, but necessarily, at least necessarily as regards 
specification, are, first, his own happiness, second, himself, 
third, God as author of his nature, the reason being that in these 
objects he can find nothing repulsive. [607] Hence it is more 
probable that the angel cannot, at least not directly and 
immediately, sin against the natural law, which he sees 
intuitively as written into his own essence. [608] Yet the demons, 
in sinning directly against the supernatural law, sin indirectly 
against the natural law which prescribes that we obey God in 
everything He may command. 

Further. If the angel sins, his sin is necessarily mortal, 
because, seeing end and means with one and the same intuitive 
glance, he cannot be disordered venially, i. e.: in regard to 
means, without previous mortal disorder in regard to his last end. 

Again, the sin of the angel is irrevocable, and hence 
irremissible. In other words, since the angel chooses with perfect 
knowledge after consideration, not abstract, discursive, 
successive, but intuitive and simultaneous, of all that is 
involved in his choice, he can no longer see any reason for 
reversal of his choice. Hence arises the demon's fixed obstinacy 
in evil. Nothing was unforeseen in his choice. If we were to say 
to him: "You did not foresee this, " he would answer, "Surely I 
foresaw it. " With fullest knowledge he refused obedience, and 
refuses it forever in unending pride. Similarly the choice of the 
good angel is irrevocable and participates in the immutability of 
God's free act of choice. [609] St. Thomas cites approvingly the 
common expression: Before choice the free will of the angel is 
flexible, but not after choice. [610]. 

Scotus admits none of these doctrines. No act of the angelic will 
is necessary, not even the angel's natural love of his life or of 
the author of life. The will can sin even when there is no error 
or lack of consideration in the intellect, because free choice is 
not always conformed to the last practical judgment. The first sin 
of the demon is not of itself irrevocable and irremissible. The 
demons, he says, committed many mortal sins, before they became 
obstinate in evil, and could have repented after each of those 
sins. And their obstinacy itself he explains extrinsically, as due 
to God's decree that, after a certain number of mortal sins, He 
would no longer give them the grace of conversion. On these points 
Suarez follows Scotus, since he too holds that free choice is not 
always conformed to the last practical judgment. But he does not 
explain how free choice can arise without intellectual direction. 
Thomists repeat: Nothing can be willed unless here and now 
foreknown as better. 

Contrast shows clearly that St. Thomas has a higher conception of 
the specific distinction between angelic intelligence and human 
intelligence than have Scotus and Suarez. Faculties, habits, and 
acts are proportionally specified by their formal objects. To this 
principle, repeatedly invoked in the Summa, Thomism insistently 

This treatise on the pure spirit, on intuitive knowledge, lies on 
a very high level. Its conclusions on the angelic will are 
faithful to the principle: nothing willed unless foreknown as 
good. From the speculative point of view this treatise is a 
masterpiece, a proof of the intellectual superiority of the 
Angelic Doctor, an immense step forward from the Sentences of 
Peter the Lombard. Scotus and Suarez did not maintain this 
elevation, did not see the sublimity, intellectual and voluntary, 
of the pure spirit as contrasted with the lowly intellect and will 
of man. 


ST. THOMAS holds that all the angels were elevated to the state of 

before the moment of their trial, because without sanctifying 
grace they could not merit supernatural happiness. With this 
doctrine Scotus and Suarez agree. They also agree in saying that 
most probably all angels received this gift at the moment of their 
creation. All three teachers, following St. Augustine, [611] hold 
that the revelation had the obscurity of faith. [612] The three 
agree also in saying that after their trial the good angels were 
immovably confirmed in grace and received the beatific vision, 
while the wicked angels became obstinate in evil. But, 
notwithstanding this agreement, there remain three problems 
concerning the state of the angels before and during their trial. 
On these problems St. Thomas again differs widely from Scotus and 


St. Thomas holds that at the very moment of their creation the 
angels received all their natural perfection of spirit and their 
natural happiness, because their innate knowledge proceeds 
instantaneously, without succession, from faculty to act. Hence, 
at the very moment of creation, they have perfect intuition of 
their own nature, and in that nature as mirror they know God as 
author of that nature, on which their own natural law is 
inscribed. Simultaneously also in that same moment they know all 
other angels, and have instantaneous use of their own infused 

Here Scotus and Suarez do not follow St. Thomas. They deny, first, 
that angels had natural beatitude from the moment of creation. 
They hold, secondly, that the angels could, from that first 
moment, sin against the natural law directly and immediately. In 
reply, Thomists simply insist that pure spirits must from their 
first moment of creation, know their own selves perfectly as pure 
spirits, and hence know their own nature as mirror of the Author 
of that nature, and consequently must love that Author as the 
source of their own natural life, which they necessarily desire to 


At the very moment of creation, so St. Thomas, the angels could 
not sin, but neither could they fully merit, because their very 
first act must be specially inspired by God, without their own 
self-initiated interior deliberation. But at the second instant 
came either full merit or full demerit. The good angel after the 
first act of charity, by which he merited supernatural beatitude, 
was at once among the blessed. [613] Just as immediately the 
demons were repudiated. 

Hence, with St. Thomas, we must distinguish three instants in the 
life of the angel: first, that of creation; second, that of merit 
or demerit; third, that of supernatural beatitude [614] or of 
reprobation. We must note, however, that an angelic instant, which 
is the measure of one angelic thought, may correspond to a more or 
less long period of our time, according to the more or less deep 
absorption of the angel in one thought. An analogy, in 
illustration, is that of the contemplative who may rest for hours 
in one and the same truth. 

The reason for the instantaneousness of the divine sanction after 
the first angelic act, fully meritorious or fully demeritorious, 
has been given above. Angelic knowledge is not abstract and 
discursive like ours, but purely intuitive and simultaneous. The 
angel does not pass successively, as we do, from one angle of 
thought to another. He sees at once, simultaneously, all the 
advantages and disadvantages. Hence his judgment once made is 
irrevocable. There is nothing he has not already considered. 

What kind of sin was that of the demons? Pride, says St. Thomas. 
[615] They chose as supreme purpose that which they could obtain 
by their natural powers, and hence turned away from supernatural 
beatitude, which can be reached only by the grace of God. Thus, 
instead of humility and obedience, they chose pride and 
disobedience, the sin of naturalism. 

Scotus and Suarez, as we have seen, since they hold that the 
angelic knowledge is discursive and successive, maintain likewise 
that the angel's practical judgment and act of choice are 
revocable, but that after many mortal sins, God no longer gives 
them the grace of conversion. 


St. Thomas holds that the essential grace and glory of the angels 
does not depend on the merits of Christ, because "the Word was 
made flesh for men and for our salvation. " Christ merited as 
Redeemer. Now the essential grace of the angels was not a 
redemptive grace. [616] And their essential glory, he says 
elsewhere, [617] was given them by Christ, not as Redeemer, but as 
the Word of God. Yet the Word incarnate did merit graces for the 
angels, graces not essential but accidental, to enable them to 
cooperate in the salvation of men. 

Scotus again differs. Since the Word, he says, also in the actual 
plan of Providence, would have become man even if man had not 
sinned, we should hold that Christ merited for the angels also 
their essential grace and glory. And Suarez holds that Adam's sin 
was the occasion and condition, not of the Incarnation, but of the 
Redemption. Even if man had not sinned, he says, the Word would 
still perhaps have become incarnate, but would not have suffered. 
Hence, he concludes, Christ merited for the good angels their 
essential grace and glory, and is therefore their Savior. 

Thomists reply that Christ is the Savior only as Redeemer. But for 
the angels He is not Redeemer. Further, they reflect, if the 
angels owed to Christ their essential glory, the beatific vision, 
they would, like the just of the Old Testament, have had to wait 
for that vision until Christ rose from the dead. 

Let us summarize this Thomistic treatise on the angels. The main 
point of difference from Scotus and Suarez lies in the specific 
difference between angelic intelligence and human intelligence, a 
difference that depends on their respective formal object, his own 
essence for the angel, for the man the essence of the sense world 
known by abstraction. Hence angelic knowledge is completely 
intuitive. From this position derive all further conclusions of 
St. Thomas, on angelic knowledge, will, merit, and demerit. This 
Thomistic [618] conception of pure spirit is much higher than that 
of Scotus and Suarez. This treatise also throws much light on the 
following treatise where St. Thomas, in studying the nature of 
man, dwells on the quasi-angelic state of the separated soul. 

A last remark. St. Thomas, as he proceeds, corrects the grave 
errors of the Latin Averroists, who looked upon all immaterial 
substances as eternal and immutable, as having a knowledge 
eternally complete, as depending on God, not for creation, but 
only for preservation. [619]. 


IN his commentary on Aristotle's work, De anima, the method of St. 
Thomas had been philosophical, ascending progressively from 
vegetative life to sense life, from sense life to intellectual 
life, and finally to the principle of intellective acts, the 
spiritual and immortal soul. In the Summa, on the contrary, he 
follows the theological order, which first studies God, then 
creatures in their relation to God. Hence, after treating of God, 
then creation in general, then of angels, he now treats of man, 
under five headings:

1. The nature of the human soul. 

2. The union of soul with body. 

3. The faculties of the soul. 

4. The acts of intelligence. 

5. The production and state of the first man. 

Before we follow him, let us recall that St. Thomas pursues a 
golden middle way, between the Averroists and the Augustinians. 

Averroes [620] maintained that human intelligence, the lowest of 
all intelligences, is an immaterial form, eternal, separated from 
individual man, and endowed with numeric unity. This intelligence 
is both agent intellect and possible intellect. Thus human reason 
is impersonal, it is the light which illumines individual souls 
and assures to humanity participation in eternal truths. Hence 
Averroes denies individual souls, and also personal liberty. Such 
was the doctrine taught in the thirteenth century by the Latin 
Averroists, Siger of Brabant and Boethius of Dacia. Against these 
St. Thomas wrote a special treatise. [621]. 

Siger [622] maintained that, beside the vegetativo-sense soul, 
there exists indeed an intellective soul, but that this soul is by 
its nature separated from the body, and comes temporarily to the 
body to accomplish there its act of thought, as, so he 
illustrates, the sun illuminates the waters of a lake. Thus the 
intellectual soul cannot be the form of the body, for then, being 
the form of a material organ, it would itself be material and 
therefore be intrinsically dependent on matter. This intellectual 
soul is unique, for it excludes from itself even the very 
principle of individuation, which is matter. Still it is always 
united to human bodies, because, although human individuals die, 
humanity itself is immortal, since the series of human generations 
is without beginning and will never end. [623]. 

On the other hand, some pre-Thomistic theologians, notably 
Alexander of Hales and St. Bonaventure, admitted a plurality of 
substantial forms in man and also a spiritual matter in the human 
soul. These theologians were seeking, unsuccessfully, to harmonize 
the doctrine of St. Augustine with that of Aristotle. The 
multiplicity of substantial forms did indeed emphasize St. 
Augustine's view about the soul's independence of the body, but at 
the same time compromised the natural unity of the human 

Steering between these two currents, St. Thomas maintains that the 
rational soul is indeed purely spiritual, entirely without matter 
and hence incorruptible, but that it is nevertheless the form of 
the body, rather, the one and only form of the body, although in 
its intellectual and voluntary acts it is intrinsically 
independent of matter. And if in these acts it is independent, 
then it is independent of the body also in its being, and, once 
separated from the body which gave it individuation, it still 
remains individualized, by its inseparable relation to this body 
rather than to any other. 

Turning now to special questions, we shall continue to underline 
the principles to which St. Thomas continually appeals, and which 
Thomists have never ceased to defend, particularly against Scotus 
and Suarez, who still preserve something of the theories held by 
the older Scholasticism. Thus Scotus admits, first a materia primo 
prima in every contingent substance, even in spiritual substances, 
and holds, secondly, that there is in man a form of corporeity 
distinct from the soul, and that, thirdly, there are in the soul 
three formally distinct principles, that of the vegetative life, 
that of the sense life, and that of the intellective life. 

He likewise holds, against St. Thomas, that prime matter, speaking 
absolutely, can exist without any form. This last thesis reappears 
in Suarez who, since he rejects the real distinction between 
essence and existence, goes on to admit that prime matter has its 
own existence. We shall see that the principles of St. Thomas 
cannot be harmonized with these positions. 



THE soul of man is not only simple or unextended, as is the soul 
of plant and animal, but it is also spiritual, that is, 
intrinsically independent of matter, and therefore subsistent, so 
that is continues to exist after its separation from the body. 
These statements are proved by the soul's intellective activity, 
because activity follows being, and the mode of activity reveals 
the mode of being. How do we show that intellective activity is 
independent of matter? By the universality of the object, which 
the intellect abstracts from the particular and limited sense 
world. Among the truths thus discovered are universal and 
necessary principles, independent of all particular facts, 
independent of all space and time. [625]. 

This necessity and universality, we now note, is manifest on three 
levels of abstraction. [626] On the first level, that of the 
natural sciences, the intellect, abstracting from individual 
matter, studies, not this mineral, plant, or animal perceived by 
the senses, but the inner universal nature of mineral, plant, or 
animal. [627] On the second level, that of the mathematical 
sciences, the intellect, abstracting from all sense matter, from 
all sense qualities, considers the nature of triangle, circle, 
sphere, or number, in order to deduce their necessary and 
universal characteristics. Here it appears clearly that man's idea 
of the circle, for example, is not a mere image, a sort of medium 
between great and small circles, but a grasp of some nature 
intrinsic in each and every circle, great or small. 

Again, though the imagination cannot represent clearly to itself a 
polygon with a thousand sides, the intellect grasps the idea with 
ease. Thus the idea differs absolutely from the image, because it 
expresses, not the sense qualities of the thing known, but its 
inner nature or essence, the source of all its characteristics, 
not as imagined, but as conceived. 

Lastly, on the third level of abstraction, the intellect, 
abstracting entirely from matter, considers the intelligible being 
inaccessible to the senses. This being, this inner reality, is not 
a special sense quality, like sound, nor a common sensory quality 
like extension, but something grasped by the intellect alone, as 
the raison d'etre of reality and all its characteristics. 
Intellect alone grasps the meaning of the little word "is, " which 
is the soul of every judgment made by the mind, which is 
presupposed by every other idea, and which is the goal of all 
legitimate reasoning. Being then, that which is, since it does not 
involve any sense element, can exist beyond all matter, in 
spirits, and in the first cause of spirits and bodies. 

On this third level of abstraction, then, the intellect recognizes 
the characteristics of being as such: unity and truth and 
goodness. From the very nature of being, of inner reality, derive 
the principles, absolutely necessary and universal, of 
contradiction, causality, and finality, principles which reach out 
immeasurably beyond the particular and contingent images pictured 
by the imagination, reach even to the existence of a first cause 
of all finite things, of a supreme intelligence, regulating the 
universe. By its own act, lastly, the intellect recognizes its own 
kinship with the immaterial world. 

To summarize. Our mode of intelligent activity proves the 
immateriality of our soul, and immateriality founds 
incorruptibility, [628] since a form which is immaterial is 
uncomposed and subsistent, hence incorruptible. 

Here lies the meaning of man's desire for immortality. Since the 
intellect, says the saint, [629] grasps a reality beyond time, 
every intellectual being desires to live forever. Now a natural 
desire cannot be void and empty. Hence every intellectual being is 

How does the human soul come into existence? Since it is 
immaterial, it cannot come from the potency of matter, i. e.: it 
cannot arise by generation, hence it must arise by God's creative 
power. That which acts independently of matter, says the saint, 
[630] must have this same independence, not only in its existence, 
but also in its manner of receiving existence. 

Is our universal and necessary knowledge a proof that we can be 
elevated to an immediate knowledge of Him who is subsistent being 
itself? Not a proof, says the saint, [631] but at least a sign. 

We may insert here two of the twenty-four Thomistic theses. 

The fifteenth: The human soul is of itself subsistent. Hence at 
the moment when its subject is sufficiently disposed to receive 
it, it is created by God. By its own nature it is incorruptible 
and immortal. [633]. 

The eighteenth: Intellectuality is a necessary consequence of 
immateriality, and in such wise that levels of intellectuality are 
proportioned to their elevation above matter. [634]. 

Here Suarez [635] differs notably from St. Thomas. 


THE rational soul is the substantial form of the human body, gives 
that body its own nature, for it is the radical principle by which 
man lives, vegetatively, sensitively, and intellectively. These 
various vital acts, since they are not accidental to man, but 
natural, must come from his nature, from the specific principle 
which animates his body. 

What makes man to be man? Is it his soul alone? No, because each 
man is aware that he uses not only his mind but also his sense 
powers. But without body there can be no sense activity. Hence the 
body too belongs to man's constitution. 

But can we not say, with Averroes, that the soul is an impersonal 
intelligence, united with the body, say, of Socrates, in order to 
accomplish there that act which we call thinking? No, again, 
because such a union, being accidental, not essential, would 
prevent the act of thinking from being in truth the action of 
Socrates. Socrates would have to say, not: "I think, " but 
instead: "It thinks, " somewhat as we say, "It rains. " Nor can we 
say, further, that intelligence is united to the body as motor, to 
move and guide the body, since thus it would follow that Socrates 
would not be a natural unity, would not have one nature only. 

But can then the rational soul be a spiritual thing, if it is the 
principle of vegetative and sense life? It can, because, to quote 
the saint, [638] "the higher a form is, the less it is immersed in 
matter, the more likewise does it dominate matter, and the higher 
does its operation rise above materiality. " Even the animal soul 
is endowed with sense activity. Much more then can the rational 
soul, even as form of the body, dominate that body, and still be 
endowed with intellectual knowledge. [639] The spiritual soul 
communicates its own substantial existence to corporeal matter, 
and this existence is the one and only existence of the human 
composite. Hence, also, the human soul, in contrast to the soul of 
beasts, preserves its own existence after the destruction of the 
body which it vivified. [640] It follows, further, that the 
spiritual soul, when separated from its body, preserves its 
natural inclination to union with that body, just as naturally as, 
to illustrate, a stone thrown into the air still preserves its 
inclination to the center of the earth. [641]. 

Is there possibly only one soul for all human bodies? No, because 
it would follow that Socrates and Plato would be simply one 
thinking subject, and the one's act of thinking could not be 
distinguished from that of the other. [642]. 

Since each individual human soul has an essential relation to its 
own individual body, it follows that, by this essential relation, 
the separated soul remains individualized, and hence has a natural 
desire for reunion with that body, a reunion which, so revelation 
tells us, will become fact by the resurrection of the body. [643]. 

Is the rational soul the one and only form of the human body? Yes, 
because from this one form come both sense life and vegetative 
life, and even corporeity itself. If there were more than one 
substantial form in man, man would be, not simply one, but 
accidentally one. [644] Supposing many substantial forms, the 
lowest of these forms, by giving corporeity, already constitutes a 
substance, and all subsequent forms would be merely accidental 
forms, as is, to illustrate, the form we call quantity when added 
to corporeal substance. A form is not substantial unless it gives 
substantial being. [645]. 

Notice how, throughout these articles too, the saint insistently 
recurs to the principle of potency and act. "Act united with act 
cannot make a thing one in nature. " [646] On the contrary, "only 
from act and from potency essentially proportioned to that act can 
arise a thing of itself one, as is the case with matter and form. 
" [647] This principle of potency and act is the source of the 
wonderful unity in the Thomistic synthesis. 

Is there not contradiction in saying that a form essentially 
spiritual can, nevertheless, be the source of corporeity? No, 
because superior forms contain eminently the perfection of 
inferior forms, as, to illustrate, the pentagon contains the 
quadrilateral. [648] The rational soul contains, eminently and 
formally, [649] life sensitive and vegetative, and these qualities 
are only virtually distinct from one another. There would be 
contradiction if we said that the soul is the immediate principle 
of act, intellective, sensitive, and nutritional. But the soul 
performs these acts by the medium of specifically distinct 
faculties. [650]. 

If the rational soul has as object the lowest of intelligible 
realities, namely, the sense world, what kind of body shall that 
soul have? Evidently a body capable of sense activity. [651] Thus 
the body is meant by nature to subserve the soul's intellective 
knowledge. Only accidentally, particularly as a consequence of 
sin, is the body a burden to the soul. 

A summary of the principles which dominate the question of the 
natural union of the soul to body is found in the sixteenth of the 
twenty-four Thomistic theses. It runs thus: [652] This same 
rational soul is united to the body in such wise that it is the 
one and only substantial form of that body. To this one soul man 
owes his existence, as man, as animal, as living thing, as body, 
as substance, as being. Thus the soul gives to man all degrees of 
essential perfection. Further, the soul communicates to the body 
its own act of existence, and by that existence the body, too, 

To Thomists this proposition seems demonstrated by the principle 
of real distinction between potency and act, between essence and 
existence. Suarez, [653] who has a different understanding of this 
principle, holds that the proposition, "the soul is the one and 
only form of the body, " is not a demonstrated proposition, but 
only a more probable one. Here again we see his eclectic tendency. 

What we have said of the soul's spirituality, its personal 
immortality, its union with the body, shows clearly the degree of 
perfection given by St. Thomas to Aristotle's doctrine, which had 
been misinterpreted by Averroes as pantheistic. The precision 
Aquinas has given to Aristotle, particularly on the question of 
free and non-eternal creation, and on the present question of the 
soul, justifies the statement that St. Thomas baptized Aristotle. 
The principle of potency and act explains and defends these 
important preambles of faith. [654]. 


THE principle which dominates all questions on distinction and 
subordination of faculties, and which, consequently, dominates all 
moral theology, is formulated as follows: Faculties, habits, and 
acts are specifically distinguished by their formal object, or 
more precisely, by their formal object which (quod) they attain 
without medium and their formal object by which (quo) the object 
is attained. This principle, which clarifies all psychology, all 
ethics, all moral theology, is one of the three fundamental truths 
of Thomism. As formulated, in the seventeenth century, by A. 
Reginald, [656] it runs thus: [657] A relative thing becomes 
specifically distinct by the absolute thing to which it is 
essentially proportioned. Thus sight is specifically distinct from 
the other senses by its proportion to color, hearing by its 
proportion to sound, intellect by proportion to intelligible 
reality, will by proportion to the good which it loves and wills. 

From this principle it follows that the soul faculties are really 
distinct realities, not identified with the soul itself. In other 
words, when the soul knows, it knows, not immediately of itself, 
but by its accidental faculty of intellect, and wills by its 
faculty of will, and so on. This truth is not a mere habit of 
daily speech. It lies in the very nature of things. The essence of 
the soul is certainly a real capacity, a real potency, but since 
it is not its own existence, it receives from God that substantial 
existence to which it is proportioned. This existence is an act 
different from the act of understanding or willing, because a 
thing must be before it can act. Therefore, just as the soul's 
essence is a real capacity for existence, so must the soul have 
potencies, faculties, real capacities for knowing the truth, for 
loving the good, for imagining, for feeling emotion, for seeing, 
hearing, and so on. 

In God alone are all these things identified: essence, existence, 
intelligence, understanding, willing, loving. In the angel, as in 
man, essence is not existence, essence is not faculty, intellect 
is not its successive acts, nor will its successive volitions. 

In place of this real distinction Scotus demands a distinction 
formal-actual ex natura rei. Here, too, Thomists answer, that a 
medium between real distinction and mental distinction is 
impossible. If a distinction is anterior to our mental act, it is 
real, otherwise it is merely mental. 

Suarez, [660] here again, seeks a medium between Aquinas and 
Scotus. He thinks the distinction between soul and soul faculties 
is not certain, only probable. This position too derives from his 
departure from St. Thomas in the doctrine of potency and act. 

How do the soul faculties derive from the soul? As characteristics 
derive from essence, so all soul faculties, intellective, 
sensitive, and vegetative, derive from the one human soul. But the 
reason why the intellective faculties so immeasurably transcend 
the sense faculties lies in their respective formal object. Sense 
faculties, however perfect, since they are limited to here and 
now, can never reach the inward raison d'etre of a thing, never 
grasp necessary and universal principles, speculative or 
practical. In this transcendent power of the intellective faculty 
lies the proof for the spirituality of the soul. [661]. 

Thus also the will, by its formal object, is distinguished from 
sense appetite, concupiscible and irascible. [662] The will is a 
spiritual power, directed by the intellect, and specifically 
distinguished by universal good, which cannot be known by sense 
faculties, whereas sense appetite, illuminated only by these sense 
faculties, is specifically proportioned to sensible good, 
delectable or useful. Hence sense appetite as such can never 
desire that rational good which is the object of virtue. 

This profound distinction, this immeasurable distance, between 
will and sense appetite goes unrecognized by many modern 
psychologists, who follow Jean Jacques Rousseau. 

Does each faculty have its own special and determinate corporeal 
organ? Each sense faculty does, and hence the immediate subject of 
all sense faculties is, not the soul, but the human composite, 
soul and body united. But intellect and will, being independent of 
the organism, which is particular and limited, have as their 
subject, not the human composite, but the soul alone. [663]. 

We cannot here dwell on the intellectual act. [664] Let us merely 
note that its adequate object is intelligible being in its fullest 
amplitude, by reason of which amplitude man can, in the natural 
order, know God, the first cause, and, in the supernatural, can be 
elevated to the immediate vision of the divine essence. Since its 
proper object, however, is the essence of the sense world, our 
intellect can know God and all spiritual beings only by analogy 
with the sense world, the lowest of intelligible realities, to 
know which it needs the sense faculties as instruments. In this 
state of union with body, its manner of knowing the spiritual 
world is not immediate like that of the angel. So its very 
definition of the spiritual is negative. Spiritual, it says, is 
what is immaterial, i. e.: non material. And this negative mode of 
knowing the spiritual shows clearly that its proper sphere is in 
the world of sense. 

This teaching on the nature of human intelligence leads us to the 
nature of human freedom. [665] Of this freedom there are two 
opposed definitions, one Thomistic, the other, Molinistic. Molina 
[666] gives this definition: That agent is free, who, granting all 
prerequisites for acting, can either act or not act. Now this 
definition, standard among Molinists, however simple and 
satisfactory it seems at first sight, is in reality linked 
necessarily with Molina's theory of scientia media. [667]. 

What does Molina mean by the phrase "granting all prerequisites 
for acting"? His explanations show that the phrase includes, not 
merely what is prerequired by priority of time, but also what is 
prerequired by priority of nature and causality. It includes 
therefore the actual grace received at the very moment of 
performing a salutary act. Hence this definition, Molina explains, 
does not mean that the free will, under efficacious grace, 
preserves the power of resisting even while, in fact, it never 
does resist. What it does mean is this: Grace is not of itself 
efficacious, it is efficacious only by our own consent, pre-known 
by God (pre-known by God's scientia media of future conditional 

Molina's definition, in the eyes of Thomists, is defective because 
it leaves out of consideration the object which specifically 
distinguishes the free act. It neglects the fundamental principle, 
that all faculties, habits, and acts are what they are by their 
specific relation to their respective object. 

Now if, on the contrary, we consider the specific object of free 
will, we will recall the words of St. Thomas: "If we set before 
the will an object, which from any point of view is not good, the 
will is not drawn to it by necessity. " [668] These words contain, 
equivalently, the Thomistic definition of free will which runs 
thus: [669] Freedom is the will's dominative indifference in 
relation to any object which reason proposes as in any way lacking 
in good. 

Let us dwell on this definition. Reason proposes an object which, 
here and now, is in one way good but in some other way not good. 
Faced with such an object the will can choose it or refuse it. The 
will, as faculty, has potential indifference; as act, it has 
actual indifference. Even when the will actually chooses such an 
object, even when it is already determined to will it, it still 
goes freely toward it, with its dominating indifference no longer 
potential but actual. Indeed, in God, who is supremely free, there 
is no potential indifference, but only an actual and active 
indifference. Freedom arises from the disproportion which exists 
between the will, specifically distinguished and necessitated by 
universal good, and this or that limited and particular good, good 
in one way, not good in another way. 

Against Suarez, Thomists pronounce thus: It is impossible that 
God, even by His absolute power, could necessitate the will to 
choose an object which reason proposes as indifferent. Why? 
Because it is self-contradictory, that the will should necessarily 
will an object which reason says is in some way not good, and 
which therefore is absolutely disproportioned to the only object 
which can necessitate the will. [670]. 

Here enters the twenty-first of the twenty-four theses. [671] "The 
will follows, it does not precede the intellect. And the will 
necessarily wills only that object which is presented to it as 
good from every angle, leaving nothing to be desired. But the will 
chooses freely between good things presented by mutable judgment. 
Hence choice follows indeed the last practical judgment, but it is 
the will which makes that judgment to be the last. ". 

How does the will make the last practical judgment to be the last? 
It does this by accepting it as last, instead of turning to a new 
consideration which would result in an opposed practical judgment. 
Intellect and will are thus reciprocally related, with a kind of 
matrimonial relation, since voluntary consent, ending 
deliberation, accepts the judgment here and now present as last. 
Intellectual direction is indispensable, since the will is of 
itself blind: nothing can be willed unless foreknown as good. 

Suarez, [672] on the contrary, following Scotus, maintains that 
voluntary choice is not necessarily preceded by a practical 
judgment immediately directive. The will, when faced with two good 
objects, equally or unequally good, can, he says, freely choose 
either of them, even though the intellect does not propose that 
one as here and now the better. Using their principle as 
measuring-stick, Thomists reply: Nothing can be preferred here and 
now, unless foreknown as here and now better. That something not 
really better can here and now be judged better depends, of 
course, on the evil disposition of man's appetites, intellectual 
and sensitive. [673]. 

We have elsewhere examined at great length this problem: [674] the 
special antinomies relative to freedom; the reciprocal influence 
of the last practical judgment and free choice; comparison of 
Thomist doctrine with the psychological determinism of Leibnitz, 
on the one hand, and on the other, with the voluntarism of Scotus, 
followed partly by Suarez. 

In a brief word, the essential thing for St. Thomas is that the 
intellect and will are not coordinated, but mutually subordinated. 
The last practical judgment is free when its object (good from one 
viewpoint, not good from another) does not necessitate it. Freedom 
of will, to speak properly, is to be found in the indifference of 


WE treat this subject briefly under three headings:

1. Subsistence of the separated soul. 

2. Knowledge of the separated soul. 

3. The will of the separated soul. 


The continued subsistence of the separated soul may be thus 
demonstrated. Every form which, in its being, in its specific 
activity, and in its production, is intrinsically independent of 
matter, can subsist, and in fact, does subsist, independently of 
matter. But the human soul is such a form, intrinsically 
independent of matter. Hence, after the dissolution of the human 
body, the human soul continues to subsist. 

The Averroistic question was this: How can the soul, separated 
from the matter which gave it individuality, remain 
individualized, that is, remain as the soul of Peter rather than 
the soul of Paul? It remains individualized, answers St. Thomas, 
by its essential, transcendental relation to that human body which 
originally gave it individuation, even though that body is now 
buried in the dust. Were this relation merely accidental, then it 
would disappear with the disappearance of its terminus, as does, 
e. g.: the relation of a father's paternity when his son dies. But 
the separated soul is individualized by its relation to an 
individual body, a relation comparable to that between the soul 
and the living body, and this relation remains in the separated 
soul, which by that relation remains individualized. Thus St. 
Thomas against the Averroists, who, holding that the soul is 
individualized only by actual union with matter, went on to say 
pantheistically that all men together have but one immortal and 
impersonal soul. [676]. 

We must note that soul and body form a natural composite, which is 
one, not per accidens, but per se. Were the human soul united only 
accidentally to the body, then it would have only an accidental 
relation to its body, which relation could not remain after the 
dissolution of the body. Quite otherwise is the case if the human 
soul is by nature the form of the body. 

Here we may again see how faithful St. Thomas is to the principle 
of economy, which he himself thus formulates: [677] When fewer 
principles suffice, search not for more. In the present treatise 
too he draws all conclusions from principles, very profound but 
very few. The saint is thus responsible for great progress in the 
unification of theological knowledge. 

Let us note briefly a few more of these consequences. First, it is 
more perfect for the human soul to be united to the body than to 
be separated, because its connatural object lies in the sense 
objects to know which it needs the sense faculties. [678] Second, 
the separated soul has a natural desire to be reunited to its 
body, a conclusion in harmony with the dogma of universal 
corporeal resurrection. [679] Third, the separated soul cannot by 
its will be reunited to its body, because it informs the body, not 
by its voluntary operation, but by its very nature. [680]. 

2. KNOWLEDGE [681] 

Sense operations and sense habits do not remain actually in the 
separated soul, but only radically (i. e.: in their root and 
principle). What it does actually retain are, first, its 
immaterial faculties (intellect and will): second, the habits it 
acquired on earth, habits of knowledge, for example, and third, 
the actual exercise of these habits, that of reason, for example. 
Yet the separated soul finds itself impeded in this exercise, 
because it no longer has the actual cooperation of the imagination 
and the sense memory. But it receives from God infused ideas 
comparable to those of the angels. To illustrate, we may compare 
its state to that of a theologian who, unable to keep in touch 
with new publications in his science, receives illuminations from 
on high. 

Sometimes we find an emphasis on this last point, an emphasis 
which neglects another truth, very certain and very important, 
namely, that the separated soul knows itself directly, without 
medium. [682] This truth carries with it many other truths. By 
this immediate self-knowledge, it sees with perfect evidence its 
own native spirituality, its immortality, its freedom. It sees 
also that God is the author of its nature. It thus knows God, no 
longer in the sense world as mirror, but as mirrored in its own 
spiritual essence. Hence it sees with transcendent evidence the 
solution of the great philosophic problems, and the absurdity of 
materialism, determinism, and pantheism. Further, separated souls 
have knowledge of one another and also of the angels, though their 
knowledge of the latter is less perfect, since the angels belong 
by nature to a higher order of things. 

Does the separated soul know what is happening on earth? Not in 
the natural order. But in the supernatural order, God manifests to 
the blessed in heaven such events on earth as have a special 
relation to their blessed state, as, for instance, the question of 
sanctification of living persons for whom the blessed are praying. 


Every separated soul, so faith teaches us, has a will immutably 
fixed in relation to its last end. For this truth St. Thomas gives 
a profound reason. The soul, in whatever state, he says, thinks of 
its last end rightly or wrongly according to its interior 
disposition. Now as long as the soul is united to the body, this 
disposition can change. But when the soul is separated, since it 
is no longer tending to its last end, it is no longer on the road 
(in via) to its good, but has obtained its goal, unless it has 
missed it eternally. Hence its dispositions at the moment of 
separation remain immovably fixed either in good or in evil. [684] 
Here again we see the harmony between dogma and reason, between 
revelation on the immutability of the separated soul and the 
doctrine that the soul is the form of the body. 

Concluding, St. Thomas, [685] shows that man, first by his 
intellectual nature, secondly by grace, thirdly by the light of 
glory, is made to the image of God. Is man also an image of the 
Trinity? Yes, by his soul, which is the principle from which 
proceed both thought and then love. 


WAS the first man created in the state of grace? Did that original 
justice include sanctifying grace?

Peter Lombard and Alexander of Hales, followed by St. Albert the 
Great and St. Bonaventure, had answered as follows: Adam was not 
created in the state of grace, but only with the full integrity of 
human nature. Thereupon, after voluntarily disposing himself 
thereunto, he received sanctifying grace. From this point of view 
grace seems to be a personal gift to Adam rather than a gift to be 
transmitted to his descendants. Still, according to these four 
teachers, these descendants too by the dispositions given them in 
their transmitted integrity of nature would have received 
sanctifying grace. 

What is the position of St. Thomas? We find a development in his 
thought. When he wrote his commentary on the Sentences, [686] 
after expounding the foregoing view, he goes on to speak as 
follows: "But others say that man was created in grace. According 
to this view the gift of gratuitous justice would seem to be a 
gift to human nature itself, and therefore grace would have been 
transmitted simultaneously with nature. ". 

At this time then, around 1254, he does not as yet give preference 
to either of these views. But a little later, farther on in the 
same work, [687] he says that it is more probable that Adam 
received grace at the moment of his creation. 

In his subsequent works, he favors this view ever more strongly. 
In a work [688] written between 1263 and 1268, he speaks thus: 
"Original justice includes sanctifying grace. I do not accept the 
view that man was created in the simple state of nature. " Later 
on, in the same work, [689] he again says: "According to some 
authors sanctifying grace is not included in the concept of 
original justice. This view I hold to be false. My reason is this: 
Original justice consists primordially in the subjection of the 
human mind to God, and such subjection cannot stand firm except by 
grace. Hence original justice must include grace. ". 

Finally, in the Summa, [690] he affirms without qualification, 
that the first man was created in the state of grace, that grace 
guaranteed the supernatural submission of his soul to God, and, 
further, that this primordial rectitude brought with it perfect 
subordination of passion to reason and of the body to the soul, 
with the privileges of impassibility and immortality. 

Original justice, then, includes grace. This truth St. Thomas 
finds in a word of Scripture: [691] God made man right. Thus this 
text was understood by tradition, notably by St. Augustine, who 
often says that, as long as reason submitted to God, the passions 
submitted to reason. Hence St. Thomas holds that the original 
justice received by Adam for himself and for us, included, as 
intrinsic and primordial element, sanctifying grace, and that this 
grace is the root and source of the other two subordinations, of 
passion to reason, of body to soul. 

Let us hear the saint's own words: "Since the root of original 
justice, which made man right, lies in the supernatural subjection 
of reason to God, which subjection, as said above, comes with 
sanctifying grace, we must say that children born in original 
justice would also have been born in grace. Would grace then be 
something natural? No, because grace would not be given by seminal 
transfusion of nature, but by God, at the moment when God infused 
the rational soul. " [692]. 

And here is another text: [693] "Original justice belonged 
primordially to the essence of the soul. For it was a gift 
divinely given to human nature, a gift which is given to the 
essence of the soul, before being given to the faculties. " [694]. 

Original justice, then, includes sanctifying grace, received by 
Adam for himself and for us. That this is the position of St. 
Thomas is maintained by most of the commentators. [695]. 

We may add here a word from the saint's teaching on baptism. [696] 
If original justice meant merely full integrity of nature, then 
original sin would be merely the privation of this integrity, and 
hence would not be remitted by baptism, since baptism does not 
restore this integrity. But original sin, the death of the soul, 
[697] is the privation of grace, and grace is what is restored by 

This position of St. Thomas, compared to the other view, is much 
nearer to the position later defined by the Council of Trent, 
[698] which condemned anyone who would assert that Adam's fall 
harmed himself only and not his progeny, or that he lost for 
himself but not for us that sanctity and justice he had received 
from God. The word "sanctity" in that sentence was declared by 
many fathers of that Council to mean "sanctifying grace. " And 
while the sentence underwent many amendments, the word "sanctity" 
was never expunged. [699]. 

Thus Adam is conceived as head of nature elevated, who, both for 
himself and for us, first received and then lost, that original 
justice which included sanctifying grace. This truth is thus 
expressed in the preparatory schema for the Council of the 
Vatican: [700] God raised primordially the whole human race in its 
root and head to the supernatural order of grace, but now Adam's 
descendants are deprived of that grace. 

Original sin, therefore, is a sin of nature, which is voluntary, 
not by our will, but only by the will of Adam. Hence original sin 
consists formally in the privation of original justice, of which 
the primordial element is grace, which is restored by baptism. 
Listen to St. Thomas: "The disorder found in this or that man 
descended from Adam is voluntary, not by his will, but by the will 
of our first parent. " [701]. 

To say it in a word, the human nature transmitted to us is a 
nature deprived of those gifts, supernatural and preternatural, 
which, without being gifts of nature, still enriched our nature as 
if they were gifts of nature. [702]. 

Much light is thrown on the transmission of this sin of nature by 
the doctrine of the soul as form of the body. The soul, being the 
substantial and specific form of the body, constitutes with the 
body one and only one natural unity; [703] hence although the 
soul, being an immaterial thing, does not arise from matter but 
must be created by God from nothing, still that soul enters into a 
natural union with a body which is formed by generation. If human 
nature is thus transmitted, then, after Adam's sin, it is 
transmitted as deprived of original justice. Were the soul, like a 
motor, only accidentally united to the body, we would have no way 
of explaining the transmission of original sin. Let St. Thomas 
speak: "Human nature is transmitted from parent to child by 
transmission of a body into which then the soul is infused. The 
soul of the child incurs the original stain, because that soul 
constitutes with the transmitted body one nature. If the soul were 
not thus united to form one nature, but were only united as an 
angel is united to an assumed body, then the soul would not incur 
this original stain. " [704]. 

This same doctrine, the soul as form of the body, explains also, 
as we saw above, the immutability of the soul, immediately after 
death, in regard to its last end. The purpose of the body is to 
aid the soul to reach that last end. Hence, when the soul is no 
longer united to the body, it is no longer on the road to its last 
end, but is settled in its relation to that end by the last act, 
meritorious or demeritorious, which it placed during its state of 
union with the body. [705]. 

Thus all questions concerning man from beginning to end, from 
conception unto death and thereafter, are explained by one and the 
same set of principles. This is a great step in attaining unity of 
theological science. 

We have now seen, from the viewpoint of principle, the most 
important questions regarding God, and the angels, and man, before 
his fall and after. Let us summarize and conclude. God alone is 
pure act, in whom alone is essence identified with existence, who 
alone is not only His own existence, but also His own action. 
Every creature is composed of essence and existence, it has its 
existence, but it is not its existence. [706] Here appears the 
gulf between the verb "to be" and the verb "to have. " Since 
activity follows being, every creature is dependent on God for its 
activity, just as it is dependent on Him even for its being. 

Such is the word of wisdom, which decides all questions in the 
light of the supreme cause, God, the source and goal of all 



IN order to show the appropriateness of the Incarnation, St. 
Thomas employs this principle: good is self-diffusive, and the 
higher the order of good, the more abundantly and intimately does 
it communicate itself. The truth of this principle is seen on 
every level of being: in the light and heat of the sun, in the 
fruitfulness of vegetative life, of sense life, of intellective 
knowledge and love. The higher a thing stands in goodness the more 
creative it is, both as goal to attract and as agent to effect. 

But does a thing that is good necessarily communicate itself? Yes, 
if it is an agent limited to one kind of activity, as is the sun 
to radiation. But if the agent is free, then its self-
communication is also free. [708] By such free self-communication 
a perfect agent gives perfection, but does not itself become 
thereby more perfect. Now God is the supremely good thing, 
infinitely good. Hence it is appropriate that He communicate 
Himself in person to a created nature, and this is what comes to 
pass in the incarnation of the Word. 

Does this reason prove the possibility of the Incarnation? No, 
because reason can simply not prove apodictically even the 
possibility of a mystery essentially supernatural. But, as 
profound reason of appropriateness, the argument just given is 
inexhaustibly fruitful. And on this point we find among 
theologians no notable controversy. Real controversy begins when 
we put the questions: Why did God become incarnate?

The answer of St. Thomas [709] runs thus: In the actual plan of 
providence, [710] if the first man had not sinned, the Word would 
not have be come incarnate. He became incarnate to offer God 
adequate satisfaction for that first sin and all its consequences. 
Let us listen to his argument. 

A truth which absolutely surpasses all that is due to human 
nature, a truth which depends solely on God's will, can be known 
by divine revelation only. But according to revelation, contained 
in Scripture and tradition, the reason everywhere assigned for the 
Incarnation is drawn from the sin of the first man. [711] Hence it 
is reasonable to conclude that, if the first man had not sinned, 
the Word would not have become incarnate, and that, after that 
sin, He became incarnate in order to offer God adequate 
satisfaction, and thus to give us salvation. 

This line of reasoning is in harmony with Scripture. [712] Among 
the many texts let us quote one: The Son of man came to seek and 
to save that which was lost. [713] It is also the voice of 
tradition, formulated thus by St. Augustine: [714] Had man not 
sinned, the Son of man had not come. 

Such is the answer of St. Thomas. Scotus, on the contrary, 
maintains that, even if Adam had not sinned, the Word would still 
have become incarnate. But, since He would not have come to atone 
for sin, He would not have a human nature subject to pain and 
death. [715] Suarez, [716] seeking a middle ground, says that the 
Word became incarnate equally for the redemption of man and for 
the manifestation of God's goodness. By the adverb "equally" he 
understands that these two motives are coordinated, as being two 
chief purposes, each equal to the other, whereas Thomists hold 
that the ultimate purpose of the Incarnation was indeed to 
manifest God's goodness, but that the proximate purpose was man's 

Against the Scotist view Thomists use the following argument. 
Divine decrees are of two kinds: one efficacious and absolute, the 
other inefficacious and conditional. The latter is concerned with 
the thing to be realized taken in itself, abstracting from all 
actual circumstance. Thus, for example, God wills the salvation of 
all men. But, in fact, God permits final impenitence in a sinner 
(e. g.: Judas) as manifestation of infinite justice. Efficacious 
decrees on the contrary are concerned with the thing to be 
realized taken with all its concrete circumstances of place and 
time. Hence these decrees are immutable and infallible. [717] Now 
the present efficacious decree extends to the concrete 
circumstance of the passibility of our Savior's humanity. And 
Scotists themselves concede that the union between divine nature 
and human nature subject to passibility presupposes Adam's sin. 

This reasoning, which Thomists hold to be irrefutable, supposes 
that the last end of the Incarnation is to manifest the divine 
goodness by way of redemption, redemption being efficaciously 
decreed as subordinated to this manifestation. Thus proposed, the 
argument concludes against both Suarez and Scotus. For us men and 
for our salvation, says the Council of Nicaea, He came down from 
heaven. Had man not sinned, the Son of man had not come, says 
tradition. [718] Scotus and Suarez would reword this sentence. 
They say: Had man not sinned, the Son of man would still have 
come, but not in a "passible" humanity. By such restatement the 
assertion of the Fathers, taken simply as it stands, would be 
false. To illustrate, it would be false to say that Christ is not 
really in heaven and in the Eucharist, though He is not in either 
place in a passible humanity. 

Scotus brings another difficulty. A wise man, he says, wills first 
the end, then the means in proportion to their nearness to that 
end. [719] Thus he transfers the subordination in question from 
the order of different acts of the divine will to the order of 
different objects of those acts. Then he continues: Now Christ, 
being more perfect, is nearer the last end of the universe than is 
Adam. Hence God, to reveal His goodness, chose first the 
incarnation of the Word, before Adam was willed, and hence before 
his sin had been committed. 

In answer to this objection, many Thomists, [720] following 
Cajetan, [721] distinguish the final cause [722] from the material 
cause. To illustrate. In the order of final causality God wills, 
first the soul, secondly the body for the sake of the soul. But in 
the order of material causality He wills first the body, as being 
the material cause to be perfected by the soul, and the soul is 
created only when the embryo is sufficiently disposed to receive 
the soul. 

Applying this distinction to the Incarnation, God wills, under 
final causality, the redemptive Incarnation before He wills to 
permit Adam's sin, conceived as possible. But in the order of 
material causality, [723] He permits first the sin of Adam, as 
something to be turned into a higher good. Similarly, in the order 
of beatitude, beatitude itself is the final cause and man is the 
material cause, the subject, [724] which receives beatitude. 

This distinction is not idle, verbal, or fictitious. It is founded 
on the nature of things. Causes have mutual priority, each in its 
own order: [725] form before matter, matter before form. If Adam 
had not sinned, if the human race were not there to be redeemed, 
the Word would not have become incarnate. That is the order of 
material causality. But in the order of finality, God permitted 
original sin in view of some higher good, which good we, after the 
Incarnation, know to be an incarnation universally redemptive. 

On this last point some Thomists hesitate. John of St. Thomas and 
Billuart say they have no answer to the question: What higher good 
led God to permit original sin? But others [726] give a 
satisfactory answer. Before the Annunciation, they say, the 
question could not be answered. But, after the Annunciation, we 
see that the higher good in question is the universally redemptive 
Incarnation, subordinated of course to the revelation of God's 
infinite goodness. 

That this is the thought of St. Thomas himself appears in the 
following words: "Nothing hinders human nature from being led 
after sin to a greater good than it had before. God permits evils 
only to draw forth from them something better. " [727] Where sin 
abounded, says St. Paul, there grace superabounded. And the 
deacon, when he blesses the Easter candle, sings: Oh happy guilt, 
which merited so great and so beautiful a Redeemer!

Thus God's mercy, goodness, and power find in the Incarnation 
their supreme manifestation. How does God manifest His 
omnipotence? Chiefly, says the liturgy, [728] by sparing and 
showing mercy. [729]. 

Hence, as the Carmelites of Salamanca so well say, we are not to 
multiply divine decrees, and to suppose, as did John of St. Thomas 
and Billuart, a whole set of conditional and inefficacious 
decrees. It suffices to say that among all possible worlds known 
by what we call God's simple intelligence, there were included 
these two possible worlds: first, a human race that remains in a 
state of innocence and is crowned with a non-redemptive 
Incarnation; secondly, a fallen human race restored by a 
redemptive Incarnation. Thus, while the fallen race is first [730] 
as material subject of the Incarnation, the Incarnation itself is 
first in the order of finality. [731] And thus, too, the ultimate 
purpose of the universe is the manifestation of God's goodness. 

How, then, are we to conceive the succession, not in divine acts 
of will, but in the order of objects willed by God? Let us take an 
architect as illustration. What the architect aims at first is not 
the summit nor the foundation but the building as a whole with all 
its parts in mutual subordination. Thus God, as architect, wills 
the whole universe as it now stands with its ascending orders, 
nature first, then grace (with the permission of sin): then the 
hypostatic union as redemptive from sin. The Incarnation, though 
it presupposes a sinful human race, is not "subordinated" to our 
redemption. Redemptive by its material recipient, it remains in 
itself the transcendent cause of redemption, and we, as 
recipients, as bodies are to souls, remain ourselves subordinated 
to Christ, who is the author of salvation and the exemplar of 
holiness. All things belong to you, says St. Paul, [732] but you 
belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. 

Let us conclude with a corollary, thus expressed by St. Thomas: 
[733]: "God's love for Christ is greater than His love for all 
creatures combined. By this love He gave Christ a name that is 
above every name, since Christ is truly God. Nor is Christ's pre-
eminent excellence in any way diminished by the death which God 
imposed on Him as Savior of the human race. On the contrary, by 
this death Jesus gained the most glorious of victories, a victory 
which made Him the Prince of peace, whose shoulders bear the 
government of the world. " [734] Having humbled Himself, says St. 
Paul, [735] having become obedient unto death, even unto death on 
the cross, He was exalted and given the name that is above every 

This transcendent excellence of the Savior, thus delineated by St. 
Thomas, is in fullest accord with Scripture and tradition. The 
glory of God's Son was not diminished, was rather pre-eminently 
enhanced, when for our salvation He came down from heaven and was 
made man. 


THE hypostatic union is the union of two natures, one divine, one 
human, in the person of the Word made flesh. What is meant by 
person, personality?

The classic definition is that of Boethius: [736] Person means an 
individual substance having a rational nature. Of this definition 
St. Thomas [737] gives the following explanation. 

Person signifies an individual subject, which is first 
intellectual, secondly free, i. e.: master of his own acts, [738] 
one whose acts are self-initiated. Person, he continues, being the 
primary subject [739] which bears all predicates attributable in 
any way to its being, is itself incommunicable to any other 
subject. To each human person, for example, belong and are 
attributed, his soul, his body, his existence, his faculties, his 
operations, the parts of his body. [740]. 

This explanation simply makes precise that notion of person 
already held by the common sense of mankind. In everyday speech, 
when we speak of person, we mean that deep inward self-ownership, 
that ontological personality, which is the root, first of the 
self-conscious ego, and this we may call psychological 
personality, and secondly of that self-controlled use of liberty, 
which we may call moral personality. 

Person, personality, thus defined, is found in men, in angels, 
and, analogically, in God. In God, moreover, according to 
revelation, there are three persons, three subjects intellectual 
and free, which have each the same intellect and the same liberty, 
the same act of understanding and the same free act, by which all 
three are one principle of external operation. This same notion of 
personality allows us to say that Jesus too is a person, one sole 
intellectual and free subject, one sole ego, although he has two 
natures, one divine, one human, and hence first two intellects, 
and secondly two liberties, His human liberty, however, completely 
conformed to His divine liberty. When Jesus says [741] that He is 
the way, He is speaking according to His human nature. But when, 
in the same text, He adds that He is the truth and the life, He is 
speaking primarily according to His divine nature, which makes Him 
truth itself and life itself. "All things whatsoever the Father 
hath are Mine. " [742]. 

What is the formal and radical element of ontological personality? 
Here the Scholastics divide into opposed camps. Scotus, who denies 
real distinction of essence and existence, who denies further real 
distinction between suppositum (quod est) and existence (esse): 
answers thus: Personality is something negative. In any particular 
individual humanity (in Peter or Paul) personality is the denial, 
the absence in that person of hypostatic union with a divine 
person. [743] Suarez [744] says that personality is a substantial 
mode which follows the existence of a particular individual 
nature, and makes that nature incommunicable. He cannot admit, as 
Thomists do, that personality is presupposed to existence, since, 
like Scotus, he denies real distinction of essence and existence. 

But even those who admit this real distinction are not all of one 
mind in defining personality. One view, that of Cajetan, [745] who 
is followed by most Dominican and Carmelite Thomists, [746] 
defines personality as follows: [747] Personality is that by which 
an individual nature becomes immediately capable of existence. A 
second view, less explicit, but almost identical, is that of 
Capreolus, who says that personality is the individual nature as 
that nature underlies its existence. [748] A third view, that of 
Cardinal Billot [749] and his disciples, says that personality is 
existence itself, as actualizing the individual nature. 

By what criterion are we to arrive at the true definition of 
personality? [750] We must start with the nominal definition, 
furnished by common usage, a definition which all theologians 
intend to preserve. Now, by that common usage, when we use the 
word "person" or its equivalent pronouns "I, " "you, " and "he, " 
we mean to signify, not a mere negation, not something accidental, 
but a distinct, individual and substantial thing, even though its 
existence be contingent. Why, then, should the philosopher or 
theologian, in his search for a real and distinct definition, 
abandon this nominal definition of common sense? Let him rather 
follow the method indicated by Aristotle [751] and St. Thomas, 
which requires that we proceed, first, negatively, then 

1. Ontological personality, then, that by which a subject is 
person, cannot be a negative something. [752] If personality is to 
constitute the person, it must itself be something positive. 
Further, the personality of Socrates or of Peter must be something 
in the natural order, and hence it cannot be defined, as Scotus 
wills, by the negation of hypostatic union, which belongs 
essentially to the supernatural order; a consequence would be that 
personality, the personality, say, of Socrates, would be something 
naturally unknowable. 

2. Ontological personality is not only something positive, but 
also something substantial, not accidental, because "person" means 
a substance, a real subject of accident. Hence personality, 
speaking properly, ontological personality, is not formally 
constituted by self-consciousness, which is rather an act of the 
person already constituted, an act which manifests the person 
which it presupposes. Similarly, personality is not constituted by 
freedom of will, which is a consequence that shows the dignity of 
the person who is already constituted. Moreover, in Jesus, we find 
two self-conscious intellects and two free wills, though He is one 
sole person, one sole ego. Hence personality is something positive 
and substantial. Let us now compare it with those elements in the 
line of substance which it most resembles. 

3. Is personality identified with nature [753] as found concrete 
in the individual? No, because person is a whole which has nature 
indeed as a part, the essential, formal, and perfective part, but 
still only a part. [754] Were nature not a mere part, but the 
whole of person, we could say "Peter is his nature. " But since 
person contains more than nature, we say "Peter has human nature. 

4. Is then personality identified with individualized nature which 
underlies existence? [755] Again no, because the concrete singular 
nature of Peter is not that which exists but is that by which 
Peter is man. That which exists is Peter himself, his person. 
Hence personality is not the concrete singular nature as preceding 
existence. Further, were this view granted, since as in Christ 
there are two natures, so there would likewise be two 
personalities, two persons. 

5. Nor is personality to be identified with existence. Existence 
is attributed to created persons as contingent predicate, not as a 
formal constitutive predicate. No creature is its own existence. 
Creatures have existence, but the distance between "to be" and "to 
have" is measureless. Only God is His own existence. 

In every creature, St. Thomas [756] repeats, that which exists 
(the suppositum, the person) differs from its existence. 
Existence, he says elsewhere, [757] follows both nature and 
person. But it follows nature as that by which the thing is what 
it is, whereas it follows person as that which has existence. The 
word "follows" in this passage expresses a sequel that is real and 
objective, not a mere logical consequence. And thus, if existence 
follows person, it presupposes person, and hence cannot constitute 

Further, if existence formally constituted person, then the 
created person would be identical with his existence. Peter would 
be his own existence, he would not simply have existence. St. 
Thomas [758] would be wrong in repeating: In every creature person 
differs from existence. 

In other words, the fundamental argument of the Thomistic thesis 
runs thus: That which is not its own existence is really distinct 
from that existence, really, that is, anteriorly to any mental act 
of ours. Now the person of Peter, and much more his personality, 
is really distinct from his existence, and existence is in him as 
a contingent predicate. God alone is His own existence, a truth of 
supremest evidence to those who have received the beatific vision. 

6. To recapitulate. Ontological personality is a positive 
something, a substantial something, which so determines the 
concrete singular nature of a rational substance that it is 
capable, without medium, of existing in itself as a separate and 
independent entity. [759] More briefly, it is that by which a 
rational subject is that which exists (quod est): whereas its 
nature is that by which it belongs to its species, and existence 
is that by which it exists. 

Existence is a contingent predicate of the created person, it is 
his ultimate actuality, not in the line of essence but in another 
line. Hence, since existence presupposes personality, personality 
itself cannot be [760] a substantial mode posterior to existence. 

Hence we may say that personality is the point where two distinct 
lines intersect: the line of essence and the line of existence. 
Personality, speaking properly, is that by which an intellectual 
subject is that which is. This ontological personality, which 
constitutes the ego, is thus the root, both of the psychologic 
personality, that is, of the ego as self-conscious, and of the 
moral personality, that is, of self-mastery, of self-initiated 
activity. Thus Christ's person, as theologians in general say, is 
the personal principle (principium quod) of His theandric actions, 
and thus gives to His acts their infinite value. 

This objective definition of personality does but make explicit 
the content of the nominal definition which common sense accepts. 
Personality is that by which the intellectual subject is a person, 
as existence is that by which it exists, hence personality differs 
both from the essence and the existence which it unites into one 
complete whole. 

Hence created essence and its contingent existence do not make one 
sole nature, [761] but they do belong to one and the same subject 
(suppositum): [762] nature as its essential part, and existence as 
its contingent predicate. This terminology rests on Aristotle's 
doctrine of the four modes ofpredicating per se, i. e.: of saying 
that this predicate belongs to this subject. We have the first 
mode in a definition, the second mode when we predicate a 
characteristic of the essence, the third when we predicate 
something of an independent suppositum, and the fourth when we 
predicate of an effect its proper and necessary cause. [763] 
Following this accepted terminology, we see that created essence 
and its contingent existence make one complete whole as belonging 
each to one suppositum, in the third mode of predicating per se. 

Ontological personality thus conceived, far from preventing union 
between essence and existence, is rather that which unites the two 
and makes them one complete whole. 

Such is the conception of personality defended by Cajetan and the 
majority of Thomists. This conception, they maintain, is the 
metaphysical foundation of grammatical usage in regard to personal 
pronouns, and of the verb "to be": he is a man, for example, or he 
exists, or, he is active, he is patient, and so on. 

The texts of Capreolus are less explicit. "Nature as 
individualized under existence" is his definition of personality. 
We have said, with the majority, that personality is that by which 
individualized nature becomes immediately capable of existing. Now 
that which exists is, precisely speaking, not the nature of Peter, 
but Peter himself, Peter's person. Thus Cajetan, though he speaks 
more explicitly, does not contradict Capreolus. 

In clarification of this doctrine, held by most Thomists, let us 
quote a few more texts from St. Thomas. The form signified by this 
name person, he says, [764] is not essence or nature, but 
personality. The contrast with nature shows that personality is 
something substantial. Again he says: [765] The name person rests 
on personality, which expresses subsistence in rational nature. 
This means, in other terms, that personality is that by which a 
rational subject is capable, first of separate existence, second, 
of self-initiated activity. 

Again, speaking now of Christ directly, he writes thus: [766] Had 
not His human nature been assumed by a divine person, that nature 
would have its own proper personality. Hence we may say, speaking 
inexactly, that the divine person consumed the human personality, 
because the divine person, by being united to the human nature 
prevented that nature from having its own personality. In other 
words, personality, though it is not a part of the essence, is 
still something positive and substantial, not identified however 
with existence which, in a created person, is something 
contingent. Existence, he said above, [767] follows person which 
is the subject of existence. 

Lastly, speaking now of the Trinity, he says: [768] The three 
divine persons have each one and the same existence. This text 
shows clearly that personality differs from existence, since in 
God there are three personalities but only one existence. 
Similarly he says: [769] Existence is not included in the 
definition of person (suppositum). Only God is His own existence, 
whereas in a created person existence is a predicate, not 
essential, but contingent. 

Now for some consequences of this position. Person is to be found 
in man, in angel, and, analogically, in God. By personality the 
intellectual subject becomes the first subject of attribution, the 
subject of which all else in him is predicated, the center from 
which all else radiates, the ego which possesses his nature, his 
existence, his self-conscious act, his freedom. By deviation, this 
principle of ownership and possession [770] can become the 
principle of egoism and individualism, which prefers itself to 
family, society, and God. But while egoism and pride are thus an 
abuse of created personality, an enormous abuse, rising even to 
the denial of the Creator's supreme right, still the right use of 
personality, psychological and moral, grows into truth, self-
devotedness, and sanctity. 

In what, then, consists the full development of created 
personality? It consists in making ourselves fully independent of 
inferior things, but also, and still more closely, dependent on 
truth, on goodness, on God. 

propriam personalitatem haberet; et pro tanto dicitur persona 
(divina) consumpsisse personam, licet improprie, quia persona 
divina sua unione impedivit ne humana natura propriam 
personalitatem haberet. 

Himself. The saints are complete personalities, since they 
recognize that human personality grows great only by dying to self 
so that God may live in us, may rule us ever more completely. As 
God inclines to give Himself ever more and more, so the saint 
renounces ever more completely his own judgment and his own will, 
to live solely by the thoughts and will of God. He desires that 
God be his other self, [771] more intimate than his proper self. 
Thus, from afar off, he begins to understand the personality of 

But the saint, however high, is still a creature, immeasurably 
below the Creator, eternally distinct from God. In Jesus Christ, 
the Word of God gave Himself, in the highest conceivable manner, 
to humanity, by uniting Himself personally to humanity, in such 
wise that the human nature thus united becomes one sole ego with 
that Word, which assumed forever that human nature. Thus, there is 
in Christ one sole person, one sole intellectual and free subject, 
even while there are two natures, two intellects, two freedoms. 
Hence Christ alone among men can say: [772] "Before Abraham was, I 
am. " "The Father and I are one. " "All that belongs to the Father 
belongs to Me. ". 

To clarify this hypostatic union, St. Thomas [773] proceeds as 
follows: According to Catholic faith, human nature is really and 
truly united to the person of the Word, while the two natures 
remain distinct. Now that which is united to a person, without a 
union in nature, is formally united to it in person, because 
person is the complete whole of which nature is the essential 
part. Further, since human nature is not an accident, like 
whiteness, for example, and is not a transitory act of knowledge 
or love, the human nature is united to the Word not accidentally, 
but substantially. [774]. 

Christ, then, is man, though He has no human personality. But His 
humanity, far from being lowered by this union with the Word, is 
rather thereby elevated and glorified. From that union His 
humanity has an innate sanctity substantial and uncreated. To 
illustrate. Imagination, the highest of sense faculties, has a 
higher nobility in man than in animal, a nobility arising from its 
very subordination to the higher faculty of the intellect. A thing 
is more noble, says Thomas, when it exists in a higher being than 
when it exists in itself. [775]. 

Whereas individuation proceeds from matter, personality, on the 
contrary, is the most perfect thing in nature. [776] Thus in 
Jesus, as in us, all individualizing circumstances, of time and 
place of birth, of people and country, arise from created matter, 
whereas His person is uncreated. 

This union of two natures therefore is not an essential union, 
since the two are distinct and infinitely distant. Nor is it an 
accidental union, like that of the saints with God. It is a union 
in the substantial order, in the very person of the Word, since 
one real subject, one sole ego, possesses both natures. [777] 
Hence this union is called the hypostatic union. 

This teaching of St. Thomas, and of the majority of Thomists, 
rests, first on the words of Jesus concerning His own person, 
secondly on the idea of person accessible to our natural 
intelligence. Hence this doctrine can be expounded in a less 
abstract form, in formulas that elevate the soul to sure and 
fruitful understanding of this mystery. [778]. 

But a more subtle question arises: Is this hypostatic union of two 
natures something created? In answer, it is clear, first, that the 
action which unites the two natures is uncreated, because it is an 
act of the divine intellect and will, an act which is formally 
immanent in God, and only virtually transitive, an act which is 
common to the three divine persons. It is clear, secondly, that 
the humanity of Jesus has a real and created relation to the Word 
which possesses that humanity, and on which that humanity depends, 
whereas the Word has only a relation, not real but only of reason, 
to the humanity which it possesses, but on which it does not 
depend. On these two points there is no discussion. 

But there is discussion when the question is posed thus: Is there 
a substantial intermediate mode which unites the human nature to 
the Word? Scotus, Suarez, and Vasquez answer affirmatively, as do 
likewise some Thomists, the Salmanticenses, for example, and 
Godoy. Thomists in general answer negatively, appealing with 
justice to repeated statements of St. Thomas. Thus he says: [779] 
"In the union of the human nature to the divine, nothing mediates 
as cause of this union, nothing to which human nature would be 
united before being united to the divine person: just as between 
matter and form there is no medium. So likewise nothing can be 
conceived as medium between nature and person (suppositum). " Thus 
the Word terminates and sustains the human nature of Christ, which 
human nature thus constituted depends directly, without medium, on 
the Word. And creation itself, passive creation, is nothing but a 
real direct relation by which the creature depends on the Creator. 

Further, St. Thomas holds [780] that the hypostatic union is the 
most deep and intimate of all created unions. The human nature, it 
is true, is infinitely distant from the divine, but the principle 
which unites them, namely, the person of the Word, cannot be more 
one and more unitive. The union of our soul to our body, for 
example, however immediate it is and intimate, is yet broken by 
death, whereas the Word is never separated either from the body or 
from the soul which He has assumed. Thus the hypostatic union is 
immovable, indissoluble, for all eternity. 

This deep inward intimacy of the hypostatic union has as 
consequence the truth that there is in Christ one existence for 
the two natures. [781] This consequence, since it supposes real 
distinction between created essence and existence, is denied by 
Scotus and Suarez, who thereby attenuate that union which 
constitutes the God-man. St. Thomas thus establishes his 
conclusion: [782] There can be, in one and the same person, many 
accidental existences, that of whiteness, for example, that of an 
acquired science or art: but the substantial existence of the 
person itself must be one and one only. Since existence is the 
ultimate actuality, the uncreated existence of the Word would not 
be the ultimate actuality if it were ulteriorly determinable by a 
created existence. Hence we say, on the contrary, that the eternal 
Word communicates His own existence to His humanity, somewhat as 
the separated soul communicates its own existence to the body at 
the moment of resurrection. "It is more noble to exist in a higher 
thing than to exist in one's self. " [783] "The eternal existence 
of God's Son, an existence identified with divine nature, becomes 
the existence of a man, when human nature is assumed by God's Son 
into unity with His person. " [784]. 

Scotus and Suarez, as has been said, since they reject real 
distinction between essence and existence, reject likewise the 
doctrine of one existence in Christ. They not only attenuate the 
hypostatic union but even compromise it, because existence, as 
ultimate actuality, presupposes subsistence or personality. Hence, 
as Thomists say, if there were two existences in Christ, there 
must be likewise two persons. One thing St. Thomas [785] insists 
on: one person can have but one sole existence. 

This doctrine shows the sublimity of the hypostatic union. Under 
this union, just as the soul of Christ has the transcendent gift 
of the beatific vision, so the very being of Christ's humanity, 
since it exists by the Word's uncreated existence, is on a 
transcendent level of being. Here we see in all its fullness the 
principle with which St. Thomas begins his treatise on the 
Incarnation: Good is self-communicative, and the higher is that 
good the more abundantly and intimately does it communicate 

Christ's personality, then, the unity of His ego, is primarily an 
ontological unity. He is one sole subject, intellectual and free, 
and has one sole substantial existence. But this most profound of 
all ontological unities expresses itself by a perfect union of 
this human mind and will with His divinity. His human mind, as we 
have just said, had even here on earth the beatific vision of 
God's essence, and hence of God's knowledge. Hence, even here 
below, there was in Jesus a wonderful compenetration of vision 
uncreated and vision created, both having the same object, though 
only the uncreated vision is infinitely comprehensive. Similarly 
there was perfect and indissoluble union of divine freedom and 
human freedom, the latter also being absolutely impeccable. 


1. By the substantial grace of personal union with the Word, the 
humanity of Christ is sanctified, with a sanctity that is innate, 
substantial, and uncreated. By the grace of union Jesus is united 
to God personally and substantially, by that grace He is Son of 
God, the well-beloved of the Father, by that grace He is 
constituted as the substantial principle [786] of acts, not merely 
supernatural but theandrical, and by that grace He is sinless and 

2. Nevertheless it is highly appropriate that the soul of the 
Savior should have, as consequence of the hypostatic union, the 
plenitude also of created grace, of sanctifying grace, with all 
the infused virtues and with all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, that 
thus his supernatural and meritorious acts be connatural. This 
connaturalness requires that also the proximate principles of 
these acts, His intellect and will, be of the same supernatural 
order as are the acts themselves. [787]. 

3. This habitual and sanctifying grace, being a consequence of the 
hypostatic union, was, from the first moment of His conception, so 
perfect that it could not be augmented. By His successive deeds, 
says the Second Council of Constantinople, [788] Christ Himself 
was not made better. 

This initial plentitude of grace expanded at once into the light 
of glory and beatific vision. [789] It is highly appropriate that 
He who came to lead humanity to its last end should have perfect 
knowledge of that end. [790] Were it otherwise, did He have from 
His divinity only faith illumined by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, 
then, on receiving later the light of glory, He would, contrary to 
the Council just cited, have Himself become better. 

This expansion of sanctifying grace into the vision of God was 
paralleled by a corresponding expansion of zeal for God's glory 
and man's salvation, a zeal which led the Savior, at His entrance 
into the world, to offer Himself as a perfect holocaust for us. 
The same plenitude of grace is the source, on the one hand, of a 
supreme beatitude, which did not leave Him even on the cross, and, 
on the other hand, of the greatest suffering and humiliations, 
arising from His zeal to repair all offenses against God and to 
save mankind. This identity of source serves in some manner to 
explain the mysterious harmony, in Christ crucified, between 
supreme beatitude and supreme suffering, physical, moral, and 

4. The priesthood of Christ, which gives to His sacrifice an 
infinite value, on what does it rest? It presupposes, not merely 
the fullness of created grace, but also the grace of union. The 
priestly acts of Christ draw their theandric and infinite value 
from His divine personality. Some Thomists, it is true, say that 
Christ's priesthood is constituted by His created grace, by His 
grace of headship, [791] which of course presupposes the grace of 
union. But the majority, more numerous as time goes on, hold that 
Christ's priesthood rests directly on the uncreated grace of union 
itself. That union it is which makes Jesus the "Anointed one of 
the Lord. " That union gives Him His primordial anointing, His 
substantial holiness. [792]. 

Further, the grace of union is also the reason why we owe to 
Christ's humanity the homage of adoration. [793] It is likewise 
the reason why Christ sits at the right hand of God, as universal 
king of all creatures, as judge of the living and the dead. [794] 
This is the view which dominates the encyclical on Christ as King. 
[795] Jesus is universal judge and universal king, not only as 
God, but also as man, and that above all by His grace of union 
which makes Him God-man. 

This uncreated grace of union, then, is the reason why Christ, as 
man, since He possesses substantial holiness, is to be adored with 
the adoration due to God alone. And primarily by this same grace 
He is first priest, capable of priestly acts which are theandric, 
secondly universal king and judge. 

Here appears the necessity of contemplating our Savior from three 
points of view: first according to His divine nature, by which He 
creates and predestines; secondly, according to His human nature, 
by which He speaks, reasons, and suffers; thirdly, according to 
His unity of person with the Word, by which His acts are theandric 
and have a value infinitely meritorious and satisfactory. 

Christ was predestinated. In what sense? St. Thomas and his 
school, in opposition to Scotus, teach that Jesus as man was 
predestined, first to divine filiation, secondly and consequently, 
to the highest degree of glory, which is given to Him because He 
is God's Son, by nature, not by adoption. [796] They teach, 
further, that Christ's own gratuitous predestination is the cause 
of our predestination and that Jesus merited for the elect all the 
effects of predestination, all the graces which they receive, 
including the grace of final perseverance. [797]. 

5. Christ's meritorious and satisfactory acts have an intrinsic 
value which is infinite. On this important question, which touches 
the very essence of the mystery of Redemption, Thomists and 
Scotists are divided. St. Thomas and his school, as we saw above, 
by insisting on the one existence of Christ, emphasize, much more 
than Scotus does, the intimacy of the two natures in Jesus, -which 
gives to His acts, meritorious and satisfactory, an intrinsically 
infinite value. Thomists insist on the substantial principle of 
these acts, which is the Word made flesh, the divine suppositum, 
the divine person of the Son of God. 

Hence, whereas Scotists assign to Christ's acts a value that is 
only extrinsically infinite, that is, only so far as God accepts 
those acts, Thomists, on the contrary, and with them many other 
theologians, hold that the value of these acts is intrinsically 
infinite by reason of the divine person of the Word, which is 
their substantial and personal principle. That which acts, merits, 
satisfies, is not, speaking properly, the humanity of Jesus, but 
rather the person of the Word, which acts by His assumed humanity. 
But that person, having an infinite elevation, communicates that 
elevation to all His acts. He that properly satisfies for an 
offense, says St. Thomas, [798] must give to the one offended 
something for which his love is at least as great as is his hatred 
for the offense. But Christ, by suffering in charity and 
obedience, offered God something for which His love is greater 
than is His hatred for all offenses committed by the human race. 
As offense grows with the dignity of the person offended, so honor 
and satisfaction grow with the dignity of the person who makes 
amends. [799]. 

This thesis, admitted by theologians generally, is in accord with 
the teaching of Clement VI: [800] One little drop of Christ's 
blood, by His union with the Word, would have sufficed to redeem 
the whole human race. It is to men an infinite treasure... by 
reason of Christ's infinite merits. 


CHRIST'S acts of merit and satisfaction presuppose freedom in the 
proper sense, [802] not merely spontaneity, [803] which is found 
already in the animal. Now it would seem that Christ, if He is to 
obey freely, must also be able to disobey. Hence the question: how 
is freedom to be harmonized with absolute impeccability? 
Impeccability, in Christ, does not mean merely that, in fact, He 
never sinned. It means that He simply could not sin. He could not 
for three reasons:

a) by reason of His divine personality, which necessarily excludes 

b) by reason of His beatific vision of God's goodness, from which 
no blessed soul can ever turn aside:

c) by reason of His plentitude of grace, received inamissibly as 
consequence of the grace of union. 

How can Jesus be perfectly free if He is bound by obedience to His 
Father's will? Dominic Banez [804] was obliged to study this 
question profoundly, in answer to certain theologians of his 
epoch, who tried to safeguard the freedom of Jesus by saying that 
He had not received from His Father a command to die on the cross 
for our salvation. This position has defenders even in our own 
times. Thomists reply that the position contradicts the explicit 
words of Scripture: "I give My life. This is the command I have 
received from My Father. That the world may know that I act 
according to the commandment My Father has given me. Arise, let us 
go. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, even 
as I have kept the commandments of My Father, and abide in His 
love. " [805] Christ became obedient unto death, even to death on 
the cross. [806]. 

Now obedience, properly speaking, has as formal object a command 
to be fulfilled. And if one says, unjustifiably, that the commands 
given to Christ were only counsels, how could Christ, being 
absolutely impeccable, neglect even the counsels of His Father? 
Hence the question inevitably returns: How can impeccability be 
harmonized with that real freedom which is presupposed by merit?

The Thomistic reply begins by distinguishing psychological liberty 
from moral liberty. A command takes away moral liberty, in the 
sense that disobedience is illicit. But the command, far from 
taking away psychological liberty, rather builds on this liberty 
as foundation. The command is given precisely to ensure free acts. 
No one commands fire to burn, or the heart to beat, or any other 
necessary act. A command is self-destructive where there is no 

And precept remains precept, and is freely fulfilled, even when he 
who obeys is impeccable, because the thing commanded (death for 
our salvation) is good from one viewpoint, and not good, even 
painful, from another viewpoint. This object is entirely different 
from the divine goodness clearly seen in the beatific vision. The 
blessed in heaven are not free to love God whom they see face to 
face, though they too remain free in other acts, to pray, for 
example, at this time, or for this person. 

Further, if the command to die destroys Christ's liberty, we would 
have to say the same of all precepts, even of those commanded by 
the natural law, and thus Christ would have no freedom to obey any 
precept, and hence could have no merit. 

But the difficulty seems to remain. If Christ was free to obey, 
then He could disobey and thus sin. But faith teaches, not only 
that He did not sin, but that He could not sin. 

In answer let us weigh the following reflections. 

1. Liberty of exercise suffices to safeguard the essence of 
liberty. Man is master of his act when he can either place the act 
or not place it. Such an act is free, even where there is no 
choice between contrary acts, hating, say, and loving, or between 
two disparate ways of attaining an end. 

2. The power to sin is not included in the idea of freedom, but is 
rather the defectibility of our freedom, just as the possibility 
of error is the defectibility of our intellect. This power to sin 
does not exist in God who is sovereignly free, nor in the blessed 
who are confirmed in good. Hence it did not exist in Christ, whose 
freedom, even here on earth, was the most perfect image of divine 
freedom. Genuine freedom then does not include disobedience, but 
rather excludes it. Genuine freedom wills, not evil, but always 
good. It chooses between two or many objects, none of which is 
bad, but all good. [807]. 

3. Disobedience is not to be confused with the mere absence of 
obedience. In a sleeping child, for example, though he be the most 
obedient of children, there is, here and now, the absence of 
obedience, but no disobedience. Disobedience is a privation, a 
wrong, a fault, whereas mere absence of obedience is a simple 
negation. This distinction may seem subtle, but it expresses the 
truth. Christ, like the blessed in heaven, could not disobey, even 
by omission or neglect. But His human will, incapable of 
disobedience, can still see the absence of obedience as good, 
[808] as something here and now not necessarily connected with His 
beatitude. Death on the cross was good for our salvation, but it 
was a good mixed with non-good, with extreme suffering, physical 
and moral. Hence it was an object which did not impose necessity 
on His will. Nor did the divine will impose necessity, since, as 
we have seen, the precept, by making the omission illicit, removes 
indeed moral liberty, but, on the contrary, presupposes and 
preserves physical and psychological liberty. 

When then does Jesus love necessarily? He thus loves His Father 
seen face to face, and hence all else that is, here and now, 
connected, intrinsically and necessarily, with that supreme 
beatitude, just as we necessarily will existence, life, and 
knowledge without which we see that we cannot have happiness. But 
Jesus willed freely all that was connected, not intrinsically, but 
only extrinsically, by a command, with beatitude. Death, at once 
salutary for us and terrible in itself, did not attract 
necessarily. The command did not change either the nature of the 
death, or the freedom of the act commanded. Hence Christ's 

Thus Jesus obeyed freely even though He could not disobey. As 
distant illustration of this mystery, we may refer to a painful 
act of obedience in a good religious. He obeys freely, hardly 
reflecting that he could disobey. Even if he were confirmed in 
grace, this confirmation would not destroy the freedom of his 
obedient act. The will of Christ, says St. Thomas, [809] though it 
is confirmed in good, is not necessitated by this or that 
particular good. Hence Christ, like the blessed, chooses by a free 
will which is confirmed in good. This sentence, in its simplicity, 
is more perfect than the long commentaries thereon, but the 
commentaries serve to show the truth hidden in that simplicity. 
The sinless liberty of Christ is the perfect image of God's 
sinless liberty. [810]. 


We consider here three important problems. 

1. How is Christ's passion in harmony with His beatific vision?

2. How did His passion cause our salvation?

3. Why did He suffer so much, seeing that His least suffering 
would suffice to save us?

1. According to St. Thomas [811] our Savior's sufferings were the 
greatest that can be conceived. In particular, His moral suffering 
surpassed that of all contrite hearts, first because it derived 
from a transcendent wisdom, which let Him realize, far beyond our 
power, the infinite gravity of sin, and the countless multitude of 
men's crimes; secondly because it derived from a measureless love 
for God and men; thirdly because He suffered, not merely for the 
sins of one man, as does a repentant sinner, but for all sins of 
all men taken together. Hence the question: How under such intense 
pain, physical and moral, could our Lord simultaneously preserve 
the boundless joy of the beatific vision?

This mystery, as theologians generally teach, is the consequence 
of another mystery, namely, that Jesus was simultaneously a viator 
(on the road to ultimate glory) and a comprehensor (already in 
possession of ultimate glory). [812] How is this possible? The 
truest answer is that of St. Thomas, an answer that is full of 
light, though the mystery remains a mystery. 

We must distinguish also in Christ, says the saint, [813] the 
higher soul faculties from the lower. Hence, as long as He was 
simultaneously viator and comprehensor, He did not allow the glory 
and the joy of the superior part to overflow on the inferior part. 
Only the summit of His soul, that is, His human mind and will was 
beatified, while He freely abandoned to pain all His faculties of 
sense. [814] He would not permit His beatific joy in the summit of 
His soul to send down the slightest softening ray upon that 
physical and moral pain, to which He would fully surrender 
Himself, for our salvation. In Illustration, think of a lofty 
mountain, the summit Illumined by the sun, while a violent storm 
envelops the lower slopes and the foundations, and, as analogy, 
think of the contrite penitent, whose higher faculties rejoice in 
the affliction of his lower faculties, and rejoice the more, the 
more he is thus afflicted. 

2. How did Christ's passion cause our salvation? [815] In five 
different ways: as merit, as satisfaction, as sacrifice, as 
redemption, as efficient cause. Is this series a mere 
juxtaposition of scriptural terms? No, we have here an ordered 
process, rising from general terms to terms which are specific and 
comprehensive. All acts of charity are meritorious, but not all 
are satisfactory. An act may be satisfactory without being, 
properly speaking, a sacrifice, which presupposes a priest. And 
even a true sacrifice, as in the Old Law, may not of itself be 
redemptive, but only as prefigurative of a perfect sacrifice. And, 
lastly, even a redemptive sacrifice may be only a moral cause of 
grace, whereas Christ's redemptive sacrifice is also the efficient 
cause of grace. 

Christ's passion, then, wrought our salvation under the form of 
merit because, as the head of humanity, He could pour out grace on 
us from His own fullness, and, as divine person, His merits have 
an infinite value. [816]. 

His passion was, second, a perfect satisfaction, because by 
bearing that passion with theandric love, He offered something for 
which the Father's love was greater than His displeasure at all 
sins of mankind. And the life He offered, the life of the God-man, 
had infinite value. Personally then, and objectively, satisfaction 
was completely adequate. [817]. 

His passion, further, was sacrificial cause of our redemption, for 
it was an oblation, in the visible order, of His life, of His body 
and blood, made by Him as priest [818] Of the New Covenant. [819]. 

Hence, also as redemption, His passion is cause of our salvation, 
because, being an adequate and superabounding satisfaction, it was 
the price paid for our deliverance from sin and penalty. [820]. 

Merit, satisfaction, sacrifice, redemption are forms of moral 
causality. But Christ's passion is also an efficient cause of our 
salvation, since the suffering humanity of Christ is the 
instrument by which the divinity causes in us all graces which we 
receive. [821]. 

Recapitulating, [822] St. Thomas speaks thus: The passion of 
Christ's humanity compared to His divinity, has instrumental 
efficiency; compared to Christ's human Will, it energizes as 
merit; considered in His flesh, it energizes as satisfaction; it 
energizes as redemption, in delivering us from the captivity of 
guilt; lastly, it energizes as sacrifice, by reconciling, by 
making us the friends of God. 

We should note here that St. Thomas sees the essence of 
satisfaction in our Savior's theandric love rather than in His 
great sufferings, since these sufferings draw their value from 
that love which pleases God more than all sin displeases Him. 
[823] This love makes Christ's satisfaction superabundant, and, 
further, as Thomists hold against Scotus, intrinsically, of 
itself, superabundant, not merely extrinsically, by God's 
acceptance. And this satisfaction, they add, being of itself 
superabundant, has the rigorously strict value of justice. 

Let us note another conclusion. Jesus is the one sole Redeemer, 
[824] the universal Redeemer from whom alone all others, even His 
mother, the Virgin Mary, receive their sanctity. [825]. 

The effects of Christ's passion, to recapitulate, are deliverance 
and reconciliation, deliverance from sin, from the domination of 
the devil, from the penalties due to sin; and reconciliation with 
God, who opens to us the gates of heaven. Here we see, in mutual 
order and Illumination, the various terms and truths whereby 
Scripture and tradition speak of our Savior's passion. The 
conclusions thus presented are not, strictly speaking, theological 
conclusions, even when at times they proceed from two premises of 
faith. They are rather explanations of the truths contained in the 
"doctrine of faith, " truths that precede theology, and of which 
theology is itself the explanatory science. 

3. Why did Jesus suffer so much, seeing that the least of His 
sufferings offered with such love would superabundantly suffice 
for our salvation? [826]. 

In answer, let us look at our Savior's sufferings from three 
points of view; our own, His own, and that of God the Father. 

a) We need to be Illumined on how to receive the greatest 
testimony of love, accompanied by the highest example of heroic 
virtue. Now there is no greater love than giving life for those we 
love. [827]. 

b) Christ Himself must fulfil His redemptive mission in the 
highest manner. Now, as priest, no victim but Himself was worthy. 
And to be a perfect holocaust He must be completely victim, in 
body, in heart, in a soul "sorrowful unto death. " Further, having 
the fullness of charity, and being both viator and comprehensor, 
He necessarily suffered with boundless intensity from mankind's 
sins taken on Himself, seeing in these sins both the offense 
against God and the cause of the loss of souls. 

c) God the Father willed by this road of suffering and humiliation 
to give our Savior the grandest of victories, a threefold victory, 
over sin, over the devil, over death. The victory over sin was 
gained by the greatest of all acts of charity, victory over the 
devil's disobedience and pride by the supreme act of obedience and 
the loving acceptance of the lowest humiliations, victory over 
death, the consequence and punishment of sin, by the glorious 
external sign of the two preceding victories, a victory 
culminating in His resurrection and ascension. "Christ humbled 
Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to death on the cross. 
Hence God exalted Him, and gave Him a name above every name, a 
name before which all kneel... while every tongue, to the glory of 
God the Father, confesses that Jesus Christ is the Lord. " [828]. 

This treatise on the redemptive Incarnation, like that on God, 
shows that Thomism is not a mere sum of haphazard theses, but a 
mental attitude of research, a method of expounding truth in the 
order of nature and of grace, a unified grasping, a living 
synthesis, of the natural order of truth in its essential 
subordination to the supernatural order of truth. Such a synthesis 
radiates from one mother-idea. In the treatise on God that parent-
idea is this: God is subsistent being, in whom alone essence is 
identified with existence. In the treatise on the Incarnation, the 
parent idea is the divine personality of our Savior. This unity of 
person in two natures implies first, unity of existence, [829] 
secondly, substantial sanctity, thirdly, a priesthood supremely 
perfect, fourthly, a royal dominion over all creatures. Lastly, 
since person is the substantial principle of all acts, the 
theandric acts of Christ have a value intrinsically infinite in 
the order of merit and satisfaction. 

We add one remark. These two treatises, that on God and that on 
the Incarnation, are the foundations of the theological edifice. 
On their solidity all else depends. 


As from the hypostatic union arise all the prerogatives of Christ, 
so the divine maternity is the raison d'etre of all Mary's graces, 
particularly of her role as our Mother and Mediatrix. We treat 
here four questions:

1. Mary's predestination. 

2. Her dignity as Mother of God. 

3. Her sanctity. 

4. Her universal mediation. 

Under these headings we give the common Thomistic teaching, and 
attempt to make precise the reason why St. Thomas hesitated to 
affirm the privilege of the Immaculate Conception. 


By one and the same decree God predestined Jesus and Mary, Jesus 
unto natural divine filiation, Mary to be the Mother of God, 
because Christ's eternal predestination includes all the 
circumstances which here and now attend His incarnation. Of these 
circumstances the most important is that signalized in the Nicene 
Creed: He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of Mary the Virgin. To 
this one and the same decree testimony is borne by Pius IX in the 
bull Ineffabilis Deus: [831] This Virgin's privileges are 
primordial, given by that one and the same decree which willed 
that divine Wisdom be incarnate. 

The parallelism is complete. Jesus was predestined, first [832] to 
divine filiation, secondly and consequently to the highest degree 
of glory and hence to that fullness of grace which belongs to the 
holy soul of the Word made flesh. Thus too, by the same decree, 
Mary was predestined first to the divine maternity, secondly and 
consequently to a very high degree of glory, and hence to that 
fullness of grace which belongs to the Mother of God, a fullness 
worthy of the grandeur of her mission, a mission which uniquely 
associated her with the redemptive work of her Son. [833]. 

Mary's predestination, further, again like that of Christ, 
depends, in the order of material causality, on the permission and 
prevision of Adam's fall, because, in the actual plan of 
Providence, if the first man had not sinned, were there no 
original sin to repair, Mary would not be the Mother of God. But 
where sin abounded, grace superabounded. [834] The Fall was 
permitted in view of that great good which we see radiating from 
the redemptive Incarnation, [835] and Mary, predestined to be 
Mother of the Redeemer, is thereby predestined likewise to be the 
Mother of mercy. 

Mary's predestination, like that of Christ, is absolutely 
gratuitous. By no title, either of justice (de condigno) or even 
of strict appropriateness (de congruo proprie): could she merit 
divine maternity. This is the common teaching, against Gabriel 
Biel. The principle underlying this doctrine runs thus: The source 
of merit cannot itself be merited. Now, in the actual economy of 
salvation, the Incarnation is the source of all grace, and of all 
merit, of Mary's graces and of our own. 

Further, there is no proportion between merits in the order of 
created grace and the hypostatic order of uncreated grace. But 
divine maternity, though it terminates in the hypostatic order, in 
the person of the Word made flesh, is in itself a created grace. 
Hence, when we say that the Blessed Virgin merited to bear the 
Lord of all, we do not mean, says St. Thomas, [836] that she 
merited the Incarnation itself. What we do mean is this: By the 
grace given her she merited that degree of purity and sanctity 
which was demanded by her dignity as Mother of God. Can we 
therefore say that she merited the Incarnation, not indeed by 
justice (dc condigno): nor even by strict appropriateness (de 
congruo stricte dicto): but at least by appropriateness in a wider 
sense (de congruo late dicto) ? St. Thomas [837] seems to say so, 
and is thus understood by many Thomists. The saint's words run 
thus: The Blessed Virgin did not merit the Incarnation, but, the 
Incarnation supposed, she merited, not de condigno but de congruo, 
that the Incarnation should be accomplished through her. This 
position is in full accord with two other positions: first that 
she merited our graces de congruo proprio, secondly that Christ 
merited our graces de condigno. 


Mary is truly and properly the Mother of God. This definition of 
the Church [838] is to be explained thus: The terminus of the act 
of conceiving is not, properly speaking, the nature of the child, 
but the person of the child. Now the person in whom Mary's act of 
conception terminates is the Word incarnate, a divine person. 

The divine maternity, therefore, is a relation, of Mary to Christ 
and of Christ to Mary. Since Christ belongs to the hypostatic 
order, Mary's maternity is a relation to the hypostatic order. 
This relation is, in Mary, a real relation, like that of creature 
to Creator, whereas it is only a relation of reason in the 
unchangeable Word, like that of Creator to creature. 

The sublimity of this divine maternity is thus expressed by St. 
Thomas: "The Blessed Virgin, by being Mother of God, has a certain 
infinite dignity, by this relation to that infinite good which is 
God. And nothing in this line can be conceived greater than this 
maternity, just as nothing can be conceived greater than God. " 
[839] This conception underlies the saint's words on hyperdulia, a 
cult due to Mary alone. He says: [840] "Hyperdulia is the highest 
kind of dulia, [841] because the reverence due to any person grows 
with that person's affinity to God. " Mary's maternity, then, 
since it terminates in God, has an infinite dignity. 

By what is Mary sanctified? Is it by the divine maternity, 
independently of her plenitude of grace? Some theologians [842] 
say Yes, just as the hypostatic union gives to Christ a 
substantial sanctity independently of His fullness of sanctifying 
grace. But the generality of theologians [843] say No, because the 
divine maternity, in contrast to Christ's grace of union, is only 
a relation to the Word incarnate, and relation as such does not 
seem to be a sanctifying form. 

Nevertheless this relation of divine maternity, though it does not 
sanctify formally and immediately, does sanctify radically and 
exigitively, because it connaturally postulates all the graces 
given to Mary to make her the worthy Mother of God. [844]. 

To understand this distinction, let us note that the divine 
maternity, considered materially, consists in the acts of 
conceiving, carrying, bearing, and nourishing the Word made flesh. 
Now, in themselves, these acts are less perfect than that of 
loving God and doing His will according to our Lord's word: "Yea, 
rather blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it. " 
[845] But we must consider the divine maternity also formally. To 
become Mother of God, Mary had to give her consent to the 
realization of the mystery. By this consent, as tradition says, 
she conceived her Son, not only in body, but also in spirit, in 
body, because He is flesh of her flesh, in spirit, because He 
awaited her consent. But her act of consent was given, says St. 
Thomas, [846] in the name of the human race. Further, in thus 
consenting, she consented likewise to that train of sufferings 
predicted by the Messianic prophecies. Considered thus, formally, 
the divine maternity demands those high graces which make her, in 
God's plan, the worthy Mother of the Redeemer, His most intimate 
associate in the work of redemption. [847]. 

Let us add that maternity, in a rational creature, presupposes the 
mother's consent, and that, in the present case, that consent must 
be supernatural, since it terminates in the mystery of the 
redemptive Incarnation. Thus while the divine maternity, taken 
formally, demands grace, the inverse is not true. Fullness of 
grace, in idea, does not demand the divine maternity. It may be 
said, of course, that, by God's absolute power, divine maternity 
could exist without grace. But thus considered, even the soul of 
Christ could be annihilated, since there is no intrinsic 
contradiction. But, it need hardly be said, we are dealing here 
with God's ordinary power, as guided by wisdom which suits all 
things to their purpose. 

A last question. Divine maternity, taken in itself, without 
considering Mary's fullness of grace -- is it higher than 
sanctifying grace and the beatific vision? Many theologians [848] 
answer No. Among Thomists, Contenson, Gotti, Hugon, [849] 
Merkelbach, [850] answer Yes, maintaining that the affirmative 
answer is more in conformity with traditional doctrine. They give 
three convincing reasons. 

1. The divine maternity belongs, terminatively, to the hypostatic 
order, it reaches physically the person of the Word made flesh, to 
whom it gives His human nature. But the hypostatic order surpasses 
by far the orders of grace and glory. Hence the divine maternity 
has an infinite dignity. Besides, while grace can be lost, the 
divine maternity cannot be lost. 

2. The divine maternity is the original reason for Mary's fullness 
of grace, and the converse is not true. Hence her maternity, being 
the measure and purpose of that fullness, stands simply higher 
than its effects. 

3. Why do we owe Mary the cult of hyperdulia? Answer: because of 
her divine maternity. This cult cannot be given to the saints, 
however high in grace and glory. Hyperdulia is due to Mary, not 
because she is the greatest of saints, but because she is the 
Mother of God. Hence, speaking simply, her divine maternity, 
considered purely in itself, [851] is superior to her sanctifying 
grace and her glory. Thus we return to our thesis: Mary was 
predestined, first to the divine maternity, secondly and 
consequently to a surpassing degree of glory, thirdly and again 
consequently to her fullness of sanctifying grace. 

Since Mary by her divine maternity belongs to the hypostatic 
order, she is higher than all angels, and higher than all priests, 
who have a priesthood participated from Christ. This maternity 
divine is the foundation, the root, the fountainhead, of all her 
other graces and privileges, which either precede her maternity as 
dispositions, or accompany it, or follow it as consequences. 


Mary's sanctity, considered negatively, includes the privileges of 
the Immaculate Conception, and exemption from even the least 
personal sin. Considered positively, it means the fullness of 

1. St. Thomas and the Immaculate Conception

Was St. Thomas in favor of granting to Mary the privilege of the 
Immaculate Conception? Many theologians, including Dominicans 
[852] and Jesuits, [853] say Yes. Many others say No. [854] We 
hold, as solidly probable, the position that St. Thomas hesitated 
on this question. This view, already proposed by many Thomists, is 
defended by Mandonnet, [855] and by N. del Prado, E. Hugon, G. 
Frietoff, and J. M. Voste. [856] This view we here briefly 

At the beginning of his theological career [857] St. Thomas [858] 
explicitly affirms this privilege: The Blessed Virgin, he says, 
was immune, both from original sin and from actual sin. But then 
he saw that many theologians understood this privilege in a sense 
that withdrew the Virgin from redemption by Christ, contrary to 
St. Paul's [859] principle that, just as all men are condemned by 
the crime of one man (Adam): so all men are justified by the just 
deed of one man (Christ, the second Adam): and that therefore, 
just as there is but one God, so there is also only one mediator, 
Christ, between God and men. Hence St. Thomas showed that Mary, 
too, was redeemed by the merits of her Son, and this doctrine is 
now part and parcel of the definition of the Immaculate 
Conception. But that Mary might be redeemed, St. Thomas thought 
that she must have the debt of guilt, [860] incurred by her carnal 
descent from Adam. Hence, from this time on, he said that Mary was 
not sanctified before her animation, leaving her body, conceived 
in the ordinary way, to be the instrumental cause in transmitting 
the debitum culpae. We must note that, in his view, [861] 
conception, fecundation, precedes, by an interval of time, the 
moment of animation, by which the person is constituted. The only 
exception he allowed was for Christ, whose conception, virginal 
and miraculous, was simultaneous with the moment of animation. 

Hence, when we find St. Thomas repeating that the Blessed Virgin 
Mary was conceived in original sin, we know that he is thinking of 
the conception of her body, which precedes in time her animation. 

At what exact moment, then, was Mary sanctified in her mother's 
womb? To this question he gives no precise answer, except perhaps 
at the end of his life, when he seems to return to his original 
view, to a positive affirmation of Mary's Immaculate Conception. 
Before this last period, he declares [862] that we do not know the 
precise moment, but that it was soon after animation. Hence he 
does not pronounce on the question whether the Virgin Mary was 
sanctified at the very moment of her animation. St. Bonaventure 
had posed that question and like many others had answered in the 
negative. St. Thomas preferred to leave the question open and did 
not answer it. 

To maintain his original position in favor of the privilege, he 
might have introduced the distinction, familiar in his works, 
between priority of nature and priority of time. He might thus 
have explained his phrase "soon after" (cito post) to mean that 
the creation of Mary's soul preceded her sanctification only by a 
priority of nature. But, as John of St. Thomas [863] remarks, he 
was impressed by the reserved attitude of the Roman Church, which 
did not celebrate the feast of Mary's Conception, by the silence 
of Scripture, and by the negative position of a great number of 
theologians. Hence he would not pronounce on this precise point. 
Such, in substance, is the interpretation given by N. del Prado 
and P. Hugon. [864] The latter notes further the insistence of St. 
Thomas on the principle, recognized in the bull Ineffabilis Deus, 
that Mary's sanctification is due to the future merits of her Son 
as Redeemer of the human race. But did this redemption preserve 
her from original sin, or did it remit that sin? On this question 
St. Thomas did not pronounce. 

In opposition to this interpretation two texts of the saint are 
often cited. In the Summa [865] he says: The Blessed Virgin did 
indeed incur original sin, but was cleansed therefrom before she 
was born. Writing on the Sentences, [866] he says: The Virgin's 
sanctification cannot properly be conceived either as preceding 
the infusion of her soul, since she was not thus capable of 
receiving grace, or as taking place at the very moment of the 
soul's infusion, by a grace simultaneously infused to preserve her 
from incurring original sin. 

How do the theologians cited above explain these texts? They [867] 
answer thus: If we recall the saint's original position, and the 
peremptoriness of the principle that Mary was redeemed by Christ, 
these two texts are to be understood rather as a debitum culpae 
originalis than the actual incurring of the sin itself. Thus 
animation would precede sanctification by a priority of nature 
only, not of time. 

Here we must remark, with Merkelbach, [868] that these opportune 
distinctions were not yet formulated by St. Thomas. The saint 
wrote "she incurred original sin, " and not "she should have 
incurred it, " or "she would have incurred it, had she not been 
preserved. " Further, the saint wrote: "We believe that the 
Blessed Virgin Mary was sanctified soon after her conception and 
the infusion of her soul. " [869] And he does not here distinguish 
priority of nature from priority of time. 

But we must add, with Voste, [870] that St. Thomas, at the end of 
his life, seems to return to the original view, which he had 
expressed as follows: [871] Mary was immune from all sin, original 
and actual. Thus, in December 1272, he writes: [872] Neither in 
Christ nor in Mary was there any stain. Again, on the verse [873] 
which calls the sun God's tent, he writes: Christ put His tent, i. 
e.: His body, in the sun, i. e.: in the Blessed Virgin who was 
obscured by no sin and to whom it is said: [874] "Thou art all 
beautiful, my friend, and in thee there is no stain. " In a third 
text [875] he writes: Not only from actual sin was Mary free, but 
she was by a special privilege cleansed from original sin. This 
special privilege distinguishes her from Jeremias and John the 
Baptist. A fourth text, [876] written in his last year of life, 
[877] has the following words: Mary excels the angels in purity, 
because she is not only in herself pure, but begets purity in 
others. She was herself most pure, because she incurred no sin, 
either original or actual, not even any venial sin. And he adds 
that she incurred no penalty, and in particular, was immune from 
corruption in the grave. 

Now it is true that in that same context, some lines earlier, the 
saint writes this sentence: The Blessed Virgin though conceived in 
original sin, was not born in original sin. But, unless we are 
willing to find in his supreme mind an open contradiction in one 
and the same context, we must see in the word, "She was conceived 
in original sin, " not original sin itself, which is in the soul, 
but the debt of original sin which antecedently to animation was 
in her body conceived by the ordinary road of generation. [878]. 

We conclude with Father Voste: [879] "Approaching the end of his 
life here below, the Angelic Doctor gradually returned to his 
first [880] affirmation: the Blessed Virgin was immune from all 
sin, original and actual. ". 

2. Mary's Fullness of Grace

The Blessed Virgin's fullness of grace made her of all creatures 
the nearest to the Author of grace. Thus St. Thomas. [881] He adds 
[882] that her initial fullness was such that it made her worthy 
to be mother of Christ. As the divine maternity belongs, by its 
terminus, to the hypostatic order, so Mary's initial grace 
surpassed even the final grace of the angels and of all other 
saints. In other words, God's love for the future Mother of God 
was greater than His love for any other creature. Now, grace, 
being an effect of God's love for us, is proportioned to the 
greatness of that love. Hence it is probable, as weighty Thomists 
[883] say, that Mary's initial fullness surpassed the final grace 
of all saints and angels taken together, because she was already 
then more loved by God than all the saints taken as one. Hence, 
according to tradition, Mary's merits and prayer, could, even 
without any angel or saint, obtain even here on earth more than 
could all saints and angels without her. Further, this initial 
plentitude of sanctifying grace was accompanied by a proportional 
plentitude of infused virtues and of the seven gifts of the Holy 

With such initial fullness, could Mary still grow in grace? Most 
assuredly. In her we have the perfect exemplification of the 
principle which St. Thomas thus formulates: "Natural motion (in a 
falling stone) is intensified by approaching its goal. In violent 
motion (in a stone thrown upwards) we have the inverse. But grace 
grows like nature. Hence those who are in grace grow in proportion 
to their approach to their goal. " [884] Hence Mary's progress in 
grace, ever more prompt toward God, grew ever more rapid in answer 
to God's greater attraction. 

But while Mary's grace thus grew greater until her death, there 
were two moments when her grace was augmented sacramentally: [885] 
the moment of the Incarnation, and that on Calvary when she was 
declared the Mother of all men. 


From her divine maternity and her fullness of grace arises Mary's 
function of universal mediatrix, a title given to her by 
tradition, and now consecrated by a feast of the Church universal. 

Two special reasons underlie this title. First, by satisfaction 
and merit she cooperated with the sacrifice of the cross, and this 
is her ascending mediation. Second, and this is her descending 
mediation, by interceding she obtains and distributes all graces 
which we receive. 

How did she cooperate with the sacrifice of the cross? By giving 
to God, with great pain and great love, the life of her adorable 
Son, whom she loved more than her life. Could this act of hers 
satisfy God in strict justice? No, only our Savior's act could do 
that. Yet Mary's satisfaction was a claim, not of strict justice, 
but of loving friendship, [886] which has given her the title of 
co-redemptrix, in the sense that with, by, and in Christ she 
redeemed the human race. [887]. 

Hence whatever Christ on the cross merited in strict justice, Mary 
too merited by the claim of appropriateness, founded on her 
friendship with God. This doctrine, now common, is sanctioned by 
Pius X: [888] Mary merited by appropriateness (de congruo) what 
Christ merited by justice (de condigno). Hence she is the chief 
administratrix of all grace that God wills to grant. 

What is the difference between meriting de condigno and meriting 
de congruo? Merit in these two lines, says St. Thomas, [889] is 
used analogically, merit de condigno meaning a claim founded on 
justice, and merit de congruo meaning a claim founded on the 
friendship of charity. But in Mary's case this merit means 
congruousness in the strict sense [890] and hence is still merit 
in the proper sense of the word, which presupposes the state of 
grace. We do indeed speak of the prayers of a man in mortal sin as 
meritorious, but the merit in this case, being founded, not on 
divine friendship, but solely on God's mercy, is merit only in an 
improper, metaphorical sense. Between merit de condigno (Christ's 
merit) and merit proprie de congruo (Mary's merit) there is the 
analogy of proper proportionality, and in each case merit in the 
proper sense, whereas, in the third case, that of a sinner who 
prays, there is merit only by metaphorical analogy. 

Mary performs her function as universal mediatrix by intercession. 
This doctrine expressed by the prayer commonly addressed to Mary 
in the liturgy, [891] is founded on Scripture and tradition. But, 
granting Mary's intercessory power, can we hold that she is also a 
physical cause, an instrumental cause, and not merely moral cause, 
of all graces we receive? Many Thomists say Yes. They reason thus: 
If the humanity of Jesus is the physical instrumental cause of all 
our graces, His Mother too should be an instrumental cause, 
subordinated, of course, to Him who is her Son and her God. We do 
not see that this position can be established with true certitude, 
but the principles of St. Thomas on the role of Christ's humanity 
incline us to accept it. What is certain is that Mary is the 
spiritual Mother of all men, that, as coadjutrix in the Savior's 
work of redemption, she merits the title "Mother of divine grace, 
" and that therefore she pours out graces on all humanity. 

Among the authors who have best developed this doctrine we may 
signalize Blessed Grignion de Monfort. [892]. 

SIXTH PART: The Sacraments of the Church

With this sixth part we complete the dogmatic section of this 
synthesis. We give, in six chapters, the principal Thomistic 
theses on the sacraments. 

1. The sacraments in general. 

2. Transubstantiation. 

3. The Sacrifice of the Mass. 

4. Attrition and contrition. 

5. The reviviscence of merits. 

6. The treatise on the Church. 


THE precision given by St. Thomas to sacramental doctrine is best 
seen on three important points:

a) the efficacious causality of the sacraments. 

b) their matter and form. 

c) their raison d'etre. 

The sacraments of the New Law are efficacious signs, which produce 
grace of themselves (ex opere operato): by a causality that is 
physical and instrumental. [893] In the sacraments, he says, [894] 
there is an instrumental power which produces the sacramental 
effect. Again: [895] The principal efficient cause of grace is God 
Himself, who has, as conjoined instrument, [896] the humanity of 
Christ, and, as separated instrument, [897] the sacrament itself. 
These texts, in themselves and in their context, are entirely 
clear, and all Thomists, Melchior Cano excepted, hold that the 
sacraments are physical, instrumental causes of grace. The word 
itself, "physical, " is not, it is true, in the text of St. 
Thomas, but "instrumental" in his mind means real causality which 
is distinct from the moral order. 

St. Thomas applies to the sacraments analogically the theory of 
matter and form, giving precision to the teaching of William of 
Auxerre and Alexander of Hales. We see, in fact, an analogy, in 
the order of signification, between sacramental words and form. As 
form determines matter, so the sacramental words determine the 
signification of the sacramental thing, for example, the baptismal 
ablution. Thus absolution is the form of penance, which has as 
matter the exterior acts of the penitent. As regards matrimony 
(the question is subject to discussion) the consent of the two 
parties contain both matter and form. [898] In this manner of 
speaking, we have an analogy of proportionality which, though it 
must not be forced but should remain supple and elastic, is still 
a legitimate form of expression, founded on reality. 

What is it that specifically distinguishes one sacrament from all 
others? Its specific effect. Each sacrament is essentially related 
to this effect. And Christ is the author of the sacrament by 
manifesting His will for a sensible sign to produce a particular 
and special effect. To be author He need not have Himself 
determined matter and form. 

Why are there seven sacraments? St. Thomas, to show the 
appropriateness of this number, appeals to the analogy between 
life natural and life supernatural. [899] In the order of natural 
life, man must first receive life, then grow, then maintain life, 
and, at need, be cured, and re-established. These same needs are 
found in the supernatural order. To meet these needs, we have, in 
order, the corresponding sacraments: baptism, confirmation, the 
Eucharist, penance, and extreme unction. Then, in the social 
order, man needs to be prepared, first for the propagation of the 
race, to which corresponds the sacrament of matrimony, secondly, 
for public office, to which corresponds the sacrament of orders. 

The following chapters will emphasize the most important points of 
the teaching of St. Thomas, especially on transubstantiation, on 
the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the difference between attrition 
and contrition. 


TRANSUBSTANTIATION [900] is the change of the whole substance of 
bread into the body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine 
into the blood of Christ. This truth is indispensable in 
explaining the Real Presence. If the glorious and impassible body 
of Christ does not cease to be in heaven, it cannot become present 
under the species of the bread and the wine by an adductive action 
which would make that body descend from heaven to each host 
consecrated. Hence, if the body of Christ Himself is not subject 
of the change, He cannot become really present except by the 
change into Him of the substances of bread and wine. Briefly, if a 
body becomes present there where before it was not, then, by the 
principle of identity, this body must undergo a change of place, 
or then another body must be changed into it. To illustrate. A 
pillar, remaining immovable, which was at my right, cannot be at 
my left unless I have changed in my relation to it. Again: If in a 
house where there was no fire we now find a fire, that fire either 
must have been brought there or produced there. [901]. 

By this change, then, of the substance of the bread into the body 
of Christ, this body, itself remaining unchanged, becomes really 
present under the accidents of the bread, because these accidents 
lose the real and containing relation they had to the substance of 
the bread and they acquire a new, real, and containing relation to 
the body of Christ. This new real relation presupposes a real 
foundation, which is transubstantiation. 

This position granted, St. Thomas draws therefrom all other 
Eucharistic truths, particularly in regard to the Real Presence, 
and the Eucharistic accidents. He is faithful to the principle of 
economy which tells us to explain facts without useless 
multiplication of causes. 

This doctrine of St. Thomas is not admitted by Scotus, who 
explains the Real Presence by annihilation of the substance of the 
bread and adduction of the substance of Christ's body. [902] Many 
other theologians, [903] following him in part, speak of an 
"adductive transubstantiation. " Speaking thus, they no longer 
preserve the proper meaning of the words "conversion" and 
"transubstantiation, " words used in conciliar decrees. To speak 
of transubstantiation as adductive is to deny the conversion of 
one substance into another, and to affirm the substitution of one 
for the other. 

Further, what is the meaning of "adduction, " if Christ's 
impassible body remains in heaven? Christ's body, Thomists repeat 
St. Thomas, does not become present by any change in itself, 
local, quantitative, qualitative, or substantial. Hence the real 
presence of that body has no other explanation than the 
substantial change of the bread into that body. 

But can we, with Suarez, say that transubstantiation is quasi-
reproductive of Christ's body? No, because that body is in heaven 
as it was before, neither multiplied nor changed. It is 
numerically the same glorified body which is in heaven and in the 
Eucharist. Gonet and Billuart, who indulge somewhat in the 
terminology of Suarez, nevertheless teach, like other Thomists, 
that transubstantiation is a substantial change in the proper 
sense of the word. "Thus it comes, " says the Catechism of the 
Council of Trent, [904] "that the entire substance of the bread is 
by divine power changed into the entire substance of Christ's body 
without any mutation in our Lord. ". 

Which view is verified in the sacramental formula: This is My 
body? This formula most certainly expresses neither annihilation 
nor adduction, whereas, by being causatively true, it does express 
conversion of the entire substance of the bread into the substance 
of Christ's body. Besides, annihilation does not include 
adduction, nor the inverse. And the Council of Trent [905] speaks 
not of two divine interventions, distinct and independent, but of 
one intervention only, by which the entire substance of the bread 
is changed into Christ's body, and the entire substance of the 
wine is changed into Christ's blood. And this change, the Council 
adds, is rightly called transubstantiation. 

In what precisely does transubstantiation terminate? Cajetan, 
[906] followed by Thomists generally, gives answer by this 
formula: That which was bread is now Christ's body, not Christ's 
body taken absolutely, as it existed before transubstantiation, 
but Christ's body as terminus of this transubstantiated bread. 
[907] More explicitly, transubstantiation terminates in this, that 
what was the substance of bread is now the body of Christ. 

Is transubstantiation an instantaneous process? Yes, one and the 
same indivisible instant terminates the existence of the bread 
[908] and initiates Christ's existence under the species of bread. 

How is transubstantiation possible? St. Thomas [910] has recourse 
to the Creator's immediate power over created being as being. If 
God can produce the whole creation from nothing, He can also 
change the entity of one thing into that of another. Whereas in a 
substantial mutation there is a subject (prime matter) which 
remains under the two successive forms, here in transubstantiation 
there is no permanent subject, but the whole substance of bread, 
matter and form, is changed into that of Christ's body. [911] 
These formulas reappear in the Council of Trent. [912]. 

Let us note some consequences of this doctrine. Christ's body is 
in the Eucharist, not as in a place but in the manner of 
substance. [913] The quantity of Christ's body is also really 
present in the Eucharist, but again, in the manner of substance, 
that is, by its relation, not to place, but to its own substance, 
since it is present, not by local adduction, but only by a change 
exclusively substantial. Thus we see too that it is numerically 
the same body which, without division or distance, is 
simultaneously in heaven and in the Eucharist, because it is 
present in the Eucharist illocally, in the manner of substance, in 
an order superior to the order of space. 

By this same line of reasoning St. Thomas [914] explains the 
Eucharistic accidents, as existing without any subject of 
inhesion. All other Eucharistic theses are simply corollaries from 
his teaching on transubstantiation. The principle of economy could 
not be better exemplified. We cannot say the same of the theories 
which have been substituted for that of St. Thomas. They are 
complicated, factitious, useless. They proceed by a quasi-
mechanical juxtaposition of arguments, instead of having an 
organic unity, which presupposes as source one mother-idea. Here 
again we see the wonderful power of the Thomistic synthesis. 


WHAT is the essence of the Sacrifice of the Mass? This question 
was posed in one manner in the time of St. Thomas, and in another 
manner after the appearance of Protestantism. Yet in his very 
first article the saint formulates the objection which will be 
developed by Protestantism. 

1. In the thirteenth century the question was generally posed in 
these terms: Is Christ immolated in this sacrament? And the answer 
commonly given is that of Peter Lombard, which is based on these 
words of St. Augustine: [916] Christ was immolated once in 
Himself, and yet He is daily immolated in the sacrament. The words 
"in the sacrament" were explained as meaning: He is immolated 
sacramentally, not, as on the cross, physically. Hence in the Mass 
there is an immolation, not a physical immolation of Christ's 
body, for that body is now glorified and impassible, but a 
sacramental immolation. This language had been familiar to the 
Church Fathers. [917] It is repeated by Peter Lombard, [918] and 
by his commentators, notably by St. Bonaventure and St. Albert the 
Great. [919] The explanation of St. Thomas [920] runs as follows: 
In two ways this sacrament is the immolation of Christ. First 
because, in the words of Augustine, [921] "we are accustomed to 
name an image by the name of the thing of which it is the image. " 
Now this sacrament, as said above, [922] is an image of the 
passion of Christ, which was a true immolation.. 

Secondly by efficient causality, because this sacrament makes us 
participators in the fruits of our Lord's passion. 

On the nature of this sacramental immolation the saint [923] 
speaks thus: As on the cross Christ's body and blood were 
separated physically, thus, in the Mass, by the double 
consecration, they are separated sacramentally. Thus, the 
substance of the bread having been changed into Christ's body and 
that of the wine into His blood, Christ is really present on the 
altar in the state of death, His blood being shed, not physically, 
but sacramentally, even while, by concomitance, His body is under 
the species of wine and His blood under the species of bread. 

2. When Protestantism denied that the Mass is a true sacrifice, 
Catholic theologians, instead of asking, "Is Christ immolated in 
this sacrament? " began to pose the question in this form: "Is the 
Mass a true sacrifice, or only a memorial of the sacrifice on the 
cross? ". 

But we must note here that St. Thomas had anticipated the 
Protestant objection. He [924] formulates it thus: Christ's 
immolation was made on the cross, whereon He "delivered Himself as 
offering and victim, an odor of sweetness unto God. " [925] But in 
the mystery of the Mass, Christ is not crucified. Hence neither is 
He immolated. To this objection he replies that, although we do 
not have in the Mass the bloody immolation of the cross, we do 
have, by Christ's real presence, a real immolation, commemorative 
of that on the cross. 

The objection itself, however, under various forms, is reasserted 
as truth by Luther, by Calvin, by Zwingli. The last says: [926] 
Christ was slain once only, and once only was His blood shed. 
Hence He was offered in sacrifice only once. 

Let us notice the assumption which underlies this argument. Any 
true sacrifice includes essentially a physical immolation of the 
victim, whereas, in the Mass, there can be no physical immolation 
of His body which is now glorified and impassible. The Council of 
Trent, [927] recalling the doctrine of the Fathers and of the 
theologians of the thirteenth century, notably St. Thomas, answers 
that the unbloody immolation, the sacramental immolation of the 
Mass, is a true sacrifice. 

Is real, physical immolation of the victim an essential element of 
sacrifice? In a bloody sacrifice, yes. But there can be, and is in 
the Mass, an unbloody sacramental immolation, which represents the 
bloody immolation of the cross and gives its fruits to us. This 
answer of St. Thomas [928] is repeated by the great Thomists. Thus 
Cajetan [929] says: This unbloody mode, under the species of bread 
and wine, re-presents, sacrificially, Christ who was offered on 
the cross. Similarly, John of St. Thomas: [930] The essence of the 
Eucharistic sacrifice consists in the consecration, taken, not 
absolutely, but as sacramentally and mystically, separative of the 
blood from the body. On the cross the sacrifice consisted in the 
real and physical separation of Christ's blood from His body. The 
action, therefore, which mystically and sacramentally separates 
that blood is the same sacrifice as that on the cross, differing 
therefrom only in its mode, which there was real and physical and 
here is sacramental. 

The Carmelites of Salamanca [931] teach the same doctrine. But 
they add a modification which is not admitted by all Thomists, 
viz.: Reception of the sacrament by the priest belongs to the 
essence of this sacrifice. Many other Thomists hold that the 
priest's Communion (which destroys, not Christ's body, but only 
the Eucharistic species) belongs not to the essence, but only to 
the integrity of the sacrifice. But whatever may be the truth on 
this last point, the Salmanticenses hold that this double 
consecration constitutes a true immolation, not physical, but 
sacramental. Bossuet [932] has the same doctrine. And this thesis, 
which seems to us the true expression of the thought of St. 
Thomas, is reproduced, not only by the majority of living 
Thomists, but also by other contemporary theologians. [933]. 

Some Thomists, [934] however, under the influence, it seems, of 
Suarez, wish to find in the double consecration a physical 
immolation. Then, since they must recognize that only the 
substance of the bread and that of the wine undergo a real 
physical change, and that these are not the thing offered in 
sacrifice, they are led to admit, with Lessius, a virtual 
immolation of Christ's body. This virtual immolation is thus 
explained: In virtue of the words of consecration the body of 
Christ would be really and physically separated from His blood, 
did it not remain united by concomitance, from the fact that 
Christ's body is now glorified and impassible. This innovation is 
not a happy one, because this virtual immolation is not in fact 
real and physical, it remains solely mystic and sacramental. 
Besides, what it would virtually renew would be the act by which 
Christ was put to death. But this act, says St. Thomas, [935] was 
not a sacrifice, but a crime, which therefore is not to be 
renewed, either physically or virtually. 

The only immolation which we have in the Mass, therefore, is the 
sacramental immolation, the sacramental separation, by the double 
consecration, of His blood from His body, whereby His blood is 
shed sacramentally. 

But is this sacramental immolation sufficient to make the Mass a 
true sacrifice? Yes, for two reasons: first because exterior 
immolation, in sacrifice of any kind, is always in the order of 
sign, [936] of signification: secondly because the Eucharist is 
simultaneously sacrifice and sacrament. 

First then, even where there is no physical immolation, we can 
still have a true sacrifice, if we have an equivalent immolation, 
above all if we have an immolation which is necessarily the sign, 
the signification, the re-presentation of a bloody immolation of 
the past. The reason is as we have said, that exterior immolation 
is effective only so far as it is a sign, an expression of the 
interior immolation, of the "contrite and humbled heart, " and 
that without this interior immolation, the exterior is valueless, 
is like the sacrifice of Cain, a mere shadow and show. The visible 
sacrifice, says St. Augustine, [937] is the sacrament, the sacred 
sign, of the invisible sacrifice. 

Even in the bloody sacrifice, the exterior immolation is required, 
not as physical death (this condition is required to make the 
animal fit for eating) but as the sign of oblation, adoration, 
contrition, without which the slaughter of the animal has no 
religious meaning, no religious value. 

This position granted, we see that the Mass is a true sacrifice, 
without being bloody in its mode, even if the immolation is only 
sacramental, in the order of a sign signifying something that is 
now impossible, namely, the physical separation of Christ's blood 
from His impassible body. Yet this sacramental immolation is the 
sign, is essentially the memorial and re-presentative sign, of the 
bloody immolation on Calvary, an effective sign, which makes us 
sharers in the fruits of that bloody immolation, since the 
Eucharist contains the Christ who has suffered. [938] Again, this 
immolation in the Mass of the Word made flesh, though it is only 
sacramental, is, as sign, as expression, of reparative adoration, 
much more expressive than all the victims of the Old Testament. 
St. Augustine and St. Thomas [939] demanded only this sacramental 
immolation to make the Mass a true sacrifice. 

A second reason for this doctrine, as we said above, lies in the 
character of the Eucharist as being simultaneously sacrament and 
sacrifice. Hence we are not surprised that the exterior immolation 
involved should be, not physical, but sacramental. 

But it does not follow that the Mass is a mere oblation. St. 
Thomas [940] writes: We have a sacrifice in the proper sense only 
when something is done to the thing offered to God, as when 
animals were killed and burned, or bread was broken and eaten and 
blessed. The very word gives us this meaning, because sacrificium 
[941] is used of man doing something sacred. But the word 
"oblation" is used directly of a thing which unchanged is offered 
to God, as when money or loaves are laid unchanged on the altar, 
Hence, though every sacrifice is an oblation, not every oblation 
is a sacrifice. 

In the Mass, then, we have, not a mere oblation, but a true 
sacrifice, because the thing offered undergoes a change; the 
double transubstantiation, namely, which is the necessary 
prerequisite for the Real Presence and the indispensable 
substratum of the sacramental immolation. 

3. St. Thomas insists on another capital point of doctrine: The 
principal priest who actually offers the Mass is Christ Himself, 
of whom the celebrant is but the instrumental minister, a minister 
who at the moment of consecration does not speak in his own name, 
nor even precisely in the name of the Church, [942] but in the 
name of the Savior "always living to intercede for us. " [943]. 

Let us hear some further texts of St. Thomas. This sacrament is so 
elevated that it must be accomplished by Christ in person. [944] 
And again: In the prayers of the Mass the priest indeed speaks in 
the person of the Church, which is the Eucharistic unity; but in 
the sacramental consecration he speaks in the person of Christ, 
whom by the power of ordination he represents. [945] When he 
baptizes, he says "I baptize thee": when he absolves, he says "I 
absolve thee"; but when he consecrates, he says, not "I consecrate 
this bread, " but, "This is My body. " [946] And when he says "Hoc 
est corpus meum, " he does not say these words as mere historical 
statement, but as efficient formula which produces what it 
signifies, transubstantiation, namely, and the Real Presence. But 
it is Christ Himself who, by the voice and ministry of the 
celebrant, performs this substantiating consecration, which is 
always valid, however personally unworthy the celebrant may be. 

Is it then sufficient to say [948] that Christ offers each Mass, 
not actually, but only virtually, by having instituted the 
sacrifice and commanded its renewal to the end of the world? This 
doctrine, from the Thomistic viewpoint, depreciates the role of 
Christ. Christ Himself it is who offers actually each Mass. Even 
if the priest, the instrumental minister, should be distracted and 
have at the moment only a virtual intention, Christ, the one high 
priest, the principal cause, wills actually, here and now, this 
transubstantiating consecration. And further, Christ's humanity, 
as conjoined to His divinity, is the physically instrumental cause 
of the twofold transubstantiation. [949]. 

It is in this sense that Thomists, together with the great 
majority of theologians, understand the following words of the 
Council of Trent: "In the two sacrifices there is one and the same 
victim, one and the same priest, who then on the cross offered 
Himself, and who now, by the instrumentality of His priests, 
offers Himself anew, the two sacrifices differing only in their 
mode. " [950]. 

Substantially, then, the Sacrifice of the Mass does not differ 
from the sacrifice of the cross, since in each we have, not only 
the same victim, but also the same priest who does the actual 
offering, though the mode of the immolation differs, one being 
bloody and physical, the other non-bloody and sacramental. Hence 
Christ's act of offering the Mass, while it is neither dolorous 
nor meritorious (since He is no longer viator): is still an act of 
reparative adoration, of intercession, of thanksgiving, is still 
the ever-loving action of His heart, is still the soul of the 
Sacrifice of the Mass. This view stands out clearly in the saint's 
commentaries on St. Paul, [951] particularly in his insistence on 
Christ's ever-living intercession. Christ also now, in heaven, 
says Gonet, [952] prays in the true and proper sense (by 
intercession): begging divine benefits for us. And His special act 
of intercession is the act by which, as chief priest of each Mass, 
He intercedes for us. Thus the interior oblation, always living in 
Christ's heart, is the very soul of the Sacrifice of the Mass; it 
arouses and binds to itself the interior oblation of the celebrant 
and of the faithful united to the celebrant. Such is, beyond 
doubt, the often repeated doctrine of St. Thomas and his school. 

Each Mass, finally, has a value that is simply infinite. This 
position is defended by the greatest Thomists against Durandus and 
Scotus. [954] This value arises from the sublimity both of the 
victim and of the chief priest, since, substantially, the 
Sacrifice of the Mass is identified with that on the cross, though 
the mode of immolation is no longer bloody but sacramental. The 
unworthiness of the human minister, however great, cannot, says 
the Council of Trent, reduce this infinite value. Hence one sole 
Mass can be as profitable for ten thousand persons well disposed 
as it would be for one, just as the sun can as easily give light 
and warmth to ten thousand men as to one. Those who object 41 have 
lost sight, both of the objective infinity which belongs to the 
victim offered, and of the personal infinity which belongs to the 
chief priest. 


CONTRITION in general, whether perfect or imperfect, is thus 
defined by the Council of Trent: "Inward and dolorous detestation 
of sin, with proposal not to sin again. " [956] Perfect contrition 
proceeds from charity, whereas attrition, imperfect contrition, 
exists in a soul which is still in the state of sin. Hence arises 
a difficult problem: How can attrition be supernatural, and how is 
it related to the love of God?

1. Two extremes are to be avoided: laxism and Jansenism. The 
laxists maintained as probable the statement that attrition, if it 
is naturally good, united with sacramental absolution, suffices 
for justification. [957] The Jansenists, on the contrary, seeing 
no medium between cupidity and charity, [958] said that the 
attrition which is not accompanied by benevolent love toward God 
is not supernatural. [959] In this view, attrition seems to 
include an initial act of charity and hence, though it includes 
the intention of receiving the sacrament of penance, nevertheless 
justifies the penitent before he actually receives absolution. 

We are, then, to show that attrition without charity is still 
good, that it can be supernatural, and thus suffices for the 
fruitful reception of sacramental absolution. 

The Thomistic teaching on this point is expounded by Cajetan. 
[960] He says [961] that attrition is a contritio informis, which, 
by reason of an initial love of God, already detests sin as an 
offense against God. 

What qualities, then, must attrition have if absolution is to be 
fruitful? Is the attrition inspired simply by fear of God's 
judgments [962] sufficient? Or must it include also love of God, 
and if so, what kind?

First, we must say against the laxists that the attrition which is 
only naturally good, [963] but not supernatural, is not 
sufficient, even when united with sacramental absolution, because 
this act, remaining in the natural order, is neither itself a 
salutary act nor even a disposition to supernatural justification. 
Much less is it a meritorious act since merit presupposes the 
state of grace. Further, it cannot include even the smallest act 
of charity, since, if it did, it would justify the penitent even 
before he receives absolution. 

2. The difficulty lies in finding a middle ground between cupidity 
and charity, to use Augustine's terms. Now there is no middle 
ground between the state of mortal sin, the state of cupidity, the 
unregulated love of self, and the state of grace which is 
inseparable from charity. How, then, can we find in a person who 
is in the state of mortal sin, an act which is not only naturally 
good, ethically good, but also salutary, even though not 

All theologians admit and the Church has defined that the state of 
mortal sin does not prevent the sinner from having "uninformed" 
acts of faith and hope, which acts are personally supernatural and 
salutary, although not meritorious. Hence attrition also which 
presupposes these acts of faith and hope, [964] may also be 
salutary without being meritorious. 

3. Must we go a step further? Must we admit that this salutary 
attrition, which disposes us for sacramental justification, 
implies also an initial benevolent love of God, which nevertheless 
is not an act of charity, however small? The Thomists above cited 
say Yes. That attrition which suffices as disposition for the 
sacrament of penance, thus the Salmanticenses, [965] necessarily 
implies some love for God, the fountain of justice. And the 
Council of Trent, speaking of adults preparing for baptism, after 
mentioning their acts of faith, fear, and hope, continues thus: 
"They begin to love God as the source of all justice, and thus are 
moved to hate and detest their sins. " [966] Now it is true that 
the Council in another text [967] where it treats of the 
difference between attrition and contrition, does not mention this 
act of love for God as the author of all justice. The reason 
probably is that the Council wishes to leave open a question 
disputed among theologians, but does not in any way modify the 
affirmation cited above. [968]. 

Further, the Thomists we have cited add the following theological 
argument. Attrition, according to the Council, [969] contains 
detestation of the sin committed. Now this detestation of sin, of 
an offense against God, can simply not exist without an initial 
benevolent love for God as the source of justice. Why not? Because 
love is the very first of the acts of the will, and hence must 
precede hate or detestation. A man can detest injustice only 
because he loves justice, hence he can detest an injury done to 
God only because he already loves God as the source of justice. 
This argument is solid. Only he can detest a lie who already loves 
truth. Only he can detest the evil of sin who loves the good 
opposed to that evil. 

This is surely the thought of St. Thomas, [970] when he says that 
penance detests sin as an offense against God supremely lovable. 
But, for justification, the sinner must have an act of true 
penance. Hence attrition, in the mind of St. Thomas, must include 
some initial love of benevolence for God as the author of all 

But then, so runs an objection, this initial benevolent love must 
be itself an imperfect act of charity, and hence would justify the 
penitent before absolution. The Thomists cited reply thus: No, 
this initial love of benevolence is not an act of charity, because 
charity includes, not merely mutual benevolence between God and 
man, but also a convictus a common life with God which exists only 
by man's possession of sanctifying and habitual grace, the root of 
infused charity. Charity, says St. Thomas, [971] is a friendship 
which presupposes, not merely mutual benevolence, but a habitual 
convictus, [972] a communion of life. Between two men who, living 
far apart, know each other only by hearsay, there can exist a 
reciprocal benevolence, but not as yet friendship. Now this common 
life between God and man begins only when man receives that 
participation in the divine life which we call habitual grace, the 
root of charity, the seedcorn of glory. [973] But attrition, as 
distinguished from contrition, does not give man the state of 

Cajetan's description of attrition is based on a profound study of 
St. Thomas. It runs thus: "In the line of contrition comes first 
an imperfect contrition (not yet informed by charity) which is 
displeasure against sin as the most hateful of things, together 
with a proposal to avoid and shun sin as of all things most to be 
shunned, the displeasure and the proposal arising from a love of 
God as of all things the most lovable. " [974] This description 
tallies with that initial love of benevolence for God which we 
gave above from the Council of Trent. [975] God Himself, by actual 
grace, leads us to attrition, to this initial love of Himself, 
before He justifies us by sacramental absolution. Sin, as the best 
Thomists have ever insisted, is not merely an evil of the soul, 
but essentially and primarily an offense against God, and we 
cannot detest this offense without an initial love of God as 
source of all justice, without that initial love of benevolence 
which is the previous disposition for that common life with God 
which presupposes charity. 


We will dwell here on the chief difference between the doctrine of 
St. Thomas and that of many modern theologians, inspired less by 
him than by Suarez. On the fact of the reviviscence of merits, 
there is no controversy, since the definitions of Trent [976] 
imply this truth. The controversy is concerned with the manner and 
mode of this reviviscence. 

Suarez [977] maintains, and with him many modern theologians, that 
all past merits revive in equal degree as soon as the penitent is 
justified by absolution, even though his attrition is barely 
sufficient to let the sacrament have its effect. If we represent 
his merits, for example, by five talents of charity, then under 
absolution, even if attrition is just sufficient, he recovers not 
only the state of grace, but the same degree of grace, the five 
talents which he had lost. The reason given by Suarez is that 
these merits remain in God's sight and acceptance, and since their 
effect, even as regards essential glory, is only impeded by the 
presence of mortal sin, they must revive in the same degree as 
soon as that impediment is removed. 

St. Thomas, [978] and with him many ancient theologians, expresses 
himself in fashion notably different. The principle which he often 
invokes in his treatise on grace, and explains also elsewhere, 
[979] runs thus: Grace is a perfection, and each perfection is 
received in a manner more perfect or less according to the present 
disposition of the subject. Hence in proportion to the intensity 
of his disposition, attrition or contrition, the penitent receives 
grace, and his merits revive, sometimes with a higher degree of 
grace, as probably did St. Peter after his denial, sometimes with 
an equal degree, and sometimes with a lower degree. 

The question is important, and the answer must be sought in what 
is true, not in what may seem to be more consoling. It is 
particularly important in the spiritual life. If an advanced soul 
commits a grave sin, it cannot again begin its ascent at the point 
where it fell, unless it has a really fervent contrition which 
brings back the same degree of grace as that which it lost, and 
must otherwise recommence its climb at a point possibly much 
lower. Such at least is the thought of many older theologians, 
notably of St. Thomas. We will quote here a passage [980] which 
seems to have been in some measure forgotten. 

It is clear that forms which can be received in varying degrees 
owe their actual degree, as we have said above, [981] to the 
varying dispositions of the receiving subject. Hence the penitent 
receives grace in a higher degree or in a lower degree, 
proportionate to the intensity or to the remissness of his free 
will against sin. Now this intensity of the will is sometimes 
proportioned to a higher degree of grace than that from which he 
fell by sin, sometimes to an equal degree of grace, and sometimes 
to a lower degree. And what is thus true of grace is likewise true 
of the virtues which follow grace. 

This passage, let us note, is not merely a passing remark. It is 
the very conclusion of the article. In that same question, a 
little farther on, [982] he speaks thus: "He who rises in a lower 
degree of charity will receive his essential reward according to 
his actual measure of charity. But his accidental reward will be 
greater from the works he did under his first measure of grace 
than from those he does in his second and lower degree of grace. 

Banez seems to understand these words in a sense too restricted, 
which would exclude reviviscence in regard to the essential 
reward. Billot [983] seems to exaggerate in the opposite 
direction. Cajetan, in the following passage, keeps well to the 
thought of St. Thomas. "When grace revives, all dead merits revive 
too, but not always in the same quantity, in their power, that is, 
to lead the man to a higher degree of glory as they would have 
done had he not fallen. This is the case of a man who, having 
risen from sin in a degree of grace lower than was his before his 
fall, dies in that state. The reason for this lower degree of 
reviviscence is the lower degree of disposition in him who rises. 
" [984]. 

To this explanation of Cajetan, Suarez gives no answer. But the 
Salmanticenses [985] and Billuart [986] explain St. Thomas well. 
The latter writes as follows:

1. Merits do not always arise in that degree which they had 
before, since they revive in proportion to the present 

2. Also as regards their quantity, merits revive according to the 
present disposition. This does not mean, as Banez thinks, that the 
same essential glory is now given to the penitent by a twofold 
title, first by reason of his present disposition, secondly by 
reason of his now revived merits. What it does mean is this: There 
is conferred on the penitent, in addition to that degree of 
essential glory which corresponds to his present disposition, a 
sort of right to additional glory corresponding to his preceding 

To conclude. Merits revive, even as regards their essential 
reward, not always in a degree equal to what they formerly had, 
but in proportion to the penitent's actual disposition. He who had 
five talents and has lost them, can revive on a lower level, and 
can die on that level, and hence will have a degree of glory 
proportioned, not to the five talents, but to some lower degree of 
charity, whereof God alone knows the proportion, as God alone can 
measure the fervor of man's repentance. 


THROUGHOUT the Summa we find the lineaments of a treatise on the 
Church, a treatise which became an actuality against Protestant 
errors. But this later mode of treatment, being predominantly 
exterior and apologetic, led to a disregard for the theological 
treatment, properly so called, of the inner constitution of the 
Church. Such a treatise has its normal place after the treatise on 
Christ the Redeemer and His sacraments. [987] Here lies the road 
pointed out by St. Thomas. 

In his treatise on Christ's grace of headship [988] he calls the 
Church the mystical body, which includes all men in the measure of 
their participation in the grace that comes from their Savior. 

In his treatise on faith [990] he finds in the Church a doctrinal 
authority that is plenary and infallible, extending even, as in 
canonizing her saints, not merely to dogmatic truths, but also to 
dogmatic facts. The pope has this power in its fullness, and can 
even, against heretics, define the exact meaning of the articles 
of faith. 

He compares the relation between Church and state to that between 
soul and body. [991] The Church has power to annul the authority 
of unbelieving or apostate princes, a power extending to 
excommunication. [992] This normal pre-eminence of the Church 
derives from her superior goal, in virtue of which princes 
themselves are bound to obey the sovereign pontiff as vicar of 
Jesus Christ. 

In the fifteenth century the disciples of St. Thomas clung closely 
to the saint's formulas. Special distinction here belongs to 
Torquemada, [993] whose work is a careful study of the notes of 
the Church, of the union in the mystical body between head and 
members, of the Church's indirect power in matters temporal. 


WHY does death make the soul immutable, either in good or in evil? 
The most explicit answer is found in the Summa contra Gentiles. 

Our will for a definite last end depends on our will's 
disposition; as long as this disposition lasts, the desire of this 
end cannot change, since it changes only by the desire of 
something more desirable as last end. 

Now the soul's disposition is variable during its union with the 
body, but not after separation from the body. Why? Because changes 
in the body bring corresponding changes in the soul's disposition, 
since the body has been given to the soul as instrument of the 
soul's operations. But the soul, separated from the body, is no 
longer in motion toward its end, but rests in the end attained 
(unless it has departed in a state of failure toward this end). 

Hence the will of the separated soul is immutable in the desire of 
its last end, on which desire depends all the will's goodness, or 
then all its malice. It is immutable, either in good or in evil, 
and cannot pass from one to the other, though in this fixed order, 
immutable as regards the last end, it can still choose between 
means. [996]. 

In this line of reasoning we see again the force of the doctrine 
on the soul as form of the body. Since the body is united to the 
soul, not accidentally, but naturally, to aid the soul in tending 
to its goal, it follows that the soul, separated from the body, is 
no longer in a state of tendency to its good. 

Cajetan proposes on this subject an opinion which seems to 
disregard the distance that separates the angel from the human 
soul. Having said that the angel's choice of a good or evil end is 
irrevocable, he adds these words: "As to the soul, I hold that it 
is rendered obstinate by the first act which it elicits in its 
state of separation and that its final act of demerit occurs, not 
when it is in via, but when it is in termino. " [997]. 

Thomists in general reject this view. Thus Sylvester de Ferrara, 
who says:

The soul in the first moment of its separation has indeed 
immutable apprehension, and in that first moment begins its state 
of obstinacy. But it does not, as some say, have in that moment a 
demeritorious act, because human demerit like human merit 
presupposes man. Now the separated soul is not a man, not even in 
its first moment of separation. Rather, that moment is the first 
moment of its non-existence as man. Therefore its obstinacy is 
caused, inchoatively, by its last mutable apprehension of its last 
end before death, but irrevocably by that apprehension which 
becomes immutable in its first moment of separation. [998]. 

The Salmanticenses [999] pronounce thus on Cajetan's opinion, 
saying: "This mode of speaking does not agree with Scripture, 
which states expressly that men can merit or demerit before death, 
but not after death. 'We must work while it is day: the night 
cometh when no man can work. ' " [1000]. 

Cajetan conceived the matter too abstractly. He saw correctly that 
man's road to God is terminated by the moment when that road 
closes. [1001] But he did not notice that merit belongs to the man 
who is on the road, not to the separated soul. The last merit, or 
demerit, so St. Thomas and nearly all his commentators, is an act 
of the soul still in union with the body, and this act of the 
united soul becomes immutable by the soul's separation from the 

Hence it is wrong to say: The condemned soul, seeing its misery, 
can still repent. Of such a soul, as of the fallen angel, we must 
rather say: The pride wherein it is immovably fixed closes the 
road of humility and obedience whereby alone it could repent. 
Could a soul repent after final impenitence, it would no longer be 

The contrary immutability, that of those who die in the state of 
grace, the immutability of their free choice of the Supreme Good, 
supremely loved, is a wonderful echo of the immutability of God's 
own freedom of choice. God, knowing beforehand all that he has 
either willed or permitted to come to pass in time, can have no 
reason to change. Thus, when the separated soul of one of the 
elect receives the beatific vision, it loves God seen face to face 
with a love beyond its freedom, a love that is indeed spontaneous, 
but necessary and inamissible. [1002]. 

We have here, then, in the grace of a good death, a new view of 
the grand mystery, namely, the mystery of the inner harmony 
between infinite mercy, infinite justice, and sovereign freedom, a 
harmony realized in the pre-eminence of the deity, but obscure to 
us as long as we have not been raised to the beatific vision. 

SEVENTH PART: Moral Theology and Spirituality

The Prima secundae is a general treatise on morality, under the 
following headings:

1. Man's ultimate purpose and goal,

2. Human voluntary acts,

3. Passions and habits,

4. Virtues, gifts, and vices,

5. Law, by which God guides us,

6. Grace, by which God aids us. 

The Secunda secundae is a detailed treatment, first on each of the 
virtues, theological and cardinal, then on the active and 
contemplative life, lastly on the state of perfection, episcopal 
and religious. 

Everywhere throughout these treatises we find the formulas of a 
solid spiritual life supported by theological foundations. These 
principles appear chiefly, in the Prima secundae, under grace, 
virtues, and gifts, in the Secunda secundae, under the theological 
virtues, then under prudence, justice, humility, and their 
corresponding gifts. Here we can but underline the essentials. 


In treating man's last end St. Thomas draws inspiration from St. 
Augustine, from Aristotle, and from Boethius. [1004]. 

First of all [1005] man, with a rational nature, must know what he 
is working for, that is, must know purpose as purpose, as 
something which he thinks will satisfy his desire, something 
wherein he can find rest. Without an ultimate purpose, known at 
least vaguely, man would never undertake anything. As, in a series 
of efficient causes, there must be a first cause, so in a series 
of final causes, of things which attract, there must be an 
ultimate cause which attracts for its own sake. This ultimate 
purpose, reached last in the order of execution, is first in the 
order of attention, is the motivating center of all else. In 
illustration, it is to each man what defense of his country is to 
the commander-in-chief. Thus all men desire some ultimate goal 
which they think will give them complete satisfaction and 
happiness, even though many do not realize that genuine happiness, 
the ultimate goal, is to be found in God alone, the Sovereign 

In the second question St. Thomas shows that no created values, 
neither riches nor honors nor glory nor power, neither bodily 
advantage nor pleasure, not even knowledge or virtue, can give man 
ultimate contentment, because the object of man's will is good as 
such, unlimited and universal good, just as unlimited truth is the 
object of man's intelligence. The will can find lasting repose 
only in the possession of what is in every way good, universally 
good. But this universal good can be found, not in creatures, 
since they, all and singly, are but limited participations in 
good, but only in God. Note that the object to which our will is 
proportioned is not this or that particular good, subjective or 
objective, but universal good, unlimited good, as known, not by 
sense and imagination, but by the intellect, by man's higher 

Here lies another proof of God's existence. [1006] This proof 
rests on the following principle: a natural desire, founded, not 
on imagination nor on error, but on the universal amplitude of 
man's will, cannot be vain or chimerical. Now while each man has 
this natural desire of complete happiness, both reason and 
experience show that this desire cannot be satisfied by any 
limited and finite good, because, since our intelligence knows 
good as universal and unlimited, the natural amplitude, the 
embracing capacity of our will, illumined by our intelligence, T 
is itself universal and unlimited. 

Further, this desire is not conditional and inefficacious, as is 
the desire of the beatific vision, which is founded on this 
conditional judgment: this vision would be for me perfect 
happiness, if it were possible that I should be raised to it and 
if God would raise me to it. But the desire now in question is 
natural and innate, since it is founded on a judgment not 
conditional but absolute, arising without medium from the 
naturally unlimited amplitude of man's will for good. Now since a 
natural desire presupposes a naturally desirable good, the object 
of man's desire must be as unlimited as that desire itself. Hence 
there exists an unlimited good, goodness itself, wherein alone is 
found that universal good to which our will is proportioned. And 
this unlimited good can be known naturally, in the mirror of 
created goodness. 

Hence to deny the existence of God is to deny the universal 
amplitude of our will, is to deny that will's boundless depth, 
which no limited good can fill. This denial is a radical 
absurdity, is absolute nonsense. We have here an absolute 
impossibility, inscribed in the very nature of our will, whose 
natural desire tends, not to the mere idea of good, but to a real 
and objective good, because good is not a mental image but 
objective reality. 

We must note, however, that the specific object of the will must 
be distinguished from what is simply man's last end. The will's 
specific object is not God, the Sovereign Good, as He is in 
Himself, which is the specific object of infused charity. The 
naturally specific object of man's will is good taken universally, 
as known by man's natural intelligence, an object which is found 
participatedly and limitedly in everything that is in any way 
good, but which as good, simultaneously real and universal, is 
found in God alone. God alone is universal good itself, not indeed 
in the order of predication, but in the order of being and 
causing. Thus Cajetan, commenting on Aristotle's word: "While 
truth is formally in the mind, goodness in the objective thing. " 
[1007] Hence we pass legitimately, by the objective realism of the 
will, from what is universal as predicate to what is universal in 

Had man been created in a state purely natural, without grace, he 
would have found natural happiness in the natural knowledge and 
love of God, the author of nature. Now our intelligence, far 
surpassing sense and imagination, is by nature meant to know even 
the supreme truth, as mirrored in the world of creation. For the 
same reason, our will, meant by nature to love and will what is 
good, tends naturally to love also the supreme good, as far at 
least as that good is naturally knowable. [1008]. 

But revelation, passing beyond nature, tells us that God has 
called us to a happiness essentially supernatural, to see Him 
without medium and to love Him with a love that is supernatural, 
perfect, and indefective. The essence of that supreme beatitude 
lies in the act of vision, the act of seeing God without medium, 
for by that act we take possession of God. But love, in the form 
of desire, precedes that act, and, in the form of joy, follows 
that act. Hence love of God, though it is not the essence of 
beatitude, is both the necessary presupposition and the equally 
necessary consequence of that beatific vision of God. [1009] 
Beatitude, therefore, constituted essentially by vision, brings 
with it, as necessary complement, love and joy in the supreme 
good, in a glorified body, and in the company of the saints. 



HUMAN acts are the acts of the will directed by reason. They are 
either elicited, that is, produced by the will itself, or 
commanded, that is, produced by some other faculty under the 
influence of the will. Elicited acts are concerned either with the 
end or with the means. 

Three acts are concerned with the end:

a) simple velleity, [1013] not yet efficacious. 

b) efficacious intention of the end; [1014]. 

c) joy in the end attained. [1015]. 

Two acts are concerned with means:

a) consent, [1016] which accepts means. 

b) choice of a determined set of means. [1017]. 

Each of these five acts of the will is preceded by a directive act 
of-the intellect. Simple velleity, by the knowledge of the good in 
question; [1018] intention, by a judgment that this end should be 
attained; [1019] consent, by counsel; [1020] choice, by the last 
practical judgment which terminates deliberation. [1021]. 

After voluntary choice there follows, in the intellect, the act 
called imperium, which directs the execution of the means chosen, 
ascending from lower means to those higher and nearer to the end 
to be obtained, in order inverse to that of intention, which 
descends from the desired end to the means which come first in 
execution. [1022]. 

After the intellect's imperium there follows in the will the act 
called active use, which sets the other faculties to work. These 
acts of the other faculties, called passive use, are, properly 
speaking, commanded acts of the will. And the will's last act is 
that of joy in the possession of the end obtained. The end, which 
was first in the order of intention, is the last in the order of 
execution. [1023]. 

The next question is that of morality, which is studied in 
general, [1024] in the interior act, [1025] in the exterior act, 
[1026] and in its consequences. [1027]. 

The morality of a human act derives primarily from its specific 
object, secondarily from its end and circumstances. [1028] Thus an 
act may have a double goodness or a double malice. An act, good in 
its object, can be bad by its end, almsgiving, for example, done 
for vainglory. Hence, although there are acts which in their 
object are indifferent, as for example, walking, there is 
nevertheless no deliberate concrete act which is indifferent in 
its end, because, unless it is done at least virtually for a good 
end, it is morally bad. [1029] All the good acts of a just man, 
therefore, are supernaturally meritorious, by reason of their 
relation to the last end, which is God. 

By the term "interior act" St. Thomas often means an act which 
does not arise from a previous act, the first act, for example, of 
willing an end. By opposition, then, "exterior act" often means 
not only the act of the corporeal members, but also an act of the 
will itself, if this act arises from a preceding act, as when, for 
example, we will the means because we already will the end. 

Here we must remark, further, that a human act, voluntary and 
free, is not necessarily preceded, if we speak precisely, by a 
discursive deliberation, but may be the fruit of a special 
inspiration, superior to human deliberation. But, even here, the 
act is free and meritorious, because the will consents to follow 
the inspiration. Here lies the difference between the virtue of 
prudence, which presupposes discursive deliberation, and the gifts 
which make man prompt and docile to the inspirations of the Holy 
Ghost. These latter acts, free but not in the proper sense 
deliberate, are the fruit, as we shall see later, not of 
cooperating grace, but of operating grace. [1030]. 


Probabilism is a question which has been often discussed since the 
sixteenth century. Solution of the question depends on the 
definition of opinion. 

"Opinion, " says St. Thomas, "is an act of the intellect which 
inclines to one part of a contradiction with the fear that the 
other part is true. " [1031] Hence, to have a reasonable opinion, 
the inclination to adhere to it must outweigh the fear of error. 
Hence, if Yes is certainly more probable, No is probably not true, 
but rather probably false, and therefore, as long as Yes seems 
more probable, it would be unreasonable to follow No. In other 
words, against an opinion probable enough to obtain the consent of 
wise men, there can be only an improbable opinion, which we should 
not follow. 

This position is in accord with the teaching of St. Thomas [1032] 
on prudential certitude, which rests on conformity with right 
desire. Where we cannot find the truth with evidence, we should 
follow that opinion which is nearest the truth, i. e.: is most in 
harmony with the inclination of virtue. The virtuous man judges by 
his inclinations to virtue, not by the inclination to egoism. 

Bartholomew de Medina [1033] proposed a theory quite different 
from that just now outlined. It does not seem, he says, that it is 
wrong to follow a probable opinion, even when the opposed opinion 
is more probable. But, in order to close the door against laxism, 
he adds: An opinion does not become probable by the mere support 
of apparent reasons and the fact that some maintain it, otherwise 
all errors would be probable. An opinion is genuinely probable 
only when it is supported by wise men and confirmed by excellent 

But the position of Medina, even thus safeguarded, is not the less 
open to criticism, because he gives to the word "probable" a moral 
meaning which is not in harmony with its philosophical meaning, 
contained in the definition of opinion as given by St. Thomas. 
Medina's theory amounts to saying that, with sufficient 
justification, we may uphold both Yes and No on one and the same 
object of the moral order. 

Nevertheless Medina succeeded in persuading others of the utility 
of his theories, and was followed by a certain number of Spanish 
Dominicans: Louis Lopez, Dominic Banez, Diego Alvarez, Bartholomew 
and Peter of Ledesma. The Jesuits, too, in general adopted this 
theory, which became more and more known by the name of 

But the descent was slippery. "The facility, " says Mandonnet, 
[1034] "with which all opinions became probable since their 
contradictories were probable did not delay in leading to great 
abuses. Then, in 1656, the Provincial Letters of Pascal threw into 
the public arena a controversy confined until then to the schools. 
Faced with a great scandal, Alexander VII in that same year 
intimated to the Dominican general chapter his will that the order 
campaign efficaciously against the probabilist doctrines. " From 
that time on probabilist writers disappeared completely among the 
Friars Preachers. [1035]. 

In 1911, a posthumous work of P. R. Beaudouin, O. P. [1036] 
proposed an interesting conciliation between the principles of St. 
Thomas and the teaching of St. Alphonsus Liguori, namely, 
equiprobabilism, considered as a form of probabilism. In matters 
where probability is permitted, St. Alphonsus, in fact, invokes 
"the principle of possession" in order to pronounce between two 
opinions equally probable. This principle seems to have priority 
in the system of St. Alphonsus over a second principle that 
"doubtful laws do not bind. " Now this principle of possession is 
itself derived from a more general reflex principle which has 
always been admitted, namely, that in doubt we are to stand by the 
view which is presumably true. [1037]. 

From that time forward, Father Gardeil, following Father 
Beaudouin, insisted [1038] on the philosophical sense of the word 
"probable, " so well explained by St. Thomas, from which it 
follows that, when Yes is certainly more probable, then No is 
probably not true, but probably false. In other words, when Yes is 
certainly more probable, then the reasonable inclination to accept 
that Yes prevails over the fear of error, whereas, if, knowing 
this, we maintain the No, the fear of error would outbalance the 
inclination to deny. To repeat: When affirmation is certainly more 
probable, negation is not probable, that is, is not probably true, 
but rather probably false. 

St. Thomas, it is true, does cite at times other reflex 
principles, useful in forming conscience, for example, that in 
doubt we are to stand by the view which is presumably true. But if 
he seldom dwells on these reflex principles, it is because he 
holds that prudential certitude [1039] is found in that view which 
is nearest to evident truth, and most in conformity, not with 
egoism, but with the inclination to virtue. 


The passions are acts of the sense appetite, hence are common to 
man and animal. But they participate in man's moral life, either 
by being ruled, or even aroused, by right reason, or by not being 
ruled as they should. 

Hence man's will should reduce these passions to the happy medium 
where they become instruments of virtue. Thus hope and audacity 
become instruments of courage; sense-pity subserves mercy; and 
bashfulness subserves chastity. Here again St. Thomas rises above 
two opposed extremes: over Stoicism, which condemns passion, and 
over Epicureanism, which glorifies passion. God gave us sense 
appetite, as He gave us imagination, as He gave us two arms, all 
to be employed in the service of true manhood, virtue, moral good. 

Passions, then, well employed, become important moral forces. 
Antecedent passion, as it is called, since it precedes judgment, 
does, it is true, becloud reason, in the fanatic, for example, and 
in the sectary. But consequent passion, since it follows reason 
clarified by faith, augments merit and strengthens the will. 
[1040] But if left unruled, undisciplined, passions become vices. 
Thus sense-love becomes gluttony or lust, audacity becomes 
temerity, fear becomes cowardice or pusillanimity. In the service 
of perversity passion augments the malice of the act. 

In classifying the passions, St. Thomas follows Aristotle. Six 
passions, in three pairs, hate and love, desire and aversion, joy 
and sadness, belong to the concupiscible appetite. To the 
irascible appetite belong five passions, two pairs, hope and 
despair, audacity and fear, and one single passion, anger (ira, 
which gives its name "irascible" to the whole series). First among 
all these passions, on which all others depend, is love From love 
proceed desire, hope, audacity, joy, and also their contraries, 
hate, aversion, despair, fear, anger, and sadness. 

St. Thomas scrutinizes in detail each of the eleven passions. The 
result is a model, too little known, of psychological analysis. 
Deserving of special study is his treatise on love, its causes, 
its effects. [1041] Here he formulates general principles which he 
later applies, analogically, in his study of charity, that is, the 
supernatural love of benevolence, just as his doctrine on the 
passion of hope is later applied analogically in his study of the 
infused virtue of hope. 


AFTER the time of St. Thomas moral theology often followed the 
order of the Decalogue, of which many precepts are negative. The 
saint himself follows the order of the virtues, theological and 
moral, showing their subordination and interconnection. These 
virtues he sees as functions of one and the same spiritual 
organism, functions supported by the seven gifts which are 
inseparable from charity. Thus moral theology is primarily a 
science of virtues to be practiced, and only secondarily of vices 
to be shunned. It is something much higher than casuistry, which 
is mere application to cases of conscience. 

Thus charity, which animates and informs all the other virtues and 
renders their exercise meritorious, appears very clearly as the 
highest of all virtues, and the most universal of all virtues, in 
the exercise of which every Christian reaches perfection. [1042] 
Thus moral theology is identified with the spiritual life, with 
the love of God and docility to the Holy Spirit. Thus asceticism, 
which teaches the method of practicing virtue and shunning sin, is 
subordinated to mysticism, which teaches docility to the Holy 
Spirit, infused contemplation of the mysteries, and intimate union 
with God. And the exercise of the gifts, particularly of wisdom 
and knowledge, which make faith penetrating and savory, is a 
normal element in all Christian life, quite distinct from 
extraordinary favors, such as visions and stigmatizations. 


Habits, moral habits, are operative qualities, that is, principles 
of activity, either acquired or infused, distinct from sanctifying 
grace, which is an entitative habit, infused into the very essence 
of the soul, whereas operative habits are received into the 
faculties of the soul. This description applies to good habits, to 
which are opposed bad habits or vices. 

St. Thomas studies habit, in its nature, its subject, and its 
cause. To distinguish one habit from all others, his dominating 
principle is that each habit is specifically proportioned to its 
object, [1044] each under its own special viewpoint. [1045] This 
principle is of capital importance, illumining as it does all 
questions that follow: on the theological virtues, on the moral 
virtues, on the gifts of the Spirit. [1046] Here we give a brief 
summary of this Thomistic doctrine. [1047]. 

1. Habits can be considered as forms which we receive passively. 
Then they are specifically distinguished by the active principle 
which produces them. Thus infused habits come from God as 
participations in His own inner life; acquired habits arise either 
from the demonstrative principles which engender them (scientific 
habits): or from repeated virtuous acts regulated by reason (moral 

2. Habits considered formally as habits are divided by their 
relation, favorable or unfavorable, to the nature in which they 
reside. Thus, whereas infused habits are always favorable to 
grace, acquired habits may be either favorable to human nature, 
and are then called virtues, or unfavorable, in which case we call 
them vices. 

3. Lastly, habits may be considered in relation to their mode of 
operation, and are then distinguished by their formal object, 
infused habits by an object essentially supernatural, acquired 
habits by an object naturally attainable. "Habits, " says St. 
Thomas, "considered as operative dispositions, are specifically 
distinguished by objects specifically different. ". 

Some theologians, under the influence of Scotism and Nominalism, 
say that infused virtues may be specifically distinct from 
acquired virtues by their active principles, even while they have 
the same formal object. In this view, the formal object of the 
infused virtues, even of the theological virtues, would be 
attainable by the natural forces of our faculties, supposing that 
divine revelation be proposed to us exteriorly in the pages of the 
Gospel, and be confirmed by miracles which are naturally knowable. 

Thomists, and also Suarez, forcefully reject this interpretation, 
saying that it approaches Semi-Pelagianism by compromising the 
essentially supernatural character of all infused virtues, 
including the theological virtues. If without infused faith the 
formal object of faith can still be attained, faith itself either 
becomes useless, or is at best useful only as a means to make the 
act of faith more easy (Pelagianism): or at least presupposes its 
beginning [1048] as coming from our nature without the support of 
grace (Semi-Pelagianism). If faith's formal object is attainable 
by the natural force of our intelligence, aided by natural good 
will, after reading the Gospel confirmed by miracles, then Paul 
would be wrong in calling faith "a gift of God. " Why should 
infused faith be necessary for salvation, if acquired faith 
suffices to attain the revealed mysteries?

Hence the commentators insist that the three distinguishing 
viewpoints outlined above are inseparably connected. A virtue, 
then, is not infused virtue unless these three qualities are found 
in it simultaneously:

1. it is producible by God alone. 

2. it is conformed to grace, our participation in the divine 

3. it has an object essentially supernatural, inaccessible to our 
natural faculties. 

To disregard this third point is to approach Nominalism, which 
considers concrete facts, not the inner nature of things. 


Some virtues are intellectual, some are moral, some are 
theological. The intellectual virtues [1049] are five: three in 
the speculative order, namely, first principles, science, and 
wisdom, and two in the practical order, prudence [1050] and art. 

Moral virtues are perfections, either of the will or of the sense 
appetite. In dividing them St. Thomas is guided by the ancient 
moralists, Aristotle, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine. All moral 
virtues are reduced to the four cardinal virtues: [1052] prudence, 
justice, fortitude, temperance. Prudence, though it is an 
intellectual virtue, is likewise a moral virtue, because it guides 
both the will and the sense appetite in finding the right means in 
attaining an end. Justice inclines the will to give everyone his 
due. Fortitude strengthens the irascible appetite against 
unreasonable fear. Temperance rules the concupiscible appetite. 

The theological virtues [1053] elevate our higher faculties, 
intellect and will, proportioning them to our supernatural end, 
that is, to God's own inner life. [1054] Faith makes us adhere 
supernaturally to what God has revealed. Hope, resting on His 
grace, tends to possess Him. Charity makes us love Him, more than 
ourselves, more than all else, because His infinite goodness is in 
itself lovable, and because He, both as Creator and as Father, 
loved us first. The theological virtues, therefore, are 
essentially supernatural and infused, by reason of their formal 
objects, which without them are simply inaccessible. 

By this same rule St. Thomas distinguishes the infused moral 
virtues from acquired moral virtues. [1055] This distinction, of 
capital importance yet too little known, must be emphasized. The 
acquired moral virtues do indeed incline us to what is in itself 
good, not merely to what is useful or delectable. They make man 
perfect as man. But they do not suffice to make man a God's child, 
who, guided by faith and Christian prudence, is to employ 
supernatural means for a supernatural end. Thus infused 
temperance, say, is specifically distinct from acquired 
temperance, as, to illustrate, a higher note on the key board is 
specifically distinct from the same note on a lower octave. Thus 
we distinguish Christian temperance from philosophic temperance, 
and evangelical poverty from the philosophic poverty of Crates. 
Acquired temperance, to continue with St. Thomas, [1056] differs 
from infused temperance in rule, object, and end. It observes the 
just medium in nourishment, so as not to harm health or 
occupation. Infused temperance observes a higher medium, so as to 
live like a child of God on his march to a life that is eternal 
and supernatural. It implies a more severe mortification, which 
chastises the body and reduces it to subjection, [1057] not merely 
to become a good citizen here below but rather a fellow citizen of 
the saints, a child in the family of God. [1058]. 

This same difference between infused and acquired is found 
likewise in prudence, justice, and fortitude. Yet we must note 
that acquired virtue facilitates the exercise of infused virtue, 
as, to illustrate, finger exercises facilitate the musician's art 
which resides in the musician's intellect. 

As the acquired virtues in the will and sense appetite, justice, 
namely, and fortitude, and temperance, are inseparable from 
prudence, so the infused virtues are inseparable from charity. 
Faith and hope can indeed continue to exist without charity, but 
they no longer exist in a state of virtue, [1059] and their acts 
are no longer meritorious. And whereas all moral virtues, infused 
or acquired, must preserve a medium between excess and defect, the 
theological virtues have no medium properly speaking, because we 
can neither believe too much in God, nor hope too much in Him, nor 
love Him too much. [1060]. 


This entire supernatural organism, all the virtues, moral and 
theological, spring from sanctifying grace, as the faculties of 
the soul spring from the soul. And this supernatural organism has 
its complement in the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. These gifts, 
too, must be classed as habits, infused habits, which dispose us 
to receive with docility and promptitude the inspirations of the 
Holy Ghost, as, to illustrate, the sails dispose the ship to 
receive impulse from the wind. [1061] Charity, which is "poured 
out in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who has been given to US, " 
[1062] is the inseparable source of these gifts, which, with 
charity, grow all together and simultaneously, like the five 
fingers of the hand. [1063]. 


Vices are habits that turn us from God and incline us to evil. 
[1064] They have four sources: ignorance, more or less voluntary; 
passions, if unruled; pure malice, evidently more grave; the 
demon, who acts on the sense faculties to suggest evil. God can 
never be the cause of sin or moral disorder, though He is the 
first cause of the physical entity of the act which is morally 
sinful, [1065] and though, by the deserved withdrawal of grace, He 
allows the sinner to be blinded and hardened. 

From selfishness, the unregulated love of self, from what St. John 
called "concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes, and 
pride of life, " come the seven capital sins, enumerated by St. 
Gregory in this order; vainglory, envy, wrath, avarice, sloth, 
gluttony, and lust. [1066] From these capital sins arise others, 
often more grave, hatred of God, for example, and despair, because 
man does not all at once reach complete perversity. 


Sin is a deed, a word, a desire, against the eternal law. 
Admitting this definition of sin by St. Augustine, St. Thomas 
studies sin, not only in its causes, but in itself as act. As to 
be expected, he distinguishes sins specifically by their objects, 
[1067] whereas Scotus distinguishes them rather by their 
opposition to virtues, and Vasquez by their opposition to 

What distinguishes mortal sin from venial sin? The answer of St 
Thomas is profound. The idea of sin, he says, [1068] as applied to 
mortal and venial, IS not a univocal notion, is not a genus 
divided into species, but is found analogically in both. Mortal 
sin is a turning away from our last end, is simply against the 
law, and is in itself irreparable, whereas venial sin is not a 
turning away from our last end, but a disorder in the use of 
means, and is rather beside the law than against it, halting us on 
our road to God. It is therefore reparable. 

Mortal sin [1069] deprives the soul of sanctifying grace, reduces 
our natural inclination to virtue, and deserves eternal 
punishment, because without repentance it lasts forever as 
habitual sin, and hence draws on a punishment which also lasts 
forever. Yet not all mortal sins are equal in malice, the worst 
being sins directly against God: apostasy, despair, hatred of God. 

Venial sin tarnishes that brightness given to the soul by acts of 
virtue, but not that of sanctifying grace. [1070] But it can lead 
imperceptibly to mortal sin [1071] and merits temporal punishment. 
[1072] A feeble act of virtue contains an imperfection, which is 
not, like venial sin, a privation, but only a negation of 
desirable perfection, a lack of promptitude in the service of God. 

Original sin [1074] is specifically distinct from actual sin which 
we have been speaking of. It is the sin of nature, transmitted 
with nature. It is voluntary in its cause, the sin of the first 
man. It consists formally in the privation of original justice, by 
which our will was subject to God. [1075] Materially, it consists 
in concupiscence. It resides, as privation of grace, in the 
essence of the soul, before it infects the will and man's other 
powers. [1076]. 


VIRTUES and vices are intrinsic principles of human acts. St. 
Thomas now turns to the extrinsic principle, to God who causes 
human acts by His law and His grace. 

Law is "a regulation of reason in favor of the common good, 
promulgated by the ruler of the community. " [1077] Its violation 
deserves punishment, to re-establish the law. [1078] There are 
many kinds of law. The highest kind, whence all others are 
derived, is the eternal law, "the plan by which divine wisdom 
rules all creatures. " [1079] Natural law, a direct derivation 
from the eternal law, is imprinted on our rational faculties, 
inclining them to the end willed by the author of nature. It is 
immutable, like nature itself. Its first precept is: Do good, shun 
evil. From this principle follow other natural precepts, relative 
to the individual, to the family, to social life, and to the 
worship of God. [1080]. 

Positive laws, human or divine, presuppose the eternal law and the 
natural law. Divine positive law is either the Old Law or the New. 
The New Law is inscribed in our souls before it is inscribed on 
parchment. It is identified with grace and infused virtue. [1081] 
It brings the Old Law to perfection. It is the law of love, since 
it continually recalls the pre-eminence of charity, with its two 
grand precepts of love for God and neighbor. [1082]. 

Human laws, coming from human authority, must conform to natural 
law and to divine positive law. [1083] They must be morally good, 
just, suited to people and time. They bind in conscience, as 
derivations from the eternal law. Unjust laws do not bind in 
conscience, unless their observance is necessary to avoid a 
greater evil. In such cases we may yield on our rights, but not on 
our duties. But we may not obey a law which is manifestly against 
a higher law, especially if the higher law is a divine law. 

On the immutability of the natural law Scotus maintains that the 
only necessary precepts are those relating to the service of God, 
whereas God could revoke the precept "Thou shalt not kill, " and 
then murder would no longer be sin. Thus all relations of man to 
man would depend, not on God's natural law, but on His positive 
law. Occam goes still further, saying that God, being infinitely 
free, could have commanded us to hate Him. God might thus be, 
comments Leibnitz, [1085] the evil principle of the Manichaeans 
rather than the good principle of Christians. This nominalistic 
doctrine brings forth complete juridical positivism, since it 
leaves no act intrinsically either good or evil. Gerson [1086] 
approaches this position, saying there is only one act 
intrinsically good, namely, the love of God. St. Thomas, on the 
contrary, holding the natural law to be as immutable as human 
nature itself, establishes on high a luminary to guide all 
legislation worthy of the name. 


FOLLOWING the order of St. Thomas, we dwell here, first, on the 
necessity of grace, second, on its essence, third, on its 
divisions, fourth, on its causes, fifth, on its effects, which are 
justification and merit. 


Man, even in his fallen state, can without grace, by God's 
concurrence in the natural order, know certain natural truths, 
though this concurrence of God is gratuitous in this sense, that 
it is accorded to men in varying degree. Yet, even within the 
natural order, fallen man cannot without supernatural grace attain 
all truths, in particular not the more difficult truths. To reach 
these latter truths man must have long years of study, an ardent 
love of truth, a persevering will, and subservient passions, and 
these qualities man in his actual state cannot have without grace 
added to his nature. [1088]. 

Even supposing revelation as an exterior fact, man cannot without 
interior grace give a supernatural assent to divine revelation. 
This point of doctrine is strenuously upheld by Thomists against 
those who approach more or less nearly to Pelagianism or Semi-
Pelagianism. The act of faith, by which we adhere to supernatural 
truths as revealed, is essentially supernatural, [1089] by reason 
of its specific object and motive The mysteries of faith are more 
supernatural than miracles. A miracle is supernatural, not by the 
essence of its effect, but only by the mode of production, as when 
resurrection, for example, restores to a corpse the natural life 
it once had. Whereas, then, the miraculous fact is naturally 
knowable, the life of grace, on the contrary, and the mysteries of 
the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption, are in their very 
essence supernatural, inaccessible to all natural knowledge, human 
or angelic. [1090]. 

Here Thomists part company with Scotus, the Nominalists, and 
Molina, who maintain that the assent of faith to revelation is 
natural in substance and only supernatural by superadded modality. 
This "supernatural veneer" is contrary to the principle: Acts and 
habits are specifically proportioned to their formal object, that 
is, a supernatural object can be attained as supernatural only by 
an act which is itself essentially supernatural. Further, if you 
hold that the act of faith is substantially natural, you must 
likewise say the same of the acts of hope and charity, and you 
must further say that charity here below is not identified with 
charity above, because charity is, like the beatific vision, 
essentially supernatural. 

What Thomists do concede is this: After revelation has been 
preached, fallen man can, without grace, by God's natural 
concurrence, know and admit the supernatural truths materially, by 
an imperfect consent given for a human motive. Thus heretics, by 
their own judgment, retain dogmas that please them, and reject 
dogmas that displease them. Such faith is not infused; it is a 
human faith, similar to the acquired faith of the demons, who, by 
reason of confirmatory miracles, admit supernatural mysteries. But 
while such faith, founded on the evidence of miraculous signs, is 
possible without grace, true faith, founded formally on the 
veracity of God, the author of supernatural life, is impossible 
without grace. But this necessary grace can be lacking in an adult 
only by his own fault, because if he does not resist the voice of 
conscience and prevenient grace, he will be led to the grace of 
faith. [1091]. 

A man in mortal sin, deprived of grace and charity, can still 
perform acts, morally good in the natural order, and, if he 
preserves infused faith and hope, can, with actual grace, elicit 
supernatural acts in those virtues. 

Fallen man, without the grace of faith, can perform natural acts 
that are morally good, honor his parents, for example, pay his 
debts, and so on. The acts of infidels are not all sins. They 
retain, however enfeebled, the natural inclination to moral good. 
The natural concurrence of God in these acts, ethically good, is 
gratuitous only in this sense that it is given in varying degree. 

Fallen man, without medicinal grace, cannot love God more than 
himself, more than all else, not even as the author of nature, 
much less as the author of grace. [1093]. 

Whereas Scotus, Biel, and Molina grant that man cannot, without 
grace, though he may have the firm purpose, carry out that purpose 
by fulfilling the whole natural law, Thomists hold that medicinal 
grace is necessary even for that firm purpose which precedes 
execution. To love God naturallyabove all things, says St. Thomas, 
fallen man needs the aid of medicinal grace. The reason is that 
fallen man, until healed by grace, prefers his own good to that of 

The injured faculties of fallen man cannot, it is clear, perform 
the most elevated of those acts which they would have performed 
when still sound. The feebleness of will in fallen man, while it 
consists directly in aversion from his supernatural end, includes 
at least indirectly aversion from his natural end. Every sin 
against the supernatural end is indirectly against the natural 
law, which binds us to obey all God's commands, be they in the 
natural order or in a higher order. 

Hence Thomists in general, against Molina and his school, hold 
that man, in his fallen state, is less able to keep the natural 
law than he would have been in the state of pure nature. In a 
purely natural state his will would not, initiatively, be turned 
away even indirectly from his natural end, but would be capable of 
choosing this end, or of turning away from it. [1094] Hence we 
understand [1095] that fallen man, without medicinal grace, cannot 
observe the whole natural law. Could he do so, he could even keep 
that firm purpose we spoke of above. 

Hence, further, fallen man, in the state of mortal sin, cannot, 
without special grace, avoid all grievous sin against the natural 
law or conquer all temptations thereto. [1096] But the just man 
can, under the ordinary concurrence of grace and without special 
privilege, avoid each venial sin, because sin, if it were 
inevitable, would no longer be sin. Yet in the long run he cannot 
escape all venial sin, since reason cannot be always vigilant 
enough to suppress even the first movements of disorder. 

Can fallen man, without the concurrence of actual grace, prepare 
himself for sanctifying grace? To this question the Semi-Pelagians 
answered Yes, saying the beginning of salvation comes from our 
nature and that grace comes with this initial natural movement of 
good will. They were condemned by the Second Council of Orange, 
which affirmed the necessity of actual, prevenient grace in our 
preparation for conversion. Insisting on this point, St. Thomas 
[1097] recalls the words of our Savior, "No one can come to Me 
unless My Father draws him, " [1098] and the words of Jeremias, 
"Convert us, O Lord, and we will be converted. " [1099] The reason 
lies in the principle of finality. Disposition to grace must be 
supernatural, as is grace itself. Hence this disposition must come 
from the Author of grace. Natural acts have no proportion to the 
supernatural gift of grace, which lies in an order immeasurably 

But is there not a common axiom: To him who does what lies in his 
power God does not refuse grace? Thomists explain thus: To him 
who, under the concurrence of actual grace, does what in him lies, 
God does not refuse sanctifying grace. But that God confers this 
actual grace because man of himself makes a good use of his 
natural will -- this interpretation cannot be admitted. [1100] Why 
God draws this man and not that man, says St. Augustine, judge not 
unless you would misjudge. [1101] The divine judgment, which gives 
a special mercy to one and not to another, is inscrutable. But it 
would not be inscrutable if grace were given by reason of a good 
natural disposition, since we could answer: God gave grace to this 
man and not to this other, because the first did, and the second 
did not, prepare himself thereto by his natural powers. But such 
explanation would destroy the mystery, would lose from sight the 
immeasurable distance between the two orders, one of nature, the 
other of grace. 

Molinists give the axiom a different interpretation. They say that 
God, by reason of Christ's merits, gives to the man who does what 
he naturally can an actual grace, and then if the man makes good 
use of this actual grace, God gives also sanctifying grace. This 
divergence rests on scientia media, by which God depends on the 
foreseen choice of the creature. Thomists, denying scientia media, 
since it posits in God dependent passivity, deny also the above 
interpretation. Man cannot, then, without the concurrence of 
grace, even begin to escape from the state of sin. [1102]. 

Even the justified man, however high be his degree of habitual 
grace, has need of actual grace for each and every meritorious 
act. Sanctifying grace, and the infused virtues arising therefrom, 
are indeed supernatural faculties, supernatural potencies, but 
still depend for their acts on the divine motion, just as 
necessarily as do faculties in the natural order. 

Does man need a special grace of perseverance until death? The 
Semi-Pelagians said No. They were opposed by St. Augustine in a 
special work, [1103] and were condemned by the Second Council of 
Orange (can. 10). The Church teaches this special grace when she 
prays: Thy kingdom come. This grace of final perseverance is the 
union of the state of grace with the moment of death, whether that 
state has endured for years or has been attained only a moment 
before death. This union of grace and death is manifestly a 
special effect of providence, and even of predestination, since it 
is given only to the predestinate. 

In what does it consist? For the infant who dies after baptism it 
is the state of grace until death, death being permitted by 
providence at a determined moment before the infant can lose 
grace. In the case of adults, the grace of perseverance includes, 
not merely sufficient grace which gives the power to persevere, 
but also efficacious grace by which the predestinated adult does 
in fact persevere, even amid great temptations, by a last 
meritorious act. According to Thomists this grace is of itself 
efficacious, whereas, according to Molinists, it becomes 
efficacious by the human consent foreseen by scientia media. 

Such is the Thomistic doctrine: Grace is necessary for knowing 
supernatural truth, for doing good, for avoiding sin, for 
disposing man unto justification, for performing each meritorious 
act, for persevering unto the end. 


Grace here means above all sanctifying grace which makes us 
children and heirs of God. Actual grace is either the disposition 
for sanctifying grace, or the divine concurrence which makes us 
act supernaturally. 

Sanctifying grace, which makes us pleasing to God, is not a mere 
extrinsic denomination, as when we say that we are seen or loved 
by human persons, or that a poor infant is adopted by a rich man. 
Grace is something real and intrinsic in our soul: "He hath given 
us most great and precious promises that by them you may be made 
partakers of the divine nature. " [1104] Whereas human love, as 
that of the rich man adopting a child, is given to what already 
exists, divine love creates something to be loved. Divine love is 
not sterile, and not merely affective, but effective and 
efficacious, creating, not presupposing, the good it loves. God 
cannot love a man without producing in that man a good, be it in 
the natural order, as when he gives him existence, life, and 
intelligence, or in the supernatural order, as when He makes man 
His adopted child, His friend, to prepare him for a blessedness 
wholly supernatural, wherein He gives Himself to man eternally. 
God's love, says St. Thomas, [1105] creates goodness in creatures. 
Uncreated love does not presuppose, but creates, our lovableness 
in His eyes. 

Thus St. Thomas excludes in advance the error of Luther, who says 
that man is justified solely by the extrinsic imputation to him of 
Christ's merits, without grace and charity being poured into his 
heart. This view is manifestly contrary to Scripture, which 
teaches that grace and charity were given to us by the Holy Ghost. 

Sanctifying grace, to proceed, is a permanent quality of the soul. 
It is the living water, springing up into eternal life. [1107] It 
is "the seed of God, " [1108] which tradition calls "the seed of 
glory. " [1109] St. Thomas [1110] formulates a precise doctrine, 
which found ever wider acceptance and final approval in the 
Council of Trent. [1111] We cannot hold, he says, that God 
provides less generously in the supernatural order than He does in 
the natural order. Since in the natural order He gives nature as 
radical, principle and the faculties as proximate principles of 
our natural operations, we may expect that He will give us grace 
as radical principle of our supernatural operations. Thus 
sanctifying graces becomes "a second nature, " which enables us to 
connaturally know and love God in a higher order than that of our 
natural faculties. 

This participation in the divine nature is indeed formal and 
physical, but only analogical. [1112] Human words, even inspired 
words, far from being exaggerations, can express supernatural 
truths only by understatement. As the divine nature is the 
principle by which God knows and loves Himself, without medium or 
interruption, so sanctifying grace is the radical principle which 
disposes us to see God without medium, to love Him eternally 
without interruption, to do all things for His sake. That is the 
meaning of "participation in the divine nature. " This 
participation is not a mere moral quality, a mere imitation of 
God's goodness. It is a real and physical participation, spiritual 
and supernatural, because it is the root principle of acts which 
are themselves really, physically, essentially supernatural. Human 
adoption gives to the child the moral right to an inheritance. 
Divine adoption creates in the soul a real and physical claim to 
divine inheritance. 

Sanctifying grace, then, is a participation, not, like actual 
grace, virtual and transient, but formal and permanent. Still this 
participation is, not univocal, but analogical, because the divine 
nature is independent and infinite, whereas grace is essentially 
finite and dependent on God. Further, grace is an accident, not a 
substance, and the utmost knowledge it can give us of God is only 
intuitive, never absolutely comprehensive. Nevertheless this 
participation, though it is analogical, is still a participation 
in the deity as deity, since it is the source of the light of 
glory which enables us to see God as He is in Himself, the deity 
as deity. Now the deity as deity, though it precontains formally 
all perfections, being, life, intelligence, which it can 
communicate to creatures, still transcends infinitely all these 
perfections. [1113] The stone, by participating in being, has an 
analogical resemblance to God as being. The plant, participating 
in life, has an analogical resemblance to God as living. Our soul, 
participating in intelligence, has an analogical resemblance to 
God as intelligent. But sanctifying grace alone is a participation 
in the deity as deity, a participation which is naturally 
impossible and hence naturally unknowable. Only the obscure light 
of infused faith here below, and only the light of glory there 
above, can let us see the deity as deity, God as He is in Himself. 

We are here in a world of truth far beyond the reach of reason. 
Hence, first, the adversaries of the faith can never prove that 
sanctifying grace is impossible. But, secondly, neither can its 
possibility be rigorously demonstrated by reason. What, then, of 
the arguments we have just been proposing? They are arguments of 
appropriateness, profound indeed and inexhaustible, but since they 
move in an order beyond reason and philosophy, they can never be 
apodictically demonstrative. Both the intrinsic possibility of 
grace and its existence are affirmed with certitude, not by 
reason, but by faith alone. [1114]. 

Grace, we must insist, is by its very nature absolutely 
supernatural. Angelic nature, since it far transcends human 
nature, is relatively supernatural, not essentially. Miracles are 
indeed absolutely supernatural, but only in the mode of their 
production, not in the effect they produce. The life restored 
miraculously to a corpse is in itself a natural life, not a 
supernatural life. But grace is absolutely supernatural, not in 
the mode of production merely, but in its very essence. Hence the 
remark of St. Thomas: [1115] The grace even of one man is a 
greater good then the whole universe of nature. Only those who 
enjoy the beatific vision can fully know the value of grace, the 
source and root of their glory. [1116] Hence God loves one soul in 
grace more than He loves all creatures with merely natural life, 
as, to illustrate, a father loves his children more than he loves 
his houses, and fields, his herds, flocks and droves. God, says 
St. Paul, guides the universe in favor of the elect. 

Scotus greatly reduces this transcendent distance between the 
order of grace and the order of nature. His distinction between 
them is not essential but contingent, since God, he says, could 
have given us the light of glory as a characteristic property of 
our nature. This grace and glory would indeed be supernatural in 
fact, but not by intrinsic essence. This intrinsic supernaturality 
of grace is denied also by the Nominalists who admit in grace only 
a moral right to eternal life, a right which may be compared to 
paper money, which, though it is only paper, gives us a right to 
this or that sum of silver or gold. This Nominalistic thesis 
prepared the way for that of Luther, which makes grace a mere 
extrinsic imputation to us of Christ's merits. How profoundly, by 
contrast with human adoption, does St. Thomas set in relief the 
creative adoption by God, which gives to the soul an intrinsic 
root of eternal. 

How does sanctifying grace differ from charity? Charity is an 
infused virtue, an operative potency, residing in the will. But 
just as acquired virtue presupposes human nature, so infused 
virtue presupposes a nature raised to supernatural life, and this 
supernatural life is given to the soul by sanctifying grace. 
Activity presupposes being, in every order, and God cannot provide 
in the supernatural order less generously then He provides in the 
natural order. [1117] Hence grace is received into the essence of 
the soul, whereas charity is received into the soul faculty which 
we call the will. [1118] Grace, when consummated, is called glory, 
the root principle whence the light of glory arises in the 
intellect, and inalienable charity in the will. 


Sanctifying grace must be distinguished from charismatic graces, 
[1120] like prophecy and the grace of miracles, which are signs of 
divine intervention. These charismatic graces, far from being a 
new life uniting us to God, can be received even by men who are in 
the state of mortal sin. Hence infused contemplation, since it 
proceeds from faith illumined by the gifts, does not belong to the 
order of charismatic grace, but to the order of sanctifying grace, 
of which such contemplation is the connatural development, as 
normal prelude to the life of heaven. 

Sanctifying grace, being permanent, must be distinguished also 
from actual grace, which is transient, just as being, which is 
permanent, is the presupposition of activity, which is transient. 

Actual grace itself is either operative or cooperative. Under 
cooperative grace, the will, under the influence of a previous 
act, posits a new act, as when, to illustrate, noticing that our 
daily hour has come, we give ourselves to prayer. But under 
operative grace, the will is not moved by a previous act, but by a 
special inspiration, as when, for example, absorbed in our work, 
we receive and follow an unforeseen inspiration to pray. Such acts 
are indeed free, but are not the fruit of discursive deliberation. 
But they are nevertheless infused acts, arising, not from 
cooperating grace, but from operative grace. 

Actual grace, further, is either sufficient or efficacious. How is 
the one distinguished from the other? The following article gives 
the classic Thomistic answer to this much discussed question. 


Efficacious grace, in contrast with sufficient grace which can 
remain sterile, is infallibly followed by a meritorious act. This 
efficacious grace, so Thomists maintain, is intrinsically 
efficacious because God wills it; not merely extrinsically 
efficacious, that is, by the consent of our will. 

We shall consider first the texts of St. Thomas which express this 
doctrine, then the Scriptural texts on which it reposes. The main 
distinction here is that between God's antecedent will and God's 
consequent will, a distinction fully in harmony with that between 
potency and act. 

Commenting on St. Paul, [1121] St. Thomas writes: "Christ is the 
propitiation for our sins, for some efficaciously, for all 
sufficiently, because the price, which is His blood, is sufficient 
for universal salvation, but, by reason of impediment, is 
efficacious only in the elect. " God removes this impediment, but 
not always. There lies the mystery. God, he says again, [1122] 
withholds from no one his due. Again: [1123] the New Law gives of 
itself sufficient aid to shun sin. Then, commenting on the 
Ephesians, [1124] he becomes more precise: God's aid is twofold. 
One is the faculty of doing, the other is the act itself. God 
gives the faculty by infusing power and grace to make man able and 
apt for the act. God gives further the act by inner movement to 
good, working in us both to will and to do. [1125]. 

All men receive concurrence of grace which makes them able to 
fulfill the divine precepts, because God never commands the 
impossible. As regards efficacious grace, by which a man actually 
observes God's commands, if it is given to one, it is given by 
mercy, if it is refused to another, it is refused by justice. 
[1126] If man resists the grace which makes him able to do good, 
he merits deprival of that grace which gives him the actual doing 
of good. By His own judgment, says St. Thomas, [1127] God does not 
give the light of grace to those in whom he finds an obstacle. 

Here follow the chief Scripture texts on which this doctrine 

a) "I called, and you refused. " [1128]. 

b) "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and 
stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have 
gathered thy children as the hen doth gather her chickens under 
her wings, and thou wouldst not. " [1129]. 

c) "You always resist the Holy Ghost. " [1130]. 

Such texts most certainly speak of graces which remain sterile by 
man's resistance. Yet they are surely sufficient, whatever 
Jansenists say, because God could not blame those for whom 
fulfillment of divine commands is impossible. God wills that all 
men be saved, says St. Paul, [1131] because Jesus gave Himself as 
ransom for all. Hence the Council of Trent, [1132] quoting St. 
Augustine, says: "God does not command the impossible, but gives 
His command as admonition to do what you can and to pray when you 
cannot. " [1133] The grace which the sinner resists, which he 
makes sterile, was really sufficient, in this sense, that 
fulfillment was really in his power. 

Further, Scripture often speaks of efficacious grace. Here are the 
chief texts:

a) "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I 
will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and will give you 
a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit in the midst of you, 
and I will cause you to walk in My commandments and to keep My 
judgments. " [1134]. 

b) "As the potter's clay is in his hand... so man is in the hand 
of Him that made him. " [1135]. 

c) "My sheep... shall not perish forever. And no man shall pluck 
them out of My hand. " [1136]. 

d) "It is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish. 
" [1137]. 

"Whenever we do good, " says the Second Council of Orange, "God in 
us and with us works our work. " [1138]. 

These words surely indicate a grace that is of itself efficacious, 
efficacious intrinsically, because God wills it to be efficacious, 
not efficacious merely because He has foreseen that we will 
consent without resistance. 

Further, as we have said, the distinction between grace sufficient 
and grace intrinsically efficacious is an immediate consequence of 
the distinction between God's antecedent will and His consequent 
will. [1139] Antecedent will deals with an object absolutely, 
abstracting from concrete circumstances. God thus wills the 
salvation of all men, as, to illustrate, a merchant at sea wills 
to preserve all his goods. But consequent will deals with a good 
to be realized here and now. Thus the merchant, willing 
antecedently and conditionally to save his goods, wills, in fact, 
during a tempest, to throw his goods into the sea. Thus God, 
proportionally, analogically, though he antecedently and 
conditionally wills salvation for all men, permits nevertheless, 
to manifest His justice, the final impenitence of a sinner, Judas 
say; while with consequent and efficacious will He gives final 
perseverance here and now to other men, to manifest His mercy. 

"In heaven and on earth, whatever God willed He has done. " This 
verse of the psalm [1140] surely means that God's consequent will 
is always fulfilled. In this sense it was understood by the 
Council of Tuzey: "Nothing happens in heaven or on earth, unless 
God either propitiously does it or justly permits it. " [1141] 
Hence it follows clearly, first, that no good comes to pass here 
and now, in this man rather than in that other, unless God has 
from all eternity efficaciously willed it; secondly, that no evil 
comes to pass, here and now, in this man rather than in that 
other, unless God has permitted it. The sinner, at the very 
instant when he sins, can avoid the sin, and God from all eternity 
has by sufficient grace made him genuinely able to avoid it. But 
God has not willed efficaciously the actual avoidance here and 
now, say of the sin of Judas. Did God will this efficaciously, the 
sinner would have had not merely the great benefit of being able 
to shun sin, but the far greater benefit of its actual avoidance. 

On these sure principles, generally received, rests the Thomistic 
teaching on the difference between sufficient grace, which makes 
man able to do good, and grace self-efficacious, which, far from 
forcing our freedom, actualizes that freedom, leading us, strongly 
and sweetly, to give freely our salutary consent. [1142]. 

"What hast thou that thou hast not received? " [1143] This word of 
St. Paul carries our entire doctrine. That which is best in the 
hearts of the just, their free choice of salutary acts, was 
received from God. This free choice, without which there is no 
merit, is clearly a good beyond that of precept, beyond pious 
thought, and that velleity which inclines to consent, because 
these can be found even in him who does not give good consent. 
Manifestly, he who fulfills the precept in fact has more, has a 
greater good, then he who, though genuinely able to do so, does 
not in fact fulfill it. And he who has this greater good has 
received it from the source of all good. 

"Since God's love, " says St. Thomas, "is the cause of all created 
good, no created thing would be better than another, did it not 
receive from God that good which makes it better. " [1144] 
Besides, if the free and meritorious choice did not come from God, 
God could not foreknow it by His own causality. His foreknowledge 
of the future, of His free act, would be dependent and passive. 

Here lies the reason why Thomists have never been able to admit 
the doctrine called scientia media, thus expressed in two 
propositions by Molina: [1145]. 

a) "With equal aid of grace it can come to pass that one is 
converted and the other not. ". 

b) "Even with a smaller aid of grace one can arise while another 
with greater aid of grace does not rise. ". 

Against this view Thomists, Augustinians, and Scotists are in 
accord. Their formula is thus expressed by Bossuet: "We must admit 
two kinds of grace, one of which leaves our will without excuse 
before God, while the other allows our will no self-glorification. 

For better understanding of this doctrine, we add five remarks. 

1. Sufficient grace acts on a very wide field. Exteriorly, it 
includes preaching and miracles. Interiorly, it includes the 
infused virtues, the seven gifts, and all good thoughts, and 
invitations which precede meritorious consent. But all these, 
while in varying degree they perfect the power, still differ 
notably and intrinsically from self-efficacious grace. The power 
to act may be ever so proximate and ready to act, [1146] power to 
act is never the act itself. But power to act is still a reality, 
a great good. To say that sufficient grace which gives this 
reality is insufficient in its own order is equivalent to saying 
that a sleeping man is blind, because, forsooth, since he is not 
now exercising the act of vision, he cannot even have the power of 
vision. [1147]. 

2. Sufficient grace, sufficient as regards a perfect act like 
contrition, may be efficacious as regards, say, attrition. 
Sufficient grace is not sterile, it produces a good thought, a 
good movement of will, some disposition to consent. It is called 
sufficient, says Alvarez, [1148] as counter-distinguished from 
"simply efficacious. " But each sufficient grace is in a sense 
efficacious, i. e.: in its own order. 

But each meritorious act, however small, requires a grace simply 
efficacious. It is good here and now realized, hence presupposes 
an eternal decree of God's consequent will. Nothing comes to pass 
hic et nunc, unless God has efficaciously willed it (if it is 
good) or permitted it (if it is evil). [1149] We cannot, says 
Bossuet, [1150] refuse to God the power of actualizing our free 
and salutary choice, without which no merit can exist. 

3. Resistance to sufficient grace is an evil, arising from us, 
from our defectibility and our actual deficience, whereas our non-
resistance is, on the contrary, a good, arising from ourselves as 
second causes, but from God as first cause. 

Billuart sums up the matter: "Efficacious grace is required for 
consent to sufficient grace. But for resistance to sufficient 
grace the man's own defective will is sufficient cause. And since 
that resistance precedes the privation of efficacious grace, it is 
true to say that man is deprived of efficacious grace because he 
resists sufficient grace, whereas it is not true to say that he 
sins because he is deprived of efficacious grace. " [1151]. 

4. Efficacious grace is offered to us in sufficient grace, as 
fruit is offered in the blossom, as act is offered in the power. 
But by resistance to sufficient grace we merit deprival of 
efficacious grace. Resistance falls on sufficient grace as hail 
falls on a tree in blossom, destroying its promise of fruit. 

5. Mystery remains mystery. How can God have both a universal will 
of salvation and a divine predilection for the elect? How can God 
be simultaneously infinitely just, infinitely merciful, and 
supremely free? We must leave the mystery where it belongs: in the 
transcendent pre-eminence of the deity, in the inner life of God, 
to be unveiled to us only in the beatific vision. There we shall 
see what now we believe: That some are saved is the Savior's gift, 
that some are lost is their own fault. [1153] But even here below 
simple everyday Christian speech grasps the reality of the 
mystery. What a special act of God's mercy, it says, when of two 
sinners equal in evil disposition one alone is converted. All that 
is good comes from God, evil alone cannot come from Him. 

Such are the principles which rule Thomistic doctrine on the 
efficaciousness of grace, a doctrine which claims as sponsors St. 
Augustine and St. Paul. 


The principal cause of grace is God Himself, since grace is a 
participation in the divine nature. As only fire ignites, so the 
Deity alone can deify. [1154]. 

Grace, since it is not a subsistent reality, is not, properly 
speaking, created, nor concreated. It presupposes a subject in 
which it begins and continues, the soul, namely, of which it is an 
accident. But since it is an accident essentially supernatural, 
not natural and acquired, it is drawn forth from the obediential 
potency of the soul. This obediential potency of the soul is its 
aptitude to receive all that God can will to give it, and God can 
give it anything that is not self-contradictory. Thus the soul has 
obediential potency to receive not only grace and glory, and the 
hypostatic union, but also an ever higher degree of grace and 
glory, since obediential potency can never be so completely 
actualized as not to be still more actualizable. It is formally a 
passive potency, yet, if it resides in an active faculty, it is 
materially active, as when the will receives infused charity. 
Thomists cannot agree with the Scotist and Suaresian view that 
obediential potency is formally active. 

In the ordinary course of providence, the production of grace 
presupposes, in the adult, some movement of the free will as 
disposition. "Prepare your hearts unto the Lord, " says Samuel. 
[1155] God moves all things according to their nature. But though 
a repeated good act engenders an acquired habit, the disposition 
we treat of here cannot engender grace, which is an infused habit. 
Yet to the man who, under actual grace, does what is in his power 
to prepare for justification, habitual grace is indeed given 
infallibly, not because this preparation proceeds from our free 
will, but because it comes from God who moves efficaciously and 
infallibly. "If God who moves, " says St. Thomas, "intends that 
man attain grace, he attains it infallibly. " [1156]. 

In proportion to his disposition man receives a higher or a lower 
degree of grace. But God, who is the first cause of each degree of 
disposition, distributes His gifts more or less abundantly, so 
that the Church, the mystical body, may be adorned with different 
levels of grace and charity. [1157]. 

Can man be certain that he is in the state of grace? Only special 
revelation can give absolute certitude. The only ordinary 
certitude man can have is a relative certitude, a moral and 
conjectural certitude. "Neither do I judge my own self, " says St. 
Paul. [1158] "I am not conscious to myself of anything, " he 
continues. "Yet am I not hereby justified; but He that judgeth me 
is the Lord. ". 

We can always fear some hidden fault, or some lack of contrition, 
some confusion of charity with a natural love which resembles 
charity. Further, the Author of grace transcends our natural 
knowledge. Hence, without special revelation, we cannot know with 
genuine certitude whether He dwells in us or not. Yet there are 
signs whereby we may conjecture our state of grace: to have no 
conscience of mortal sin, to have no esteem for terrestrial 
things, to find our joy in the Lord. 


1. By justification sins are truly remitted, deleted, taken away, 
not merely externally covered. Were it otherwise, man would be 
simultaneously just and unjust, God's love for sinners would be 
the same as His love for His friends and children, and sinners 
remaining in a state of sin would be worthy to receive eternal 
life, and Jesus Christ would not have taken away the sins of the 
world. [1160]. 

For this remissive justification, infusion of sanctifying grace is 
absolutely necessary. [1161] Against Scotists and Nominalists, 
Thomists insist on this doctrine, because justification is an 
effect of God's love, and God's love, since it is not merely 
affective, but effective, produces something real in the soul, the 
grace, namely, which justifies and sanctifies. God's act of 
adoption is not a mere human adoption. 

Inversely, the state of sin implies that the sinner's will is 
habitually, if not actually, turned away from his last end. This 
habitual estrangement can be changed only by a voluntary turning 
of his will to God, which requires infusion of grace by God. 
Hence, says the Council of Trent, [1162] sanctifying grace is the 
formal cause of justification. 

Thomists, consequently, against Scotists and Suarez, maintain that 
God, even by His absolute power, cannot bring it to pass that 
mortal sin, habitual or actual, can coexist, in one and the same 
subject, with sanctifying grace. Grace is essentially justice, 
rectitude, sanctity, whereas sin is essentially iniquity, 
defilement, disorder. Hence the two are absolutely incompatible. 
One and the same man, at one and the same moment, cannot be to God 
both pleasing and displeasing, spiritually both dead and alive. 

2. What are the acts prerequired in the justification of an adult? 
Six acts are enumerated by the Council of Trent: faith, fear, 
hope, love, contrition, firm proposal. St. Thomas [1163] insists 
chiefly on faith and contrition, but notes also filial fear, 
humility, hope, and love of God. Firm proposal is included in 

In order these acts begin with faith, both in God's justice and 
His mercy. From this faith arise fear of justice and hope of 
pardon. Hope leads to love of God, the source of both justice and 
all benevolent mercy. Love of God leads to hatred of sin, as 
harmful to the sinner and offensive to God. This hatred of sin is 
contrition, perfect contrition if sin is hated chiefly as 
offensive to God, imperfect contrition if sin is hated chiefly as 
harmful to the sinner. And genuine contrition, perfect or 
imperfect, includes the firm proposal to begin a new life. 

Must all these acts be explicitly present? Two of them must 
certainly be so present: faith, which is in the intellect, and 
love, which is in the will. These two acts cannot be contained 
virtually in other acts. Contrition, too, must be ordinarily 
present, though it can be contained virtually in the act of love 
if the man is not at the time thinking of his sins. Hope can 
likewise be virtually contained in charity. 


3. These acts of contrition and love, which are thus the ultimate 
disposition for sanctifying grace, proceed from what effective 
principle? Here Thomists divide. John of St. Thomas and Contenson 
hold that these acts proceed from actual grace, whereas many 
others [1164] maintain that they arise from sanctifying grace at 
the very moment of its infusion, since the divine motion which 
infuses grace infuses simultaneously the virtues from which the 
acts in question proceed. 

St. Thomas [1165] favors this second interpretation. The subject's 
disposition, he says, precedes the form, not in time but in 
nature, and in the order of material causality. But in the order 
of formal and efficient causality, this disposition does not 
precede, but follows, the action of the agent which disposes the 
subject. Thus the act of the free will, though it precedes 
materially the infusion of grace, follows that infusion, formally 
and effectively. 

In illustration, the saint offers the sun and the air in regard to 
dispelling darkness. By priority of material causality the air 
loses darkness before it is illuminated. But by priority of the 
efficient causality the sun illuminates the air before dispelling 
darkness. Thus God, at one and the same moment, but by priority of 
nature, infuses grace before dispelling sin, whereas man, by 
another priority, ceases to be sinner before receiving grace. 

The saint, we see, is faithful to his general principle. In its 
own order, each of the four causes is first. [1166] The ultimate 
disposition precedes, materially, the form, but follows it, 
formally, as characteristic of that form. In the human embryo, the 
ultimate disposition both precedes and follows the infusion of the 
soul. The air does not enter if the window is not opened, and the 
window would not be opened if the air were not to enter. We have 
here no contradiction, no vicious circle, because each priority 
has its own order, its own circle of causality. 

Opposed to this Thomistic teaching is the Nominalistic position 
which prepared the Lutheran doctrine of justification without 
infusion of grace, by merely external attribution of the merits of 
Christ. Thomists have always affirmed, even before the Council of 
Trent, the doctrine defined by that Council, [1167] that the 
formal cause of justification is sanctifying grace. 

The depth and reach of this doctrine appears in the unvaried 
Thomistic thesis of the absolute incompatibility, in one and the 
same man, of mortal sin and sanctifying grace. A consequence of 
this thesis runs thus: In the actual plan of providence, under 
which a state of pure nature has never existed, each and every man 
is either in the state of sin, or then in the state of grace. "He 
who is not with Me is against Me, " i. e.: he who does not love 
God as his last end is turned away from God. But the other word of 
our Lord [1168] is also true: "He who is not against you is for 
you, " i. e.: he who, by actual grace, is disposing himself for 
conversion will, if he continues, reach that ultimate disposition 
which is realized at the moment when sanctifying grace is infused. 


Merit follows as a consequence of sanctifying grace, as activity 
follows being. 

1. Definition and Division

Taken concretely, merit is a good work which confers right to a 
reward. Hence, in the abstract, merit is the right to a reward, 
opposed to demerit, i. e.: to guilt which deserves punishment. 

On this definition of merit are founded its division. [1171] The 
idea of merit, we must note, is not univocal, but analogical, 
because it is found, in meanings proportionally similar and 
subordinated, first, in the merits of Christ, second, in the 
merits of the just, third, in the sinner's dispositive 
preparations for sanctifying grace. We have already seen many 
exemplifications of analogy: sin, mortal and venial, knowledge, 
sensitive and intellectual, love, sensible and spiritual. Many 
errors arise from treating as univocal an idea which is really 

The merits of Christ, then, are founded on absolute justice, 
because Christ's person is divine. The merits of the just are also 
founded on justice, not absolute, but dependent on Christ's 
merits. To this merit we give the name of "condignness, " [1172] 
which expresses a value, not equal to the reward, but proportioned 
to it. Condign merit rests on God's ordination and promise, 
without which it could not give a right in the proper sense of the 

But the just have also a second kind of merit, founded, not on 
justice, but on friendship, which presupposes grace and charity. 
To this kind of merit we give the name "merit of proper congruity. 
" [1173] The word "proper" is added to distinguish this merit, 
based on friendship, from the sinner's dispositive merits, which 
are based, not on friendship with God, but on God's liberality to 
His enemies. These merits too are called "merits of congruity, " 
but in a wider sense of the word. [1174]. 

Merit, then, has four different levels. On the three higher 
levels, which presuppose sanctifying grace, we have merit by 
proper proportion, whereas on the lowest level we have improper 
proportion, almost metaphorical proportion. 

Here Thomists are separated by a wide distance from Scotus. 
Against him they maintain, first, that the merits of Christ have a 
value intrinsically infinite, not merely extrinsically infinite by 
divine acceptation. This value is intrinsically equal by absolute 
justice to the eternal life of all the elect, intrinsically 
sufficient for universal salvation. Secondly, they hold, against 
Scotus and the Nominalists, that the condign merits of the just 
are properly and intrinsically meritorious of eternal life, not 
merely extrinsically by God's ordination and acceptation. Thirdly, 
they hold that God cannot accept merely naturally good works as 
meritorious of eternal life. The order of grace, they repeat, is 
supernatural, by its very essence, not merely by the mode of its 
production, as is life miraculously restored to a dead man. The 
act of charity is, therefore, meritorious, properly, 
intrinsically, condignly, of eternal life, though such merit 
presupposes the divine ordination of grace to glory, and the 
divine promise of salvation to those who merit that salvation. 

The merit of "proper congruity" is found in acts of charity, 
elicited or commanded, in favor of our neighbor. Thus the just man 
merits the conversion of a sinner. Thus Monica merited the 
conversion of Augustine. Thus Mary, universal Mediatrix, merited, 
de congruo proprie, all graces merited de condigno by Christ. 

The merit of "improper congruity, " arising not from grace but 
from some disposition thereto, a prayer, say, while it is not 
merit in the proper sense, can still be called merit in so far as 
God's mercy directs it to the sinner's conversion. [1177]. 

2. Principle and Qualities of Merit

A meritorious act, in the proper sense, whether condign or 
congruous, has six qualities. [1178] It must be free and good, 
addressed to the rewarder, and be done in the present life, 
proceed from charity, and be under God's promise of reward. 

Why must it come under God's promise? Because our good works are 
already due to God, as Creator, Ruler, and Last End. For lack of 
this quality the good works done by those in purgatory and heaven 
are not meritorious. Scotus and the Nominalists, exaggerating this 
requirement of God's promise, say that merit is not intrinsically 
meritorious, but only extrinsically, i. e.: because God has 
promised. The precise doctrine of St. Thomas [1179] is that the 
act is intrinsically meritorious, but must still be supported by 
divine promise which makes its reward a duty which God owes to 
Himself. "Rejoice and be glad, " says our Savior, "because your 
reward is great in heaven. " [1180] God's creative ordinance gives 
our good acts a title of justice, intrinsically proportioned to 
eternal life. [1181] But if the man falls into sin and dies in 
that state, he loses all his merits. Hence the necessity of the 
grace of final perseverance, either to preserve or to recover 

It is above all by charity that sanctifying grace is the principle 
of merit, since it is by charity, either actual or virtual, that 
we tend to our last end. [1182] Merit is therefore greater as 
charity is higher and its influence greater. Thus an act 
objectively easy, if it comes from great charity, is more 
meritorious than a difficult act arising from a lower degree of 
charity. Mary, the mother of God, merited more by easier acts than 
the martyrs by their torments. 

3. What can we merit? We can merit whatever our acts have been 
ordained by God to merit. This truth includes implicitly a second 
truth: We cannot merit the principle of grace. 

The just man, then, so faith teaches, can condignly merit growth 
of grace and charity, and a corresponding degree of glory. [1183] 
Further, he can merit, not indeed condignly, but congruously and 
properly, the graces of conversion and spiritual advancement for 
his neighbor. Temporal favors, as far as they are conducive to 
salvation, also fall under merit. 

But the first grace, actual or habitual, being the presupposed 
principle of merit, cannot itself be merited, either condignly or 
congruously. This truth of faith rests on the disproportion 
between naturally good works and the supernatural order. [1184] 
Neither can man merit in advance a grace of contrition to be given 
after a fall into mortal sin. [1185] This position is not admitted 
by all theologians. St. Thomas defends it, by pointing out that, 
since all merits are lost by mortal sin, the sinner must begin a 
new road of merit, on which contrition is the first step, the 
presupposition of merit, which cannot itself be merited, either 
condignly or congruously. Further, if men could merit this act of 
contrition in advance, they would obtain it infallibly, and thus 
persevere unto death. Thus all men now in grace would belong to 
the predestinate. Nevertheless the man in sin can, by the merit of 
improper congruity, by prayer to the divine mercy, obtain the 
grace of contrition. 

Lastly, the just man cannot merit the grace of perseverance, i. 
e.: the grace of a good death. Since the Council of Trent, [1186] 
this point of doctrine is admitted by all as theologically 
certain, at least if merit is understood as condign merit. The 
Council quotes this word of Augustine: "This gift can come from 
one source only, from Him who is able first to so establish man 
that man will stand perseveringly, and, second, to raise up the 
man who has fallen. " [1187]. 

St. Thomas [1188] supports this commonly received truth by the 
axiom: The principle of merit cannot be itself merited. Now the 
gift of perseverance is nothing but the state of grace itself, the 
principle of all merit, preserved by God up to the moment of 
death. Hence it cannot be merited, certainly not by condign merit, 
and only certainly not by merit of proper congruity, which also 
has its source and principle in grace and charity. God has not 
promised that each man who has performed meritorious acts for a 
period of time more or less long has thereby a right to final 
perseverance. A man may now be just without being among the elect. 
Hence man cannot merit either condignly or congruously that 
efficacious concurrence of grace which alone can preserve him from 
mortal sin. If he could merit it, he would infallibly obtain it; 
he could then likewise merit a second and a third efficacious 
concurrence, and thus infallibly obtain the grace of perseverance. 

Still we can obtain this grace of final perseverance. How? By 
humble, confident, persevering prayer. In this sense, by the merit 
of improper congruity, we may say that man merits perseverance. 
This kind of merit addresses itself, not to divine justice, but to 
divine mercy. In this sense we understand the promise of the 
Sacred Heart to Margaret Mary, that He will give the grace of a 
good death to those who receive Holy Communion on nine successive 
first Fridays. 

Here emerges an objection: If we can merit eternal life, which is 
something higher than final perseverance, why can we not merit 
perseverance itself? The answer runs thus: Eternal life, as the 
goal of perseverance, is higher than perseverance. But God, while 
He has ordained that eternal life shall be merited, has not 
ordained that the state of grace, the presupposed source of merit, 
can itself be merited, though He has ordained that the grace of 
perseverance, though unmerited, can be obtained by prayer. 

But how, the questioner continues, can man merit eternal life if 
he cannot merit perseverance, which is a prerequired condition of 
obtaining eternal life? You cannot merit eternal life, so runs the 
answer, unless you preserve your merits to the end, and that 
preservation, being the principle of your merits to eternal life, 
cannot itself be merited. You merit eternal life, and, if you die 
in grace, the actual attainment of that eternal life. [1189]. 

Such are the operative principles in the treatise on grace. St. 
Thomas, here again, is a summit, rising above two radically 
opposed heresies, above Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism on the 
one hand, and, on the other, above Predestinarianism. Against 
Pelagianism, which denies elevation to grace, the saint insists on 
the immeasurable distance between the two orders, one of nature, 
one of grace, the latter being a formal participation in the deity 
as deity. "Without Me, " says our Lord, "you can do nothing. " 
Hence the absolute necessity of grace in the order of grace. "What 
hast thou that thou hast not received? " Hence the absolute 
gratuity of grace. If one man is better than another, let him 
thank God who has loved him more. God alone, the Author of grace, 
can move man to a supernatural end, and only God's self-
efficacious grace can, by actualizing our freedom, carry us on 
effectively to acts that are meritorious and salutary. 

Against Predestinarianism, to reappear later in Protestantism and 
Jansenism, the saint insists that God cannot command the 
impossible, and that God's sufficient grace makes universal 
salvation genuinely possible. But, if man resists, he merits 
deprivation of efficacious grace. Lastly, man can merit everything 
to which the meritorious act is by God's ordination proportioned, 
but he cannot merit the very principle of merit. 

Between these opposed heresies lies the mystery, descending from 
the transcendental deity which binds in one God's infinite mercy, 
His infinite justice, and His sovereign freedom. 



THE theological virtues and their acts, like faculties, virtues, 
and acts in general, are specifically proportioned to their formal 
object. The profound import of this principle went unrecognized by 
Scotus and by the Nominalists and their successors, as is clear 
from the controversies which, from the fourteenth century onwards, 
have never ceased. 

Faith, says St. Thomas, [1191] has as its material object all 
truths revealed by God, but chiefly the supernatural mysteries not 
accessible to any natural intelligence human or angelic. But the 
formal object of faith, its formal motive of adherence, is God's 
veracity, [1192] which presupposes God's infallibility. [1193] The 
veracity here in question is that of God as author, not merely of 
nature, but of grace and glory, since the revealed mysteries, the 
Trinity, for example, and the redemptive Incarnation, are 
essentially supernatural. Let us quote the saint's own words:

"Faith, considered in its formal object, is nothing else than God, 
the first truth. For faith assents to no truth except in so far as 
that truth is revealed. Hence the medium by which faith believes 
is divine truth itself. [1194] Again: "The formal object of faith 
is the first truth, adherence to which is man's reason for 
assenting to any particular truth. " [1195] Once more: "In faith 
we must distinguish the formal element, i. e.: the first truth, 
far surpassing all the natural knowledge of any creature; and 
second, the material element, i. e.: the particular truth, to 
which we adhere only because we adhere to the first truth. " 
[1196] Lastly: "The first truth, as not seen but believed, is the 
object of faith, by which object we assent to truths only as 
proposed by that first truth. " [1197]. 

Thomists, explaining these words, note that the formal object of 
any theological virtue must be something uncreated, must be God 
Himself. Neither the infallible pronouncements of the Church nor 
the miracles which confirm those pronouncements are the formal 
object of faith, though they are indispensable conditions. Faith, 
therefore, being specifically proportioned to a formal object 
which is essentially supernatural, must itself be essentially 
supernatural. Again we listen to Thomas. 

"Since the act by which man assents to the truths of faith is an 
act beyond man's nature, he must have within, from God, the 
supernatural mover, a principle by which he elicits that act. " 
[1198] And again: "The believer holds the articles of faith by his 
adherence to the first truth, for which act he is made capable by 
the virtue of faith. " [1199]. 

In other words the believer, by the infused virtue of faith and by 
actual grace, adheres supernaturally to the formal motive of this 
theological virtue, in an order which transcends all apologetic 
arguments, based on evident miracles and other signs of 
revelation. His act of adherence is not discursive, but simple, 
since all through it is one and the same act. That act can be 
expressed in three ways: [1200] I believe God who reveals, [1201] 
I believe what has been revealed concerning God, [1202] I believe 
unto God. [1203] But by these three expressions, says St. Thomas, 
[1204] we designate, not different acts of faith, but one and the 
same act in different relations to one and the same object, as, we 
may add in illustration, the eye, by one and the same act of 
vision, sees both light and color. 

Faith, therefore, has a certitude essentially supernatural, 
surpassing even the most evident natural certitude, whether that 
of wisdom, of science, or of first principles. [1205] God's 
authority claims our infallible adherence in an order far higher 
than apologetic reasoning, which is prerequired for credibility, 
i. e.: that the mysteries proposed by the Church are guaranteed by 
signs manifestly divine, and are therefore evidently credible. 
Even for the willingness to believe, [1206] actual grace is 

This essential supernaturalness of faith is not admitted by 
Scotus, nor the Nominalists, nor their successors. Scotus says 
that the distinction of grace from nature is not necessary, but 
contingent, dependent on the free choice of God, who might have 
given us the light of glory as a characteristic of our nature, 
[1207] since a natural act and a supernatural act can each have 
the same formal object. [1208] Neither is infused faith necessary 
by reason of a supernatural object, because the formal object of 
theological faith is not higher than acquired faith. [1209] 
Lastly, the certitude of infused faith is based on acquired faith 
in the veracity of the Church, which veracity is itself founded on 
miracles or other signs of revelation. Otherwise, so he claims, we 
would regress to infinity. This same doctrine is upheld by the 
Nominalists. [1210] Thence it passes to Molina, [1211] to Ripalda, 
[1212] and with slight modification to de Lugo [1213] and to 
Franzelin. [1214] Vacant [1215] shows clearly wherein this theory 
differs from Thomistic teaching. 

Thomists reply as follows: The formal motive of infused faith is 
the veracity of God, the author of grace, and this motive, 
inaccessible to any natural knowledge whatsoever, must be attained 
by an infused virtue. If acquired faith, which even demons have, 
were sufficient, then infused faith would not be absolutely 
necessary, but would be, as the Pelagians said, a means for 
believing more easily. Against the Pelagians the Second Council of 
Orange defined the statement that grace is necessary even for the 
beginning of faith, for the pious willingness to believe. 

Resting on the principle that habits are specifically 
differentiated by their formal objects, Thomists, since the days 
of Capreolus, have never ceased to defend the essential 
supernaturalness of faith, and its superiority to all natural 
certitude. On this point Suarez [1216] is in accord with Thomists, 
but with one exception. To believe God who reveals, and to believe 
the truths revealed concerning God, are for him two distinct acts, 
whereas for Thomists they are but one. 

Thomists are one in recognizing that the act of infused faith is 
founded [1217] on the authority of God who reveals, and hence that 
God is both that by which and that which we believe, [1218] as 
light, to illustrate, is both that by which we see, and that which 
is seen, when we see colors. [1219] But this authority of God can 
be formal motive only so far as it is infallibly known by infused 
faith itself. Were this motive known only naturally, it could not 
found a certitude essentially supernatural. 

We may follow this doctrine down a long line of Thomists. 
Capreolus [1220] writes: "With one and the same act I assent, both 
that God is triune and one, and that God revealed both truths. By 
one and the same act I believe that God cannot lie, [1221] and 
that what God says of Himself is true. " [1222] Cajetan [1223] 
writes: "Divine revelation is both that by which (quo) and that 
which (quod) I believe. Just as unity is of itself one without 
further appeal, so divine revelation, by which all else is 
revealed, is accepted for its own sake and not by a second 
revelation. One and the same act accepts the truth spoken about 
God and the truthfulness of God who speaks. " [1224] "This 
acceptance of the first truth as revealing, and not that acquired 
faith by which I believe John the Apostle, or Paul the Apostle, or 
the one Church, is the ultimate court of appeal. The infused habit 
of faith makes us adhere to God as the reason for believing each 
and every revealed truth. 'He that believeth in the Son of God 
hath the testimony of God in himself. ' " [1225] This same truth 
you will find in Sylvester de Ferraris, [1226] in John of St. 
Thomas, [1227] in Gonet, [1228] in the Salmanticenses, [1229] and 
in Billuart. [1230]. 

All Thomists, as is clear from these testimonies, rest on the 
principle so often invoked by St. Thomas: Habits and acts, since 
they are specifically differentiated by their formal objects, are 
in the same order as are those objects. This principle is the 
highest expression of the traditional doctrine on the essential 
supernaturalness of faith, and of faith's consequent superiority 
over all natural certitude. Let us repeat the doctrine in a formal 
syllogism, whereof both major and minor are admitted by all 

We believe infallibly all that is revealed by God, because of the 
authority of divine revelation, and according to the infallible 
pronouncements of the Church. But revelation and the Church 
affirm, not only that the revealed mysteries are truths, but also 
that it is God Himself who has revealed those mysteries. Hence we 
must believe infallibly that it is God Himself who has revealed 
these mysteries. 

Note, as corollary, that the least doubt on the existence of 
revelation would entail doubt on the truth of the mysteries 
themselves. Note further that infallible faith in a mystery as 
revealed presupposes, by the very fact of its existence, [1231] 
that we believe infallibly in the existence of divine revelation, 
even though we do not explicitly reflect on that fact. [1232]. 

An objection arises. St. Thomas teaches that one and the same 
truth cannot be simultaneously both known and believed. But, by 
the miracles which confirm revelation, we know the fact of 
revelation. Hence we cannot simultaneously believe them 
supernaturally. In answer, Thomists point out that revelation is 
indeed known naturally as miraculous intervention of the God of 
nature, and hence is supernatural in the mode of its production, 
like the miracle which confirms it. But revelation, since it is 
supernatural in its essence, and not merely in the mode of its 
production, can never be naturally known, but must be accepted by 
supernatural faith. By one and the same act, to repeat St. Thomas, 
[1233] we believe the God who reveals and the truth which He 

"Faith, " says the Vatican Council, [1234] "is a supernatural 
virtue by which we believe that all that God reveals is true, not 
because we see its truth by reason, but because of the authority 
of God who reveals. " By the authority of God, as the phrase is 
here used, we are to understand, so Thomists maintain, the 
authority of God, not merely as author of nature and of miracles, 
which are naturally known, but the authority of God as author of 
grace, since revelation deals principally with mysteries that are 
essentially supernatural. 

Is this distinction, between God the author of nature and God the 
author of grace, an artificial distinction? By no means. It runs 
through all theology, particularly the treatise on grace. Without 
grace, without infused faith, we cannot adhere to the formal 
motive of faith, a motive far higher than the evidence of 
credibility furnished by miracles. The believer holds the articles 
of faith, says St. Thomas, [1235] simply because he believes and 
clings to the first truth, which act is made possible by the habit 
of faith. Thus the believer's act, essentially supernatural and 
infallible, rises immeasurably above acquired faith as found in 
the demon, whose faith is founded on the evidence of miracles, or 
in the heretic who holds certain dogmas, not on the authority of 
God which he has rejected, but on his own judgment and will. 

The consequences of this doctrine for the spiritual life are very 
pronounced. We see them in the teaching of St. John of the Cross 
on passive purification of the spirit. Faith is purged of all 
human alloy in proportion to its unmixed adherence to its formal 
motive, at a height far above the motives of credibility, 
including all accessory motives, life in a believing community, 
say, which facilitates the act of faith. [1236]. 

The gifts which correspond to the virtue of faith are, first, 
understanding, which enables us to penetrate the revealed 
mysteries, [1237] second, knowledge, which illumines our mind on 
the deficiency of second causes, on the gravity of mortal sin, on 
the emptiness of a worldly life, on the inefficacy of human 
concurrence in attaining a supernatural end. [1238] This gift thus 
also facilitates a life of hope for divine gifts and eternal life. 


We dwell here, first on the formal motive of hope, secondly on its 

1. Hope tends to eternal life, i. e.: God possessed eternally

The formal motive of hope is not our own effort, is not a created 
thing, but is God Himself, in His mercy, omnipotence, and 
fidelity. All these divine perfections are summed up in the word: 
God the Helper. [1240] Only the supreme agent can lead to the 
supreme end. Since an uncreated motive is the characteristic of 
each theological virtue, hope's uncreated motive is God as source 
of unfailing succor, transmitted to us by our Savior's humanity 
and Mary auxiliatrix. [1241]. 

Thus the infused virtue of hope, preserving us equally from 
presumption and from despair, is something immeasurably higher 
than the natural desire, conditional and inefficacious, to see 
God, or the confidence born from the natural knowledge of God's 

Infused hope necessarily presupposes infused faith, by which we 
know, first the supernatural end to which God has called us, 
secondly the supernatural aid in attaining that end which He has 
promised to those who pray for it. 

Is hope inferior to charity? Certainly; but this inferiority, as 
Thomists hold against the Quietists, does not mean that hope 
contains a disorder, and that consequently we must sacrifice hope 
in order to arrive at disinterested love. By infused hope, says 
Cajetan, [1242] I do indeed desire God for myself, yet not for my 
own sake, but for His sake. By hope we desire God as our supreme 
Good, not subordinating Him to ourselves, but subordinating 
ourselves to Him, whereas in the case of a good inferior to 
ourselves, we wish it not only to ourselves, but as subordinated 
to ourselves. [1243] Here the Quietists did not see clear. The 
last end of hope is God Himself. To that end we subordinate 
ourselves. Thus also God the Father, giving us His only Son as 
Redeemer, subordinated us to that Son. "All things are yours, " 
says St. Paul, "but you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. ". 

But when we say that hope desires God for His own sake, are we not 
confounding hope with charity? No, because this phrase, "for God's 
sake, " means, when used of hope, that God is the final cause, 
whereas when used of charity it means the formal cause. Charity 
loves God, primarily as He is in Himself, infinitely good, 
secondarily as desirable to ourselves and to our neighbors. But 
hope, though inferior to charity, still has God as its last end, 
even when, in the state of mortal sin, it is separated from 
charity. In the state of grace hope has God efficaciously loved 
for His own sake as final motive. But when this love is 
inefficacious by disordered self-love, it can still be good and 
salutary, though not meritorious of life eternal. The sinner's 
hope, though it remains a virtue, is still not in a state of 
virtue, because its act is not efficaciously related to man's last 

But when, on the contrary, hope is vivified by charity, it grows 
with charity, and is a great virtue though not the greatest of 
virtues. To understand this truth better, we may note that 
acquired magnanimity, and still more infused magnanimity, which 
are closely related to hope, make us strive for great objectives, 
to which we dedicate ourselves, a truth which we see exemplified 
in the labors and struggles of founders of religious orders. Now 
the infused virtue of hope stands still higher, because it aims, 
not at great deeds merely, but at God Himself, to whom we dedicate 
ourselves. Hope desires, not merely a precise degree of beatitude, 
but eternal life itself. Hope carries us ever onwards toward God 
as our supreme goal. 

Consequently, whatever Quietists may say, we are not to sacrifice 
hope and desire of salvation when we are undergoing that passive 
purification of the spirit described particularly by St. John of 
the Cross. Far from it. As St. Paul says, we are to "hope against 
hope. " Passive purification, in truth, outlines in powerful 
relief the supreme formal motive of this theological virtue. While 
all secondary motives all but disappear, the supreme motive, "God 
is my support, " remains always. God abandons not those who hope 
in Him. 

Further, in these passive purifications, confidence in God is ever 
more animated and ennobled by charity. In adversity, in seeming 
abandonment by God, hope is purified from all dross and 
selfishness, and the soul desires God ever more keenly, not only 
to possess Him but to glorify Him eternally. 

2. The Certitude of Hope [1244] 

St. Thomas has already noted four kinds of certitude: (a) the 
certitude of science, founded on evidence; (b) the certitude of 
faith, founded on revelation; (c) the certitude of the gift of 
wisdom, founded on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; (d) the 
certitude of prudence in the practical order. It remains to show 
precisely in what the certitude of hope consists. Hope resides, 
not in the intellect, but in the will, under the infallible 
guidance of faith. Hope, then, has a participated certitude. It 
has, to speak formally and precisely, a certitude of tendency to 
our last end, notwithstanding the uncertainty of salvation. Thus, 
to illustrate, the swallow, following animal instinct under the 
guidance of providence, tends unerringly to the region which is 
its goal. Just as moral virtues, under the guidance of prudence, 
tend to their goal, viz.: to the right medium of their respective 
fields, so does hope tend with certainty to the last end. 

It is true that we cannot, without a special revelation of our 
predestination, be certain of our individual salvation. But, 
notwithstanding this incertitude, we tend certainly to salvation, 
resting on faith in the promises of God, who never commands the 
impossible, but wills that we do what we can and pray when we 
cannot. The passenger from Paris to Rome, to illustrate, even 
while he knows of accidents which make his arrival uncertain, 
still has a certitude of final arrival, a certitude which grows 
with nearness to his goal. 

Infused hope, like infused faith, can be lost only by a sin 
contrary to itself, i. e.: by a mortal sin either of despair or of 
presumption. But though it remains in the soul under mortal sin, 
it does not remain in a state of virtue, because the soul deprived 
of grace is not a connatural subject of virtue. 

The gift which corresponds to the virtue of hope is the gift of 
filial fear, which turns us away from sin and preserves us from 
presumption. [1245]. 


St. Thomas devotes to this subject twenty-five questions. We 
single out two points: first, the formal object of charity; 
second, its characteristics. [1247]. 

1. Charity is that infused theological virtue by which, first, I 
love God the author of grace, for His own sake, more than I love 
myself, more than His gifts, more than all else; by which, 
secondly, I love myself, and then my neighbor because he like 
myself is loved by God and is called to glorify God both here and 
in eternity. Charity is not indeed identified, as the Lombard 
thought, with the Holy Spirit, but it is a gift created in the 
will by that uncreated charity, which loved us first, and which 
constantly preserves, vivifies, and re-creates our love. 

Charity is, properly speaking, supernatural friendship, [1248] 
friendship between God's children and God Himself, mutual 
friendship among all the children and that one Father in heaven. 
Friendship is a love of mutual benevolence, founded on life in 
common, a life which is a participation in God's own inner life, a 
life which enables us to see Him without medium, to love Him 
without end. [1249]. 

The formal motive of charity is, therefore, the divine goodness, 
supernaturally known and loved for its own sake. We must, it is 
true, love God by reason of His gifts to us. But this love of 
gratitude, though it is a disposition toward loving God for His 
own sake, is not as such an act of charity, [1250] since the 
goodness of the divine benefactor far surpasses all His gifts. 
Hence charity desires eternal life in order to glorify God's 
incommunicable goodness. 

Charity, further, attains God without medium. Whereas in our 
natural knowledge sense creatures are the medium, and whereas, in 
the knowledge of faith, the ideas abstracted from the sense world 
are the medium, in charity, on the contrary, our love of God has 
no medium, and we love creatures only because we first love God. 
"Charity, " says St. Thomas, "tends to God first, and from God 
goes out to all else. Hence charity loves God without medium, and 
all else with God as mediator. " [1251]. 

This unmediated love of God above all else must be objectively 
universal and efficacious, but we should aim also at affective 
intensity, at that conscious enthusiasm of the heart possessed by 
God which in its full perfection is realized in heaven. [1252]. 

By one and the same act of charity we love God, and in God our 
neighbor. [1253]. 

2. The first characteristic of charity is universality. No one can 
be excluded from our love, though we love those who are nearer to 
God with a greater love of esteem, and those who are nearer to us 
with a greater intensity of feeling. [1254] And this love for 
charity's secondary object, i. e.: myself and my neighbor, is a 
love essentially supernatural and theological, far above that 
affection which is merely natural. 

Further, charity on earth is specifically identified with charity 
in heaven, because the object, God's goodness, is the same when 
not seen as when seen, the intellectual grasp of that object being 
the condition indeed but not the cause of our love. Hence charity, 
even here on earth, is, as St. John and St. Paul never cease to 
proclaim, the most excellent of all virtues. Hence too, whereas in 
heaven knowledge of God is higher than charity, here on earth 
charity is higher than knowledge, since the latter is somehow 
limited by its medium, i. e.: our finite ideas of God. [1255]. 

Being the highest of virtues, charity inspires and commands the 
acts of all other virtues, making them meritorious of eternal 
life. In this sense, charity is the form, the extrinsic form, of 
all other virtues. Without charity the other virtues may still 
exist, but they cannot exist in a state of virtue. Mortal sin 
brings with it an enfeeblement of all virtues, hinders their 
living connection, and allows none of them to be in a state of 
virtue, i. e.: a state which can be changed only with difficulty. 

Charity grows by its own acts. [1257] An imperfect act of charity, 
an act inferior in intensity to the virtue it proceeds from, still 
merits condignly an augmentation of charity, but will not receive 
that augmentation until its intensity disposes it thereto. [1258]. 

The gift of the Holy Ghost which corresponds to the virtue of 
charity is wisdom, which gives a connatural sympathy for and 
appreciation of things divine. [1259] Faith, illumined by the 
gifts of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, is the source of 
infused contemplation. 

The formal motive, which is the guiding star of St. Thomas in 
studying each of the three theological virtues, has important 
consequences in the spiritual life, notably in the passive 
purification of the spirit. It is in this process that these 
virtues are purified from human dross, that their formal motives 
are thrown into powerful relief far beyond all inferior and 
accessory motives. First truth, supporting omnipotence, infinite 
goodness, shine in the spirit's awful night like three stars of 
the first magnitude. [1260]. 



THE charioteer among the virtues, the name given to prudence by 
the ancients, shows that prudence is an intellectual virtue which 
guides the moral virtues. St. Thomas, following Aristotle, says 
that prudence is right reason as directing human acts. [1261] This 
definition is found, proportionally, in acquired prudence which 
educates and disciplines the will and the sense faculties, and in 
infused prudence which pours divine light into these faculties. 

Prudence, acquired or infused, determines the golden middle way 
between extremes, between cowardice, say, and temerity, in the 
virtue of fortitude. But the medium way of acquired prudence is 
subordinated to that of infused prudence; as, for example, in the 
musician finger dexterity is subordinated to the art of music 
which is in the practical intellect. 

Prudence has three acts: first counsel, which scrutinizes the 
means proposed for an end; second, practical judgment, which 
immediately directs choice; third, imperium, which directs 
execution. [1263]. 

In determining the relation between prudence and the moral 
virtues, St. Thomas is guided by Aristotle's principle: "As are a 
man's dispositions, so are his judgments. " [1264] If we are 
ambitious, that is good which flatters our pride. If we are 
humble, that is good which agrees with humility. No one, then, can 
give prudent judgments unless he is disposed thereto by justice, 
temperance, fortitude, loyalty, and modesty, just as, to 
illustrate, the coachman cannot guide the vehicle well unless he 
has well-trained horses. This is what St. Thomas means when he 
says that the truth of the judgment passed by prudence depends on 
its conformity to well-trained appetites, rational and sensitive. 

Here, as always, we see St. Thomas passing progressively from the 
common sense of natural reason to philosophic reasoning, all in 
the service of theology. Thus, even when the judgment of prudence 
is speculatively false, in consequence of ignorance, say, or of 
involuntary terror, that judgment is still true in the practical 
order. To illustrate. When we simply cannot know nor even suspect 
that the drink offered to us is poisoned, our act of drinking is 
not imprudent. In the speculative objective order our judgment is 
not true, but in the practical order it is true, because conformed 
to right disposition and intention. 

This virtuous disposition and intention, necessary for counsel, is 
more necessary for the imperium. Prudence cannot command unless 
the will and the sense appetites are seasoned in obedience. Here 
lies what is called the interconnection of virtues, the union of 
all virtues in one spiritual organism. Prudence, acquired and 
infused, is the charioteer whose first task is continual training 
of his steeds. For the education and formation of a good 
conscience, the doctrines just explained are excellent guides, 
more sure, profound, and useful than the shifting balance of 
conflicting probabilities. 

The gift which corresponds to prudence is that of counsel, which 
gives us divine inspirations in eases where even infused prudence 
hesitates, in answering, for instance, an indiscreet question, so 
as neither to lie nor to betray a secret. [1266]. 


Justice, either acquired or infused, is a virtue residing in man's 
will, a virtue which destroys selfishness, and enables him to give 
to each neighbor that neighbor's due. Justice is found on four 
ascending levels: commutative justice, distributive justice, 
social justice, equity. 

Commutative justice rules everyday commercial life. It commands 
honesty in buying, selling, and exchanging. It forbids theft, 
fraud, calumny, and obliges to restitution. 

Distributive justice is concerned with the right distribution of 
public duties and awards, which are not to be given 
indiscriminately, but in proportion to merit, need, and 
importance. [1268]. 

Social justice, also called legal justice, establishes and 
maintains the laws required for the common good and advancement of 
society. Its source lies in political prudence, which belongs 
principally to the rulers of the state, but also to the subjects 
of the state, since without it the subject cannot be interested in 
the common good which he shares with his fellow citizens, nor in 
the observance of the laws which uphold that common welfare. 

Equity, also called epikeia, is the highest form of justice. It is 
concerned, not merely with the letter of the law, but with the 
spirit of the law, i. e.: with the intention of the legislator, 
particularly in difficult and afflicting circumstances, where 
rigid application of the law's mere letter would work injustice 
[1270] and thus defeat the intention of the legislator. Equity, 
resting on great good sense and wisdom, sees the spirit behind the 
law and emulates charity, which is still higher than itself. 

All these divisions reappear in higher form in infused justice, 
which increases tenfold the energies of the will, imprinting upon 
it a full Christian character which dominates even man's physical 
temperament. If acquired virtue pours natural rectitude down into 
our will and sense appetites, infused virtue, from an immeasurably 
higher source, pours into those same faculties the supernatural 
rectitude of faith and grace. 

Justice, further, though it is the instrument of charity, differs 
from it notably. Justice gives to each fellow man his right and 
due. Charity gives each not only his rights, but the privileges of 
a child of God and a brother of Jesus Christ. Justice, says St. 
Thomas, [1271] looks on our neighbor as another person with his 
own personal rights, whereas charity looks on him as another self. 
When our neighbor sins, justice will not punish him beyond 
measure, whereas charity will even forgive his sin. And, while 
peace depends, first on justice, secondly on charity, justice 
produces peace indirectly by removing wrongs, whereas charity, by 
making men's hearts one in Christ, produces peace directly. 

A specific question under justice is the right of ownership. 
"Ownership, " says St. Thomas, [1272] "includes two rights: first, 
the right to acquire and administer property as my own, second, 
the right to use the revenues arising from this property. " "But 
from this second right, " he adds, "there arises the duty of 
aiding others in their necessities. " [1273] The rich man, far 
from being a selfish monopolist, should rather be God's 
administrator in favor of the needy. Only thus can human society 
escape the domination of covetousness and jealousy, and live in 
God's kingdom of justice and charity. [1274]. 

Lastly, let us notice the auxiliary virtues of justice, i. e.: 
virtues which can only imperfectly render to others their due. 
Here we find, first religion which, aided by the gift of piety, 
gives to God that worship to which He has transcendent right. 
Secondly penance, which repairs injuries to God. Thirdly filial 
piety, toward parents and fatherland. Fourthly obedience to 
superiors. Fifthly gratitude for benefits. Sixthly vigilance, to 
be just, but also mild, in inflicting just punishment. Seventhly 
truthfulness, both in word and deed. Eighthly, ninthly, and 
tenthly are friendship, amiability, and generosity. [1275]. 


Fortitude keeps fear from shrinking and audacity from rushing. 
Thus it holds the golden middle way between cowardice and 

This definition holds good, proportionally, both of acquired 

as in the soldier who faces death for his country, and of infused 
fortitude, as in the martyr who, guided by faith and Christian 
prudence, faces torments and death for Christ. 

The principal act of fortitude is endurance, and its secondary act 
is aggression. Endurance, says St. Thomas, [1277] is more 
difficult than aggression and more meritorious. Greater moral 
strength is shown in daily and long-continued self-control than in 
the momentary enthusiasm which attacks a deadly adversary. Three 
reflections show this truth:

a) He who endures is already in continual warfare against a self-
confident adversary. 

b) He is accustomed to suffering, whereas he who waits for the 
far-off struggle does not in the meantime exercise himself in 
suffering and even hopes to escape it. 

c) Endurance presupposes long training in fortitude, whereas 
attack depends on a moment of temperamental enthusiasm. 

Endurance at its best is exemplified in martyrdom, the supreme act 
of fortitude, which gives even life to God. [1278] Whereas 
counterfeit martyrdom, supported by pride and obstinacy, may also 
be inflexible against pain, the genuine martyr is supported by 
virtues seemingly opposed to fortitude, namely, charity and 
prudence and humility, and loving prayer for his tormentor. 

Fortitude is also the name of the gift which corresponds to the 
virtue. He who is faithful to the Holy Ghost in the details of 
daily life is prepared to be heroically faithful in the supreme 
trial. [1279]. 

The auxiliary virtues of fortitude are magnanimity, constancy, 
patience, perseverance. 


Temperance rules the concupiscible appetite, particularly in the 
domain of the sense of touch. It holds the golden mean between 
intemperance and insensibility. Acquired temperance is ruled by 
right reason, infused temperance by faith and grace. [1280]. 

The kinds of temperance are chiefly three: abstinence, the right 
medium in food; sobriety, the right medium in drink; chastity, the 
right medium in sex. [1281] Chastity, the virtue, must be clearly 
distinguished from the instinct of shame, which naturally inclines 
man to the virtue, just as sense pity inclines him to the virtue 
of mercy. [1282]. 

Virginity is a virtue distinct from chastity, say, of the widow, 
because virginity offers to God perfect and lifelong integrity of 
the flesh. Virginity, then, is related to chastity as munificence 
is related to liberality. [1283] It is a more perfect state than 
that of matrimony, since it is a disposition for contemplation, 
which is a higher good than propagation of the race. [1284]. 

Among the auxiliary virtues of temperance we must emphasize 
humility and meekness. [1285] Humility, which, in Jesus and Mary, 
found no pride to repress, consists in self-abasement first, 
before the infinite Creator, secondly before each creature's share 
in God's goodness. The humble man, rccognizing that of himself he 
is nothingness and emptiness, sees in all other creatures what 
they have from God, and hence is persuaded, and acts according to 
his persuasion, that he is the lowest of all. [1286] This simple 
and profound formula, the key to the life of the saints, ascends 
by successive levels to perfection: [1287]. 

a) I recognize that I am contemptible. 

b) I accept the consequent suffering. 

c) I acknowledge my contemptibleness; 

d) I wish my neighbor to believe me contemptible;

e) I hear patiently his expression of that belief. 

f) I accept corresponding treatment. 

g) I love this kind of treatment. 

Humility is thus a fundamental virtue, which eradicates all pride, 
the root of all sin, and leaves us completely docile to divine 
grace. [1288] The sin of the first man, we note further, [1289] 
was, like that of the angels, a sin of pride. But angelic pride 
arose from a perfect knowledge which pre-existed, whereas human 
pride came from a desire of knowledge which man had not, but 
wished to have, in order to live independently of God, without 
being bound by obedience. [1290]. 

Finally, [1291] we note the auxiliary virtue of studiousness, 
which is again the golden middle road, between uncontrolled 
curiosity and intellectual laziness, the latter being often a 
consequence of the former, curiosity being spasmodic and short-

All in all, St. Thomas examines about forty virtues, all arranged 
under the four cardinal virtues. Justice excepted, each virtue is 
flanked by two opposite vices, one by excess, the other by defect. 
Hence it comes that a virtue may have an external resemblance to a 
vice. Magnanimity, for example, thus resembles pride. Acquired 
virtue is often defective in this way, until it is perfected by 
gifts of the Holy Ghost. Hence, if man's virtuous organism be 
compared to an organ, defective virtue can easily strike false 
notes, and thus we need the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost to 
attain perfection in virtue. And thus we are brought to the study 
of perfection, contemplative and active. 


PERFECTION, SO we are taught by the Gospel and St. Paul, means 
perfection in charity. "Every being, " says St. Thomas, [1292] "is 
perfect when it attains its final goal. But charity unites us to 
God, the goal of all human life, a truth expressed by St. John's 
word on him who abides in God and God in him. Hence charity 
constitutes the life of Christian perfection. " Faith and hope, 
since they can coexist with mortal sin, cannot constitute 
perfection. Nor can infused moral perfections, since they are 
concerned with the roads that lead to God, and hence are 
meritorious only so far as they are vivified by charity, which is 
their animating principle. 

"Perfection, " St. Thomas [1293] continues, "lies principally in 
love of God, secondarily in love of neighbor, and only 
accidentally in the evangelical counsels, " obedience, chastity, 
and poverty, which are unprescribed instruments of perfection. 
Hence perfection can be attained without literal observance of the 
counsels, in the state, say, of matrimony, though the spirit of 
the counsels, i. e.: detachment from worldliness, is necessary for 
perfection in any state. The advantage of literal observance of 
the counsels lies in this: they are the most sure and rapid road 
whereby to reach sanctity. 

Love of neighbor, though secondary in value when compared to love 
of God, is nevertheless first in the order of time, because love 
of our neighbor, who is the visible image of God, is the 
indispensable first proof of our love for God. Our Lord says: "By 
this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have 
love one for another. " [1294]. 

Which is higher in value, love of God, or knowledge of God? In 
this life, so runs the answer of St. Thomas, [1295] love of God 
stands higher than knowledge of God. Why? Because, although in 
general the intellect is higher than the will which it guides, our 
intellect, until it obtains the beatific vision, draws God down 
within its own limited and finite ideas, whereas when we love God 
we ourselves are drawn upward to God's own unlimited and infinite 
perfection. Hence it comes that when a saint, the Cure of Ars, for 
example, teaches catechism, his act of love his higher value than 
the wisest meditation of a theologian with a lower degree of love. 
[1296] In this sense we can love God more than we know Him, and we 
love Him the more, the more His mysteries surpass our knowledge. 
Charity is the bond of perfection, since it draws all virtues into 
one unit which is anchored in God. 

But love of God and neighbor, in matrimony, priesthood, or 
religion, is subject to the law of unlimited growth. It is an 
error, says St. Thomas, [1297] to imagine that the commandment of 
charity is limited to a degree beyond which it becomes a simple 
counsel. The commandment itself has no limits. We must love God 
with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Charity is in no 
way a mere counsel, but the purpose and goal of all commandments. 
[1298] Means may be loved with measure, but not the end itself. No 
one, says Aristotle, [1299] wills a goal by half. Does the 
physician will to restore merely half of health? No. What he does 
limit and measure is the medicine, the means whereby to restore, 
if he can, unlimited health. Now the counsels are means, the 
precept, the love of God, is the end. But why does God command, 
not merely counsel, to love Him completely, with heart, soul, 
mind, and strength, seeing that our love here below can never be 
perfect? Because, as St. Augustine [1300] answers his own 
question, love of God and neighbor is not a thing to be finished 
here and now, but a goal to be ceaselessly aimed at by all men 
each according to his own state of life. [1301] This ancient 
doctrine, from which in part Suarez [1302] departs, is well 
preserved by St. Francis de Sales, [1303] and reappears in two 
encyclicals of Pius XI. [1304]. 

In relation to this perfection which consists in charity we 
distinguish three forms of human life: the contemplative life, the 
active life, and the apostolic life. [1305] Contemplation studies 
divine truth, action serves our neighbor, preaching and teaching 
gives to our neighbor the fruits of our own contemplation. [1306]. 

The active life is the disposition for the contemplative life, 
because it subordinates passion to advancement in justice and 
mercy. Its end is contemplation, the better part, which leads us 
to rest eternally in the inner life of God. The apostolic life is 
the completion of the contemplative life, because it is more 
perfect to illumine others than to be merely illumined ourselves. 
Hence the perfect apostolic life, as exemplified in the apostles 
and their successors, presupposes plenitude of contemplation, 
which itself advances by the gifts of knowledge, understanding, 
and wisdom, which make faith penetrating and attractive. [1307]. 

Bishops must be perfect both in the active life and in the 
contemplative. And whereas religious are tending to the perfection 
of charity, [1308] bishops are already in the state of perfection 
to which they are to lead others. [1309] Hence a bishop who would 
enter religion would make a step backward, as long as he is useful 
to the souls for whom he has accepted responsibility. [1310]. 


CHARISMATIC graces [1311] are given chiefly for the good of 
others, to instruct them in revelation (by the word of knowledge, 
by the word of wisdom): or to confirm that revelation (by 
miracles, prophecies, discernment of spirits, etc. ). Here we 
restrict ourselves to underlining the Thomistic doctrine regarding 
prophecy, revelation, and biblical inspiration. 


Prophecy has degrees. [1312] On the lower level the prophet 
(Caiphas, for example) may not know that he is prophesying. On the 
higher level, in perfect prophecy, the prophet needs first the 
supernatural proposition of a truth so far hidden, secondly a 
supernatural knowledge that that proposition is divine in its 
origin, thirdly an infused light by which he judges infallibly 
regarding the truth itself and its divine origin. In giving the 
prophet this revelation, God may use as intermediary the prophet's 
external sense power, or his internal sense power, or his 
intellect. [1313] As to his physical state, the prophet can be 
either awake or in ecstasy or in dream. [1314] The object revealed 
may be either a truth in itself essentially supernatural, or a 
future contingent event, which, when it comes to pass, can be 
naturally known. In either of these cases the prophecy thus 
becomes, like miracles, a supernatural proof of divine revelation. 


Under the name "prophecy, " St. Thomas includes all charismatic 
intellectual graces. Hence biblical inspiration is a special kind 
of prophecy, which, in the words of St. Augustine, he defines 
thus: "a hidden and divine inspiration which human minds receive 
unknowingly. " [1317] Thus inspiration differs from revelation. In 
receiving revelation the mind receives new ideas, whereas in 
simple inspiration, unaccompanied by revelation, no new ideas are 
infused, but only a divine judgment on the ideas which the 
inspired writer has already acquired, from experience, say, or 
from human testimony, as the Evangelists, for example, knew before 
inspiration the facts of our Lord's life which they report. And 
since it is in judgment that truth or falsity resides, the infused 
judgment of the inspired writer is divinely and infallibly 
certain. [1318]. 

Biblical inspiration, then, is a divine light which makes the 
judgment of the inspired writer divine, and consequently 
infallible. Yet this scriptural inspiration, which has as its 
object a written book, is not only a divine light for the writer's 
spirit, but also a divine motion, which energizes the writer's 
will, and through his will all his other faculties which cooperate 
in producing the inspired book. But his charismatic grace of 
inspiration is not a permanent and habitual grace, but is 
transient and intermittent. [1319]. 

Thus Scripture has two authors, one divine and principal, the 
other human and instrumental. [1320] This doctrine, generally held 
both in medieval times and in our own, is clearly expounded in the 
Providentissimus of Leo XIII. As instrumental cause, the inspired 
writer attains the goal intended by the principal cause, and yet 
retains his own character and style, and adopts any literary genus 
he finds suited to his purpose. 

Inspiration, then, to repeat, is a divine causality, physical and 
supernatural, which elevates and moves the human writer in such 
fashion that he writes, for the benefit of the Church, all that 
God wills and in the way God wills. [1321] Hence God's causality 
enters not only into the truth conceived by the human writer, but 
into the very words employed by the human writer to express those 
truths, as is seen by the very terms Holy Scripture, the Holy 
Books, the Holy Bible, which faith, according to Jewish and to 
Christian tradition, employs to express the results of 
inspiration. These terms imply that the human author's decision to 
use this set of words rather than another is also an effect of 

Hence we are not to conceive inspiration as a mere material 
dictation, whereby the human author would have no freedom in the 
choice of words. Verbal inspiration, as here defended, leaves the 
inspired authors even more free and personal than authors who are 
not inspired, since God moves all second causes in conformity with 
their individual natures. Hence, although verbal inspiration is 
necessarily implied if the book is to be God's book, we must, if 
we are to understand the literal meaning of that book, be fully 
aware of the personal characteristics of the human writer, in 
whom, as in every writer, style is subordinated to thought. 

Lastly, let us notice that statements may be infallible without 
being inspired. Thus the definitions of the Church, although they 
express divine truth infallibly, are not spoken of as inspired. 
Infallibility is indeed the work of the Holy Ghost, but not in the 
form of biblical inspiration. [1323]. 


IN the first six parts of this work we studied what may be called 
the dogmatic portion of the Summa. In the seventh part we 
expounded the moral portions. Our exposition has shown how 
faithful the saint has remained to his initial announcement [1324] 
that dogmatic theology and moral theology are not two distinct 
branches of knowledge, but only two parts of one and the same 
branch of knowledge. Like God's knowledge from which it descends, 
theology is, pre-eminently and simultaneously, both speculative 
and practical, having throughout but one sole object: God revealed 
in His own inner life, God as source and goal of all creation. 

This conception of theology is at war with what we may call 
Christian eclecticism. Hence we add here two articles, one, an 
exposition of the evils of eclecticism, the other devoted to the 
power of Thomism in remedying these evils. 


This article reproduces substantially the important discourse of 
his eminence, J. M. R. Villeneuve, archbishop of Quebec, delivered 
May 24, 936, at the close of the Thomistic Convention in Ottawa, 
Canada. [1325]. 

Thomism is concerned primarily with principles and doctrinal 
order, wherein lie its unity and its power. Eclecticism, led by a 
false idea of fraternal charity, seeks to harmonize all systems of 
philosophy and theology. Especially after Pope Leo XIII the Church 
has repeatedly declared that she holds to Thomism; but eclecticism 
says equivalently: Very well, let us accept Thomism, but not be 
too explicit in contradicting doctrines opposed to Thomism. Let us 
cultivate harmony as much as possible. 

This is to seek peace where there can be no peace. The fundamental 
principles of the doctrine of St. Thomas, they would say, are 
those accepted by all the philosophers in the Church. Those points 
on which the Angelic Doctor is not in accord with other masters, 
with Scotus, say, or with Suarez, are of secondary importance, or 
even at times useless subtleties, which it is wise to ignore, or 
at least to treat as mere matters of history. The Cardinal says:

In fact, the points of doctrine on which all Catholic 
philosophers, or nearly all, are in accord, are those defined by 
the Church as the preambles of faith. But all other points of 
Thomistic doctrine, viz.: real distinction of potency from act, of 
matter from form, of created essence from its existence, of 
substance from accidents, of person from nature -- these, 
according to eclecticism, are not fundamental principles of the 
doctrine of St. Thomas. And they say the same of his doctrine that 
habits and acts are specifically proportioned to their formal 
objects. All these assertions, they say, are disputed among 
Catholic teachers, and hence are unimportant. 

These points of doctrine, which eclecticism considers unimportant, 
are, on the contrary, says the Cardinal, the major pronouncements 
of Thomism as codified in the Twenty-four Theses. [1326] Without 
these principles thus codified, says the Cardinal of Quebec, 
Thomism would be a corpse. [1327] The importance of these 
Thomistic fundamentals is set in relief by a series of Suaresian 
countertheses, published by the Ciencia Tomista. [1328]. 

In the following two paragraphs Cardinal Villeneuve signalizes the 
consequences of contemporary eclecticism. 

Since the days of Leo XIII many authors have tried, not to agree 
with St. Thomas, but to get him to agree with themselves. 
Consequences the most opposite have been drawn from his writings. 
Hence incredible confusion about what he really taught. Hence a 
race of students to whom his doctrine is a heap of 
contradictories. What ignoble treatment for a man in whom, as Leo 
XIII wrote, human reason reached unsurpassable heights! Thence 
arose the opinion that all points of doctrine not unanimously 
accepted by Catholic philosophers are doubtful. The final 
conclusion was that, in order to give St. Thomas uncontradicted 
praise, he was allowed to have as his own only what all Catholics 
agree on, that is, the definitions of faith and the nearest 
safeguards of that faith. Now this process, which reduces 
Thomistic doctrine to a spineless mass of banalities, of 
unanalyzed and unorganized postulates, results in a traditionalism 
without substance or life, in a practical fideism, a lack of 
interest in questions of faith. Hence the lack of vigilant 
reaction against the most improbable novelties. 

If we once grant that the criterion of truth, which ought to be 
intrinsic evidence deriving from first principles, lies instead in 
external acceptance by a majority, then we condemn reason to 
atrophy, to dullness, to self-abdication. Man learns to get along 
without mental exertion. He lives on a plane of neutral 
persuasion, led by public rumor. Reason is looked upon as 
incapable of finding the truth. We might be inclined to trace this 
abdication to a laudable humility. But, judged by its fruits, it 
engenders philosophic skepticism, conscious or unconscious, in an 
atmosphere ruled by mystic sentimentalism and hollow faith. 

Eclecticism, we may add, entertains doubts about the classic 
proofs of God's existence, hardly allowing any argument to stand 
as proposed by St. Thomas. 

"If we must leave out of philosophy, " the Cardinal continues, 
"all questions not admitted unanimously by Catholics, then we must 
omit the deepest and most important questions, we must leave out 
metaphysics itself, and with that we will have removed from St. 
Thomas the very marrow of his system, that wherein he outstrips 
common sense, that which his genius has discovered. ". 

Further, we may add, with such a decapitated Thomism, we could no 
longer defend common sense itself. With Thomas Reid's Scotch 
School we would, after renouncing philosophy in favor of common 
sense, find ourselves unable to analyze that common sense, to 
anchor it in self-evident, necessary, and universal principles. 

Does charity oblige us to sacrifice depth and exactness of thought 
to unity of spirit? No, replies the Cardinal; that which wounds 
charity is not truth nor the love of truth, but selfishness, 
individual and corporate. Genuine doctrinal harmony lies along the 
road to which the Church points when she says: Go to Thomas. 
Loyalty to Thomas, far from curtailing intellectual freedom, 
widens and deepens that freedom, gives it an unfailing 
springboard, firm and elastic, to soar ever higher out of error 
into truth. "You shall know the truth; and the truth shall make 
you free. " [1329]. 


A doctrine's assimilative power is in proportion to the elevation 
and universality of its principles. Here, then, we wish to show 
that Thomism can assimilate all the elements of truth to be found 
in the three principal tendencies which characterize contemporary 
philosophy. Let us begin with an outline of these three 

The first of these is agnosticism, either empiric agnosticism, in 
the wake of positivism, or idealist agnosticism, an offshoot of 
Kantianism. Here belongs the neo-positivism of Carnap, 
Wittgenstein, Rougier, and of the group called the Vienna Circle. 
[1330] In all these we find the re-edited Nominalism of Hume and 
Comte. Here belongs also the phenomenology of Husserl, which holds 
that the object of philosophy is the immediate datum of 
experience. All these philosophies are concerned, not with being, 
but with phenomena, to use the terms of Parmenides in pointing out 
the two roads which the human spirit can follow. 

The second tendency is evolutionist in character. Like 
agnosticism, it appears in two forms: one idealist, in the wake of 
Hegel, represented by Gentile in Italy, by Leon Brunschvicg in 
France; the other empiric, in the creative evolution of Bergson, 
who, however, toward the end of life, turned again, like Blondel, 
in the direction of traditional philosophy, led by the power of an 
intellectual and spiritual life devoted to the search for the 

The third tendency is the metaphysical trend of the modern German 
school. It appears under three chief forms: voluntarism in Max 
Scheler; natural philosophy in Driesch, who leans on Aristotle; 
and ontology in Hartmann of Heidelberg, who gives a Platonic 
interpretation of Aristotle's metaphysics. The great problems of 
old, we see, compel attention still: the constitution of bodies, 
the essence of life, sensation, knowledge, freedom, and morality, 
the distinction between God and the world. And as the ancient 
problems reappear, so reappear the ancient antinomies, mechanism 
or dynamism, empiricism or intellectualism, monism or theism. Let 
us now see how Thomism assimilates, in transcendent unity, all 
that is true in these opposed theories. 

1. The Generative Principle

In Thomism, which is simply a deepened form of perennial 
philosophy, we find again what is best in the thought of 
Aristotle, Plato, and Augustine. This philosophy, says Bergson, is 
nothing but the natural development of ordinary human 
intelligence. This philosophy, therefore, is open to all genuine 
progress in science. It is not, like Hegelianism, the huge a 
priori construction of one bewitching genius, but a temple that 
rests on a broad inductive base, centuries-old, but perpetually 
repaired by the most attentive study of all attainable fact, a 
study strikingly exemplified in the work of Albert the Great, the 
teacher of St. Thomas. 

This inductive basis presupposed, Thomistic metaphysics continues 
through the ages to scrutinize the relations between intelligible 
being and becoming, the passage from potency to act, the various 
kinds of causes. By these two characteristics, one positive, the 
other intellectual, Thomism is deeply opposed to Kantianism and 
its offshoots. Thomism, because it remains in continual contact 
with facts, and because it simultaneously studies the laws of 
being, becoming, and causality, accepts all the genuine elements 
found in systems otherwise mutually contradictory. This power of 
absorption and assimilation is a criterion of its validity, both 
for thought and for life. 

Here we introduce a profound remark of Leibnitz, though he himself 
only glimpsed its consequences. Speaking of the philosophia 
perennis, he says that philosophic systems are generally true in 
what they affirm, but false in what they deny. This remark, which 
has its roots in Aristotle and Aquinas, must be understood of 
genuine and constituent affirmations, not of negations disguised 
as affirmations. Thus materialism is true in its affirmation of 
matter, false in its denial of spirit. The reverse is true of 
idealism. Similarly, though Leibnitz did not see it fully, 
psychological determination is true in affirming that the 
intellect guides the free choice of the will, but false in denying 
genuine freedom of will. And the reverse is true of "Libertism, " 
which dreams of a freedom unfettered by intellectual guidance. 

But this remark, applied eclectically by Leibnitz, holds good 
likewise from the higher viewpoint of Aristotle and Aquinas. Each 
successive system affirms some element of reality even while it 
often denies another element of reality. This denial, then, as 
Hegel said, provokes a counterdenial, before the mind has reached 
a higher synthesis. 

We hold, then, that Aristotelian-Thomistic thought, far from being 
an immature a priori construction, remains always on the alert for 
every aspect of reality, eager not to limit that reality which 
dominates our ever-growing sense experience, external and 
internal, but eager also not to limit our intelligence, intuitive 
in its principles, discursive in its conclusions. Thus, while it 
rests on common sense, it rises far above common sense, by its 
discovery of the natural subordination in which sense knowledge 
stands to intellect. The common sense of Thomas Reid does not 
build a foundation for Thomas Aquinas. 

This traditional philosophy differs further from eclecticism 
because, not content to limit itself to choosing, without a 
directive principle, what seems most plausible in various systems, 
it begins rather with a superior principle that illumines from on 
high the great problems of all times. This principle, itself 
derived from that of contradiction and causality, is the 
distinction of potency from act, a distinction without which, as 
Aristotle says and Thomas reaffirms, it is impossible to answer 
both Heraclitus, who defends universal evolution, and Parmenides, 
who defends a changeless monism. 

Potency distinct from act explains the process of becoming, the 
passage from one form to another, the passage from seed to plant, 
from potentiality to actuality. This process presupposes an agent 
that prepossesses the perfection in question, and a directing 
intelligence toward the perfection to be realized. The process of 
becoming is essentially subordinated to the being which is its 
goal. Becoming is not, as Descartes would have it, a mere local 
movement defined by its points of rest, but a function of being in 
its passage from potency to act. 

The process of becoming therefore presupposes four sources: matter 
as passive potency, as capacity proportioned to the perfection it 
is to receive; act in three fashions, first in the actualizing 
agent, secondly in the form which terminates becoming, thirdly in 
the purpose toward which the form tends. 

Finite beings are conceived as composed of potency and act, of 
matter and form, and, more generally, of real essence and 
existence, essence limiting the existence which actualizes it, as 
matter limits its actualizing form. Then, preceding all beings 
composed and limited, must be pure act, if it is true that 
actuality is more perfect than potentiality, that actual 
perfection is something higher than mere capacity to receive 
perfection, that what is something more than what as yet is not. 
This is a most fundamental tenet of Thomism. At the summit of all 
reality we must find, not the endless evolutionary process of 
Heraclitus or Hegel, but pure actuality, being itself, truth 
itself, goodness itself, unlimited by matter, or essence, or any 
receiving capacity whatever. This doctrine on the supreme reality, 
called by Aristotle the self-existing and self-comprehending act 
of understanding, [1331] contained also in Plato's thought, is 
fortified and elevated by the revealed truth of the freedom of 
God's creative act, revealed, it is true, but still attainable by 
reason, hence not a mystery essentially supernatural like the 

Let us now see the assimilative power of this generative principle 
on ascending philosophical levels: in cosmology, in anthropology, 
in criteriology, in ethics, in natural theology. By way of general 
remark, let us note that Thomistic assimilation is due to the 
Thomistic method of research. In meeting any great problem Thomism 
begins by recalling extreme solutions that are mutually 
contradictory. Next it notes eclectic solutions which fluctuate 
between those extremes. Lastly, it rises to a higher synthesis 
which incorporates all the elements of reality found in its 
successive surveys of positions which remain extreme. This 
ultimate metaphysical synthesis it is which Thomism offers as 
substructure of the faith. 

1. Cosmology

Mechanism affirms the existence of local motion, of extension in 
three dimensions, often of atoms, but denies sense qualities, 
natural activity and finality. Hence it cannot well explain 
weight, resistance, heat, electricity, affinity, cohesion, and so 
on. Dynamism, on the contrary, affirming sense qualities, natural 
activity, and finality, reduces everything to mere force, denying 
any extension properly so called, and denying also the principle 
that activity presupposes being. Now the doctrine of matter and 
form accepts all that is positive in these two extreme 
conceptions. By two principles, distinct but intimately united, it 
explains both extension and force. Extension has its source in 
matter, which is common to all bodies, capable of receiving the 
specific form, the essential structure, of iron, say, or gold, or 
hydrogen, or oxygen. And the doctrine of specific form explains, 
far better than does Plato's idea or the monad of Leibnitz, all 
the natural qualities, characteristics, and specific activities of 
bodies, in full harmony with the principle that specific activity 
presupposes specific being. 

Matter, being a purely receptive capacity, while it is not yet 
substance, is still a substantial element, meant to blend with 
form into a natural unity, not accidental but essential. 

This doctrine explains too how extension can be mathematically, 
not actually, divisible into infinity. Extension cannot be 
composed of indivisible points, which would be all identical if 
they were in contact, and if not in contact would be 
discontinuous. Hence the parts of extension must be themselves 
extended, capable indeed of mathematical division but not of 

Mechanism tries in vain to reduce plant life to physico-chemical 
developments of a vegetative germ, which produces, here a grain of 
corn, and there an oak, or from an egg brings forth a bird, a 
fish, or a snake. Must there not be, asks Claude Bernard, some 
force that guides evolution? In the germ, in the embryo, if it is 
to evolve into definite and determined structure, there must be a 
vital and specifying principle, which Aristotle called the 
vegetative soul of the plant and the sense soul of the animal. 
This doctrine assimilates, without eclecticism, all that is 
positive in mechanism and dynamism even while it rejects their 

2. Anthropology

Man is by nature a unified whole, one, not accidentally but per se 
and essentially. He is not two complete substances accidentally 
juxtaposed. Matter in the human composite is actualized by one 
sole specific and substantial form, which is the radical principle 
of life, vegetative, sensitive, and intellectual. This would be 
impossible if one and the same soul were the proximate principle 
of all man's actions, but it is possible if the soul has a 
hierarchy of faculties. Here, again, we have an application, not 
eclectic, but spontaneous and daring, of the distinction between 
potency and act. The essence of the soul is proportioned to the 
existence which actualizes it, and each faculty is proportioned to 
its own act. The soul, therefore, cannot act without its 
faculties, can understand only by its intellect, and will only by 
its will. 

Here Leibnitz and Descartes represent extremes. Leibnitz, 
misunderstanding the Aristotelian term dynamis, which may be 
either passive or active, puts the principle of mere force and 
power in the place of potency and act. Descartes, at the opposite 
extreme, sees in the mental activity of thought the sole principle 
of philosophizing about man. Leibnitz neglects to reduce force, 
and Descartes neglects to reduce thought, to functions of being. 

Man's intellect, to go further, since it attains universal and 
necessary truth, is not limited by material conditions and 
material organs. Hence man's soul, the source of his intellect, is 
independent of matter, and hence survives the corruption of the 
human organism. 

3. Criteriology

The extremes here are empiricism and intellectualism. Thomism 
accepts both the inductive method of empiricism and the deductive 
method of intellectualism. But Thomism insists further that the 
first principles from which deduction proceeds are not mere 
subjective laws of the mind but objective laws of reality. 
Without, say, the principle of contradiction, the principle of 
Descartes ("I think, therefore I am") may be a mere subjective 
illusion. Perhaps, since one contradictory (I think) does not 
objectively exclude its opposite (I do not think): perhaps 
thinking is not essentially distinct from non-thinking. Perhaps, 
further, thought is buried in the subconscious, its beginning 
unknown and its end. Perhaps, again, "I am" and "I am not" are 
both true. Perhaps, finally, the word "I" stands for a mere 
transient process, unsupported by any individual permanent and 
thinking subject. 

But if, on the contrary, the objective reality of the sense world 
is the first object of the human intellect, then, by reflection on 
the source of its act, the intellect grasps its own existence with 
absolute certitude, knows itself in an objectively existing 
faculty, capable of penetrating through sense phenomena into the 
nature and characteristics of the objective world. It sees then 
its own immeasurable heights above, say the imagination, which 
however rich it may be and fertile, can never grasp the "why" of 
any motion, of a clock, for example. 

By this same line of thought we distinguish further the will, 
illumined by intellect, from sense appetite, guided by sense 
knowledge. As the object of the intellect is objective and 
universal truth, so the object of the will is objective and 
universal good. 

4. Freedom and morality

By normal development of the distinction between potency and act 
Thomism rises above the psychological determinism of Leibnitz and 
the freedom of equilibrium conceived by Scotus, Suarez, Descartes, 
and certain moderns, Secretan, for example, and J. Lequier. Thomas 
admits the positive point of psychological determinism, namely, 
that intelligence guides man's act of choice, but he goes on to 
show that it depends on the will itself whether the intellect's 
practical judgment shall or shall not terminate deliberation. 
[1332] Why? Because, granted that the intellect has to propose its 
object to the will, it is the will which moves the intellect to 
deliberate, and this deliberation can end only when the will 
freely accepts what the intellect proposes. Intellect and will are 
inseparably related. 

What then is free will? Free will, in God, in angel, and in man, 
is indifference, both of judgment and of choice, in the presence 
of any object which, however good otherwise, is in some way 
unattractive. God, when seen face to face, is in every way 
attractive, and draws our love infallibly and invincibly. But even 
God is in some way unattractive as long as we must know Him 
abstractly, as long as we feel His commandments to be a burden. 

Why is the will thus free and indifferent in the presence of an 
object in any way unattractive? Because the will's adequate object 
is unlimited and universal good. Hence even the moral law does not 
necessitate the will. I see the better road, I approve it 
speculatively, but I follow, in fact and by choice, the worse 

Thomism, further, admits fully the morality governed by duty and 
the longing for happiness. Why? Because the object of the will, as 
opposed to sense appetite, is the good proposed by reason. Hence 
the will, being essentially proportioned to rational good, is 
under obligation to will that good, since otherwise it acts 
against its own constitution, created by the author of its nature 
as preparation for possessing Himself, the Sovereign Good. Always, 
we see, the same principle: potency is naturally proportioned to 
the act for which the creature was created. 

5. Natural theology

That which is, is more than that which can be, more than that 
which is on the road to be. This principle led Aristotle and 
Aquinas to find, at the summit of all reality, pure act, 
understanding of understanding, sovereign good. But Aquinas rises 
above Aristotle and Leibnitz, for whom the world is a necessary 
consequence of God. St. Thomas shows, on the contrary, the reason 
why we must say with revelation that God is sovereignly free, to 
create or not to create, to create in time rather than from 
eternity. The reason lies in God's infinite plentitude of being, 
truth, and goodness, which creatures can do nothing to increase. 
After creation, there are more beings, it is true, but not more 
being, not more perfection, wisdom, or love. "God is none the 
greater for having created the universe. " God alone, He who is, 
can say, not merely "I have being, truth, and life, " but rather 
"I am being itself, truth itself, life itself. ". 

Hence the supreme truth of Christian philosophy is this: In God 
alone is essence identified with existence. The creature is only a 
capability to exist, it is created and preserved by Him who is. 
Further, the creature, not being its own existence, is not its own 
action, and cannot pass from potency to act, either in the order 
of nature or in that of grace, except by divine causality. 

We have thus shown how Thomism is an elevated synthesis, which, 
while it rejects unfounded denials, assimilates the positive 
tendencies of current philosophical and theological conceptions. 
This synthesis recognizes that reality itself is incomparably more 
rich than our ideas of that reality. In a word, Thomism is 
characterized by a sense of mystery, [1333] which is the source of 
contemplation. God's truth, beauty, and holiness are continually 
recognized as transcending all philosophy, theology, and 
mysticism, as uncreated richness to be attained only by the 
beatific vision, and even under that vision, however clearly 
understood, as something which only God Himself can comprehend in 
all its infinite fullness. Thomism thus keeps ever awake our 
natural, conditional, and inefficacious desire to see God as He 
is. Thus we grow in appreciation of the gifts of grace and 
charity, which move us, efficaciously, to desire and to merit the 
divine vision. 

This power of assimilation is therefore a genuine criterion 
whereby to appraise the validity and scope of Thomism, from the 
lowest material elements up to God's own inner life. Economy 
demands that any system have one mother-idea, as radiating center. 
The mother-idea of Thomism is that of God as pure act, in whom 
alone is essence identified with existence. This principle, the 
keystone of Christian philosophy, enables us to explain, as far as 
can be done here below, what revelation teaches of the mysteries 
of the Trinity and the Incarnation, the unity of existence in the 
three divine persons, the unity of existence in Christ. [1334] It 
explains likewise the mystery of grace. All that is good in our 
free acts comes from God as first cause, just as it comes from us 
as second causes. And when we freely obey, when we accept rather 
than resist grace, all that is good in that act comes from the 
source of all good. Nothing escapes that divine and universal 
cause, who without violence actualizes human freedom, just as 
connaturally as He actualizes the tree to bloom and bear fruit. 

Let Thomism then be judged by its principles, necessary and 
universal, all subordinated to one keystone principle, not a 
restricted principle as is that of human freedom, but by the 
uncreated principle of Him who is, on whom everything depends, in 
the order of being and activity, in the order of grace and of 
nature. This is the system which, in the judgment of the Church, 
most nearly approaches the ideal of theology, the supreme branch 
of knowledge. 

EIGHTH PART: Developments and Confirmations

To develop and confirm the synthesis so far expounded, we add five 
supplementary chapters:

1. The Twenty-four Thomistic Theses. 

2. The Principle of Contradiction. 

3. Truth and Pragmatism. 

4. Ontological Personality. 

5. Grace, Efficacious and Sufficient. 

The first chapter is a summary of the Thomistic synthesis. The 
second and third chapters deal with the objective foundations of 
this synthesis. The fourth treats a question, much controverted 
and very important, in the treatise on the Trinity and in that on 
the Incarnation. The fifth deals with the opposition between 
Thomism and Molinism. 


BY the Motu Proprio of June 29, 1914, Pius X prescribed that all 
courses in philosophy should teach "the principles and the major 
doctrines of St. Thomas, " and that in the centers of theological 
studies the Summa theologiae should be the textbook. 


The state of things which Pius X intended to remedy has been well 
described above (p. 343 ff. ) by Cardinal Villeneuve. We repeat 
here briefly the Cardinal's contentions:

a) Authors try to make St. Thomas the mouthpiece of their own pet 

b) Hence contradictory presentations by teachers and writers, 
confusion and disgust among students. 

c) Hence, Thomism reduced to the minimum on which all Catholic 
thinkers can agree, hence to a blunted traditionalism and an 
implicit fideism. 

d) Hence, carelessness in the presence of extremely improbable new 
doctrines, abdication of thought in the domain of piety, practical 
skepticism in philosophy, mysticism based on emotion. 

Against this withered and confused Thomism, Pius X prescribes 
return to the major doctrines of St. Thomas. What are these major 
doctrines? The Congregation of Sacred Studies, having examined the 
twenty-four fundamental theses presented by Thomistic professors 
of various institutions, replied, with the approval of the Holy 
Father, that these same twenty-four theses contain the principles 
and major doctrines of St. Thomas. [1335] 

What shall be the binding force of these theses? They are safe 
norms of intellectual guidance. [1336] This decision of the 
Congregation, confirmed by Benedict XV, was published March 7, 

The next year, 1917, saw the promulgation of the New Code, which 
[1337] makes the method, the principles, and the teaching of St. 
Thomas binding on the professors and students both in philosophy 
and in theology. Among the sources of this canon the Code cites 
the decree of March 7, 1916. 

Pope Benedict XV, on various occasions, expressed his mind on this 
point. He approved, for instance, in a special audience, the 
intention of P. E. Hugon, O. P.: to write a book [1338] on the 
twenty-four theses. The author of the book [1339] reports that the 
Pontiff said that he did not intend to impose the twenty-four 
theses as compelling internal assent, but as the doctrine 
preferred by the Church. [1340] 

It gradually became known that these twenty-four theses had been 
formulated by two Thomists of great competence who, throughout 
their long teaching career, had been teaching these theses in 
juxtaposition with their respective countertheses. 

Is the real distinction of potency from act a mere hypothesis?

Some historians of great name, who in special works have expounded 
the teaching of St. Thomas, saw in the real distinction of potency 
from act a mere postulate. And an excellent review has, for forty 
years, carried a series of learned articles which culminate in 
this conclusion: the doctrine of real distinction between potency 
and act is an admirable hypothesis, most fertile in results. 

Now if this distinction were but a postulate or a hypothesis, 
then, however strongly suggested it might be by the facts, it 
would still not compel the mind's assent. What becomes then of the 
proofs for God's existence, which are based on that distinction?

Those who formulated these theses, on the contrary, saw in the 
distinction of potency from act not a mere postulate or 
hypothesis, but the very first principle, the necessary foundation 
for all the other theses. In truth, if we study the commentaries 
of St. Thomas on the first two books of Aristotle's Physica and 
books three and four of his Metaphysica, we see that real 
distinction of potency from act imposes itself necessarily on the 
mind which attempts to harmonize the principle of contradiction or 
identity [1341] with that of becoming or multiplicity. [1342] 

"That which is, is, and that which is not, is not. That's a 
sentence we cannot escape from. " This is the formula of 
Parmenides, which makes of the principle of identity not merely a 
necessary and universal law of reality, but a law which governs 
all processes of becoming. A thing supposed to be in process of 
becoming cannot arise either from being or from non-being. Not 
from being, which already is: the statue cannot come from a statue 
which already is. Not from non-being: out of nothing comes 
nothing. Hence all becoming is an impossibility, an illusion. If 
you set yourself to walking, to disprove Parmenides, he retorts: 
Walking is a mere appearance, a sense phenomenon, whereas the 
principle of identity is a primordial law both of the mind and of 

For the same reason Parmenides concludes the impossibility of more 
than one being. Being cannot be diversified by itself, nor by 
something different from itself, which could only be non-being, i. 
e.: nothing. Hence being is one and immutable. Parmenides here, 
like Spinoza later, confounds being in general with divine being. 

With Parmenides, Aristotle too, against Heraclitus, defends the 
principle of contradiction, which is the negative form of the 
principle of identity: being is being, non-being is non-being, we 
cannot confound the two. 

But Aristotle shows too that the process of becoming, which is an 
evident fact of experience, is to be harmonized with the principle 
of identity and contradiction by the real distinction between 
potency and act. This distinction, accepted, however confusedly, 
by natural reason, by the common sense of mankind, is 
indispensable in solving the arguments of Parmenides against the 
reality of generation and multiplicity. 

That which is generated, which comes into existence, cannot come 
from an actually existing thing: a statue does not arise from 
something which is already a statue. Nor can it come from that 
which is simply nothing. [1343] But that which comes into 
existence comes from indeterminate potential being, which is 
nothing but a real capacity to receive an actual perfection. The 
statue comes from the wood, yes, yet not from wood as wood, but 
from wood as capable of being carved. Movement supposes a subject 
really capable of undergoing motion. The plant, the animal, comes 
from a germ capable of definite evolution. Knowledge comes from 
the infant's intelligence capable of grasping principle and 

That there are many statues, say, of Apollo, supposes that the 
form of Apollo can be received in diverse portions of matter, each 
capable of receiving that form. That there are many animals of one 
specific kind supposes that their specific form can be received in 
diverse parts of matter, each capable of being thus determined and 

Potency, then, is not act, not even the most imperfect act 
conceivable. Potency is not yet initial movement. Potency, 
therefore, since it cannot be act, is really distinct from act, 
and hence remains under the act it has received, as a containing 
capacity of that act which it receives and limits. Matter is not 
the form which it receives but remains distinct under that form. 
If potency were imperfect act, [1344] it would not be really 
distinct even from the perfect act which it receives. 

In the eyes of Aristotle, and of Aquinas who deepened Aristotle, 
real potency, as receiving capacity, is a necessary medium between 
actual being and mere nothing. Without real potency there is no 
answer to Parmenides, no possible way to harmonize becoming and 
multiplicity with the principle of identity, the primordial law of 
thought and of reality. Becoming and multiplicity involve a 
certain absence of identity, an absence which can be explained 
only by something other than act, and this other something can 
only be a real capacity, either to receive the act if the capacity 
is passive potency, or to produce the act, if the potency is 
active. But active potency is still potency, and hence presupposes 
an actual mover to actualize that potency. Hence arise the four 
causes, matter, form, agent, and end, with their correlative 
principles, in particular that of efficient causality, of 
finality, of mutation. Thus, in his first proof of God's 
existence, St. Thomas writes: [1345] "Nothing can be moved except 
it be in potency. The thing which moves it from potency to act 
must be actual, not potential. Nothing can be reduced from potency 
to act except by being which is not potential, but actual. " This 
proof, it is evident, rests on the real distinction of potency 
from act. If that principle is not necessarily true, the proof 
loses its demonstrative power. The same holds good for his 
following proofs. 

This truth was clearly seen by those who formulated the twenty-
four theses. 


In the Thomistic Congress, held in Rome (1925): we illustrated the 
inner unity of the twenty-four theses by showing the far-reaching 
consequences of the distinction between potency and act. The 
points made in that paper we here summarize. 

In the order of being we note ten consequences of the principle 
that potency is really and objectively distinct from act. 

I. Matter is not form, but really distinct from form. Prime matter 
is pure potency, mere receiving capacity. Without form, it can 
simply not exist. 

2. Finite essence is not its own existence, but really distinct 
from that existence. 

3. God alone, pure act, is His own existence. He is existence 
itself, unreceived and irreceivable. "Sum qui sum. "

4. In all created person, personality is really distinct from 
existence. [1346] 

5. God alone, existence itself, can have no accidents. Hence, by 
opposition, no created substance is immediately operative; it 
needs, in order to act, a superadded operative potency. 

6. Form can be multiplied only by being received into matter. The 
principle of individuation is matter as preordained to this 
particular quantity. 

7. The human soul is the sole form of the human body, since 
otherwise it would be, not substantial form, but accidental, and 
would not make the body one natural unity. 

8. Matter, of itself, has neither existence nor cognoscibility. It 
becomes intelligible only by its relation to form. 

9. The specific form of sense objects, since it is not matter, is 
potentially intelligible. 

10. Immateriality is the root both of intelligibility and of 
intellectuality. [1347] The objectivity of our intellectual 
knowledge implies that there is in sense objects an intelligible 
element, distinct from matter, and the immateriality of the spirit 
is the source of intellectuality, the level of intellectuality 
corresponding to the level of immateriality. 

In the order of operation, we note six consequences. 

I. The operative potencies, the faculties, are distinguished 
specifically by the formal object and act to which each is 

2. Hence each faculty is really distinct, first, from the soul 
itself, second, from all other faculties. 

3. Each cognoscitive faculty becomes, intentionaliter, i. e.: in a 
supramaterial order, the object known, whereas matter cannot 
become form. 

4. Whatever is in motion has that motion from something higher 
than itself. Now, in a series of actually and necessarily 
subordinated causes regression to infinity is impossible: the sea 
is upheld by the earth, the earth by the sun, the sun by some 
higher source, but somewhere there must be a first upholding 
source. Any cause, which is not its own activity, can have that 
activity ultimately only from a first and supreme cause which is 
its own activity, and hence its own existence, because mode of 
activity follows mode of being. Hence the objective necessity of 
admitting God's existence. 

5. Since every created faculty is specifically constituted by its 
own proper object, it follows evidently that no created intellect 
can be specifically proportioned to the proper object of divine 
intelligence. Hence the divinity as it is in itself, being 
inaccessible to created intelligence, constitutes an order 
essentially supernatural, an order of truth and life which 
transcends even the order of miracles, which are indeed divine 
deeds, but can be known naturally. 

6. The obediential potency, by which the creature is capable of 
elevation to the supernatural order, is passive, not active. Were 
it otherwise, this potency would be both essentially natural, as a 
property of nature, and simultaneously supernatural, as 
specifically constituted by a supernatural object, to which it 
would be essentially proportioned. The word "obediential" relates 
this potency to the agent which alone can raise it to a 
supernatural object, to which, without that elevation, it can 
never be related and proportioned. Here lies the distinction 
between the two orders. The theological virtues are per se infused 
only because they are specifically constituted by a supernatural 
object which, without grace, is inaccessible. 

Revelation admitted, the real distinction of potency from act, of 
finite essence from existence, leads us to admit, further, that in 
Christ, just as there is one person for the two natures, so there 
is likewise one existence for those two natures. The Word 
communicates His own existence to his human nature, as, to 
illustrate, the separated soul, when it resumes its body, gives to 
that body its own existence. Similarly, in the Trinity, there is 
for the three persons one sole uncreated existence, namely, 
existence itself, identified with the divine nature. [1348] 

Such are the consequences of the distinction between potency and 
act, first in the natural order, then in the supernatural order. 
The brief analysis just given shows what the Congregation of 
Studies had in mind when it declared that the twenty-four theses 
are safe norms of intellectual direction. The supreme authority 
[1349] does not intend these theses to be definitions of faith, 
but declarations of the doctrine preferred by the Church. 


We have noted above the state of things that led to the formation 
of the twenty-four theses. Now, thirty years later, the same 
conditions seem to have returned. Lip-service to St. Thomas is 
universal, but the theses defended under his name are often worlds 
apart, and even contradict the holy doctor. Can a man be called 
Thomist by the mere fact that he admits the dogmas defined by the 
Church, even while he follows Descartes in his teachings on the 
spiritual life, or denies the evident principle of causality, and 
hence the validity of proof for the existence of God. 

A small error in principle is a great error in conclusion. This is 
the word of St. Thomas, repeated by Pius X. To reject the first of 
the twenty-four theses is to reject them all. This reflection led 
the Church to approve the twenty-four. 

But are not the truths of common sense a sufficient foundation for 
Catholic philosophers and theologians? They are, but not when they 
are distorted by individualistic interpretations. If these truths 
are to be defended today, against phenomenalists, idealists, and 
absolute evolutionists, we must penetrate to their philosophic 
depths. Without this penetration we lose all consistency, even in 
fundamentals, and fall prey to a skepticism, if not in thought, at 
least in life and action, to a fideism which is the dethronement 
of reason and of all serious intellectual life. And if it be said 
that sincerity in the search for truth remains, then we must 
retort that a sincerity which refuses to recognize the value of 
the greatest doctors whom God gave to His Church is surely a 
doubtful sincerity, destined never to reach its goal. Common sense 
is a term to conjure with. But let it be genuine common sense, 
fortified by deep analysis of man's first notions and man's first 
principles. Otherwise, deserting Thomas of Aquin, we may find 
ourselves in the poor encampment of Thomas Reid. 

Here we may well listen to Pierre Charles, S. J.: "In favor of the 
history of dogma, and in discredit of metaphysics, an extremely 
virulent relativism had been, almost without notice, introduced 
into the teaching of doctrine. Psychology replaced ontology. 
Subjectivism was substituted for revelation. History inherited the 
place of dogma. The difference between Catholics and Protestants 
seemed reduced to a mere practical attitude in regard to the 
papacy. To arrest and correct this baneful and slippery attitude, 
Pius X had the proper gesture, brusk and definitive. Anglican 
modernism today shows all too well the frightening consequences to 
which, without the intervention of the Holy See, doctrinal 
relativism might have led us. 

"Papal condemnation has brought to light, in many Catholic 
theologians, a gaping void: the lack of philosophy. They shared 
the positivistic disdain for metaphysical speculation. Sometimes 
they proclaimed a highly questionable fideism. Fashion led them to 
ridicule philosophy, to jeer at its vocabulary, to contrast its 
infatuated audacity with the modesty of scientific hypotheses. The 
pope, by describing and synthesizing the modernistic error, 
compelled theology to re-examine, not so much particular problems, 
but rather fundamental religious notions, so skillfully distorted 
by the school of innovators. The philosophic bone-structure began 
to reappear ever more clearly as indispensable for the entire 
theological organism. " [1350] 

We admonish professors, Pius X [1351] had said, to bear well in 
mind, that the smallest departure from Aquinas, especially in 
metaphysics, brings in its wake great harm. 

An historian of medieval philosophy has recently said that 
Cajetan, instead of limiting himself to an excellent commentary of 
the Summa, was rather bound to follow the intellectual movement of 
his time. The truth is that Cajetan did not feel himself thus 
called by Him who guides the intellectual life of the Church on a 
higher level than that of petty combinations, presumptions, and 
other deviations of our limited intelligences. Cajetan's glory 
lies in his recognition of the true grandeur of St. Thomas, of 
whom he willed to be the faithful commentator. This recognition 
was lacking in Suarez, who deserted the master lines of Thomistic 
metaphysics to follow his own personal thought. 

Many a theologian, on reaching the next world, will realize that 
here below he failed to appreciate the grace which God bestowed on 
His Church when He gave her the Doctor Communis. 

In these late years one such theologian has said that speculative 
theology, after giving beautiful systems to the Middle Ages, does 
not today know what it wants, or whither it is going, and that 
there is no longer serious work except in positive theology. He is 
but repeating what was said during the epoch of modernism. In 
point of truth, theology, if it disregarded the principles of the 
Thomistic synthesis, would resemble a geometry which, disregarding 
Euclidean principles, would not know whither it is going. 

Another theologian of our own time proposes to change the order 
among the chief dogmatic treatises, to put the treatise on the 
Trinity before that of De Deo uno, which he would notably reduce. 
Further, on the fundamental problems relative to nature and grace, 
he invites us to return to what he holds to be the true position 
of many Greek Fathers anterior to St. Augustine. The labors of 
Aquinas, the labors of seven centuries of Thomists, are either of 
no value or of very little value. 

Alongside these extreme and idle views, we find an eclectic 
opportunism, which strives to reach a higher level between 
positions which it regards as extreme. But it is destined to 
perpetual oscillation between two sides, since it can not 
recognize, or then cannot appreciate, that higher truth, which, 
amid fruitless tentatives, the Church unswervingly upholds and 
opportunely repeats, as she has done in our own time by approving 
the twenty-four theses. 

We must grant that the problems of the present hour grow 
continually graver. But this situation is an added reason for 
returning to the doctrine of St. Thomas on being, truth, and 
goodness, on the objective validity of first principles, which 
alone can lead to certitude on God's existence, which is the 
foundation of all duty, and to attentive examination of those 
prime notions which are involved in the very enunciation of the 
fundamental dogmas. This necessity has been recently reinculcated 
by the Right Reverend St. M. Gillet, general of the Dominicans in 
a letter to all professors in the order. Msgr. Olgiati urges the 
same necessity in a forthcoming book on "Law according to St. 
Thomas. " By this road alone can we reach the goal, thus indicated 
by the Vatican Council:

"Reason, illumined by faith, if it seeks sedulously, piously, and 
soberly, can attain a most fruitful understanding of revealed 
mysteries, both by analogy with natural knowledge and by the 
interwoven union of these mysteries with one another and with 
man's last end. "

Who more surely than St. Thomas can lead us to this goal? Let us 
not forget the word of Leo XIII, on the certainty, profundity, and 
sublimity of the saint's teaching. 

In the life of the priest, above all in the life of a professor, 
whether of philosophy or not, it is a great grace to have been 
fashioned by the principles of St. Thomas. How much floundering 
and fluctuation does he thereby escape: on the validity of reason, 
on God one and triune, on the redemptive Incarnation, the 
sacraments, on the last end, on human acts, on sin, grace, 
virtues, and gifts! These directing principles of thought and life 
become ever more necessary as the conditions of existence grow 
ever more difficult, demanding a certitude more firm, a faith more 
immovable, a love of God more pure and strong. 


THE problem we treat here, that of the fundamental objective 
foundation of the Thomistic synthesis, merits greatest attention. 

The depth of thought in the Middle Ages stands revealed in the 
importance they gave to the problem of universals. Does the 
universal idea correspond to reality, or is it a mere concept, or 
is it, lastly, just a name with a mere conventional meaning? Do 
our ideas agree with the objective reality of things, or are they 
mere subjective necessities of human thought and language?

This fundamental problem, which certain superficial minds look on 
as antiquated, has reappeared, under a new form, in the 
discussions relative to the question of fixed species, and still 
more notably in the discussion on absolute evolutionism. The 
primary reality, the universal principle -- is it something 
absolutely immutable, or is it on the contrary, something 
identified with universal change, with creative evolution, with a 
God who evolves in humanity and the world? On this problem 
traditional realism is radically opposed to subjective 
conceptualism and to nominalism. 

The importance of this problem of the universal stands out most 
clearly in its relation to the principle of contradiction. 
Aristotle sees in this principle the primordial law of being and 
of thought, Locke sees in it nothing but a solemn futility, and 
Descartes thinks that God could have created a world where this 
principle would not be true. These different conceptions arise, it 
is clear, from different forms of solving the problem of 
universals. This radical discord at the very roots of human 
thought vividly illumines the meaning and importance of 
traditional realism. 

Hence we proceed here to recall the essentials of this problem in 

a) to the absolute realism of Parmenides. 

b) to the absolute nominalism of Heraclitus. 

c) to the limited realism of Aristotle and St. Thomas. [1352]. 


The first man on record as having seen the primordial importance 
of the principle of contradiction is Parmenides. But, in 
enthusiastic intuition, he gave to the principle a realist 
formula, so absolute as to deny all facts of change and 
multiplicity. "Being exists, non-being does not exist: from this 
thought there is no escape. " Thus, for him, the principle 
affirms, not merely the objective impossibility of simultaneous 
contradiction, but also the exclusion from reality of all changing 
existence. Being, reality, is one, unique, and immutable, ever 
identified with itself. It could be changed, diversified, 
multiplied, only by something other than itself, and something 
other than being is non-being, and non-being simply is not. Nor 
can being commence to exist, because it would have to arise either 
from being or from non-being. Now it cannot come from being which 
already is. Nor can it come from non-being which is not, which is 
nothing. Beginning, becoming, is an illusion. Thus does absolute 
realism of the intellect lead to the mere phenomenalism of sense 

Aristotle, we recall, solved these arguments of Parmenides by 
distinguishing potency from act. The actual statue comes from the 
wood which is potentially the statue, the plant from the seed 
which potentially is the plant. Being is an analogous notion, not 
univocal, and is found only proportionally in potency and act, in 
pure act and in beings composed of potency and act. Parmenides 
could not distinguish being in general from the divine being. Of 
the divine being only is it true to say that it is unique and 
immutable, that it can neither lose nor gain, that it can have no 
accidents, no additions, no new perfections. 

What led Parmenides to this confusion? It was the supposition, at 
least implicit, that the universal as such, as it exists in the 
mind, must likewise be formally universal in the mind's object. 
The conditions of thought must be likewise the conditions of 

What Parmenides said of being Spinoza says of substance. Being 
exists, said Parmenides, non-being does not exist. Substance 
exists, says Spinoza, because in substance existence is an 
essential predicate. Hence, instead of saying: If God exists, He 
exists of Himself, Spinoza affirms a priori the existence of God, 
the one and only substance. 

But all absolute realism, including Spinoza's restriction to 
substance, leads by reaction to nominalism. Plurality of 
substance, plurality of attributes and faculties, are mere sounds. 
There is but one unique and eternal substance, says Spinoza, even 
while the finite modes of that substance follow one another 
eternally. Were Spinoza consequent, he would agree with 
Parmenides. He would deny all reality to these modes, and admit as 
real only the one unique and substantial being, which can lose 
nothing and gain nothing. 

In attenuated form, absolute realism reappears in the ontologists 
who admit the a priori proof of God's existence, because they 
claim to have intuition of God, and see in Him the truth of first 
principles. They say: "Immediate knowledge of God, at least 
habitual, is so essential to the human intellect, that without 
that knowledge it can know nothing. For that knowledge is itself 
man's intellectual light. " "That reality which is in all things, 
and without which we know nothing, is the divine reality. " "Our 
universal ideas, considered objectively, are not really 
distinguished from God. " [1353]. 

Exaggerated realism, to conclude, tends to confound being in 
general with the divine being. Hence it turns the principle of 
contradiction into a judgment, not essential but existential, or 
even confounds that principle with the affirmation of God's 
existence. "Being exists" becomes equivalent to: "There exists one 
sole Being, which cannot not exist. ". 


Heraclitus, according to Aristotle, denied the objective validity 
of the principle of contradiction or identity, because of the 
perpetual mobility of the sense world, where everything changes 
and nothing remains absolutely identical with itself. The 
arguments of Parmenides who, invoking the principle of identity, 
denies multiplicity and change, become from Heraclitus' point of 
view, a mere play of abstract concepts, without objective 
foundation, and the principle of contradiction a mere law of 
language and of inferior discursive reason, which employs these 
more or less conventional abstractions. Superior reason, intuitive 
intelligence, rises above these artificial abstractions, and 
reaches intuition of the fundamental reality, which is a perpetual 
becoming, wherein being and non-being are identified, since that 
which is in the process of becoming is not as yet, but still is 
not mere nothing. 

This radical nominalism of Heraclitus reappeared among the Greek 
Sophists, Protagoras in particular and Cratylus. It emerges again 
among the radical nominalists of the fourteenth century, and in 
our own day among absolute evolutionists, under an idealistic form 
in Hegel, under an empiric form in many positivists. Hegel's 
universal becoming leads him to nominalism as regards the notions 
of being and substance, leads him to deny all reality in 
substance, divine or created. 

In the Middle Ages, Nicholas of Autrecourt had expressed the first 
principle thus: If something exists, something exists. [1354] 
Nicholas and Parmenides are antipodes. The principle of 
contradiction has become a mere hypothesis. Beneath the words, "If 
something exists, something exists, " lies a mental reservation, 
running somewhat as follows: "But perhaps nothing exists, perhaps 
our very notion of being, of reality, is without validity, even in 
the possible order, perhaps that which to us seems impossible, a 
squared circle, for example, or an uncaused beginning, is not 
really impossible in extra-mental reality, perhaps uncaused 
beginning, creative evolution, is the one fundamental reality. ". 

The principle of contradiction thus forfeited, the principle of 
causality, having no longer ontological value, becomes a mere law 
of succession. Every phenomenon presupposes an antecedent 
phenomenon. Proof for the existence of God becomes impossible. Let 
us listen to Nicholas: [1355]. 

"Natural appearances can give us hardly any certitude. " "Nothing 
can be evidently concluded from another thing. " "The two 
propositions, God is and God is not, signify, only in a different 
manner, the same thing. " "These two conclusions are not evident. 
If there is an act of understanding, then there must be an 
intellect; if there is an act of will, then there must be a 
faculty of will. ". 

Absolute nominalism, we see, has led to complete skepticism. Many 
scholars, who wished to harmonize St. Augustine with Descartes, 
failed to see that Descartes is profoundly nominalist when he 
declares that the principle of contradiction depends on God's free 
will, that God could have made a world wherein two contradictories 
would be simultaneously true. Imagine Augustine admitting this! 
Descartes' idea of divine liberty is an idea gone mad. 

Further, if the principle of contradiction is not absolute, then 
the formula of Descartes himself loses all real validity and 
becomes a mere mental phenomenon. [1356] If I can deny this 
principle, then I may say: Perhaps I think and do not think 
simultaneously, perhaps I exist and do not exist, perhaps I am I 
and not I, perhaps "I think" is impersonal like "it rains. " 
Without absoluteness of the principle of contradiction I cannot 
know the objective existence of my own individual person. 

Some years ago Edward Le Roy wrote as follows: "The principle of 
contradiction, being only a law of speech and not of thought in 
general, applies only in what is static, particular, and immobile, 
in things endowed with identity. But just as there is identity in 
the world, so is there also contradiction. Fleeting mobilities, 
beginnings, duration, life, which, though not in themselves 
discursive, are transformed by discourse into contradictory 
categories" (Le Roy, Rev. de Met. et de morale, 1905, pp. 200 ff. 

Now by this road, as by that of radical nominalism, we arrive at 
absolute evolutionism, or then at complete agnosticism. "If 
something exists, then something exists. " Then we must continue: 
But perhaps nothing exists, perhaps everything is in flux, perhaps 
the fundamental reality is uncaused becoming, perhaps God is not 
eternal, but only arriving in humanity and the world. 


According to traditional realism, as formulated by Aristotle and 
Aquinas, the universal idea exists in the sense world, not 
formally, but fundamentally, and of all ideas the most universal 
is that of being, on which is founded the principle of 
contradiction. This principle is not a mere existential judgment, 
but neither is it, as nominalists would have it, a mere 
hypothetical judgment, nor, as the conceptualists maintain, a mere 
subjective law of thought. It is simultaneously a law both of 
thought and of being. It excludes not only what is subjectively 
inconceivable, but also what is objectively impossible. 

This limited realism does not, like Parmenides, stop short with 
saying: Being is, non-being is not. Neither does it say with 
nominalism: If something exists, then of course it exists, but 
perhaps our notion of being does not allow us to know the 
fundamental law of extramental reality. No, limited realism claims 
to have intellectual intuition of the objective extramental 
impossibility of a thing which, remaining the same, could 
simultaneously be and not be, the impossibility, say, of a square 
circle, or of an uncaused beginning. Its positive formula is: 
Being is being, non-being is non-being. Its negative formula is: 
Being is not non-being. Positively expressed, it is the principle 
of contradiction. Both formulas express the same truth. [1357]. 

"No one can ever conceive, " says Aristotle, "that one and the 
same thing can both be and not be. Heraclitus, according to some, 
differs on this point. But it is not necessary that what a man 
says be also what he thinks. To think thus would be to affirm and 
deny in the same breath. It would destroy language, it would be to 
deny all substance, all truth, even all probability and all 
degrees of probability. It would be the suppression of all desire, 
all action. Even becoming and beginning would disappear, because 
if contradictories and contraries are identified, then the point 
of departure in motion is identified with the terminus and the 
thing supposed to be in motion would have arrived before it 
departed. " [1358]. 

Hence we must hold absolutely this fundamental law of thought and 
of reality, a law founded on the very notion of being. That which 
is, is, and cannot simultaneously not be. 

Granting, then, the principle of contradiction, we must likewise 
grant that there is more reality in that which is than in that 
which is in the process of becoming and which as yet is not; more 
in the plant than in the seed, more in the adult animal than in 
the embryo, more in being than in becoming. Hence the process of 
becoming is not self-explanatory, it presupposes a cause. 
Evolution, becoming, is not identified with the primary and 
fundamental reality, as A is identified with A. Becoming is not 
identical with being. That which is in the process of becoming as 
yet is not. 

Hence in man's order of discovering truth, the principle of 
contradiction is both his first and his last step. As first step, 
it says: "That which is, is, and cannot simultaneously not be. " 
As last step, on the highest level of discovery, it says: "I am He 
who is. ". 

This is no a priori proof of God's existence, nor even of God's 
objective possibility, because we must first know sense realities, 
from which alone, by the road of causality, we can rise from this 
lower analogue of being to the supreme analogue of uncreated 
reality. But the first step in discovery: "That which is, is, " 
corresponds to the last step: "I am He who is. " [1359]. 

But if we follow Descartes in doubting the absolute necessity, the 
objective validity, independent of God's decrees, of the principle 
of contradiction, if we maintain that the Creator could perhaps 
make a squared circle, then we cannot possibly maintain even "I 
think, therefore I am" as an objective judgment, nor can we find 
any valid a posteriori proof of God's existence. If, on the 
contrary, we maintain the absolute necessity of this principle, we 
find that the supreme reality is identified with being as A is 
identified with A. The supreme reality then, is not becoming, is 
not creative evolution, but is Being itself, ever identical with 
itself, in whom alone is essence identified with existence. This 
profound view of the initial truth, of the principle of identity 
founded on the notion of being, leads necessarily, first, to the 
primacy of being over becoming, second, by the road of causality, 
to the supreme truth: I am He who is, who cannot but be, who can 
lose nothing, who can gain nothing. 

Parmenides confounded the initial truth with the ultimate and 
supreme truth. Heraclitus, denying the initial truth, closed all 
approach to that supreme truth. Limited realism, penetrating the 
meaning and the range of the initial truth, its inner union with 
the primacy of being and hence with the principle of causality, 
leads us naturally and necessarily to the supreme truth. [1360] 
Any true philosopher, it has been said, has at bottom one sole 
thought, a root thought whence all his ideas branch forth. The 
root thought of traditional philosophy is the principle of 
identity and contradiction, of the primacy of being over becoming. 
This primacy, expressed initially and implicitly by the principle 
of identity, reaches complete and definitive expression in 
affirming the existence of God, being itself, wherein alone 
essence is identical with existence: I am He who is. 


Unlimited realism, as conceived by Parmenides, and in attenuated 
forms by Spinoza, starts from pseudo-intuition of the Supreme 
Being and arrives at the negation of causality and creation, God 
being all reality. Absolute nominalism reduces the principle of 
causality to a law of the phenomenal order. Every phenomenon 
presupposes an antecedent phenomenon, conventionally called its 
cause. Hence there can be no first cause, nor any miracle, because 
the so-called miraculous phenomenon would have to have a 
phenomenal antecedent, since there can be no supraphenomenal 
intervention of a divine cause. 

Against the pseudo-intuition of the unlimited realists, including 
Malebranche, nominalism holds that the first object of human 
intelligence is the brute fact of existence of phenomena. To this 
it adds: If anything really exists, then it is, but perhaps, 
properly speaking, nothing is, everything is in a state of 
uncaused becoming, a mere series of brute facts, all 

In limited and traditional realism, the first object of human 
intelligence is not God, who is its highest object, is not merely 
the brute fact of existence, but the intelligible being of sense 
objects, wherein, as in a mirror, we can discover a posteriori, by 
the road of causality, the existence of God. 

Thus we explain the ontological validity, not merely of the 
principle of contradiction, but also that of causality. It is just 
as impossible that the contingent being be contingent and not 
contingent as it is that the triangle be not a triangle. And just 
as we cannot deny that characteristic of the triangle which makes 
its three angles equal to two right angles, so we cannot deny that 
characteristic of the contingent being which presupposes a cause. 
[1361] In other words, existence is incompatible with an uncaused 
contingent being. [1362] Such a being would be absurd. 

Our sense of sight knows the brute fact, the phenomenon of color, 
but our intellect knows the intelligible reality of that fact. 
Man's intelligence, the lowest of all intelligences, has as object 
the lowest level of intelligible reality, the intelligibility of 
the sense world, wherein, as in a mirror, it knows the existence 
of a first cause, of God. [1363]. 

In the ascending order of discovery, we thus formulate the 
principle of causality: All that begins, all that is contingent, 
has a cause, and in last analysis a supreme cause, an uncaused 
cause. In the descending order, thus: All beings by participation 
depend on the Being by essence as on their supreme cause. That 
which is being by participation is not its own existence, since we 
must distinguish the subject which participates from the existence 
which it receives and participates. Peter is not his existence, 
but has his existence, received from Him who alone can say: I am 
He who is, I am existence itself. " [1364]. 


THE eternal notion of truth, conformity of thought with reality, 
impels us to say: This displeases me and annoys me, but it is none 
the less true. Still, human interests are so strong that Pilate's 
question often reappears: What is truth? One answer which we must 
here examine is that of pragmatism. 


There are two kinds of pragmatism, one historical, [1365] the 
other theoretical. In England, at the end of the last century, 
Charles S. Peirce, aiming at unburdening philosophy of parrotism 
and logomachy, sought for a precise criterion whereby to 
distinguish empty formulas from formulas that have meaning. He 
proposed to take as criterion "the practical effects we can 
imagine as resulting from opposed views. " A starting-point is 
found in a remark of Descartes: [1366] "We find much more truth in 
a man's individual reasoning on his own personal affairs, where 
loss follows error, than in those of the literary man in his 
study, where no practical result is anticipated. " Equivalent 
remarks were often made by the ancients. 

This form of pragmatism, which still grants much objectivity to 
knowledge, is also that of Vailati and Calderoni. Subsequently, 
however, with William James, pragmatism becomes a form of 
subjectivism, thus defined in the work cited: "A doctrine 
according to which truth is a relation, entirely immanent to human 
experience, whereby knowledge is subordinated to activity, and the 
truth of a proposition consists in its utility and 
satisfactoriness. " [1367] That is true which succeeds. 

Hence arise many variations. We find a pragmatic skepticism, 
similar to that of the ancient sophists, where success means 
pleasure to him who defends the proposition. Truth and virtue give 
way to individual interest. A profitable lie becomes truth. What 
is an error for one man is truth for his neighbor. "Justice 
limited by a river, " says Pascal. "How convenient! Truth here is 
error beyond the Pyrenees!". 

An opposite extreme understands success to mean spontaneous 
harmony among minds engaged in verifying facts held in common. At 
the end of his life, James approached this view, which endeavors 
to uphold the eternal and objective notion of truth. 

Between these two extremes we find many nuances, reasons of state, 
for example, or of family, where interests, national or private, 
defy objective truth and even common sense. Or again, opportunism, 
for which truth means merely the best way to profit by the present 
situation. Seeing these inferior connotations of pragmatism, as in 
course of acceptance by public usage, Maurice Blondel [1368] 
resolved to renounce the word which he had previously employed. 

Edouard Le Roy writes as follows: "When I use the word 
'pragmatism, ' I give it a meaning quite different from that of 
the Anglo-Americans who have made the word fashionable. My 
employment of the word does not at all mean to sacrifice truth to 
utility, nor to allow, in the search for particular truths, even 
the least intervention of considerations extraneous to the love of 
truth itself. But I do hold that, in the search for truth, both 
scientific and moral, one of the signs of a true idea is the 
fecundity of that idea, its aptitude for practical results. 
Verification, I hold, should be a work, not merely a discourse. " 

Yet Le Roy [1370] proceeded to this pragmatist conception of 
dogma: In your relations to God, act as you do in your relations 
with men. Dogma, accordingly, is before all else a practical 
prescription. Dogma, speaking precisely, would not be true by its 
conformity with divine reality, but by its relation to the 
religious act to be performed, and the practical truth of the act 
would appear in the superior success of that religious experience 
in surmounting life's difficulties. Hence the following 
proposition was condemned by the Church: "The dogmas of faith are 
to be retained only in the practical sense, i. e.: as preceptive 
norms of action, but not as norms of belief. " [1371] Thus the 
dogma of the Incarnation would not affirm that Jesus is God, but 
that we must act towards Jesus as we do towards God. The dogma of 
the Eucharist would not affirm, precisely, His Real Presence, but 
that practically we ought to act as if that Presence were 
objectively certain. Thus we see that the elevated variations of 
pragmatism are not without danger, both in maintaining truth in 
general, and in particular dogmatic truths, defined by the Church 
as immutable and as conformed to the extramental reality which 
they express. 

In opposition to all forms of pragmatism, let us recall the 
traditional notion of truth, in all its manifestations, from 
highest to lowest, including the truth in prudential arguments, 
which are always practically true, even when at times they involve 
a speculative error absolutely involuntary. 


Adequation of intellect and object: that is the definition of 
truth given by St. Thomas. [1372] He quotes that of St. Augustine: 
Truth is that by which reality is manifested, and that of St. 
Hilary: Truth declares and manifests reality. The first relation 
of reality to intellect, St. Thomas continues, is that reality 
correspond to intellect. This correspondence is called adequation 
of object and intellect, wherein the conception of truth is 
formally completed. And this conformity, this adequation, of 
intellect to reality, to being, is what the idea of truth adds to 
the idea of being. 

Truth, then, is the intellect's conformity with reality. Change in 
this universal notion of truth brings with it total change in the 
domain of knowledge. The modernists, says Pius X, overturn the 
eternal notion of truth. [1373]. 

Without going to this extreme, Maurice Blondel, [1374] in 1906, 
one year before the encyclical Pascendi, wrote a sentence that 
would lead to unmeasured consequences in science, in philosophy, 
and in faith and religion. In place of the abstract and chimerical 
definition of truth as the adequation of intellect and reality, 
thus he wrote, we must substitute methodical research, and define 
truth as follows: the adequation of intellect and life. How well 
this sentence expressed the opposition between the two 
definitions, ancient and modern! But what great responsibility 
does he assume who brands as chimerical a definition maintained in 
the Church for centuries. [1375]. 

Life, as employed in the new definition, means human life. How, 
then, does the definition escape the condemnation [1376] inflicted 
on the following modernist proposition: Truth is not more 
unchangeable than is man himself, since it evolves with, in, and 
through man. [1377]. 

Change in definition entails immense consequences. He who dares it 
should be sure beforehand that he clearly understands the 
traditional definition, particularly in its analogous quality, 
which, without becoming metaphorical, is still proportional. 
Ontological truth, for example, is the conformity of creatures 
with the intellect of the Creator. Logical truth is the conformity 
of man's intellect to the world around him, which he has not made 
but only discovered. Logical truth is found both in existential 
judgments, e. g.: Mont Blanc exists, this horse is blind, I am 
thinking, and in essential judgments, e. g.: man is a rational 
animal, blindness is a privation, the laws of the syllogism are 

Truth, then, like being, unity, the good, and the beautiful, is 
not a univocal notion, but an analogical notion. Thus truth in God 
is adequation in the form of identity, God's intellect being 
identified with God's being eternally known. Truth in possible 
creatures is their correspondence with God's intellect. Truth in 
actual creatures is their conformity with the decrees of God's 
will. Nothing that is not God, not even created free acts, can 
exist except as causally dependent on God. 

Truth, then, is coextensive with all reality. A change in defining 
truth, then, brings corresponding changes, not only in the domain 
of knowledge, but in that of willing and acting, since as we know, 
so do we will. 


In sciences, physical and physico-mathematical, those facts which 
exist independently of our mind are considered certain, as laws 
which express constant relations among phenomena. Postulates, 
hypotheses, are defined by their relation to the truth to be 
attained, not as yet accessible or certain. To illustrate. On the 
principle of inertia, many scientists hold that inertia in repose 
is certain, meaning that a body not acted upon by an exterior 
cause remains in repose. But others, H. Poincare, for example, or 
P. Duhem, see in this view a mere postulate suggested by our 
experience with inertia in movement, which means that "a body 
already in motion, if no exterior cause acts upon it, retains 
indefinitely its motion, rectilinear and uniform. " Experience 
suggests this view, because as obstacles diminish, the more is 
motion prolonged, and because "a constant force, acting on a 
material point entirely free, impresses on it a motion uniformly 
accelerated, " as is the motion of a falling body. But the second 
formula of inertia, as applied to a body in repose, is not 
certain, because, as Poincare [1378] says: "No one has ever 
experimented on a body screened from the influence of every force, 
or, if he has, how could he know that the body was thus screened? 
" The influence of a force may remain imperceptible. 

Inertia in repose, then, remains a postulate, a proposition, that 
is, which is not self-evident, which cannot be proved either a 
priori or a posteriori, but which the scientist accepts in default 
of any other principle. The scientist, says P. Duhem, [1379] has 
no right to say that the principle is true, but neither has he the 
right to say it is false, since no phenomenon has so far 
constrained us to construct a physical theory which would exclude 
this principle. It is retained, so far, as guide in classifying 
phenomena. This line of argument renders homage to the objective 
notion of truth. We could not reason thus under truth's pragmatic 

Let us look now at metaphysical principles: The principle of 
contradiction or identity, [1380] that of sufficient reason, 
[1381] that of efficient causality, [1382] and that of finality. 
[1383] These principles, we say, are true, because it is evident 
that they are primary laws, not only of our mind but of all 
reality. They are not merely existential judgments, but express 
objective and universal impossibilities. Never and nowhere can a 
thing simultaneously exist and not exist, can a thing be without 
its raison d'etre, can a non-necessary thing exist without cause, 
can a thing act without any purpose. Metaphysical principles admit 
no exception. But they all disappear under the pragmatic 
definition of truth. 

The truth in the formulas of faith is their conformity with the 
realities which they express; the Trinity, the Incarnation, 
eternal life, eternal pain, the Real Presence, the value of Mass. 
Although the concepts which express subject and predicate in these 
formulas are generally analogous, the verb "is" (or its 
equivalent) expresses immutable conformity to the reality in 
question. I am the truth and the life, says Jesus Though "truth" 
and "life" are analogous notions, Jesus added: "My words shall not 
pass away. " The same holds good of all dogmatic formulas. They 
are not mere "norms of action. " They do not express mere 
"conformity of our minds with our lives. " They express primarily, 
not our religious experience, but divine reality, a reality which 
often transcends experience, as, for instance, when we believe in 
heaven or n hell. Who can claim to experience the hypostatic 
union? Or the infinite values of Christ's death? We may experience 
indeed, not these mysteries themselves, but their effects in us. 
The Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the 
sons of God. [1384] The Spirit, says St. Thomas, commenting on 
that sentence, evokes in us a filial affection which we can 
experience. But even this experience we cannot absolutely 
distinguish from a mere sentimental affection. 

Faith, therefore, both by its divine object and by its infallible 
certitude, transcends our experience. This is true even when 
faith, under the special inspirations of the gifts of knowledge 
and wisdom, becomes ever more savorous and penetrating. [1385] 
These gifts, far from constituting faith, presuppose faith. The 
same holds good of all religious experience. It holds good 
likewise of the certitude of faith and of the ardor of charity. 
Hope and charity presuppose faith and the act of faith itself 
presupposes credibility in the truths to be believed. 

Dogmatic propositions, too, derive certainty from their conformity 
to the reality which they express. When God's revelation employs 
the natural notions of our intelligence, the natural certainty we 
have on all truths deriving from these notions is supplemented by 
a supernatural certainty, deriving from that revelation. Thus, 
when God says: I am He who is, our philosophical certainty of the 
attributes that belong to self-existent being is supplemented by 
theological certitude. When Jesus is revealed as truly God and 
truly man, theology deduces, with a certitude which transcends our 
experience, that Jesus has two wills, one belonging to His divine 
nature, and the other to His human nature. 

Under the pragmatist definition of truth, on the contrary, we 
would have to say, and it has been recently said, that theology is 
at bottom merely a system of spirituality which has found rational 
instruments adequated to its religious experience. [1386] Thus 
Thomism would be the expression of Dominican spirituality, Scotism 
that of Franciscan spirituality, Molinism that of Ignatian 
spirituality. Hence, since these three systems of spirituality are 
approved by the Church, also the theological systems, which are 
their expression, would all be simultaneously true, as being each 
in conformity with the particular religious experience which is 
their respective originating principle. This position, if we 
recall that at times these systems contradict one another, is 
itself a painful illumination of the contrast between the 
traditional and pragmatist definitions of truth. 

The question arises: Can a system of spirituality be true if it is 
not objectively founded on true doctrine? We, like many others, 
look on these ingenious theories as false spiritualizations of 
theology, reduced to a religious experience, wherein we look in 
vain for an objective foundation. Spiritual pragmatism may lead at 
best to prudential certitude which arises, not directly from 
objective conformity with reality, but from subjective conformity 
with a right intention. But it would then have to descend still 
lower, because prudential truth and certitude presuppose a higher 
certitude, an objective certitude, without which even prudential 
certitude would vanish. 

The certitude of prudence, as explained by Aquinas, [1387] 
following Aristotle, contains that which is true in limited 
pragmatism. Prudence is a virtue, even an intellectual virtue, in 
the moral order, a virtue which transcends opinion, and reaches a 
practical certitude on the goodness of the act in question. The 
truth of the practical intellect, Aristotle [1388] has said, 
differs from that of the speculative intellect. Speculative truth 
means conformity with objective reality. But since the intellect 
is limited to the necessary truths of reality, it cannot attain 
infallible conformity with the contingent and variable elements of 
reality. The contingent, as such, cannot be the subject matter of 
a speculative science. Truth in the practical intellect, on the 
contrary, means conformity with good will, with good intention. 
When for instance, presented with an unsuspected poisoned drink, a 
man proceeds to partake, his speculative error does not prevent 
his having a true prudential judgment based on his intention to 
obey charity and politeness. Practical truth can coexist with 
speculative error. Pragmatism can claim this partial truth. 

Pragmatism Must Return to Tradition

One chief difficulty, proposed by the philosophy of action, 
appears in St. Thomas [1389] in the form of an objection. The 
thesis is: Goodness in the will depends on reason. The objection 
runs thus: The reverse is true, because as the Philosopher [1390] 
says, truth conformed to right appetite is the goodness of the 
practical intellect, and right appetite means good will In other 
words, each man's judgment follows his fundamental inclination, 
bad or good. If this fundamental inclination is bad, the judgment 
will be wrong. But if the inclination is good, the judgment too 
will be right and true, just as spiritual pragmatism maintains. 

The saint's answer runs thus: The Philosopher is speaking here of 
the practical intellect, as engaged in the order of means, to find 
the best road to a presupposed goal, for this is the work of 
prudence. Now it is true that in the order of means the goodness 
of the reason consists in its conformity with the will's 
inclination to the right end and goal. But, he adds, this very 
inclination of the will presupposes the right knowledge of the 
end, and this knowledge comes from reason. [1391]. 

Prudential certitude, then, does presuppose right intention in the 
will, but this right intention itself derives its rectitude from 
those higher principles of reason which are true by their 
conformity with objective reality, with our nature and our last 
end. To reduce all truth to prudential certitude means to destroy 
prudential certitude itself. 

To this extreme we seem to be led by those who, abandoning the 
eternal notion of truth as conformity with objective reality, 
propose rather to define truth as conformity of spirit with the 
exigencies of human life, a conformity known by a constantly 
developing experience, moral and religious. Here we are surely 
near the following modernistic proposition: Truth is not more 
immutable than is man himself, since it evolves with him, in him, 
and through him. [1392]. 

The pragmatism we are here dealing with is not, we must 
acknowledge, the grovelling pragmatism of social climbers or 
politicians, who utilize mendacity as practical truth, as sure 
road to success. It is rather the pragmatism of good and honest 
men who claim to have a high level of religious experience. But 
they forget that man's will, man's intention, can be right and 
good only by dependence on the objective and self-supporting 
principles of man's nature and man's destination, as known by 
reason and revelation, principles which impose on him the duty of 
loving God, above all things, man himself included. This truth, 
the source of man's good will and intention, rests on its 
conformity with the highest levels of reality, on the nature of 
our soul and our will, on the nature of God and God's sovereign 
goodness, on the nature of infused grace and charity, which are 
proportioned to God's own inner and objective life. 

The consequences, then, even of this higher pragmatism, are 
ruinous, though unforeseen by those who meddle with the 
traditional definition of truth. We noted above [1393] the remark 
of M. Maurice Blondel that the abstract and chimerical definition 
of truth as "conformity of intellect to reality" should be 
abandoned in favor of "conformity of mind with life. " That was in 
1906. Though he later attempted to draw near to St. Thomas, he 
still wrote: [1394] "No intellectual evidence, even that of ah 
solute and ontologically valid principles, is imposed on us with a 
certitude that is spontaneous and infallibly compelling; not more 
than our objective idea of the absolute Good acts on our will as 
it would if we already had the intuitive vision of perfect 
goodness. ". 

To admit parity here would be a grave error, because our adherence 
to first principles is necessary, [1395] whereas our choice to 
prefer God to all else is, in this life, free. Here below God is 
not known as a good which draws us invincibly, whereas the truth 
of the principle, say of contradiction, can simply not be denied. 
He who knows the meaning of the two words "circle" and "square" 
has necessary and compelling evidence of the objective 
impossibility of a square circle. 

The higher pragmatism does not, it is true, sacrifice truth to 
utility. But to abandon the traditional definition of truth is to 
unsettle all foundations, in science, in metaphysics, in faith, in 
theology. Prudential truth rests on an order higher than itself. 
The enthusiasm of hope and charity, if it is not to remain a 
beautiful dream of religious emotion, must rest on a faith which 
is in conformity with reality, not merely with the exigencies of 
our inner life, or even with our best intentions Nothing can be 
intended except as known. Unless the intellect is right in its 
judgment on the end to be attained, there can be no rectitude in 
the will. The good, says St. Thomas, [1396] belongs first to 
reason under the form of truth, before it can belong to the will 
as desirable, because the will cannot desire good unless that good 
is first apprehended by the reason. 

Our view is supported by Emile Boutroux. [1397] He writes as 

"Is it the special action of the will which is in question? But 
the will demands an end, a purpose. Can you say that you offer an 
intelligible formula when you speak of a will which takes itself 
as purpose, that it has its own self as proper principle? That 
which these men search for by these ingenious theories is action, 
self-sufficient action independent of all concepts which would 
explain or justify action. 

"Is not this to return willy-nilly to pragmatism? Human 
pragmatism, if the action is human, divine pragmatism, if the 
action is divine: action, conceived as independent of intellectual 
determination, which ought to be the source (and supreme rule) of 
human activity. Action for action's sake, action arising from 
action, simon-pure praxis, which perhaps brings forth concepts, 
but is itself independent of all concepts -- does this abstract 
pragmatism still merit the name of religion?

"... And do you not enter on an endless road if you search in a 
praxis isolated from thought for the essence, for the true 
principle of a life according to religion? ". 

Let us, then, return to the traditional definition of truth. 
Action can never be the first criterion. The first criterion must 
be ontological, must be that objective reality from which reason 
draws first principles. The first act of the intellect is to know, 
not its own action, not the ego, not phenomena, but objective and 
intelligible being. [1398] The exigencies of life, far from making 
our thoughts true, derive their own truth from the thoughts that 
conform to reality and to divine reality. [1399]. 


But surely we know our life, our will, our activity, better than 
we know the external world. 

The question is not what we know best, but what we know first, and 
what we know first is not individual differences, not even 
specific differences, but external intelligible reality as being, 
as giving us first principles, without which we could not even 
say: "I think, therefore I am. " Further, the intellect knows what 
is within it better than it knows what is in the will, since we 
can always have some doubt on the purity of our intentions, which 
may be inspired by secret selfishness or pride. Man knows first 
principles with an incomparable certainty. But he cannot know with 
certainty that he is in the state of grace, in the state of 

As regards E. Le Roy, we hear it said that what is false is not 
his notion of truth in general, but his notion of the truth of 

We reply, first, that this defense is itself an admission that 
pragmatism in its proper sense leads to heresy. Secondly, Le Roy 
maintains pragmatism, not only in the field of dogma, but also in 
that of philosophy. "All ontological realism is ruinous and 
absurd: anything beyond thought is by definition unthinkable. 
Hence, with all modern philosophy, we must admit some kind of 
idealism. " [1400]. 

Thirdly, the phrase "anything beyond thought is unthinkable" holds 
good indeed of divine thought, but not of human thought, which 
distinguishes between things as yet undiscovered and things which 
we know, the extramental reality, e. g.: of this table on which I 
write. Common sense knows evidently the objective validity of the 
sense knowledge here exemplified. And even idealists, forgetting 
that they are idealists, often speak the language of common sense. 

As regards Blondel's philosophy of action, we find that he still 
maintains in his latest work, these two positions: first, concepts 
are always provisional, second, free will governs the intellect, 
not only in the act of attention, but also in the act of admitting 
the validity of first principles. [1402] Thus, though he has 
turned back to some traditional positions, he is still far off. He 
gives, as P. Boyer says, [1403] too much imperfection to universal 
concepts. This is the least one can say. But Blondel rises at 
times above his own philosophy and affirms the absolute truth 
concerning God, truth which is conformity of our intellect to 
extramental reality, to Supreme Reality. [1404]. 

In the 1945 volume of Acta. Acad. S. Thomae (no. 226) the 
statement is made that I was obliged to retract what I had said 
concerning Blondel. That statement is false. My position is still 
what it was in 1935 [1405] and 1944. [1406] The propositions there 
quoted, [1407] I held and still hold, are untenable. The 
philosophy of action must return to the philosophy of being, must 
change its theories of concept and judgment, must renounce its 
nominalism, if it is to defend the ontological, extramental 
validity of first principles and dogmatic formulas. 

But did not Blondel [1408] retract the last chapter of l'Action? 
He did. But he still holds [1409] that concepts have their 
stability only from the artifice of language, not only in physics 
and biology, but also in mathematics and logic. He still maintains 
that the free will intervenes in every judgment, not only as 
regards attention, but also as regards mental assent, even in 
first principles. [1410] Hence first principles are not necessary 
only probable. [1411]. 

The immutable judgments of faith, then, cannot be preserved 
inviolate unless we cling to the immutable concepts of being, 
unity, truth, goodness, nature, and person. And how shall these 
concepts remain immutable if "they have their stability only from 
the artifice of language"?

The philosophy of action is true in what it affirms, false in what 
it denies. It affirms the value of the action by which the human 
will raises itself to the love of God. [1412] But in denying the 
validity proper to the intellect, It compromises the validity of 
voluntary action. [1413] Depreciating intellective truth, we 
cannot defend our love of God. 


FATHER CARLO GIACON, S. J.: recently published an important work, 
La seconda scolastica (Milan, 1943): which deals with the great 
Thomistic commentators of the sixteenth century: Cajetan, 
Ferrariensis, Victoria. The author maintains that the twenty-four 
theses are the "major pronouncements" of the philosophy of St. 
Thomas. He has excellent remarks on this doctrine, and on its 
opposition to Scotism, and to nominalism. Having recognized the 
great merits of Capreolus, Cajetan, Ferrariensis, and John of St. 
Thomas, he continues: "After these two great men (Cajetan and 
Ferrariensis): the Thomistic synthesis, with unimportant 
deviations, remained intact among the Dominicans. But it became 
ever wider among the Jesuits, and wider still among the disciples 
of Suarez than in Suarez himself. There was no return to 
nominalism, but there was some yielding to nominalistic 
influences. Scotism, too, which lived on, came to have views 
somewhat loosely connected with traditional speculation. ". 

While we are in general accord with this author and must commend 
[1414] his penetrating and disinterested love of truth, we feel 
bound to differ from him when he maintains that, on the question 
of ontological personality, Cajetan departed from St. Thomas. It 
seems well to dwell on this point, since the doctrine of 
personality is so closely united with that on essence and 
existence and hence of special importance in treating the 
Incarnation and the Trinity. 

Person (human, angelic, or divine) means a subject, a suppositum 
which can say "I, " which exists apart, which is sui juris. The 
question is: What is it that formally constitutes that ontological 
personality, which is the root of the intellectual personality and 
the moral personality?

Ontological personality, says Cajetan, [1415] is that which 
constitutes the person as universal subject of all its attributes: 
essence, existence, accidents, operations. In this view, says 
Father Giacon, [1416] Cajetan departs from St. Thomas. We, on the 
contrary, hold that Giacon, who says that existence is the formal 
constitutive element of personality, has himself departed from St. 
Thomas. [1417]. 

Many texts are available in St. Thomas. [1418] Throughout he 
affirms that the suppositum, that which exists, the subject 
formally constituted as subject, is really distinct from its 
existence, and that existence, far from being the formal 
constituent, is only a contingent predicate. [1419]. 

Existence is not id quo subjectum est quod est, id quo persona est 
persona, but id quo subjectum seu persona existit. Natura est id 
quo subjectum est in tali specie. 

To say that the subject, Peter, is formally constituted by a 
contingent predicate is to suppress all that constitutes him as 
subject, is to suppress id quo aliquid est quod. Then, there being 
no longer a real subject, there cannot be longer any real 
predicate: essence, existence, operation, all disappear with the 

"That which exists" is not the essence of Peter, it is Peter 
himself, and Peter, a creature, is not his own existence. [1420]. 

Peter of himself is Peter, of himself he is a person, but he is 
not of himself existent, not his own existence; Peter is really 
distinct from his nature, as whole is distinct from essential 
part, [1421] and he is really distinct from his contingent 
existence. [1422] Peter is not his existence, but has existence. 

But then, if person is not formally constituted by existence, nor 
by individualized nature (since this in Christ exists without a 
human personality): what is it that does constitute personality?

The name "person, " says St. Thomas, [1424] is derived from the 
form which we call "personality, " and "personality" expresses 
subsistence in a rational nature. Again: [1425] The form signified 
by this noun "personality" is not essence or nature, but 
personality. Again, speaking of suppositum, i. e.: first 
substance, he says: [1426] Substance signifies an essence to which 
it belongs to exist per se, though this existence is not that 
essence itself. 

These texts say, equivalently, that personality is not that by 
which the person exists, but that by which it is suited to exist, 
is that by reason of which the person is made capable of existing 
per se. And this is the teaching of Cajetan. 

Further, personality thus conceived is something real, distinct 
from nature and from existence. In Christ, says the saint, [1427] 
if the human nature had not been assumed by a divine person that 
human nature would have its own personality. The divine person, 
uniting with human nature, hindered that human nature from having 
its own personality. 

But then, one may say, you must admit that personality is a 
substantial mode. Now St. Thomas never spoke of this substantial 
mode which later came into vogue among the Scholastics. 

The answer is that St. Thomas not only speaks of accidental modes 
(e. g.: the speed of movement): and of transcendental and special 
modes of being, but he also freely uses the term "substantial 
mode. " Thus he writes: [1428] By the name "substance" we express 
that special mode of being, which belongs to independent being. 
Again, speaking precisely of person, he says: [1429] Person is 
contained in the genus of substance, not as species, but as 
determining a special mode of existing. This means, in other 
words, that personality, just as Cajetan says, is that by which 
person is immediately capable of independent and separate 
existence. [1430] Capreolus is less explicit, but is in essential 
agreement. Suppositum, he writes, [1431] is identified with 
individual substantial being which has existence per se. He does 
not say that personality is formally constituted by existence. We 
can without difficulty admit his enunciations. 

Cajetan's doctrine is not merely the only doctrine that agrees 
with that of St. Thomas, it is also the only doctrine that agrees 
with that which common sense and natural reason employ when we use 
the personal pronouns (I, you, he) of the subject which is 
intelligent and free. There must be something real to constitute 
this subject as subject. [1432]. 

Rightly, therefore, does Cajetan say to his opponents: "If we all 
admit the common notion of person as point of departure, why do we 
turn away from that common notion when we come to scrutinize the 
reality signified by that common notion? " [1433] His opponents 
pass from the nominal definition to a pseudo-philosophic notion, 
which forgets the point of departure which they originally 
intended to explain. 

Let us summarize. 

1. To deny this doctrine is gravely to jeopardize the real 
distinction of essence from existence. 

;2. To deny it is to destroy the truth of affirmative propositions 
relative to a real subject. In propositions like the following: 
Peter is existent,. Peter is wise, the verb "is" expresses real 
identity between subject and predicate. Now this identity thus 
affirmed is precisely that of the suppositum, the person, 
notwithstanding the real distinction of essence from existence, of 
substance from accidents. If these propositions are to be true, 
there must be a reality which formally constitutes Peter as 
subject. Now this cannot be his individual essence, which is 
attributed to him as essential part, nor his existence which is a 
contingent predicate. 

Similarly, this proposition spoken of Jesus: This man is God, can 
be true only by identity of His person, notwithstanding the 
distinction between the two natures. [1434]. 

3. To reject this doctrine, to say that personality is existence 
itself, is to overturn the order of the treatise on the 
Incarnation. The seventeenth question on the one existence in 
Christ would have to be incorporated in the second question where 
St. Thomas discusses the hypostatic union. Further, a common point 
of doctrine in this treatise is that the person is the principium 
quod of theandric acts. Now existence, which is common to the 
three persons, cannot be principium quod of theandric actions 
which belong solely to the Second Person. [1435]. 

We regret our disagreement on this point with Father Giacon, who 
has often penetrated deeply into the merits of Cajetan and 
Ferrariensis. [1436] He recognizes that they have correctly 
interpreted and vigorously defended the great metaphysical 
doctrines of the Thomistic synthesis. Hence we hope that a serene 
and objective study of our differences on ontological personality 
will not be without result. 


TREATING the questions of God's foreknowledge, of predestination 
and of grace, many Molinists, in order to denote themselves as 
Thomists, refer to classic Thomism under the name of 
"Bannesianism. " Informed theologians see in this practice an 
element of pleasantry, even of comedy. 

Our purpose here is to insist on a principle admitted by all 
theologians, a principle wherein Thomists see the deepest 
foundation of the distinction between grace sufficient and grace 


Revelation makes it certain that many graces given by God do not 
produce the effect (at least the entire effect) toward which they 
are given, while other graces do produce this effect. Graces of 
the first kind are called sufficient graces. They give the power 
to do good, without bringing the good act itself to pass, since 
man resists their attraction. The existence of such graces is 
absolutely certain, whatever Jansenists say. Without these graces, 
God, contrary to His mercy and His justice, would command the 
impossible. Further, since without these graces sin would be 
inevitable, sin would no longer be sin, and could not justly be 
punished. Judas could have really here and now avoided his crime, 
as could the impenitent robber who died near our Savior. 

Graces of the second kind are called efficacious. They not only 
give us real power to observe the precepts, but carry us on to 
actual observance, as in the case of the penitent robber. The 
existence of actual efficacious grace is affirmed, equivalently, 
in numerous passages of Scripture. Ezechiel [1437] says, for 
example: I will give you a new heart and put in you a new spirit, 
I will take away your heart of stone, and give you a heart of 
flesh. I will put My spirit in you and bring it about that you 
follow My commands and observe and practice My laws. Again, the 
Psalmist says: [1438] All that God wills, He does. The word 
"wills" must here be understood as meaning all that God wills, not 
conditionally, but absolutely. Thus He wills a man's free 
conversion, that of Assuerus, e. g.: at the prayer of Esther: 
[1439] Then God changed the wrath of the King into mildness. God's 
omnipotence is, in these texts, assigned as reason for the 
infallible efficacy of God's decree. [1440]. 

The Second Council of Orange, against the Semi-Pelagians, after 
citing many of these texts, says of the efficaciousness of grace: 
[1441] Whenever we do good, God, in us and with us, brings our 
work to pass. Hence there is a grace which not only gives real 
power to act right (a power which exists also in him who sins): 
but which produces the good act, even while, far from excluding 
our own free cooperation, it arouses rather this cooperation, 
carries us on to consent. 

St. Augustine [1442] thus explains these same texts: God, by His 
power, most hidden and most efficacious, turns the king's heart 
from wrath to mildness. 

The great majority of older theologians, Augustinians, Thomists, 
Scotists, hold that the grace called efficacious is efficacious of 
itself, because God wills it to be so, not because we will it to 
be so, by an act of consent foreseen by God. God is, not a mere 
spectator, but the Author of salvation. How is grace self-
efficacious? Here these older authors differ. Some recur to the 
divine motion called premotion, some to what they call "victorious 
delectation, " some to a kind of attraction. But, amid all 
differences, they agree that grace is of itself efficacious. 

Molina, on the contrary, maintains that grace is efficacious 
extrinsically, by our consent, foreseen by scientia media. This 
scientia media has always been rejected by Thomists, who say that 
it implies a passivity in God relative to our free determinations 
(futuribilia, and future): and that it leads to "determination by 
circumstances" (since it is by knowledge of these circumstances 
that God would foresee what man would choose). Thus the very being 
and goodness of the will and salutary choice would come from man 
and not from God. Granted equal grace to each, says Molina, [1443] 
it can come to pass that one is converted, the other not. Even 
with a smaller aid of grace one can rise, while another with 
greater grace does not rise, and remains hardened. 

Molina's opponents answer thus: Here we have a good, the good of a 
salutary act, which does not come from God, Source of all good. 
How then maintain the word of Jesus: [1444] Without Me you can do 
nothing? Or that of St. Paul: [1445] What hast thou that thou hast 
not received? If, with equal grace, and amid equal circumstances, 
one is converted and the other not, then the convert has a good 
which he has not received. 

Molinists object: If, in order to do good, you demand, besides 
sufficient grace, also self-efficacious grace, does sufficient 
grace really and truly give you a real power to act?

It does, so Thomists reply, if it is true that real power to act 
is distinct from the act itself; if it is true [1446] that the 
architect, before he actually builds, has a real power to build, 
that he who is seated has a real power to rise; that he who is 
sleeping is not blind, but has a real power to see. Further, if 
the sinner would not resist sufficient grace, he would receive the 
efficacious grace, which is offered in the preceding sufficient 
grace, as fruit is offered in the blossom. If he resists he merits 
privation of new aid. 

But does St. Thomas explicitly distinguish self-efficacious grace 
from that grace which gives only the power to act?

He does, and often. God's aid, he says, [1447] is twofold. God 
gives the power, by infusing strength and grace, by which man 
becomes able and apt to act. But He gives further the good act 
itself, by interiorly moving and urging us to good... since His 
power, by His great good will, operates in us to will and to do. 
Again: [1448] Christ is the propitiation for our sins, for some 
efficaciously, for all sufficiently, because His blood is 
sufficient price for the salvation of all, but does not have 
efficacy except in the elect, because of impediment. Does God 
remedy this impediment? He does, often, but not always. And here 
lies the mystery. God, he says, [1449] withholds nothing that is 
due. And he adds: [1450] God gives to all sufficient aid to keep 
from sin. Again, speaking of efficacious grace: [1451] If it is 
given to this sinner, it is by mercy; if it is refused to another, 
it is by justice. 

Thomists add, [1452] in explanation: Every actual grace which is 
self-efficacious for an imperfect act, say attrition, is 
sufficient for a more perfect salutary act, say contrition. This 
is manifestly the doctrine of St. Thomas. [1453] If man resists 
the grace which gives him the power to do good, he merits 
privation of the grace which would carry him on to actual good 
deed. But the saint has not merely distinguished the two graces, 
he has pointed out the deepest foundation for this distinction. 


"The will, " says St. Thomas, [1454] "is related to things as they 
are in themselves, with all their particular circumstances. Hence 
we will a thing simply (simpliciter) when we will it with all its 
concrete circumstances. This will we call the consequent will. 
Thus it is clear that everything which God wills simpliciter comes 
to pass. ". 

If, on the contrary, we will a thing in itself good, but 
independently of its circumstances, this will is called the 
antecedent will, or conditional will, since the good in question 
is not realized here and now. That man should live, says St. 
Thomas, [1455] is good. But if the man is a murderer, it is good 
that he be executed. Antecedently, God wills that harvests come to 
maturity, but He allows for some higher good, that not all 
harvests do in fact mature. Similarly, He wills antecedently the 
salvation of all men, though for some higher good, of which He 
alone is judge, He permits some to sin and perish. 

But, since God never commands the impossible, His will and love 
make the observance of His commandments possible to all men, to 
each according to his measure. He gives to each, says St. Thomas, 
[1456] more than strict justice requires. It is thus that St. 
Thomas harmonizes God's antecedent will, of which St. John 
Damascene speaks, with God's omnipotence. 


Nothing comes to pass, either in heaven or on earth, unless God 
either brings it to pass in mercy, or then in justice permits it. 
This principle, taught in the universal Church, shows that there 
is in God a conditional and antecedent will, relative to a good 
which does not come to pass, the privation of which He permits in 
view of some higher good. 

To this principle we must add another: [1457] God does not command 
the impossible. From these two revealed principles derives the 
distinction between God's efficacious consequent will and His 
antecedent will, which is the source of sufficient grace. 

All that God wills, He does. This principle has no exception. All 
that God wills (purely, simply, unconditionally) comes to pass 
without our freedom being thereby in any way forced, because God 
moves that freedom sweetly and strongly, actualizing it, not 
destroying. He wills efficaciously that we freely consent and we 
do freely consent. The supreme efficacy of divine causality, says 
St. Thomas, [1458] extends to the free mode of our acts. 

Many repeat these principles, but do not see that they contain the 
foundation of the distinction between the two kinds of grace, one 
that is self-efficacious, the other simply sufficient which man 
may resist, but not without divine permission. 

Hence we find that in the ninth century, to terminate the long 
controversy with Gottschalk, the Council of Thuzey (860): at the 
instance of the Augustinian bishops, harmonized God's will of 
universal salvation with the sinner's responsibility. That 
Council's synodal letter [1459] contains this sentence: Whatever 
He has willed in heaven or on earth, God has done. For nothing 
comes to pass in heaven or on earth that He does not in mercy 
bring to pass or permits to come to pass in justice. 

Since God's love is the cause of created goodness, says St. 
Thomas, [1460] no created thing would be better than another, if 
God did not give one a great good than He gives to another. This 
is equivalent to St. Paul's word: [1461] What hast thou that thou 
hast not received?


Christian humility rests on two dogmas, that of creation from 
nothing, and that of the necessity of grace for each and every 
salutary act. Now this same principle of God's predilection 
contains virtually the doctrine of gratuitous predestination, 
because the merits of the elect, since they are the effects of 
their predestination, cannot be the cause of that predestination. 

Even all there is of being and action in sin must come from God, 
Source of all being and of all activity. [1463] As the divine will 
cannot indeed, either directly or indirectly, will the disorder 
which is in sin, so neither can divine causality produce that 
disorder. Disorder is outside the adequate object of God's 
omnipotence, more than sound is outside the object of sight. As we 
cannot see sound, so God cannot cause the disorder of sin. Nothing 
is more precise and precisive, if we may use the word, than the 
formal object of a power. [1464] The good and the true are not 
really distinct in the object, yet the intellect attains in that 
object only the truth, and the will only the good. In our 
organism, it is impossible to confuse the effects of weight with 
the effects of electricity, say, or of heat. Each cause produces 
only its own proper effect. And thus God is the cause, not of the 
moral disorder in sin, but only what there is in sin of being and 
action. No reality comes to pass, to repeat the principle, unless 
God has willed it, and nothing of evil unless God has permitted 
it. How necessary, then, it is that the theologian, after drawing 
conclusion from principles, should remount from conclusions to 
principles, thus clarifying his conclusions for those who do not 
see the bond that binds all consequences to the primal verities. 

If, then, one of two sinners is converted, that conversion is the 
effect of a special mercy. And if a just man never sins mortally 
after his baptism, this perseverance is the effect of a still 
greater mercy. These simple remarks are enough to show the 
gratuity of predestination. 

Molina, refusing to admit that grace is intrinsically self-
efficacious, maintains that it is efficacious only by our consent, 
foreseen from eternity by scientia media. Thus we have a good 
which comes to pass without God having efficaciously willed it, 
contrary to the principle we have just laid down. 

Molina does indeed attempt to defend that principle. God, having 
seen by scientia media that Peter, placed in such and such 
circumstances, would with sufficient grace be in fact converted, 
wills to place him in those favorable circumstances rather than in 
others where he would be lost. But this explanation surely reduces 
the absolute principle of predilection to a relative, indirect, 
and extrinsic principle. Grace is efficacious, not of itself and 
intrinsically, but only by circumstances which are extrinsic to 
the salutary act. With equal aid, yea with less aid, says Molina, 
one rises, the other perseveres in obstinacy. One who thus rises, 
St. Paul would say, has something he has not received. 


Who can resist God's will? St. Paul [1465] answers this question 
with a hymn on the mysterious depths of God's wisdom. Why God 
draws this man and not that man, says St. Augustine, [1466] judge 
not unless you would misjudge. Predestination, says St. Thomas, 
[1467] cannot have the merits of the elect as cause, because these 
merits are the effects of predestination, which is consequently 
gratuitous, dependent on the divine good pleasure. 

Not infrequently we meet authors who, in explaining this mystery, 
wish to speak more clearly than St. Paul, St. Augustine, and St. 
Thomas. Superficially, they may be more clear. But is not this 
superficial clarity incompatible with the sense of mystery? Willy-
nilly, these authors return to Molina. One of them recently wrote 
as follows: "Here is the mystery of predestination. Since God knew 
from all eternity that Judas would not profit by the sufficient 
grace accorded to him, why did God not give to Judas, as He did to 
the good robber, those graces to which He knew that Judas would 
correspond? ". 

This explanation is Molinistic, since it rests on scientia media, 
since it implies in God's foreknowledge a passivity, depending on 
the course man would take, were he put in such and such 
circumstances, and which he will take if in fact he is placed 
there. The dilemma remains: Is God's knowledge causal and 
determining? Or is it rather caused and determined? There is no 

If we follow the principle commonly received that all good comes 
from God's efficacious will and all evil from God's permission, 
then it is not sufficient to say with the author just quoted: God 
knew what would happen if, etc. We must rather say: God permitted 
the final impenitence of Judas. Had God not permitted it, it would 
not have come to pass and God could not have infallibly foreseen 
it. And God would not have permitted it, had He willed 
efficaciously to save Judas. But God did efficaciously will the 
conversion of the penitent robber, because He willed efficaciously 
his salvation (gratuitous predestination to glory). [1468]. 

The free will moved and aroused by God, says the Council of Trent, 
can dissent if it will. This declaration, which was prepared by 
Dominic Soto, a Thomist, and by many Augustinians, is not a 
condemnation of self-efficacious grace. Grace actualizes our 
liberty, but leaves intact the freedom to resist. [1469] As he who 
is seated retains real power to rise, so he who chooses a 
particular road has real power to refuse it freely. Real power to 
resist is one thing, actual resistance is something else. [1470]. 

No one, then, can be better than another unless he be loved more 
by God. Divine predilection is the foundation of predestination. 
[1471] Bannez says nothing more than does St. Thomas. [1472] 
Molina, more frank than some of his followers, recognized that his 
own doctrine is not that of St. Thomas. [1473]. 

As regards reprobation, it consists precisely, says St. Thomas, 
[1474] in God's will to permit sin (negative reprobation) and of 
inflicting punishment of damnation for sin (positive reprobation). 

Hence it is wrong to say, as has been recently said, that 
permission of sin is found in the same way among the elect as it 
is among the reprobate. Final impenitence is never found among the 


Nothing comes to pass unless God wills it efficaciously, if it is 
good, or permits it if it is evil. God never commands the 
impossible. From these two most fundamental principles arises the 
distinction between efficacious grace, which is the effect of the 
intrinsically efficacious will of God, and sufficient grace, which 
is the effect of God's antecedent will, accompanied by permission 
of sin. The first grace gives the actual doing of salutary acts, 
the second gives real power for salutary acts. But -- we cannot 
repeat it too often -- sufficient grace is a blossom wherein 
efficacious grace is offered, yet so that, if man resists, he 
merits privation of the efficacious grace which, without this 
resistance, he would have received. 

A very great mystery, certainly. God cannot be unjust, cries St. 
Paul. [1475] What creature can claim to have first given anything 
to God, so as to claim a reward? But this much is manifest in this 
chiaro oscuro: we are dealing here with the transcendent pre-
eminence of the deity, wherein are harmonized infinite justice, 
infinite mercy, and supreme freedom. Final perseverance comes from 
infinite mercy. Final impenitence is a just punishment. The 
infinity of all God's attributes will be manifest only in the 
immediate vision of God as he is in Himself. 

Let us learn, says Bossuet, [1476] to make our intelligence 
captive, to confess these two graces (sufficient and efficacious): 
one of which leaves our will without excuse before God, while the 
other forbids all self-glorification. Resistance to grace is an 
evil which comes only from ourselves. Non-resistance to grace is a 
good, which would not come to pass here and now, had not God from 
all eternity efficaciously willed it so. 

Let us notice some common errors, especially in the minds of those 
who are just being introduced into this doctrine. It is an error 
to think that some receive only efficacious graces and others only 
those which are sufficient. All of us receive both kinds of 
graces. Even those in mortal sin receive from time to time 
efficacious graces, to make, say, an act of faith, or of hope. But 
often too they resist the sufficient grace which inclines them to 
conversion, whereas good servants of God often receive sufficient 
graces which they do not resist and which are followed by 
efficacious graces. 

We should note too that there are various kinds of sufficient 
grace. There are first exterior graces, as, e. g.: a sermon, a 
good example, a proper guidance. Then interior graces, as, e. g.: 
that of baptism, the infused virtues and graces, which give us the 
proximate power to act supernaturally. Thirdly, there are actual 
graces, graces of illumination, which give us good thoughts, 
graces of attraction which incline us to salutary consent, even 
though consent does not follow. [1477] A grace which efficaciously 
produces attrition is, as regards contrition, a sufficient grace. 

Sufficient grace often urges us insistently not to resist God's 
will, manifested to us by our superior, say, or by our director. 
For a year, it may be, or two years, or many years, circumstances 
strengthen what is demanded of us in God's name, and still we 
remain deceived by our selfishness, though prayers are said for 
us, and Masses celebrated for our intention. Notwithstanding all 
light and attraction that comes from these graces, we may still 
reach a state of hardening in sin. Behold I stand at the gate and 

Resistance comes from the soul alone. If resistance ceases, the 
warmth of grace begins, strongly and sweetly, to penetrate our 
coldness. The soul begins to realize that resistance is her own 
work, that non-resistance is itself a good that comes from the 
Author of all good, that it must pray for this good, as the priest 
prays just before his Communion at Mass: "Grant, O Lord, that I 
may ever cling to Thy precepts, and let me never be separated from 
Thee. ". 

One who keeps the commandments sincerely is certainly better than 
he who, though fully able, does not keep them. He is therefore 
bound to special gratitude to God who has made him better. Hence 
our present distinction, between grace sufficient and grace 
efficacious, is the foundation of a gratitude intended to be 
eternal. The elect, as St. Augustine [1479] so often says, will 
sing forever the mercy of God, and will clearly see how this 
infinite mercy harmonizes perfectly with infinite justice and 
supreme freedom. [1480]. 

The Thomistic synthesis sets all these principles in bold relief, 
thereby preserving the spirit of theological science which judges 
all things, not precisely and primarily by their relation to man 
and man's freedom, but by their relation to God, the proper object 
of theology, to God, the source and goal of all life, natural and 
supernatural. Truth concerning God is the sun which illumines our 
minds and wills on the road that rises to eternal life, to the 
unmediated vision of the divine reality. 



1 Luther even doubted the salvation of the Angelic Doctor

2 See Archivio di filosofia, July, 1933, p. 10, a posthumous 
article by Laberthonniere

3 See Dictionnaire de theologie catholique, art. "Leibniz" 

4 See Ia, q. 1; q. 32. Also Cont. Gent.: I, 3

5 Cf. Ia, q. 1

6 Cf. IIa, IIae, q. 2, a. 2, ad. 1

7 Ibid.: q. 188, a. 6

8 The Vatican Council

9 Chap. 31

10 Chaps. 32, 35

11 Ibid. 

12 In the Third Part of the Summa. 

13 Media vita in morte sumus

14 Ibid.: chap. 48

15 Ex plenitudine contemplationis

16 S. Thomas d'Aquin (French trans.: 1920, p. 58) 

17 Giles of Rome, Henry de Bate

18 J Cf. Jourdain, Fr. Brentano, G. von Hertling, and others

19 In the years 1269-71

20 In 1268 or later

21 Peri hermenias, I, 14

22 Chap. 1

23 In the second book of the Physica

24 Books three to six of the Physica

25 Books seven and eight

26 Written in the year 1272-73

27 Written 1269-71

28 Written 1272-73

29 Bk. 1, chap. 8 (lect. 17, in St. Thomas) 

30 Terra (vel corpus grave) velocius movetur quanto magis 

31 S. Thomas d'Aquin, 1920, p. 36

32 The historian of the Copernican system

33 Summa, Ia q. 32, a. 1, ad 2, and De coelo et mundo, Bk. II, 
lect. 17

34 See also P Duhem, Essai sur la notion De theorie physique De 
Platon a Galilee, Paris, 1908, pp. 46 ff

35 Written about 1266

36 Written in 1266

37 Written in 1266

38 In the first book

39 Bk. II lect. 1-5

40 Ibid.: lect. 6

41 Ibid.: lect. 13

42 Bk. III, lect. 2

43 Sonatio et auditio sunt in subjecto sentiente, sonatio ut ab 
agente, auditio ut in patiente

44 Bk. II, lect. 24

45 Fit quodammodo omnia

46 Bk. III, lect. 4, 5, 7

47 Intellectus agens

48 Bk. III, lect. 10

49 Ibid.: lect. 11

50 Ibid.: lect. 8

51 Ibid.: lect. 14

52 Bk. II, chap. 2; Bk. III, chap. 5

53 Bk. I, chap. 4; Bk. III, chaps. 4, 5

54 Bk. 10, chap. 7

55 Bk. IV, lect. 5

56 In, the author's text I find chrinein and chrisis a slip on the 
part of proofreader or printer's devil

57 Bks VII, VIII

58 Bk. IX

59 Cf. Bk. XII, lect. 7-12

60 Et hoc est quod concludit (Philosophus): quod est unus princeps 
totius universi, scilicet primum movens et primum intelligibile et 
primum bonum

61 The saint, in 1266, commented on all ten books

62 The saint, in 1268, commented on Bks. I and II, and of III, 
chaps. 1-6. He did not explain the Moralia magna, nor the Moralia 
ad Eudemum

63 Bk. I

64 Bk. II

65 Bk. III

66 Bk. IV

67 Bk. V

68 Bk. VI

69 Bk. VII

70 Bk. IX

71 Bk. X

72 Nous

73 Ibid

74 Cf. A. Mansion, "L'eudemonisme aristotelicien et la morale 
thomiste" in Xenia thomistica I, 429-49

75 Cf. Msgr. Grabmann, Phil. Jahrbuch, 1915 pp. 373-78

76 IIae, q. 94, a. 5, ad 3; IIa IIae, q. 10, a. 10; q. 104, a. 5

77 see the first chapter of that work

78 see the Summa, Ia IIae, q. 105, a. 1

79 De regimine principum I, 6

80 Si paulatim idem populus depravatus habeat venale suffragium, 
et regimen flagitiosis, sceleratisque committat, recte adimitur 
populo talis potestas dandi honores, et ad paucorum bonorum redit 

81 In 1269

82 In 1257

83 Ad eruditionem incipientium

84 Secundum ordinem disciplinae

85 Ia, q. 1, a. 6

86 Ia, q. 11, prologue

87 IIa IIae, q. 180, a. 6

88 Can. 1366, pars 2: Philosophiae rationalis ac theologiae 
studia, et alumnorum in his disciplinis institutionem, professores 
omnino pertractent ad Angelici Doctoris rationem doctrinam et 
principia, eaque sancte teneant

89 Died 1444

90 Latest edition, Tours, 1900-1908

91 Died 1481

92 Died 1523

93 Written 1507-22

94 On the Ia IIae, Cologne, 1512

95 On the Cont. Gent.: Venice, 1534

96 On the IIa IIae. He died in 1546

97 At Salamanca, 1932-35

98 At Madrid. 1933-35

99 Sess. VI, chap. 6. 

100 IIIa, q. 85, a. 5

101 Ia IIae, q. 112, a. 4; IIa IIae, q. 24, a. 3. 

102 Et liquido nuper in sacris concilii Tridentini decretis 

103 Bull. ord. praed.: V, 155

104 On the Ia IIae, Salamanca, 1577, and on the IIIa, Salamanca, 

105 On the la, Salamanca, 1584-88 (recently reprinted, Valencia, 
1934) ; on the IIa IIae, Salamanca, 1584-94; and on the IIIa 
(still in manuscript). 

106 Published 1640-42

107 Published 1631, 1637, 1641 (new ed.: Paris, 1871). 

108 Defensiones (latest edition, Tours, 1900-1908). 

109 Bk. III, chap. 51. 

110 Ibid.: chap. 94

111 Bk IV, chap. 95. Note here some differences between him and 

112 De entia et essentia; De analogia nominum. Noteworthy too are 
his opuscula on the sacrifice of the Mass. 

113 Rome, 1888-1906

114 De divinis nominibus, chap. 5, lect. 3. Quodl. XII, a. 3, 4: 
Commentary on St. John's Gospel (2: 4; 7: 30; 13: 1; 17: 1) 

115 Cf. Dict. theol. cath.: s. v. Banez

116 Re-edited at Paris, 1883; and recently again, by Beatus 
Reiser, O. S. B.: Turin, 1930-37

117 Re-edited at Paris, 1883-86. The Benedictines of Solesmes are 
now again re-editing the work. 

118 Fribourg, 1911

119 Fribourg, three volumes, 1907

120 1908 and 1912

121 1910

122 Two volumes, 1927

123 Primo in conceptione intellectus cadit ens; quia secundum hoc 
unumquodque cognoscibile est in quantum est actu; unde ens est 
proprium objectum intellectus et sic est primum intelligibile, 
sicut sonus est primum audibile. Ia, q. 5, a. 2. Cf. also Ia, q. 
85, a3; Ia IIae, q. 94, a. 2; Cont. Gent.: II, 83; De veritate, q. 
1, a. I. 

124 Id cujus actus est esse

125 Quod statim ad occursum rei sensatae apprehenditur intellectu. 
De anima, II, 6, lect. 13 (de sensibili per accidens). 

126 Ia, q. 76, a. 5. 

127 Per intellectum ens dulce ut ens, et per gustum ut dulce

128 Naturaliter intellectus noster cognoscit ens et ea quae sunt 
per se entis, in quantum hujusmodi, in qua congnitione fundatur 
primorum pincipiorum notitia, ut non esse simul affirmare et 
negare (vel oppositio inter ens et non ens) et alia hujusmodi. 
Cont. Gent.: II, 83. Cf. Ia IIae, q. 94, a. 2. 

129 Ia, q. 86, a. 1; De veritate, q. 10, a. 5. 

130 See St. Thomas, In Met.: IV, lect. 5-15. 

131 Here we see too the distance that separates idea from image. A 
polygon with 10,000 sides is not easily imaginable, but is easily 
conceivable, and also realizable

132 In Phys.: II, lect. 10: Hoc quod dico propter quid quaerit de 
causa; sed ad propter quid non respondetur nisi aliqua dictarum 
(quattuor) causarum. 

133 See also In Met.: V, 2, lect. 2

134 Id quod est. 

135 Id quo aliquid est, v. g.: alburn, calidum

136 In Met.: V, lect. 10 and 11. 

137 Ab aeterno

138 Ia, q. 2, a. 2

139 Sub ratione finis

140 In Phys.: II, 3, lect. 5, 12-14; Ia, q. 44, a. 4; Ia IIae, q. 
1, a. 2; Cont. Gent.: III, 2

141 Ia IIae, q. 94, a. 2. 

142 For more extended treatment of these foundations of Thomistic 
realism, see our two works: Le sens commun, la philosophie De 
l'etre et les formules dogmatiques, 1909, 4th ed.: 1936, and Dieu, 
son existence et sa nature, 1915 (6th ed.: 1936, pp. 108-226). See 
also J Maritain, Elements De philosophie (6th ed.: 1921): I, 87-
94; Sept lecons sur l'etre (s. d. ). 

143 Realisme thomiste et critique de la connaissance, 1939, pp. 

144 Illud quod primo intellectus concipit, quasi notissimum et in 
quo omnes conceptiones resolvit, est ens. De veritate, q. 1, a. 1. 

145 Cogito ergo sum

146 Cognitio magis communis est prior quam cognitio minus 
communis. Ia, q. 85, a. 3

147 See art. "Acte et puissance, Aristotelisme" in Dict. theol. 

148 Operari sequitur esse, et modus operandi modum essendi. 

149 Phys.: I and II; Met.: I, V (IV): IX (VIII). 

150 Phys.: I, 6 and 8; Met.: I, 5; IV (III): per totum; IX (VIII): 
per totum

151 Ex ente non fit ens, quia jam est ens, et ex nihilo nihil fit, 
ergo ipsum fieri est impossibile

152 Met.: IV (III): from chap. 4 to the end

153 Le Sophiste, 241d, 257a, 259e

154 Phys.: loc. cit. ; Met.: loc. cit. 

155 Ex nihilo nihil fit

156 Ia, q. 45, a. 2, ad 2

157 Ex ente in actu non fit ens

158 Ex nulla presupposita potentia reali

159 Ia, q. 45, a. 1, 2, 5; IIIa, q. 75, a. 8. 

160 De spiritualibus creaturis, a. 8. 

161 Ia, q. 50, a. 4. 

162 From this doctrine Suarez differs. Disp. met.: XXX, sect. 2, 
no. 18; XXXI, sect. 13, nos. 14 f. De angelis, I, XII, XV

163 Non est quid, nec quale, nec quantum, nec aliquid hujusmodi In 
Met.: VII (VI) ; lect. 2, 6. 

164 Corruptio unius est generatio alterius

165 Ia, 15. a. 3, ad 3. Suarez differs from this doctrine; Disp. 
met.: XIII, sect. 5; XXXIII, sect. I; XV, sect. 6, no. 3 and sect. 

166 Cf. St. Thomas, Ia, q. 7, a. 1. 

167 Ibid

168 Illud quod est maxime formale omnium est ipsum esse (ibid. ). 

169 Ia, q. 4, a. 1, ad 3. Ipsum esse est perfectissimum omnium; 
comparatur enim adomnia ut actus; nihil enim habet actualitatem, 
nisi in quantum est; unde ipsum esse est actualitas omnium rerum 
et etiam ipsarum formarum; unde non comparatur ad alia sicut 
recipiens ad receptum sed magis sicut receptum ad recipiens, cum 
enim dico esse hominis vel equi, vel cujuscumque alterius, ipsum 
esse consideratur ut formale et receptum, non autem ut illud cui 
competit esse. 

170 Ia, q. 7, a. 1. 

171 Ibid.: ad 3. 

172 Approved, 1914, by the Sacra Congregatio Studiorum

173 Disp. met.: XV, sect. 9; XXXI per totum

174 Cf. Disp. met. XXX, sect. 2, no. 18; XXXI, sect. 13, no. 14

175 Deus simul dans esse, producit id quod esse recipit. De 
potentia, q. 3, a. 1, ad 17. 

176 Hoc est contra rationem facti quod essentia rei sit ipsum esse 
ejus, quia esse subsistens non est esse creatum. Ia, q. 7, a. 2, 
ad 1. 

177 Praeter esse est capacitas realis ad esse et limitans esse

178 Ia, q. 13, a. 12

179 Dist. met.: XV, sect. 9; XXX and XXXI

180 See p. 45 and note 26

181 Revue De philosophie, 1938, p. 412; cf. pp. 410 f.: 429

182 Art. cit.: pp. 410 ff

183 De veritate q. 27, a. 1, ad 8. 

184 Sententiae Bk. 1, dist. 19, q. 2, a. 2

185 De hebdomadibus

186 Quodlibet. III, a. 20 (written 1270). 

187 Saltem ex esse et quod est

188 Suppositum, id quod est

189 Bk. II, chap. 53: Quod in substantiis intellectualibus creatis 
est actus et potentia

190 Solus Deus est suum esse, non solum habet esse, sed est suum 

191 Ex hoc ipso quod esse Dei est per se subsistens, non receptum 
in aliquo, prout dicitur infinitum, distinguitur ab omnibus aliis 
et alia removentur ab eo; sicut si esset albedo subsistens, ex hoc 
ipso quod non esset in alio differret ab omni albedine existente 
in subjecto. Ia, q. 7, a. 1, ad 3. 

192 De ver. fund. phil. christianae, Fribourg, 1911, pp. 23 ff. 
Cf. also p. Cornelio Fabro, C. P. S.: "Neotomismo e Suarezismo, " 
Divus Thomas (Placentiae, 1941): fasc. 2-3, 5-6. 

193 Cf. F. X. Maquart, Elementa philosophiae, 1938, Vol. IIIb, 
Ontologia, pp. 54-60

194 Ens non est univocum, sed analogum, alioquin diversificari non 

195 In Metaph.: Bk. 1, chap. 5, lect. 9. See the fourth of the 
twenty-four Thomistic theses

196 OpusOxon.: Bk. 1, dist 3, q. 2, nos. 5 ff. ;dist. V, q. 
1;dist. 8, q. 3; IV Met.: q. 1. 

197 Disp. met.: II, sect. 2, no. 34; XV, sect. 9; XXX and XXXI

198 Doctrinae D. Thomae tria principia: a) Ens est transcendens et 
analogum, non univocum. b) Deus est actus purus, solus Deus est 
suurn esse. c) Absoluta specificantur a se, relativa ab alio

199 Cf. N. del Prado, O. P.: De veritate fundamentali philosophiae 
christianae, 1911, pp. xliv ff. ; also Dict. theol. cath.: s. v. 
Essence et existence

200 Ipsum esse subsistens et irreceptum. Ia, q. 7, a. 1

201 Ia, q. 3, a. 6. 

202 Ipsum intelligere subsistens. Ia, q. 14, a. 1. 

203 1a, q. 19, a. l; q. 20, a. I

204 Ia, q. 50, a. 4

205 Unum per se, una natura. 

206 Ex actu et actu non fit unum per se, sed solum ex propria 
potentia et proprio actu. Ia, q. 76, a. 4. 

207 Id quo aliquid est materiale et id quo aliquod corpus est in 
tali specie

208 See the ninth of the twenty-four theses

209 Ia, q. 66, a. 1. 

210 Id quo forma recepta limitatur et multiplicatur. 

211 Ia, q. 15, a, 3, ad. 3

212 Ia, q. 85, a. 1

213 Ia, q. 14, a. 1; q. 78, a. 3. See the eighteenth of the 
twenty-four theses. 

214 Operari sequitur esse, et modus operandi modum essendi

215 Ia, q. 77, a. 3; Ia IIae, q. 54, a. 2; IIa IIae, q. 5, a. 3

216 Ia, q. 77, a. 1, 2, 3, 4

217 Ia, q. 79, a. 7. 

218 Omne quod movetur movetur ab alio. 

219 Ia, q. a, a. 3

220 Multa sunt quae per actum virtualem videntur sese movere et 
reducere ad actum formalem, ut in appetitu seu voluntate videre 
licet. Disp. met.: XXIX, I. 

221 Ia, q. 105, a. 4, 5

222 Quantumcumque natura aliqua corporalis vel spiritualis pnatur 
perfecta, non potest in suum actum procedere, nisi moveatur a Deo. 
Ia IIae, q. 109, a. 1

223 Si procedatur in infinitum in causis efficientibus non erit 
prima causa efficiens, et sic non erit nec effectus ultimus, nec 
causae efficientes mediae, quod patet esse falsum. Ia, q. 2, a. 3, 
2a via

224 See the twenty-second of the twenty-four theses

225 In causis per se subordinatis non repugnat infinitas causas, 
si sint, simul operari. Disp. met.: XXIX 1, 2; XXI, 2

226 Ibid

227 Concursus simultaneus

228 Partialitate causae, si non effectus

229 Cf. Disp. met.: XX, 2, 3; XXII, 2, no. 51. 

230 Quando causae subordinatae sunt inter se, necesse non est, ut 
superior in eo ordine semper moveat inferiorem, etiamsi 
essentialiter subordinatae sint inter se et a se mutuo pendeant in 
producendo aliquo effectu; sed satis est si imrnediate influant in 
effectum. Concordia, disp. XXVI, in fine

231 Ia, q. 2, a. 3; q. 105, a. 5. Deus in omni operante operatur

232 Cf. St. Thomas, Compend. theol.: 104; IIIa, q. 11, ad I; De 
verit.: q. 14, a. 2; De potentia, q. 16, ad I, ad 18. 

233 De gratia, VI, 5

234 Cf. John of St. Thomas, In Iam, q. 12, a. 1, 4 (disp. XIV, a. 
2, nos. 17ff. ). 

235 Ia, a. 17, a. 1. 

236 Potentia dicitur ad actum

237 Cf. Ia, q. 105, a. 4; Ia IIae, q. 10, a. 4. 

238 Deus sub ratione deitatis

239 On this subject, see Acta secundi congressus thomistici 
internationalis Rome, 1936, pp. 379-408; Garrigou-Lagrange, De 
relationibus inter philosophiam et religionem, ac De natura 
philosophiac christianae

240 l'Evolution homogene du dogme catholique, Paris, 2nd ed.: 
French trans.: 1924, II, 333. 

241 Introductio in historiam dogmatum, Paris, 1922, pp. 128, 115-
49, 170-73, 185, 192-210. 

242 De revelatione, Rome, 1918, I, 18, 20, 189 ff. ; De Deo uno, 
Paris, 1938, pp. 43-49

243 Essai sur le probleme theologique (Bibliotheque Orientations): 
Belgium, 1938, pp. 66, 121, 123, 135. 

244 Ibid.: pp. 137-41

245 See note 3. Cf. Gagnebet, in Rev. thom.: 1939, pp. 108-47

246 This paragraph summarizes the first question in the Summa. See 
Ia, q. 1, a. 6. 

247 Clare visa

248 Obscure per fidem cognita

249 Ego sum qui sum

250 Deus solus est ipsum esse subsistens

251 Bk. 1, lect. 4; Scire est cognoscere causam propter quam res 
est et non potest aliter se habere

252 Cf. R. Gagnebet, O. P.: "La nature de la theologie 
speculative" in Rev. thom.: 1938, nos. 1 and 2, p. 78; 1939, pp. 

253 Radix ejus est ipsa fides infusa

254 Ia, q. 1, a. 6, 8, 9. 

255 Sufficit defendere non esse impossibile quod praedicat fides. 
Ia, q. 32, a. 1

256 IIIa, q. 1, a. 1. 

257 Ia, q. 32, a. 1, ad 2

258 Haec non possunt nec probari nec improbari, sed cum 
probabilitate suadentur et sola fide cum certitudine tenentur

259 Matt. 16: 18

260 Doctrina fidei

261 Matt. 26: 39. 

262 Fides quaerens intellectum

263 Cf. Gagnebet, O. P.: "La nature de la theologie speculative, " 
Rev. thom.: 1938, nos. 1 and 2. 

264 Cf. Salmanticenses, Cursus theol.: de tide, disp. 1, dub. 4, 
no. 127

265 See Salmanticenses (loc. cit.: no. 124): who rightly cite as 
defenders of their thesisa series of Thomists, Capreolus, Cajetan, 
Banez, John of St. Thomas, and others, against Vega, Vasquez, 
Suarez, and Lugo. Cf. Dict. theol. cath.: s. v. Explicite et 
Implicite and s. v. Dogme

266 Ad aliquam Deo dante mysteriorum intelligentiam, eamque 
fructuosissimam Denz.: no. 1796

267 Bk. II, lect. 3-17

268 Dieu, son existence et sa nature, 6th ed.: 1933, Part I; De 
Deo uno, 1st ed.: 1938

269 Ia, q. 2, a. 1

270 Existentiam non solum signatam aut conceptam, sed exercitam in 
re extra animam

271 Nescimus de Deo quid est

272 Ia, q. 2, a. 1, ad 2; a. 2, ad 2. 

273 Ia, q. 104, a. 1. 

274 Ia, q. 46, a. 2, ad 7

275 Cf. Cont. Gent.: II, 38

276 Cf. Ia, q. 104, a. 1

277 Ia, q. 2, a. 2

278 Ia, q. 104, a. 1. 

279 See above, on Concursus simultaneus

280 Quae secundum se diversa sunt non conveniunt in aliquod unum 
nisi per aliquam causam, adunantem ipsa. Ia, q. 3, a. 7

281 Quod causam non habet primum et immediatum est. Cont. Gent.: 
II, 15,  2. 

282 Ens per essentiam et non per participationem

283 See note 13

284 Causa unionis est unitas

285 For more detailed defense of the principle of causality, see 
Dieu, son existence et sa nature, 6th ed.: 1933, pp. 83 ff.: 98 
ff.: 170-81

286 Secumdum viam ascendentem inventionis

287 Secundum viam judicii

288 Ia, q. 44, a. 1. 

289 Cf. C. Fabro, "La difesa critica del principio di causa" in 
Rivista di filosofia neoscholastica, 1936, pp. 102-41; also La 
nozione metafisica di participazione sec. s. Tommaso, 1939

290 Ia, q. 44, a. 1, ad 1

291 In primo modi dicendi per se

292 In secundo modi dicendi per se. We have here the terminology 
of Aristotle: Post. Analyt.: 1, 4, lect. 10 of St. Thomas

293 Cf. Ia, q. 2, a. 1: Incorporalia non esse in loco est 
propositio per se nota apud sapientes tantum

294 See Ia, q. 3, a. 4

295 Via inventionis

296 Via judicii

297 Cf. Ia, q. 79, a. 9. 

298 Cf. N. del Prado, De veritate fundamentali philosophiae 
christianae, 1911

299 Ego sum qui sum. Exod. 3: 14

300 Divina essentia per hoc quod exercitae actualitati ipsius Esse 
identificatur, seu per hoc quod est ipsum Esse subsistens, in sua 
veluti metaphysica ratione bene nobis constituta proponitur, et 
per hoc idem rationem nobis exhibet suae infinitatis in 

301 See Index of his works in Tabula aurea, s. v. Deus, no. 27

302 This proposition must, of course, be irresistibly evident to 
the created intellect which sees God immediately, and contrasts 
itself with the self-subsistent existence

303 See Garrigou-Lagrange, "La distinction reelle et la refutation 
du pantheisme" in Rev. thom.: October, 1938

304 Intelligere subsistens

305 Ipsum esse subsistens

306 Ia, q. 3, a. 1, 2

307 Ia, q. 12. 

308 Sub ratione communi et analogica entis

309 Deum sub ratione deitatis

310 Deum nemo vidit umquam. John 1: 18

311 Lucem habitat inaccessibilcm. I Tim. 6: 16. 

312 In speculo rerum spiritualium

313 In speculo sensibilium

314 Ia, q. 77, a. 3

315 Ia, q. 12, a. 4

316 Creaturae sensibiles sunt effectus Dei, virtutem causae non 
adaequantes. Unde ex sensibilium cognitione non potest tota Dei 
virtus cognosci, et per conscquens nec ejus essentia videri. Cf. 
Ia, q. 12, a. 12

317 See also Cont. Gent.: I, 3. 

318 Cf. Scotus, In Iam Sent.: dist. III, q. 3, nos. 24, 25

319 Prolog. Sent. ; q. 1 and In IV Sent.: dist. XLIX, q. 10

320 De gratia, VI, 5

321 Ia, q. 12, a. 1

322 Cf. Denz.: no. 1021

323 Primum velle

324 Ia IIae, q. 6, a. 6

325 Ia, q. 19, a. 6, ad 1

326 Cf. Salmanticenses, In Iam, q. 12, a. 1, nos. 75, 77. 

327 Ad modum ponderis naturae. 

328 The Vatican Council condemns the proposition: Mysteria proprie 
dicta possunt per rationem rite excultam e naturalibus principiis 
intelligi et demonstrari. Denz.: nos. 1795, 1816. 

329 Possibilitas et a fortiori existentia mysteriorum 
essentialiter supernaturalium non potest naturaliter probari, nec 
improbari, sed suadetur argumentis convenientiae et sola fide 
firmiter tenetur. Cf. Salmanticenses, In Iam, Disp. 1, dub. 3. Cf. 
also GarrigouLagrange, De Deo uno, 1938, pp.: 264-69

330 Ia, q. 12, a. 5

331 Vita nova

332 8 Cf. John of Saint Thomas, In Iam, q. 12, disp. XIV, a. 2, 
nos. 17, 18, 23

333 De gratia, VI, 5

334 See also the Salmanticenses, In Iam, q. 12, disp. IV, dub. 4, 

335 Omnem speciem creatam

336 Ia, q. 12, a. 2

337 Finito modo

338 Ia, q. 12, a. 7. 

339 Ia, q. 13. For a thorough study of analogy, see The Bond of 
Being, an Essay on Analogy and Being, by James F. Anderson. [Tr. ] 

340 Op. Oxon.: I, d. III, q. 2, nos. 5 f. ; d. V, q. 1; d. VIII, 
q. 3. 

341 Disp. met.: II, sect. 2, no. 34; XV, sect. 9; XXX and XXXI. 

342 Ia, q. 13. 

343 Perfectiones simpliciter simplices

344 Substantialiter

345 Perfectiones mixtae

346 In suo significato formali

347 Ia, q. 13, a. 5. Omnis effectus non adaequans virtutem causae 
recipit similitudinem agentis non secundum eandem rationem, sed 
deficienter; ita quod id quod divisim et multipliciter est in 
effectibus, in causa est simpliciter et eodem modo. Omnes rerum 
perfectiones quae sunt in rebus creatis divisim et multipliciter, 
praeexistunt in Deo unite et simpliciter. 

348 Analoga sunt quorum nomen est commune, ratio vero per nomen 
significata est simpliciter eadem, et secundum quid diversa

349 Analoga sunt quorum nomen est commune, ratio vero per somen 
significata est simpliciter quidem diversa in analogatis, et 
secundum quid eadem, id est similis secundum quandam proportionem, 
seu proportionaliter eadem

350 Cf. Cajetan, De analogia nomimum, c. 5, 6; also N. del Prado, 
De veritate fundamentali philosophiae christianae, 1911, pp. 196 

351 Ia, q. 13, a. 5. Non secundum eandem rationem hoc nomen 
sapiens de Deo et de homine dicitur

352 De veritate, q. 2, a. 11

353 Inter creatorem et creaturam non potest tanta simulitudo 
notari, quin sit semper major dissimilitudo notanda. Denz.: no. 

354 Cum hoc nomen sapiens de homme dicitur, quodammodo describit 
et comprehendit rem significatam (distinctam ab essentia hominis, 
ab ejus esse, ab ejus potentia, etc. ): non autem cum dicitur de 
Deo; sed relinquit rem significatam ut incomprehensam, excedentem 
nominis significationem. Ia, q. 13, a. 5. 

355 Formaliter eminenter

356 Distinctio formalis actualis ex natura rei

357 In ipsa re, extra animam

358 Council of Florence: In Deo omnia sunt unum et idem, ubi non 
obviat relationis oppositio. Denz.: no. 703. 

359 In Iam, q. 13, a. 5s, no. 7. "Sicut res quae est sapientia, et 
res quae est justitia in creaturis, elevantur in unam rem 
superioris ordinis, scilicet Deitatem et ideo sunt una res in Deo: 
ita ratio formalis sapientiae et ratio formalis justitiae 
elevantur in unam rationem formalem superioris ordinis, scilicet 
rationem propriam Deitatis, et sunt una numero ratio formalis, 
eminenter utramque rationern continens, non tantum virtualiter ut 
ratio lucis continet rationem coloris, sed formaliter.. Unde 
subtilissime divinum sancti Thomae ingenium, ex hoc... intulit: 
Ergo alia est ratio sapientiae in Deo et alia sapientiae in 
creaturis. "

360 Ibid.: no. 15; De analogia nominum, chap.. 6: Non est una 
ratio simpliciter, sed proportionaliter una

361 See note 52

362 Hae quidem perfectiones in Deo pracexistunt unite et 
simpliciter, in creaturis vero recipiuntur divise et 
multipliciter.. Ita variis et multiplicibus conceptibus 
intellectus nostri respondet unum omnino simplex, secundum 
hujusmodi conceptiones imperfecte intellectum. Ia, q. 13, a. 4. 
Again: Rationes plures horum nominum non sunt cassae et vanae, 
quia omnibus eis respondet unum quid simplex, per omnia hujusmodi 
multipliciter et imperfecte repraesentatum. Ibid.: ad 2. It3m, a. 
5 in corpore. 

363 As mathematical illustration, think of a multitude of radii 
converging to the center of a circle. Each radius is distinct from 
all others and still, by its central point of convergence, 
identified with all other radii. [Tr. ] 

364 Blessed Angela de Foligno, for instance

365 Secundum se, non quoad nos loquendo, est in Deo unica ratio 
formalis, non pure absoluta, nec pure respectiva, non pure 
communicabilis, nec pure incommunicabilis, sed eminentissime ac 
formaliter continens et quidquid absolutae perfectionis est et 
quidquid Trinitas respectiva exigit.. Quoniam res divina prior est 
ente et omnibus differentiis ejus; est enim super ens et super 
unum, etc. In Iam, q. 39, a. 1, no. 7. 

366 Cont. Gent.: I, 3, no. 3

367 For more detailed exposition, see Garrigou-Lagrange, De 
revelatione, 1, chap. 11, pp. 347-54

368 I Tim. 6: 16

369 Ia, q. 14. 

370 Ibid.: a. 1. 

371 Ibid.: a. 2, 3. 

372 Non solum intelligibilis in actu sed intellecta in actu. 

373 Ia, q. 14, a. 4

374 Ibid.: a. 5. 

375 Ibid.: a. 6

376 Ibid.: a. 7

377 Ibid.: a. 8. 

378 Ibid.: a. 10

379 Futuribilia

380 Aeternitas ambit totum tempus

381 Ia, q. 14, a. 13

382 Fortiter et suaviter. 

383 Ia, q. 19, a. 1; q. 20, a. 1

384 Theod.: chap. 7

385 Ia, q. 19, a. 3. 

386 Yet Plato and Aristotle are themselves immeasurably above 
those moderns who trace the world back to a universal radiation 
which, seemingly, is self-existent. [Tr. ] 

387 Agens naturale secundum quod est tale agit, unde quamdiu est 
tale non facit nisi tale; omne enim agens per naturam habet esse 
determinatum. Cum igitur esse divinum non sit determinatum (seu 
limitatum): sed contineat in se totam perfectionem essendi non 
potest esse quod agat per necessitatem naturae, nisi forte 
causaret aliquid indeterminatum et infinitum in essendo, quod est 
impossibile. Non igitur agit per necessitatem naturae, sed 
effectus determinati ab infinita ipsius perfectione procedunt 
secundum determinationem voluntatis et intellectus ipsius. Ia, q. 
7, a. 2, 4. 

388 Vult hoc esse propter hoc, sed non propter hoc vult hoc. Ia, 
q. 7, a. 5

389 Ps. 134: 6: Omnia quaecumque voluit Deus fecit

390 Ia, q. 19, a. 6

391 Ibid.: ad 1. 

392 Dives in hell knew that the acts which brought him there were 
his own free choice. Hence his warning to his brothers. [Tr. ] 

393 Ia, q. 19, a. 8. This article has special importance on this 
point. The commentators dwell on it at great length

394 For more extended exposition, see our work, De Deo uno, 1938, 
pp. 410-34; also Rev. thom.: May, 1937, "Le fondement supreme de 
la distinction des deux graces, suffisante et efficace. "

395 See Molina, Concordia, Paris, 1876, pp. 51, 230, 356, 459, 

396 For an extended exposition of this Thomistic viewpoint, see 
our article in Dict. de theol. cath.: s. v. Premotion physique, 
cols. 31-77; also s. v. Predestination, cols. 294058, 2983-89

397 Cf. Molina, Concordia, Paris, 1876, pp. 51, 565

398 Cum amor Dei sit causa bonitatis rerum, non esset aliquid alio 
melius, si Deus non vellet uni majus bonum quam alteri. Ia, q. 20, 
a. 1. 

399 From Proverbs and St. Paul. See note 19

400 See Origen, in the third book of Peri Archon. 

401 Cont. Gent.: I, 89. The saint is commenting on two Scripture 
texts. Prov. 21: 1: The king's heart is in God's hand. God turns 
that heart whithersoever He wills. Phil. 2: 13: It is God who 
works in us by His own good will, both to will and to fulfill. The 
saint's own words run thus: "Quidam non intelligentes qualiter 
motum voluntatis Deus in nobis causare possit absque praejudicio 
libertatis voluntatis, conati sunt has auctoritates male exponere, 
ut scilicet dicerent quod Deus causat in nobis velle et perficere 
in quantum dat nobis virtutem volendi, non autem sic quod faciat 
nos velle hoc vel illud, sicut Origenes exponit in tertio 
Periarchon. Quibus quidem auctoritatibus sacrae Scripturae 
resistitur evidenter. Dicitur enim apud Is. 36: 12: 'Omnia opera 
nostra operatus es in nobis, Domine. ' Unde non solum virtutem 
volendi a Deo habemus, sed etiam operationem. "

402 Deus movet voluntatem hominis, sicut universalis motor ad 
universale objectum voluntatis quod est bonum, et sine hac 
universali motione homo non potest aliquid velle: sed homo per 
rationem determinat se ad volendum hoc vel illud, quod est vere 
bonum vel apparens bonum. Ia IIae, q. 9, a. 6, ad 3

403 See preceding note

404 Sed tamen interdum specialiter Deus movet aliquos ad aliquid 
determinate volendum, quod est bonum, sicut in his quos movet per 
gratiam ut infra dicetur. Cf. Ia IIae, q. 111, a. 2

405 Quia voluntas est activum principium non determinatum ad unum, 
sed indifferenter se habens ad multa, sic Deus ipsam movet quod 
non ex necessitate ad unum determinat, sed remanet ejus motus 
contingens et non necessarius nisi in his ad quae naturaliter 
movetur. Ibid.: q. 10, a. 4. 

406 Ia IIae, q. 10o, a. 4

407 Ibid.: a. 4, ad 3. 

408 Si voluntas hominis immobiliter (seu infallibiliter) movetur a 
Deo sequitur quod homo non habeat liberam electionem suorum 
actuum. De malo, q. 6, a. l, ad 3. 

409 Deus movet quidem voluntatem immutabiliter propter efficaciam 
virtutis moventis quae deficere non potest; sed propter naturam 
voluntatis motae, quae indifferenter se habet ad diversa, non 
inducitur necessitas, sed manet libertas. Ibid. 

410 You may note that he does not say: By reason of His divine 
prevision of our consent

411 Si ex intentione Dei moventis est quod homo, cujus cor movet, 
gratiam (sanctificantem) consequatur, infallibiliter ipsam 
consequitur. Ia IIae, q. 112, a. 3. 

412 John 2: 4

413 Intelligitur hora passionis sibi, non ex necessitate, sed 
secundum divinam providentiam determinata

414 On John 7: 30

415 Cf. also on John 13: 1 and 17: 1

416 Ps. 134: 6

417 Quidquid perfectionis est

418 Motio divina perfecte praescindit a malitia actus mali

419 Nihil est magis praecisivum quam objectum formale alicujus 

420 Ia, q. 20, a. 3, 4; q. 21, a. 4

421 For more extended treatment, see our articles in Dict. de 
theol. cath.: s. v. Providence, cols. 998-1023; Predestination, 
cols. 2940-59, 2984-3022. 

422 Ia, q. 2, a. 3

423 Ia, q. 22, a. 1. 

424 Ibid.: ad 1

425 Matt. 10: 29 ff

426 Ia, q. 22, a. 2

427 Ia, q. 14, a. 11

428 Ia, q. 22, a. 2, ad 2. 

429 Ia, q. 19, a. 8;q. 22, a. 4

430 Rom. 8: 28

431 Extended treatment will be found in Dict. de theol. cath.: s. 
v. Predestination, cols. 2940-59, 2984-3022

432 John 17: 12

433 John 10: 27-29

434 Matt. 22: 14. 

435 I Cor. 4: 7. 

436 Phil. 2: 13

437 Eph 1: 4-6

438 Rom. 8: 28-30

439 Cf. Eph. 1: 14; I Cor. 4: 7; Rom. 9: 15 f. 

440 Chaps. 9-11

441 Rom. 9: 14-16

442 Rom. 11: 33-36

443 Praedestinatio est praescientia et praeparatio beneficiorum 
Dei, quibus certissime liberantur quicumque liberantur. De dono 
perseverantiae chap. 14

444 De praedestinatione sanctorum, chap. 10

445 Rom. 9: 22 f. 

446 John 6: 44

447 In Jo.: tr. 26. Quare hunc trahat et illum non trahat, noli 
velle dijudicare si non vis errare

448 If thou hast received, why glory? I Cor. 4: 7. God worketh in 
you, both to will and to accomplish. Phil. 2: 13. 

449 John 15: 5. Without Me you can do nothing. 

450 Ia, q. 23, a. 5. Quidquid est in homine ordinans ipsum in 
salutem, comprehenditur totum sub effectu praedestinationis, etiam 
ipsa praeparatio ad gratiam

451 Ia, q. 20, a. 3

452 Ia, q. 23, a. 4

453 Non praecipitur aliquid ordinandum in finem, nisi 
praeexistente voluntate finis

454 Ia, q. 23, a. 5

455 Ibid.: ad 3

456 Ia, q. 23, a. 5. ad 3

457 In his quae ex gratia dantur, potest aliquis pro libito suo 
dare cui vult plus vel minus, dummodo nulli subtrahat debitum 
absque praejudicio justitiae. Et hoc est quod dicit paterfamilias: 
Tolle quod tuum est, et vade; an non licet mihi quod volo facere? 

458 Matt. 20: 14f

459 Deus auxilians

460 Cf. IIa IIae, q. 18, a. 4

461 Ia, q. 25, a. 1. 

462 Ia, q. 46, a. 2. 

463 Ex nihilo sui et subjecti

464 Ia, q. 46, a. 1, 2, 5. 

465 Ibid.: a. 5

466 Disp. met.: XX, 1, 2, 3. 

467 Cf. Ia, q. 44, a. 2. 

468 Met.: V (IV): 2

469 Ia, q. 44, a. 5, ad 3

470 Cf. the twenty-fourth Thomistic thesis

471 Elevations sur les mysteres, IIIe sernaine, le elev.: against 
Leibnitz, Theod.: 8

472 Cont. Gent.: II, 22-24, 26-30; III, 98 f. ; De potentia, q. 6; 
Ia, q. 105, a. 6

473 Theod.: 8. 

474 Ia, q. 25, a. 5. 

475 Dum Deus calculat fit mundus

476 Ia, q. 25, a. 6, ad 1

477 Qualibet re a se facta potest facere aliam meliorem. 

478 Ia, q. 46, a. 2. 

479 Cf. Cont. Gent.: II, 34, and especially 38. 

480 Ibid.: 31-37

481 Novitas divini effectus absque novitate actionius divinae. Cf. 
ibid.: Bk. II, 35; Ia, q. 46, a. 1, ad 9

482 Ia q. 104

483 Cf. N. del Prado, De veritate fundamentali philosophiae 
christianae, 1911, pp. 404-15. 

484 Ia, q. 104, a. 1, ad 4. 

485 Ia, q. 8, a. 1

486 Isa. 26: 12

487 Acts 17: 28. 

488 I Cor. 12: 6. 

489 Ia, q. 105, a. 5

490 Ibid

491 Cf. Cont. Gent.: III, 67. 

492 Sic ergo Deus est causa actionis cujuslibet in quantum dat 
virtutem agendi, et in quantum conservat eam, et in quantum 
applicat actioni, et in quantum ejus virtute omnia alia virtus 
agit. De potentia, q. 3, a. 7. 

493 Ibid.: ad 7: Rei naturali conferri non potuit quod operaretur 
absque operatione divina. 

494 Cf. the twenty-fourth Thomistic thesis

495 Concordia, ed. Paris, 1876, p. 152: Duo sunt quae mihi 
difficultatem pariunt circa doctrinam hanc D. Thomae. Primum est, 
quod non videam quidnam sit motus ille et applicatio in causis 
secundis qua Deus illas ad agendum moveat et applicet

496 Ibid.: p. 158: non secus ac cum duo trahunt navim

497 Disp. met.: XXII, sect. 2, no. 51; sect. 3, no. 12; sect. 4. 

498 For extended treatment, see our article in Dict. de theol. 
cath.: s. v. Premotion, cols. 31-77. 

499 Cont. Arianos, I, 14, 16, 25, 27; III, 6; II, 24

500 St. Athanasius, Epist. ad Serapionem, I, 23 ff. ; III, 1-5. 

501 Omnia per ipsum (Verbum) facta sunt. St. John's prologue. Thus 
similarly in St. Paul's epistles

502 De Trinitate

503 Ibid.: Bks. IX and X

504 Ibid.: V, 5, 16, 17

505 See especially ibid.: XV, 10-16

506 Ibid.: Bks. IX and X; XV, 17-28

507 Ibid.: Bk. V (in toto) and XV, chaps. 4, 5, where he speaks 
thus: Demonstratur non omne quod de Deo dicitur secundum 
substantiam dici, sed dici etiam relative, id est, non ad se, sed 
ad aliquid, quod ipse non est. 

508 Ad Filium, ad Patrem. Ad Patrem et Filium. Ibid.: V, 16, 17. 
Cf. J. Tixeront, Hist. des dogmes, II, 364-66

509 See Denz.: nos. 19, 77, 254, 281, 284, 421, 428

510 De Trin.: VI 2

511 Ia, q. 39, a. 7, 8; q. 46, a. 3; q. 4s, a. 6, ad 2

512 In Deo omnia sunt unum et idem ubi non obviat relationis 
oppositio. Denz.: no. 703

513 Cf. T. de Regnon, Etudes positive sur le mystere de la 
Trinite, 1892-98 I, 303 ff. 

514 Ia, q. 34, a. 1, ad 3

515 Ia, q. 37. a. 1

516 Ia, q. 32, a. 1. 

517 Ia, q. 26-43

518 Secundum emanationem intelligibilem Verbi intelligibilis a 
dicente. Ia, q. 27, a. 1

519 Ibid.: ad 2. 

520 IV, II. Quanto aliqua natura est altior, tanto id quod ex ea 
emanat est magis intimum

521 Deus verus de Deo vero

522 Bonum est esssentialiter diffusivum sui. 

523 Ia, q. 28, a. 5, ad 2; IIIa, q. 1, a. 1. 

524 Ps. 2: 7; Heb. 1: 5

525 Ia, q. 27, a. 2. 

526 John 1: 18. 

527 Cf. Cont. Gent.: IV; also John of St. Thomas, In Iam, q. 27, 
a. 2

528 Ia, q. 27, a. 3

529 Ibid.: a. 4

530 Amor meus, pondus meum (Augustine). 

531 Ia, q. 27, a. 5. 

532 Ia, q. 34, a. 1, ad 3

533 Ia, q. 37, a. 1

534 Ia q. 28, a. 1

535 IIIa, q. 17, a. 2, ad 3

536 Esse accidentis est inesse

537 De mysterio SS. Trinitatis III, 5. See N. del Prado, De verit. 
fund.: phil. christianae, 1911, pp. 537-44

538 In divinis est unum esse tantum

539 Est unum esse in Christo. IIIa, q. 17, a. 2

540 Ia, q. 28, a. 3

541 In Deo omnia sunt idem, ubi non obviat relationis oppositio. 
Denz.: no. 703

542 Ia, q. 28, a. 3, ad 1

543 De myst. SS. Trin.: IV, 3. 

544 IIIa, q. 17, a. 2, ad 3. 

545 See N. del Prado, op. oit.: pp. 529-44

546 See also I. Billot, De Trinitate, epilogue; regarding the 
difference between St. Thomas and Scotus, see Cajetan, In Iam, q. 
28, a. 2. 

547 Ia, q. 28, a. 4

548 St. Thomas analyzes this definition. Ia, q. 29, a. 1

549 Ibid.: a. 2

550 Ibid.: a. 3. 

551 Ibid.: a. 4

552 De potentia, q. 9, a. 4: Persona nihil aliud est quam 
distinctum relatione subsistens in essentia divina. Cf. Ia, q. 40, 
a. 1

553 In Iam, q. 39, a. 1, no. 7

554 Formaliter eminenter

555 Ia, q. 40, a. 4; q. 41

556 Ia, q. 40, a. 4, ad 2; and sed contra

557 Ibid.: corpus in fine

558 Ia, q. 41, a. 1. 

559 Ibid.: a. 2

560 Ut est in Patre

561 Per unicam spirationem

562 Ia, q. 41, a. 5; q. 36, a. 4

563 Denz.: no. 432: Non est essentia vel natura quae generat, sed 
Pater per naturam

564 Potentia generandi significat in recto naturam divinam et in 
obliquo relationem paternitaus. Cf. Ia, q. 41, a. 5

565 John 17: 10

566 John 17: 21

567 Ia, q. 32, a. 1

568 Denz.: no. 1861

569 In necessariis ex reali possibilitate sequitur existentia

570 Aut falsae aut non necessariae. St. Thomas, In Boetium de 
Trinitate, a. 3

571 Possibilitas et a fortiori existentia mysteriorum 
supernaturalium non probatur, nec improbatur, sed suadetur et 
defenditur contra negantes

572 In the prologue of his Gospel

573 Principium non de principio. Ia, q. 33

574 Ia, a. 4s, a. 6, ad 2

575 Ia, q. 34, 35

576 Ia, q. 36, 37, 38. 

577 Rom 5: 5

578 See Ia, q. 43

579 John 14: 23. 

580 Cf. John 14: 16, 26; I John 4: 9-16; Rom. 5: 5; I Cor. 3: 16; 
6: 19

581 See John of St. Thomas, In Iam, q. 43, a. 3, disp. XVII, nos. 
8-10; also p. A. Gardeil, La structure de l'ame et l'experience 
mystique, 1927, II, 7-60

582 Ia, q. 43, a. 3

583 Ibid

584 IIa IIae q. 45, a. 2. 

585 Rom. 8: 14

586 IIa IIae, q. 45, a. 2: Rectum judicium habere de rebus divinis 
secundum quamdarn connaturalitatem ad ipsas pertinet ad 
sapientiam, quae est donum spiritus sancti

587 Non qualiscumque cognitio sulficit ad rationem missionis (et 
habitationis) divinae personae, sed solum illa quae accipitur ex 
aliquo dono appropriato personae, per quod efficetur in nobis 
conjunctis ad Deum, secundum modum proprium illius personae, 
scilicet per amorem quando Spiritus Sanctus datur, unde cognitio 
ista est quasi experimentalis. In I Sent.: dist. XIV, q. 2, a. 2, 
ad a, ad 3

588 John 14: 26

589 I Cor. 3: 16

590 On this Thomistic doctrine concerning the indwelling of the 
Trinity, we commend especially John of St. Thomas, Ia, q. 43, a. 3

591 Filiatio adoptiva est quaedam participata similitudo 
filiationis naturalis; sed fit in nobis appropriate a Patre, qui 
est principium naturalis filiationis, et per donum Spiritua 
Sancti, qui est amor Patris et Filii. IIIa, q. 3, a. 5, ad 2

592 Adoptatio licet sit communis toti Trinitati, appropriatur 
tamen Patre ut auctori, Filio ut exemplari, Spiritui Sancto ut 
imprimenti in nobis similitudinem hujus exemplaris. IIIa, q. a3, 
a. 2, ad 3

593 Col. 1: 116; 2: 10; Rom. 8: 38. 

594 De civ. Dei, VII, 9: Bonam voluntatem quis fecit in angelis, 
nisi ille qui eos... creavit, simul in eis condens naturam et 
largiens gratiam

595 Scotus, De rerum principio, q. 7, 8; Opus Oxon.: dist. III, q. 
5, 6, 7, etc. Cf. Suarez, De angelis

596 Ia, q. 50, a. 1, 2

597 Ia, q 54, a. 1, 2, 3

598 Ia, q. 50. a. 4. 

599 Ipsum esse irreceptum est subsistens et unicum. Ia, q. 7, a1; 
q. 11, a. 3

600 Ia, q. 12, a. 4

601 Ia, q. 55, a. 3

602 Ia, q. 58, a. 3

603 Componendo et dividendo

604 Ia, q. 58, a. 4. 

605 Ia, q. 57, a. 3, 4, 5

606 Nihil volitum nisi praecognitum ut conveniens, et nihil 
praevolitum nisi praecognitum ut convenientius hic et nunc

607 Ia, q. 60, a. 5. 

608 Ia, q. 63, a. 1, ad 3;De malo, q. 16, a. 3

609 Ia, q. 62, a. 4, 5; q. 63, a. 5, 6

610 Ia, q. 64, a. 2. 

611 De civ. Dei, XII, 9. Cf. Ia, q. 62, a. 3. 

612 Ia, q. 64, a. 1, ad 4

613 Angelus post primum actum caritatis quo beatitudinem 
(supernaturalem) meruit, statim beatus fuit. Ia, q. 62, a. 5. 

614 This instant is already the one unique instant of eternity

615 Ia, q. 63, a. 3

616 Cf. De ver..: q. 29, a. 7, ad 5

617 IIIa, q. 59, a. 6

618 See Cajetan, Banez, John of St. Thomas, the Carmelites of 
Salamanca, Gonet, and Billuart

619 Cf. Mandonnet, Siger de Brabant et l'Averoisme latin au XIIIe 
siecle, and ed.: Louvain, 1908-10. Introd. and chap. 6; also 
Denifle, Chartularium univ. parisien.: I, 543

620 De anima, III, Venice, 1550, p. 165. 

621 De unitate intellectus contra averroistas

622 In De anima intellectiva

623 Mandonnet, op. cit.: pp. 112 ff

624 Ia, q. 75. 

625 Ibid.: a. 5

626 See the saint's commentaries on Aristotle, Met.: 1, lect. 10; 
III, lect. 7; VI, lect. I; VIII, lect. I; XII, lect. 2. 

627 Ia, q. 75, a. 2

628 Ibid.: a. 6

629 Ibid. Intellectus apprehendit esse absolute et secundum omne 
tempus. Unde omne habens intellectum desiderat esse semper. 
Naturale autem desiderium non potest esse inane. Omnis igitur 
intellectualis substantia est incorruptibilis

630 Id quod operatur independenter a materia, paritcr est et fit 
seu potius producitur independenter a materia. Ia, q. 118, a. 2. 

631 Ia, q. 12, a. 4, ad 3

632 See Ia, q. 85, a. 7, for proof that the soul of man is 
specifically distinct from the angels

633 Per se subsistit anima humana quae, cum subjecto sufficienter 
disposito potest infundi, a Deo creatur, et sua natura 
incorruptibilis est atque immortalis. 

634 Immaterialitatem necessario sequitur intellectualitas, et ita 
quidem ut secundum gradus elongationis a materia, sint quoque 
gradus intellectualitatis

635 Disp. met.: V, 5; XXX, 14, 15

636 Ia, q. 76

637 Sequitur quod Socrates non sit unum simpliciter nec ens 

638 Ia, q. 76, a. 1

639 Ibid

640 Ibid.: ad 5

641 Ibid.: ad 6

642 Ibid.: a. 2

643 Ibid.: a. 2, ad 1, 2

644 Like a company of soldiers. [Tr. ] Ibid.: a. 3, 4

645 Ibid.: a. 4: Forma substantialis dat esse simpliciter

646 Ex actu et actu non fit unum per se in natura

647 Ex potentia essentialiter ordinata ad actum et ex actu potest 
fieri aliquid per seunum, ut ex materia et forma. Cf. Cajetan, In 
Iam, q. 76, a. 3

648 Ibid

649 We hear at times the expression: The human soul is only 
virtually sensitive and vegetative. The expression would be 
correct if used of God who causes these qualities. But God, since 
He cannot be the form of our body, cannot be, like the soul, 
formally vegetative and sensitive

650 Ia, q. 77, a. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6

651 Ia, q. 76, a. 5

652 Eadem anima rationalis ita unitur corpori, ut sit ejusdem 
forma substantialis unica, et per ipsam habet homo ut sit homo ut 
anirnal et vivens et corpus et substantia et ens. Tribuit igitur 
anima homini omnem gradum perfectionis essentialem; insuper 
cornmuni. cat corpori actum essendi, quo ipsa est

653 Disp. met.: XIII. 13, 14. 

654 See especially Cajetan, In Iam, q. 75, 76, where with great 
penetration he defends the doctrine of St. Thomas against Scotus. 
All conclusions of St. Thomas follow from the principles of 

655 Ia, q. 77 ff

656 De tribus principiis doctrinae sancti Thomae. The first 
fundamental truth he formuLates thus: Ens est transcendens seu 
analogum. The second thus: Deus est actus purus

657 Relativum spccificatur ab absoluto ad quod essentialiter 

658 A. Reginald did not get to write this third part of his work

659 Ia, q. 54, a. 1, 2, 3; q. 77, A. 1, 2, 3. 

660 Disp. met.: XIV, 5

661 Ia, q. 77, a. 4, 5; q. 79

662 Ia, q. 80, a. 2

663 Ia, q 77, A. 5. 

664 IA, q. 84-88. 

665 Ia, q. 83; Ia IIae, q. 10 a. 1, 2, 3, 4. 

666 Concordia, q. 14, a. 13, disp. II, init.: Paris, 1876, p. 10. 
Illud agens liberum dicitur quod positis omnibus requisitis ad 
agendum potest agere et non agere

667 Op.: cit.: pp. 318, 356, 459, 550, etc. 

668 Si proponatur voluntati aliquod objectum, quod non secundum 
quamlibet considerationem sit bonum non ex necessitate voluntas 
fertur in illud. Ia IIae, q. 10, a. 2

669 Libertas est indifferentia dominatrix voluntatis erga objectum 
a ratione propositum ut non ex omni parte bonum

670 De ver.: q. 22, a. 5

671 Intellectum sequitur, non praecedit, voluntas, quae necessario 
appetit id quod sibi praesentatur tamquam bonum ex omni parte 
explens appetitum; sed inter plura bona, quae judicio mutabili 
appetenda proponuntur, libere eligit. Sequitur proinde electio 
judicium practicum ultimum at quod sit ultimum voluntas efficit. 

672 Disp. met.: XIX. 6

673 Qualis unusquisque est talis finis videtur ei conveniens

674 Dieu, son existence et sa nature, 6th ed.: pp. 590-657

675 Ia, q. 89

676 Cf. Ia, q. 76, a. 2, ad 2; q. 118, a. 3; Cont. Gent.: II, 75, 
80, 81, 83

677 Quod potest compleri et explicari per pauciora principia, non 
fit per plura

678 Ia, q. 51, a. 1; q. 55, a. 2; q. 76, a. 5

679 Suppl q. 75

680 De potentia, q. 6, a. 7, ad 4

681 Ia, q. 89

682 Ibid.: a. 2

683 Ibid.: a. 8. 

684 Cf. Cont. Gent.: IV, 95. 

685 Ia, q. 93

686 Bk. II, dist. XX, q. 2, a. 3. Alii vero dicunt quod homo in 
gratia creatus est, et secundum hoc videtur quod donum gratuitae 
justitiae ipsi humanae naturae collatum sit; unde cum transfusione 
naturae etiam infusa fuisset gratia

687 In II Sent.: dist. XXIX, q. 1, a. 2. 

688 De malo, q. 4, a. 2, ad 17: Originalis justitia includit 
gratiam gratum facientem, nec credo verum esse quod homo sit 
creatus in naturalibus puris

689 q. 5, a. 1, ad 13: (Juxta quosdam) gratia gratum faciens non 
includitur in ratione originalis justitiae, quod tamen credo esse 
falsum, quia cum originalis justitia primordialiter consistat in 
subjectione humanae mentis ad Deum, quae firma esse non potest 
nisi per gratiam, justitia originalis sine gratia esse non potuit

690 Ia, q. 95, a. 1

691 Deus fecit hominem rectum. Eccles. 7: 30

692 Cum radix originalis justitiae, in cujus rectitudine factus 
est homo, consistat in subjectione supernaturali rationis ad Deum, 
quod est per gratiam gratum facientem, ut supra dictum est, 
necesse est dicere, quod si pueri nati fuissent in originali 
justitia etiam nati fuissent cum gratia. Non tamen fuisset per hoc 
gratia naturalis, quia non fuisset transfusa per virtutem seminis, 
sed fuisset collata homini statim cum habuisset animam rationalem. 
Ia, q. 100, a. 1, ad 2

693 Originalis justitia pertinebat primordialiter ad essentiam 
animae. Erat enim donum divinitus datum humanae naturae, quod per 
prius respicit essentiam animae quam potentias. Ia IIae, q. 83, a. 
2, ad 2

694 Sanctifying grace is the only infused habit in the soul's 

695 See Capreolus, In II Sent.: dist. XXXI, a. 3; Cajetan, In Iam 
IIae q. 83, a. 2, ad 2; Ferrariensis, In Cont. Gent.: IV, 52; 
Soto, the Salmanticenses, Gonet, Billuart, etc

696 IIIa, q. 59, q. 1. 2, 3. 

697 Mors animae. Denz.: no. 175

698 Sess. V, can. 2 (Denz.: no. 789). 

699 Cf. Acta Conc. Trid.: ed. Ehses, p. 208. See also the 
preparatory schema for the Vatican Council: Collectio Lacensis pp. 
517, 549. Likewise Dict. de theol. cath.: s. v. Justice originelle

700 Totum genus hurnanum in sua radice et in suo capite (Deus) 
primitus elevavit ad supernaturalem ordinem gratiae... nunc vero 
Adae posteri ea privati sunt. Coll. Lac.: p. 549

701 Ia IIae, q. 80, a. 1: Sic igitur inordinatio, quae est in isto 
homine ex Adam generato, non est voluntaria voluntate ipsius, sed 
voluntate primi parentis

702 Ut dotes naturae. Cf. Ia IIae, q. 81, a. 3; also Billot, S. 
J.: De personali et originali peccato, 4th ed.: 1910, pp. 139-81; 
Hugon, O. P.: Tract. dogm.: I, 795, I, 795; De hom. prod. et 
elev.: II, 1-42

703 Aliquid unum per se in natura

704 Humana natura traducitur a parente in filium per traductionem 
carnis cui postmodum anima infunditur; et ex hoc infectionem 
incurrit quod fit cum carne traducta una natura. Si enim uniretur 
ci non ad constituendam naturam, sicut angelus unitur corpori 
assumpto, infectionem non reciperet. De potentia, q. 3, a. 9, ad 
3; cf. De malo, q. 4, a. 1, ad 2. 

705 Cf. Cont. Gent.: IV, 95

706 Nulla creatura est suum esse, sed habet esse

707 IIIa, q. 1. 

708 Cajetan, In IIIam, q. 1, a. 1

709 IIIa, q. 1, a. 3

710 Vi praesentis decreti

711 Ubique ratio incarnationis ex peccato primi hominis assignatur

712 For example, Matt. 18: 11; I Tim. 1: 15; John 3: 17. 

713 Luke 19: 10. 

714 Si homo non periisset, Filius hominis non venisset. Serm. 174, 
no. 2. Cf. St. Irenaeus, Contr. haer.: V, xiv, 1; St. John 
Chrysostom, In Ep. ad Hebraeos, hom. 5, no. 1

715 In carne passibili

716 De incarn.: disp. V, sect. 2, no. 13; sect. 4, no. 17

717 Ia, q. 19, a. 6, ad 1

718 See note 8 supra

719 Ordinate volens prius vult finem et propinquiora fini, quam 

720 Gonet, Godoi, the Salmanticenses, I. Billot, Hugon, etc. 

721 In IIIam, q. 1, a. 3. 

722 Finis cujus gratia

723 Finis cui (proficua est incarnatio). 

724 Finis cui

725 Causae ad invicem sunt causae, sed in diverso genere

726 Godoi, Gonet, the Salmanticenses. See Capreolus, In IIIam 
Sent.: dist. T, q. 1, a. 3; Cajetan, In Iam, q. 22, a. 2, no. 7. 

727 Nihil prohibet ad aliquid majus humanam naturam perductam esse 
post peccatum. Deus enim permittit mala fieri ut inde aliquid 
melius eliciat. Unde dicitur (Rom. 5: 20): Ubi abundavit delictum, 
superabundavit et gratia. Unde et in benedictione cerei paschalis 
dicitur: O felix culpa, quac talem ac tantum meruit habere 
redemptorem. IIIa, q. 1, a. 3, ad 3

728 Deus qui maxime parcendo et miserando omnipotentiam tuam 

729 cf. IIa IIae, q. 30, a. 4. 

730 Finis cui

731 Finis cujus gratia

732 Omnia enim vestra sunt, vos autem Christi, Christus autem Dei. 
I Cor. 3: 23

733 Ia, q. 20, a. 4, ad 1

734 See Isa. 9: 5 ff

735 Phil. 2: 8-10

736 Persona est rationalis naturae individua substantia

737 Ia, q. 29, a. 1

738 Sui juris

739 Suppositum, substantia prima

740 Ia, q. 29, a. 1, ad 2. 

741 John 14: 6

742 John 16: 15. 

743 In IIIam Sent.: dist. 1, q. 1, no. 5

744 Disp. met.: disp. XXXIV, sect. 1, 2, 4; De incarn.: disp. XI, 
sect. 3. 

745 In IIIam, q. 4, a. 2, no. 8

746 Sylvester de Ferraris, Victoria, Banez, John of St. Thomas, 
the Salmanticenses, the Complutenses Abbreviati, Goudin, Gonet, 
Billuart, Zigliara, del Prado, Sanseverino, the three cardinals 
Mercier, Lorenzelli, and Lepicier; Gardeil, Hugon, Gredt, etc

747 In quo natura singularis fit immediate capax existentiae, seu 
id quo aliquid est quod est

748 Ut est sub uno esse. 

749 De Verbo incarnato, 5th ed.: pp. 75, 84, 137, 140. 

750 See note 1

751 Post analyt.: II, 12, 13, 14

752 Scotus. See note 8

753 Natura haec

754 See IIIa, q. 2, ad. 2. 

755 Sub suo esse

756 Cf Cont. Gent.: II, 52

757 IIIa, q. 17, a. 2, ad 1: Esse consequitur naturam non sicut 
habentem esse, sed qua aliquid est; personam autem sequitur 
tamquam habentem esse

758 Cont. Gent.: II, 52: In omni creatura differt quod est 
(suppositum, persona) et esse

759 Ut sit immediate capax existendi in se et separatim

760 As Suarez holds

761 Aliquid unum per se ut natura

762 Ad aliquid unum per se ut suppositum

763 Post. analyt.: I, 4; comment.: lect. 10

764 Ia, q. 39, a. 3. ad 4

765 I Sent.: dist. XXIII, q. 1, a. 4, ad 4: Nomen personae 
imponitur a forma personalitatis quae dicit rationem subsistendi 
naturae tali. Cf. I Sent.: dist. IV, q. 2, a. 2, ad 4. 

766 IIIa, a. 4, a. 2, ad 3: Si natura non esset assumpta a divina 
persona, natura humana

767 See note 22

768 Ibid.: ad 3. 

769 Esse non est de ratione suppositi (creati): Quodl. II, q. 2, 
a. 4, ad 2. 

770 Principium quod existit et operatur

771 Alter ego

772 John 8: 58; 10: 30; 16: 15

773 IIIa, q. 2. a. 2. 

774 Ibid.: a. 6, ad 2

775 Ibid.: a. 2, ad 2, 3

776 Cf. Ia, q. 29, a. 3. 

777 IIIa, q. 2, a. 2, 6

778 Cf. Garrigou-Lagrange, Le Sauveur, Paris, 1933, pp. 92-129

779 In III Sent.: dist. II, q. 2, a. 2; q. 3: Sciendum est quod in 
unione humanae naturae ad divinarn nihil potest cadere medium 
unionem causans, cui per prius humana natura conjungatur quam 
divinae personae; sicut enim inter materiam et formam nihil cadit 
medium... ita etiam inter naturam et suppositum non potest aliquid 
dicto modo medium cadere. 

780 Ibid.: q. 2, a. 9. 

781 See IIIa, q. 17, a. 2, and the commentators

782 Ibid.: Impossibile est quod unius rei not sit unum esse

783 Cf. q. 2. a. 2, ad 2

784 IIIa, q. 17, a. 2. 

785 See note 47

786 Principium quod

787 IIIa, q. 7, a. 1. 

788 Denz.: no. 224. IIIa, q. 7, a. 10-12

789 See St. John's Gospel: 1: 18; 3: 11, 13; 8: 55; 17: 22

790 IIIa, q. 9, a. 2

791 Gratia capitis

792 Cf. Gonet, Clypeus, De incarn.: disp. XXII, a. 3; Hugon, O. 
P.: De Verbo incarn.: 5th ed.: 1927, p. 631. See also IIIa, q. 22, 
a. 2, ad 3; Bossuet, Elevations XIIIe sem.: 1st and 6th elevation

793 Latria: the adoration due to God alone. IIIa, q. 25, a2

794 IIIa, q. 58, a. 3; q. 59, a. 1, 2, 6. 

795 Pius XI, Quas primas, December 11, 1925 Cf. Denz.: no. 2194

796 IIIa, q. 24

797 Ibid.: a. 4; De ver.: q. 29, a. 7, ad 8; in joan.: 17: 24

798 IIIa, q. 48, a. 2: IIIe proprie satisfacit pro offensa, qui 
exhibet offenso id quod aeque vel magis diligit quam oderit 
offensam. Christus autem, ex caritate et obedientia patiendo, 
majus aliquid Deo exhibuit, quam exigeret recompensatio totius 
offensae humani generis

799 Cf. Salmanticenses, De incarn.: disp. XXVIII, de merito 
Christi, 2; John of St. Thomas, disp. XVII, a. 2; Gonet, De 
incarn.: disp. XXI, a. 4; Billuart, etc

800 Gutta Christi sanguinis modica, propter unionem ad Verbum, pro 
redemptione totius humani generis suffecisset. sic est infinitus 
thesaurus hominibus... propter infinita Christi merita. Denz. nos. 
550ff. ; IIIa, q. 46, a. 5, ad 3

801 IIIa, q. 18, a. 4; John of St. Thomas, De incarn.: XVI, a. 1; 
the Salmanticenses, Gonet, Billuart, etc. 

802 Libertas a necessitate

803 Libertas a coactione

804 Vol. II, cols. 142 ff. 

805 John 10: 17 ff. ; 14: 31; 15: 10. 

806 Phil. 2: 8; cf. Rom. 5: 19

807 IIIa, q. 18, a. 4, ad 3

808 As when He prayed: Father, let this chalice pass from Me. [Tr. 
] to that object was free, even while He responded sinlessly, 
without any deviation

809 IIIa, q 18, a. 4, ad 3: Voluntas Christi, licet sit 
determinata ad bonum, non tamen est determmata ad hoc vel illud 
bonum. Et ideo pertinet ad Christum eligere per liberum arbitrium 
confirmatum in bono, sicut ad beatos

810 For detailed exposition, see our work Le Sauveur et son amour 
pour nous, 1933, pop. 204-18

811 IIIa, q. 46, a. 6, 7, 8. 

812 Cf. Salmanticenses, De incarn.: disp. XVII, dub. 4, no. 47

813 IIIa, q. 46, a. 8 corp. and ad 1

814 Cf. Compend. theol. chap. 232

815 IIIa q. 48

816 Ibid.: a. 1

817 Ibid.: a. 2

818 Sacerdos et hostia

819 IIIa, q. 48, a. 3

820 Empti enim estis pretio magno: I Cor. 6: 20. Ibid.: a. 4

821 Ibid.: a. 5. 

822 Ibid.: a. 6, ad 3

823 Ibid.: a. 2

824 Ibid.: a. 5

825 IIIa, q. 27, a. 2, ad 2

826 IIIa, q. 46, a. 3, 4; q. 47, a. 2, 3

827 John 15: 13

828 Phil. 2: 8. 

829 IIIa, q. 17, a. 2

830 IIIa q. 27-30; Commentaries of Cajetan, Nazarius, J. M. Voste 
(1940). Cf. Contenson, Theol. mentis et cordis, Bk. X, diss. 6; N. 
del Prado, S. Thomas et bulla ineffabilis, 1919; E. Hugon, 
Tractatus theol.: II, 716-95, sth ed.: 1927; G. Friethoff, De alma 
socia Christi mediatoris, 1936; B. H. Merkelbach, Mariologia, 
1939; Garrigou-Lagrange, La Mere du Sauveur et notrc vie 
inte'rieure, 1941

831 IIIius Virginis primordia quae uno eodemque decreto cum 
divinae Sapientiae incarnatione fuerunt praestituta

832 In signo priori

833 Cf. Contenson, Hugon, Merkelbach, loc. cit. 5 Rom. 5: 20

834 Rom. 5: 20

835 IIIa, q. 1, a. 3, ad 3

836 IIIa, q. 2, a. 11, ad 3

837 In III Sent.: d. IV, q. 3, a. 1, ad 6. B. Virgo non muerit 
incarnationem, sed suppositaincarnatione meruit quod per eam 
fieret, non quidem merito condigni, sed merito congrui. Cf. 
Sylvius, BIIIuart, and Contenson, loc. cit

838 Second and Third Councils of Constantinople

839 Ia, q. 25, a. 6, ad 4: Beata Virgo, ex hoc quod est mater Dei 
habet quamdam dignitatem ex bono infinito quod est Deus; et ex hac 
parte non potest aliquid fieri melius sicut Lon potest aliquid 
esse melius Deo

840 IIa IIae, q. 103, a. 4, ad 2. 

841 Dulia: the cult due to any saint

842 Ripalda and Vega

843 With the Salmanticenses and Contenson

844 See Contenson, loc. cit.: IIa praerogativa; also Hugon and 
Merkelbach, loc. cit

845 Luke 11: 28

846 IIIa q. 30, a. 1

847 Cf. Hugon, loc. cit.: p. 734; M. J. Nicolas, "Le concept 
integral de la maternite divine" in Rev. thom.: 1937; Merkelbach, 
op. cit.: pp. 74-92, 297 ff

848 Suarez, Vasquez, the Salmanticenses, Gonet, Mannens, Pesch, 
Van Noort, Terrien

849 p. cit.: pp. 736 ff

850 Op. Cit.: pp. 64 ff. 

851 Nude spectata

852 S, Capponi a Porrecta (died 1614): John of St. Thomas (died 
1644): Curs. theol.: Spada, Rouart de Card, Berthier; in our days 
N. del Prado, Divus Thomas et bulla init. ; De approbatione 
doctrinae S. Thomae, d. II, a. 2; Noel Alexander; more recently, 
Ineffabilis Deus, 1919; Th. Pegues, Rev. thom.: 1909, pp. 83-87; 
E. Hugon, op. cit.: p. 748, p. Lumbreras, Saint Thomas and the 
Immaculate Conception, 1923; C. Frietoff, "Quomodo caro B. M. V. 
in peccato originali concepta fuerit" in Angelicum, 1933, pp. 
32144; J. M. Voste, Comment. in III p. Summae theol. s. Thomae; De 
mysteriis vitae Christi, 2nd ed.: 1940, pp. 13-20

853 Perrone, Palmieri, Hurter, Cornoldi

854 Among them we note: Suarez, Chr. Pesch.: I. BIIIot, I. 
Jannsens, Al. Lepicier, B. H. Merkelbach, op. cit.: pp. 127-30

855 Dict.. de theol. cath.: s. v. Freres Precheurs

856 See note 23. 

857 1253-54

858 In Iam Sens.: dist. XLIV, q. 1, a. 3, ad 3. 

859 Rom. 5: 18

860 Debitum culpae

861 IIIa, q. 33, a. 2.: ad 3. 

862 cito post: Quodl. VI, q. 5, a. 1

863 See note 23. 

864 See note 23

865 IIIa, q. 27, a. 2, ad 2. 

866 In IIIum, dist. III, q. 1, a. 1, ad 2. 

867 In particular, Del Prado and Hugon. 

868 Op. Cit.: pp. 129 ff

869 Quodl. VI q. 5, a. 1. 

870 Op. cit.: 2nd ed.: 1940, p. 18

871 See note 29. 

872 On Ps. 14: 2

873 Ps 18: 6. 

874 Cant 4: 7. 

875 Comp. theol.: chap. 224

876 Exposition Salutationis Angelicae, Piacenza, 1931 (a critical 
edition, by F. Rossi, C. M. ) 

877 April, 1273

878 Cf. C. Frietoff, loc. Cit.: p. 329; Mandonnet in Bulletin 
thomiste, January-March, Notes and communications, pp. 164-67

879 op. cit.: 2nd ed.: 1940, p. 19. 

880 In 1254, twenty years before his death. See note 29

881 IIIa, q. 27, a. 5

882 Ibid.: ad 2. 

883 Cf. Contenson, Monsabre, Hugon, Merkelbach

884 Heb. 10: 25 See the saint's commentary

885 Ex opere operato

886 In jure amicabili

887 Benedict XV (Denz.: no. 3034, no. 4): Filium immolavit, ut 
dici merito queat, ipsam cum Christo humanum genus redemisse. 

888 Denz.: no. 3034: B. Maria Virgo de congruo, ut aiunt, 
promeruit nobis quae Christus de condigno promeruit, estque 
princeps largiendarum gratiarum ministra

889 Ia IIae, q 114, a. 6

890 Proprie de congruo

891 Lex orandi, lex credendi

892 Traite de la vraie dcvotion a la sainte Vierge

893 IIIa, q. 62, a. 1-5

894 Ibid.: a. 4. 

895 Ibid.: a. 5. 

896 Instrumentum conjunctum

897 Instrumentum separatum

898 In IV Sent.: dist. XXVI, q. 2. 

899 IIIa, q. 65, a. 1

900 IIIa, q. 75 a. 2.

901 Ibid.

902 In IV, Dist. X, q. 1; dist. XI, q. 3. 

903 Bellarmine, De Lugo, Vasquez.

904 Part II, chap. 4, nos. 37-39. This catechism was edited by 
Dominican theologians.

905 Denz.: no. 834. Cf. Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, the 
Salmanticenses, N. del Prado, Billot, Hugon, etc. 

906 In IIIam, q. 75, a. 3, no. 8.

907 Ut est ex pane. 

908 Primum non esse panis.

909 Primum esse corporis Christi sub specibus panis. Ibid.: a. 7. 

910 Summa, IIIa, q. 75, a. 4, corp. and ad. 3. Cf. Cajetan.

911 Ibid.: a. 8.

912 Denz. nos. 877, 884.

913 Non sicut in loco, sed per modum substantiae. q. 76, a. 1, 2, 
3, 5.

914 IIIa, q. 77, a. 1, 2, 3.

915 IIIa, q. 83, a. 1. 

916 Epist. ad Bonifacium.

917 Cf. M. Lepin, L'idee du sacrificc de la messe, 2nd ed.: 1926, 
pp. 38, 51, 84-87, 103, 152. 

918 IV Sent.: dist. VIII, no. 2. 

919 Cf. Lepin, op. cit.: pp. 158 ff.: 164 ff. 

920 See note 1.

921 Ad Simplicianum, Bk. II, q. 3.

922 IIIa, q. 79, a. 1.

923 IIIa, q. 74, a. 1; q. 76, a. 2, ad. 1. 

924 Loc. cit.: a. l, 2nd obj.

925 Eph. 5: 2.

926 Opera, II, 183. Cf. Lepin, op. cit.: p. 248. 

927 Sess. XXII, chap. 1.

928 IIIa, q. 83, a. 1.

929 De missae sacrificio et ritu advcrsus Luthcranos, 1531, chap. 

930 Cursus theol.: De sacramentis, ed. Paris, 1667, XXXII, 285.

931 Cursus theol. (1679-1712, ed. Paris, 1882): tr. 23, disp. 13, 
dub. 1, no. 2; XVIII, 759. 

932 Meditations sur l'Evangile, La Cene, Part 1, 57th day.

933 Card. Billot and his followers, Tanquerey, Pegues, Heris, etc. 

934 Gonet, Billuart, Hugon. 

935 IIIa, q. 48, a. 3, ad 3: Non fuit sacrificium, sed maleficium.

936 In genere signi.

937 De civ. Dei, X, 5: Sacrificium visibile invisibilis sacrificii 
sacramentum. This text is often cited by St. Thomas; IIa IIae, q. 
81, a. 7; q. 85, a. 2, c. and ad 2. 

938 Christum passum.

939 Ia, q. 83, a. 1.

940 IIa IIae, q. 85, a. 3, ad 3. 

941 Sacrum and facere.

942 As he does when he says "Oremus."

943 Heb. 7: 25. 

944 IIIa, q. 82, a. 1.

945 Ibid.: a. 7, ad 3; q. 78, a. 1. 

946 IIIa, q. 82, a. 4.

947 IIIa, q. 82, a. 5, 6; q. 83, a. 1, ad 3.

948 With Scotus, Amicus, M. de la Taille.

949 Cf. IIIa, q. 62, a. 5. 

950 Denz.: no. 940.

951 Heb. 7: 25; Rom. 8: 34. Cf. IIa IIae, q. 83, a. 11. Cf. also 
the Salmanticenses, Cursus thcol.: De euchar. sacramcnto, disp. 
XIII, dub. 3, nos. 48, 50.

952 De incarn.: disp. XXII, a. 2.

953 Cf. our work, Lc Sauveur et son amour pour nous, Paris, 1933, 
pp. 356-85.

954 Cf. the Salmanticenses, De euch.: disp. XIII, dub. 1, no. 107.

955 IIa, q. 85, a. 3, 4; Suppl.: q. 1, a. 1; q. 2, a. l, 2, 3, 4. 

956 Sess. XIV, chap. 4.

957 Denz.: no. 1207. 

958 St. Augustine often sets these two words in mutual opposition.

959 Denz.: no. 1305: Attritio, quae gehennae et poenarum metu 
concipitur, sine benevolentia Dei propter se, non est bonus motus 
ac supernaturalis.

960 In IIIam, q. 85. See especially his opusculum, De contritione, 
reprinted in the Leonine edition of the Summa theol.: after 
Cajetan's cormnentary on the articles of St. Thomas relative to 

961 See opusculum, De contritione, q. 1. See also the 
Salmanticenses, De poenit.: disp. VII, no. 50; Billuart, De 
poenit.: diss. IV, a. 7; p. J. Perinelle, O. P.: L'attrition 
d'apres le concile de Trente et d'apres saint Thomas d'Aquin, 1927 
(Bibliotheque thomiste, X sect. theol, 1).

962 Attritio pure formidolosa.

963 Ethice bonus.

964 The Council of Trent, Denz.: no. 798. Note also, ibid.: no. 
898, that the Council speaks thus in a context which deals 
explicitly with the difference between attrition and contrition.

965 Loc. cit.: no. 50. See note 7. See also Billuart, De poenit.: 
diss. IV, a. 7,  3; also Perinelle, op. cit. This last work is a 
careful and well constructed study of the acts of the Council of 

966 Sess. VI, chap. 6; Denz.: no. 798.

967 Denz.: no. 898; Sess. XIV, chap. 4. See Perinelle, Op. Cit.

968 See note 12.

969 Sess. XIV, chap. 4.

970 IIIa, q. 85, a. 2, 3; q. 86, a. 3.

971 IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 1.

972 A living together.

973 Semen gloriae.

974 Opusc. De contritione, q. 1.

975 Sess. VI, chap. 6 (see note 12). 

976 Sess. VI, can. 16, 26, 32; Denz.: nos. 809, 836, 842.

977 Opusc. 5, De meritis mortificatis, disp. II. 

978 IIIa, q. 89, a. 5, ad 3.

979 Ia IIae q. 52, a. l, 2; q. 66, a. 1. 

980 IIIa, q. 89, a. 2.

981 Ia IIae, q. 52, a. 1, 2; q. 66, a. 1.

982 IIIa, q. 89, a. 5, ad 3.

983 De sacramentis, II, 5th ed.: p. 120.

984 In IIIam q. 89, a. 1, no. 4.

985 De merito disp. V, nos. 5, 6, 8.

986 De poenit.: diss. III, a. 5.

987 Thus Cardinal Billot and Father Gardeil, and more recently Ch. 
Journet, in his work, L'Eglisc du Verbe incarne, Vol. 1, Desclee, 
De Brouwer (Bruges, 1943). 

988 Christus ut caput ecclesiae: IIIa, q. 8.

989 Ibid.: a. 3. 

990 IIa IIae q. 1, a. 10; q. a, a. 6, ad 3; Quodl. IX, a. 16. 

991 Ia IIae q. 60, a. 6, ad 3.

992 IIa IIae, q. 10, a10; q. 12, a. 2. 

993 Turrecremata, Summa de ecclesia Cf. E. Dublanchy, 
"Turrecremata, et la pouvoir du pape dans les questions 
temporelles, " in Rev. thom.: 1923, pp. 74-101. 

994 Other noteworthy works in this field: Cajetan, De auctoritate 
papae et concilii; Cano, De locis theologicis. More recently: De 
Groot, O. P.: Summa de ecclesia, 3rd ed.: Ratisbonne, 1906; 
Schultes, O. P.: De ecclesia catholica, Paris, 1926; Garrigou-
Lagrange, De revelatione per eccl. cath.: proposita, Rome, 3rd 
ed.: 1935; A. de Poulpiquet, O. P7 L'Eglise catholique, Paris, 

995 Bk. IV, chaps. 91-96. In particular, chap. 95.

996 See, again, in chap. 91: Statim post mortem animae hominum 
recipiunt pro meritis vel poenam vel praemium.

997 In Iam, q. 64, a. 2, no. 18. 

998 In Cont. Gent.: chap. 95.

999 De gratia, de merito, disp. 1, dub. IV, 36.

1000 John 9: 4. See II Cor. 5: 10.

1001 Per primum non esse viae.

1002 Ia IIae, q. 5, a 4.

1003 Ia IIae, q. 1-5. 

1004 Cf. A. Gardeil, Dict. theol.: s. v. Beatitude, cols. 510-13.

1005 Ia IIae, q. 1. 

1006 See our work, Le realisme du principe de finalite, Paris, 
1932, pp. 260-85.

1007 In Iam IIae, q. 2, a. 7. 

1008 Cf. Ia, q. 60, a. 5; IIa IIae, q. 26, a. 4. 

1009 Ia IIae, q. 3, a. 4-8.

1010 Ibid.: q. 4, a. 1-8. We have treated above the beatific 
vision (Ia, q. 12, a. 1) and the natural desire, conditioned and 
inefficacious, to see God without medium.

1011 IIa IIae, q. 6-21; cf. A. Gardeil, Dict. theol. cath.: s. v. 
Actes humains; Dom Lottin, O. S. B.: "Les elements de la moralite 
des actes chez saint Thomas" in Rev. neo-scholast.: 1922, 1923.

1012 Ia IIae, q. 8-17.

1013 Primum velle: q. 8, a. 2. 

1014 q. 12.

1015 q. 11. 

1016 q. 15.

1017 q. 13.

1018 q. 19, a. 3. 

1019 q. 19, a. 3.

1020 q. 14.

1021 q. 13, a. 3; q. 14, a. 6.

1022 q. 17. 

1023 q. 16, a. 1. 

1024 q. 18. 

1025 q. 19.

1026 q. 20.

1027 q. 21.

1028 q. 18, a. 2, 3, 4.

1029 Ibid.: a. 8, 9.

1030 Cf. Ia IIae, q. 11I, a. 2. 

1031 Ia, q. 79, a. 9, ad 4; IIa IIae, q. 1, a. 4; q. 2, a. 1. 

1032 Ia IIae, q. 57, a. 5, ad 3: per conformitatem ad appetitum 

1033 In Iam IIae, q. 19, a. 6 (1577). 

1034 Dict. de theol. cath.: s. v. Freres Precheurs, col. 919.

1035 Ibid.: s. v. Probabilisme.

1036 Tractatus de conscientia, Paris, ed. by A. Gardeil, O. P. 

1037 In dubio standum est pro quo stat praesumptio. Cf. M. 
Prummer, O. P.: Manuale theol. mor.: Freiburg-in-B.: 1915, I, 198.

1038 As does p. Deman, O. P.: Dict. theol. cath.: s. v. 

1039 Ia IIae q. 57, a. 5, ad 3.

1040 Ibid.: q. 24, a. 3.

1041 Ibid.: q. 26-28.

1042 IIa IIae, q. 184, a. 3.

1043 Ia IIae, q. 49-54.

1044 Objectum quod.

1045 Objectum quo.

1046 For more detailed treatment, see Act. Pont. academiae romanae 
S. Thomae, 1934, especially our article, "Actus specificantur ab 
objecto formali, " pp. 139-53.

1047 Ia IIae, q. 54, a. 2.

1048 Initium fidei et salutis.

1049 Ia IIae, q. 57.

1050 Recta ratio agibilium.

1051 Recta ratio factibilium.

1052 Ia IIae, q. 58-61.

1053 Ibid.: q. 62.

1054 Ibid.: a. 1.

1055 Ibid.: q. 63, a. 4.

1056 Ibid. 

1057 1 Cor. 9:27.

1058 Eph. 2:19.

1059 In statu virtutis.

1060 Ia IIae, q. 54. 

1061 q. 68.

1062 Rom. 5:5; q. 68, a. 5.

1063 q. 66, a. 2.

1064 q. 71-89.

1065 q. 79, a 1-4.

1066 q. 84.

1067 q. 72, a. 1.

1068 q. 88, a 1, corp. and ad 1.

1069 q. 85-87.

1070 q. 89. a. 1. 

1071 q. 88. a. 3.

1072 q. 87, a. 5. 

1073 Cf. the Salmanticenses, Cursus theol.: De peccatis, tr. XIII, 
disp. XIX, dub. I, nos. 8, 9; De incarn.: in IIIam, q. 15, a. 1, 
de impeccabilitate Christi.

1074 q. 81-82.

1075 q. 82, a. 3. 

1076 q. 83, a. 2-4. For further detail, see above, where we 
treated of man and original justice. 

1077 q. 90, a. 4.

1078 q. 92, a. 2. 

1079 q. 93, a. 1. 

1080 q. 94, a. 2.

1081 q. 106, a. 1. 

1082 q. 107.

1083 q. 95. a. 3. 

1084 q. 96, a. 4.

1085 Theod.: II, 176.

1086 See Dict. de theol. cath.: s. v. Gerson.

1087 Ia IIae, q. 109. 

1088 Ibid.: a. 1. 

1089 Supernaturalis quoad substantiam vel essentiam.

1090 Cf. the Salmanticenses, John of St. Thomas, Gonet, Billuart, 
on Ia IIae, q. 109, a. 1. 

1091 IIa IIae, q. 2, a. 5, ad 1.

1092 Ia IIae, q. 109, a. 2.

1093 Ibid.: a. 3.

1094 Cf. Billuart, De gratia, diss. II, a. 3.

1095 q. 109, a. 4.

1096 Ibid.: a. 8. 

1097 Ibid.: a. 6; q. 112, a. 3.

1098 John 6:44. 

1099 Lam. 5:21. 

1100 Ia IIae, q. 109, a. 6; q. 112, a. 3.

1101 In Jo.: tr. 26.

1102 q. 109, a. 7. 

1103 De dono perseverantiae.

1104 II Pet. 1:4. 

1105 De amore Dei, q. 20, a. 2.

1106 Rom. 5:5. 

1107 John 4:14.

1108 I John 3:9.

1109 Semen gloriae.

1110 q. 110, a. 2.

1111 Sess. VI, can. 11; chap. 16.

1112 q. 110, a. 1-4; q. 112, a. 1.

1113 Deitas ut sic est super ens et unum, super esse, vivere, 

1114 See our treatise, "La possibilite de la grace est-elle 
rigoureusement demontrable? " in Rev. thom.: March, 1936; also our 
work, Le sens du mystere, Paris, 1937, pp. 224-33.

1115 Ia IIae, q. 113, a. 9, ad 2.

1116 IIa IIae, q. 24, a. 3, ad 2.

1117 Ia IIae, q. 113, a. 3.

1118 Ibid.: a. 4. 

1119 Ibid.: q. 111. 

1120 Gratiae gratis datae.

1121 In I Tim. 2:6.

1122 Ia, q. 23, a. 5, ad 3.

1123 Ia IIae, q. 106, a. 2, ad 2. 

1124 Eph. 3:7. 

1125 Cf. Ia IIae, q. 109, a. l, 2, 9, 10; q. 113, a. 7, 10.

1126 IIa IIae, q. 2, a. 5, ad 1.

1127 Ia IIae, q. 79, a 2.

1128 Prov. 1:24; cf. Isa. 65:2. 

1129 Matt. 23:37.

1130 Acts 7:51; cf. II Cor. 6:1.

1131 I Tim. 2: 4.

1132 Sess. VI, chap. II; Denz.: no. 804.

1133 De nat. et gratia, chap. 43, no. 50.

1134 Ezech. 36:26-28.

1135 Ecclu. 33:13; cf. Esth. 13:9; 14:13.

1136 John 10:27.

1137 Phil. 2:13.

1138 Denz.: no. 182.

1139 Ia, q. 19, a. 6, ad 1. 

1140 134: 6.

1141 Against Gottschalk. Cf. PL, CXXVI, 123.

1142 See our work, La predestination des saints et la grace 1936, 
pp. 257-64, 341-45, 141-69. Cf. "Le fondement supreme de la 
distinction des deux graces suffisante et efiicace" in Rev. thom.: 
May-June, 1937; "Le dilemme: Dieu determinant ou determine, " 
Ibid.: 1928, pp. 193-210.

1143 I Cor. 4: 7. 

1144 Ia, q. 20, a. 4.

1145 Concordia, Paris, 1876, pp. 51, 565, 617ff.

1146 Potentia proxima et expedita.

1147 Cf. Hugon, De gratia, q. 4, no. 9. 

1148 De auxiliis, Bk. III, disp. 80. All Thomists, even the most 
rigorous, agree with him. See Gonet, Clypeus, De vol. Dei, disp. 
4, no. 147.

1149 Cf N. del Prado, De gratia, 1907, III, 423.

1150 Traite du libre arbitre, chap. 8.

1151 De gratia, diss. V, a. 4. 

1152 Cf. Lemos, Panoplia gratiae, Bk. IV, tr. 3, chap. 6, no. 78.

1153 Word of St. Prosper, preserved by the Council of Quiersy; 
Denz.: no. 318.

1154 q. 112, a. 1.

1155 I Kings 7: 3.

1156 q. 112, a. 3.

1157 Ibid.: a. 4.

1158 I Cor. 4:4.

1159 Ia IIae, q. 113.

1160 Ibid.: a. 1. 

1161 Ibid.: a. 2.

1162 Sess. VI, chap. 7, can 10, 11.

1163 Ia Iiae, q. 113, a. 4, 5.

1164 Gonet, for example.

1165 Ia IIae, q. 113, a. 8, ad 1, 2.

1166 In diverso genere, causae ad invicem sunt causae. Cf. Arist.: 
Mct. V, 2; comm. of St. Thomas, lect. 2. 

1167 See note 76.

1168 Mark 9: 40.

1169 Ia IIae, q. 114. Cf. Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, the 
Salmanticenses, Gotti, Billuart, N. del Prado, Hugon, etc.

1170 Reatus poenae.

1171 q. 114 a. 1-6.

1172 De condigno.

1173 De congruo proprie dictum.

1174 De congruo late dictum.

1175 Ia IIae, q. 114, a. 1.

1176 Ibid.: a. 6. 

1177 Ibid.: a. 3.

1178 Ia IIae, q. 114.

1179 Ibid.: 1-4. 

1180 Matt. 5:12.

1181 q. 114, a. 1, 3.

1182 Ibid.: a. 4.

1183 Ibid.: a. 8.

1184 Ibid.: a. 5.

1185 Ibid.: a. 7.

1186 Sess. VI, chap. 13.

1187 De dono persev. (chaps. 2, 6, 17). Cf. Rom. 14:4.

1188 q. 114 a. 9. 

1189 Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap. 16, and can. 32. 

1190 IIa IIae, q. 1-16.

1191 Ibid.: q. 1, a. 1.

1192 Veritas prima in dicendo.

1193 Veritas prima in intelligendo. See Vatican Council, Sess. 
III, chap. 3: Auctoritas Dei revelantis.

1194 IIa IIae, q. 1, a. 1.

1195 Ibid.: q. 2, a. 2. 

1196 Ibid.: q. 5, a. 1.

1197 Ibid.: q. 4, a. 1. 

1198 Ibid.: q. 6, a. 1.

1199 Ibid.: q. 5, a. 3, ad 1.

1200 Ibid.: q. 2, a. 2, ad 3.

1201 Credo Deo revelanti. 

1202 Credo Deum revelatum.

1203 Credo in Deum.

1204 IIa IIae, q. 2, a. 2, ad 3.

1205 Ibid.: q. 4, a. 8.

1206 Pius credulitatis affectus.

1207 In I Sent.: dist. III, q. 3, nos. 24f.

1208 In III Sent.: dist. XXXI, no. 4.

1209 Ibid.: dist. XXIII, q. 1, a. 8.

1210 Biel, In III Sent.: dist. XXIII, q. 2. 

1211 Concordia, q. 14, a. 13, disp. XXXVIII, Paris, 1876, p. 213. 

1212 De ente supernat.: Bk. III, dist. XLIV, no. 2; dist. XLV, no. 

1213 De fide, disp. IX, sect I, nos. 2, 3; disp. 1, sect. I, nos. 
77, 100, 104.

1214 De divina traditione, pp. 692, 616.

1215 Etudes sur le concile du Vatican, II, 75 ff.

1216 De gratia, Bk. II, chap. 11; De fide, Part 1, disp. III, 
sect. 6, 8, 12.

1217 Ultimo resolvitur. 

1218 Id quo et quod creditur.

1219 Id quo et quod videtur simul cum coloribus.

1220 In III Sent.: d. 24, q. 1, a. 3. 

1221 Credo Deo.

1222 Credo Deum.

1223 In lllam lIIae, q. 1, a. 1, no. 11. 

1224 See Ibid.: q. 2, a. 2. 

1225 I John 5:10.

1226 In Cont. Gent.: I, 6; III, 40,  3.

1227 De gratia, disp. XX, a. 1, nos. 7, 9; De fide q. 1, disp. 1, 
a. 2, nos. 1, 4. 

1228 De gratia, disp. 1, a. 2,  1, nos. 78, 79, 93; De fide, 
disp. 1, a. 2, no. 55.

1229 De gratia, disp. III, dub. 3, nos. 28, 37, 40, 45, 48, 49, 
52, 58, 60, 61; De fide, disp. 1, dub. 5, nos. 163, 169.

1230 De gratia, diss. III, a. 2,  2; De fide, diss. 1, a. l, obj. 
3, inst. 1. See also Gardeil, La credibilite et l'apologetique, 
2nd ed.: Paris, 1912, pp. 61, 92, 96, and in Dict. de theol. 
cath.: s. v. Credibilite. See also Scheeben, Dogmatik, 1,  40, 
nos. 681, 689;  44, nos. 779805. And for extended treatment, see 
our work, De revelatione, Rome, 3rd ed.: 1935, I, 458-511.

1231 In actu exercito.

1232 In actu signato.

1233 IIa IIae, q. 2, a 2, ad 3.

1234 Sess. III, chap. 3. 

1235 Cf. IIa IIae, q. s, a. 3, ad 1. See also John of St. Thomas, 
De gratia, disp. XX, a. 1, nos. 7-9; De fide, q. 1, disp. 1, a2, 
nos. 1-8; also the Salrnanticenses, De gratia disp. III, dub. 3, 
nos. 28-37, 40-49, 52-61.

1236 For more extended treatment, see our work, L'amour de dieu et 
la croix de Paris, 2nd ed.: 1939, 11, 575-97.

1237 IIa IIae, q. 8. 

1238 Ibid.: q. 9.

1239 Ibid.: q. 17-22.

1240 Ibid.: q. 17, a. 1, 2, 4, 5. Deus auxilians.

1241 Ibid.: a. 4.

1242 In IIam IIae, q. 17, a. 5, no. 6.

1243 Nobis et propter nos.

1244 IIa IIae, q. 18, a. 4.

1245 Ibid.: q. 22.

1246 Ibid.: q. 23-47.

1247 Ibid.: q. 23, a. 1, 2, 3, 5; q. 25, a. 1; q 27, a. 3.

1248 I will not now call you servants. But I have called you 
friends: John 15: 15.

1249 IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 1.

1250 Ibid.: q. 17, a. 3. 

1251 Ibid.: q. 27, a. 4.

1252 Ibid.: q. 26, a. 2, 3.

1253 Ibid.: q. 25, a. 1.

1254 Ibid.: q. 26, a. 1, 4-13.

1255 Ibid.: q. 23, a. 6. 

1256 Ibid.: a. 7, 8. See the Salmanticenses, Billuart, etc.

1257 Ibid.: q. 24, a. 4.

1258 Ibid.: a. 6, ad 1.

1259 Ibid.: q. 44, a. 1, 2.

1260 For extended treatment, see our work, L'amour de dieu et la 
croix de Jesus Paris, 2nd ed.: 1939, II, 597-632.

1261 Recta ratio agibilium.

1262 cf. IIa IIae, q. 47-57.

1263 Ibid.: q. 47, a. 8. 

1264 Qualis unusquisque cst, talis finis videtur ei. Cf. Ia IIae, 
q. 58, a. 5.

1265 Verum intellectus pratici est per conformitatem ad appetitum 
rectum. Ibid.: q. 57, a. 5, ad 3. 

1266 Cf. IIa IIae, q. 53. 

1267 Ibid.: q. 57-122.

1268 Ibid.: q. 61, a. 1, 2.

1269 Ibid.: q. s8, a. 6, 7; q. 60, a. 1, ad 4; q. 80, a. 8, ad 1. 

1270 Summum jus summa injuria. Ibid.: q. 80, a. 1, ad 3, 5; q. 
120, a. 1, 2. 

1271 Ibid.: q. 29, a. 3, ad 3.

1272 Ibid.: q 66, a. 2. 

1273 Cf. Ia IIae, q. 105, a. 2.

1274 See Dict. de theol. cath.: s. v. Propriete; see also the 
notes on IIa IIae, q. 66, in the French translation of the Summa 
published by the Revue des Jeunes.

1275 IIa IIae, q. 81-119.

1276 Ibid.: q. 123-41.

1277 Ibid.: q. 123, a. 6. 

1278 Ibid.: q. 124.

1279 Ibid.: q. 139. 

1280 Ibid.: q. 141.

1281 Ibid.: q. 143.

1282 Ibid.: q. 144, a. 1. 

1283 Ibid.: q. 152, a. 3.

1284 Ibid.: a. 4.

1285 Ibid.: q. 141-43.

1286 Ibid.: q. 141, a. 3.

1287 Ibid.: a. 6, ad 3. St. Thomas here explains the degrees 
enumerated by St. Anselm.

1288 Ibid.: a. 5.

1289 Ibid.: q. 163.

1290 Ibid.: a. 2.

1291 Ibid.: q. 166.

1292 IIa IIae, q. 184, a. 1.

1293 Ibid.: a. 3.

1294 John 13:35.

1295 Ia, q. 82, a. 3. 

1296 IIa IIae, q. 27, a. 4.

1297 Ibid.: q. 184, a. 3.

1298 I Tim. 1-5.

1299 Com. in I Pol.: chap. 3.

1300 De perfect. justitiae, chap. 8.

1301 Cf. Cajetan, In IIam, q. 184, a. 3; Passerini, Ibid.

1302 De statu perfectionis, chap. 11, nos. 15 f.

1303 Traite de l'amour de Dieu, Bk. III, chap. 1.

1304 Studiorum Ducem, June 29, 1923 (on St. Thomas) ; and Rerum 
omnium, January 26, 1923 (on St. Francis de Sales). 

1305 IIa IIae, q. 179 f.

1306 Ibid.: q. 188.

1307 Ibid.: q. 180, and 188, a. 6. 

1308 In statu perfectionis acquirendae.

1309 In statu perfectionis exercendae et communicandae.

1310 IIa IIae, q. 185, a. 4. 

1311 Gratiae gratis datae: IIa IIae, q. 171-78. 

1312 Ibid.: q. 173, a. 2.

1313 Ibid.: q. 173 f.

1314 Ibid.: q. 174, a. 3.

1315 For extended treatment see our work, De revel.: per cccl. 
cath. proposita, Rome, 1st ed.: 1918; 3rd ed.: 1935. Cf. 1, 153-
68; 11, 109-36. 

1316 IIa IIae, q. 171-74; De Veritate, q. 12. Father Pesch (De 
inspir. s. Script.: 1906, p. 159) writes thus: "St. Thomas Aquinas 
so elaborated the essence of biblical inspiration that the 
following centuries have hardly added anything of importance. " 
Leo XIII, in Providentissimus Deus, has added the weight of papal 
authority to the doctrine of Aquinas. Cf. Voste, De diuina inspir. 
et verit. s. Scripturae, 2nd ed.: Rome, 1932, pp. 46 ff. 

1317 IIa IIae, q. 171, a. 5; q. 173, a. 4. 

1318 Ibid.: q. 174, a. 2, ad 3; De veritate q. 12, a. 12, ad 10.

1319 Ibid.: q. 171, a. 2; q. 174, a. 3, ad 3; De veritate, q. 13, 
a. 1.

1320 Cf. Quodl. VII, a. 14. 

1321 Cf. Voste, op. cit.: pp. 76-105.

1322 Pius XII, in Divino afflante Spiritu, insists on deeper study 
of each inspired writer's personal character as a presupposition 
to full understanding of his message. [Tr. ] 

1323 For extended bibliography, see Voste, Op. cit.: who gives in 
particular the works of recent Thomists, Zigliara, Pegues, Hugon, 
de Groot, M. J. Lagrange, etc.

1324 Ia, q. 1, a. 3. 

1325 See Revue de "Universite d'Ottawa, Octoba-December, 1936. 

1326 Congreg. Stud. Sacr.: July 24, 1914. 

1327 See p. 6, note 2.

1328 May-June, 1917. Cf. Guido Mattiussi, S. J.: Le XXIV tesi 
della filosofia di S. Tommaso d 'Aquino approvata dalla S. Congr. 
degli studi, Rome, 1917; Hugon, OP.: Les vingtquatre theses 
Thomistes, Paris; Pegues, O. P.: Autour de saint Thomas, Paris, 
1918, where each Thomistic thesis is set contrary to the 
corresponding counterthesis.

1329 John 8:32.

1330 Wiener Kreis.

1331 Noesis noeseos.

1332 See our work, Dieu, son existence et sa nature, 6th ed.: pp. 

1333 We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder 
and an idea of welcome. Chesterton, Orthodoxy. [Tr. ] 

1334 Cf. Ia, q. 28, a2; IIIa, q. 17, a. 2, corp. and ad 3.

1335 Cf. Acta Apost. Sedis, VI, 383 ff.

1336 Proponantur veluti tutae normae directivae.

1337 Can. 1366,  2. 

1338 Les vingt-quatre theses thomistcs, Paris, Tequi, 1922. 

1339 Ibid.: p. vii. 

1340 P. Guido Mattiussi, S. J.: had written already in 1917 a work 
of first importance on this subject: Le XXIV tesi della filosofia 
di S. Tommaso d'Aquino approvate dalla SacraCongreg. degli Studi, 

1341 Parmenides. 

1342 Heraclitus.

1343 Real potency of movement, say, for example, in a billiard 
ball, is not the mere negation, the mere privation, of movement, 
nor even the simple possibility of existence; though the latter 
suffices for an act of creation, which does not presuppose any 
real subject, any real potency.

1344 Suarez holds that prime matter, since it is not pure 
potentiality, but involves a certain actuality, can exist without 
form. This view shows why he likewise maintains that our will is a 
virtual act, capable, without divine premotion, of passing to 
second act.

Leibnitz substitutes force for real potency, active or passive. In 
consequence, passive potency disappears and with it prime matter 
Movement too can no longer be explained as a function of 
intelligible being, primordially divided into potency and act. 
Further, force itself, supposed to explain all else, is a simple 
object of internal experience, unattached to being, man's first 
intelligible notion. This dynamism of Leibnitz breaks on the 
principle that activity presupposes being. 

1345 la, q. 2, a. 3.

1346 Created person, like created essence, cannot be formally 
constituted by what belongs to it only as a contingent predicate. 
Now only as a contingent predicate does existence belong to a 
created person. Peter of himself is Peter, nothing more. He of 
himself is not existence, and in this he differs from God, who 
alone is His own existence. To deny the real distinction in 
creatures, of person, of suppositum, from existence is to 
jeopardize also the real distinction between essence and 
existence. In every created substance, says St. Thomas (Cont. 
Gent.: II, 52): quod est differs from existence. Quod est is the 
person, the suppositum. It is not the essence of Peter, it is 
Peter himself. Existence, says St. Thomas again (IIIa, q. 17, a. 
2, ad 1): follows person as that which has existence. Now if 
existence follows person, it cannot constitute person. Each of the 
two concepts, created person and created existence, is a distinct 
and irreducible concept.

1347 la, q. 14, a. 1. 

1348 Cf. IIIa, q. 17, a. 2, ad 3.

1349 See above the words of Benedict XV (note 2). 

1350 "La theologie dogmatique hier et aujourd'hui" in Nouvelle 
revue theologique, 1929, p. 810.

1351 Pascendi and Sacrorum Antistitum.

1352 We may seem to repeat commonplaces. But, in fact, these 
truths are seldom treated in relation to the problem of 

1353 Cf. Denz.. nos. 1659 ff.

1354 Ibid.: no. 570.

1355 Ibid.: nos. 553ff.

1356 Cf. Olgiati, La filosofia di Descartes, 1937, preface and pp. 
26, 66, 175 f.: 241, 322 f.

1357 We must add here a remark of Msgr. Noel of Louvain. In his 
work, Le realisme immediate, 1938 (chap. 12, "La valeur reelle de 
l'intelligence"): he has kindly quoted us often. We are 
essentially in accord with his view. But we must note that we are 
speaking here, not precisely of the real intrinsic possibility, 
say, of a circle, but of the real impossibility of a contradictory 
thing, a squared circle, for example. And we say that this 
impossibility is real and absolute, and that even by miracle it 
can have no exception. This necessity is not hypothetical as when 
we say: It is necessary to eat, even though we know that by a 
miracle a man could live without eating. The necessity we speak of 
is objective and absolute

1358 Met.: IV, 3. 

1359 Msgr. Noel, in the work just cited (see note 6) writes (p. 
253): "We must not drink too freely the conquering allurement of 
certain formulas. True, the essential necessities seen by the 
intellect dominate all reality. They transcend all the limits of 
experience, since they rule the metaphysical order. But of 
themselves they do not in any positive way furnish us any 

Msgr. Noel means that the principle of contradiction is not an 
existential judgment, and we have never affirmed that it is. He 
who here drinks too freely is the absolute realist after the 
manner of Parmenides. He was really drunk on being, when he 
affirmed that the universal exists just as it is conceived, when 
he confounded God's being with being in general. But, without 
drunkenness, or even tipsiness, limited realism affirms that he 
who denies or doubts the objective and absolute validity of the 
principle of contradiction will find every existential judgment 
invalid, including "I think. " Further, whenever we affirm the 
objective validity of the principle of contradiction, we have 
simultaneously within us a spontaneous and indistinct judgment of 
our own existence and of the existence of the body from which we 
draw the notion of being. There is a mutual relation between the 
subject matter of our knowledge (the sense object present) and the 
form under which the principle of contradiction conceives that 
matter. So close is this relation that to doubt the principle is 
to see vanish every existential judgment, just as matter cannot 
exist without form. 

1360 See the illuminating article of Al. Roswadowski, S. J.: "De 
fundamento metaphysico nostrae cognitionis universalis secundum S. 
Thomam" (Acta secundi Congressus thomistici internationalis): 
Rome, 1936, pp. 103-12.

1361 Cf. Ia, q. 44, a. 1, ad 1.

1362 In this formula the contradiction is less flagrant than if we 
said: Contingency is incompatible with non-contingency. But the 
most dangerous contradictions are hidden contradictions (which 
abound in Spinoza). To deny the tenth characteristic of a circle 
is less evidently contradictory than to deny its definition, but 
it is still a contradiction.

1363 Cf. Ia, q. 88, a. 3; q. 76, a. 5. 

1364 Cf. Ia, q. 44, a. 1, ad I. For the principle of finality, 
which we do not treat here see our work, Le realisme du principe 
de finalite, 1932.

1365 See Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie, 
revised by the members of the Societe francaise de philosophie, 

1366 Methode, 1, 7.

1367 See note I.

1368 Bulletin de le Societe francaise de philosophie, session of 
May 7, 1908, p. 294.

1369 See Vocabulaire technique...: s. v. Pragmatisme, p. 611.

1370 Dogme et critique, p. 25. 

1371 Denz.: no. 2026.

1372 De veritate, q. 1, a. 1, 3, 5, 8, 10; la, q. 16, a. 1.

1373 Denz.: no. 2080.

1374 "Point de depart de la recherche philosophique" in Annales de 
philosophie chretienne, June 15, 1906, p. 235. 

1375 J. de Tonquedec, in his book Immanence, 1913, pp. 27-59, 
shows the limitless consequences, unforeseen by its author, of the 
new definitions. Here is one sentence from Tonquedec: "It will no 
longer be possible to demonstrate by argument (independently o 
action) the existence of God or the reality of the supernatural or 
the fact of divine intervention" (p. 28). 

1376 Denz, no. 2058.

1377 This reproach addressed to the philosophy of action was 
expressed already in 1896 by our teacher, Father Schwalm, O. P.: 
in Rev. thom.: 1896, pp. 36 ff.: 413; 1897, pp. 62 239, 627, 1898, 
p. 578. We ourselves expressed the same view (in the same review, 
1913, pp. 351-71.

1378 La science et l'hypothese, pp. 112-19. 

1379 See our book, Dieu, 5th ed.: p. 778

1380 Being is being, non-being is non-being, or, being is not non-

1381 Everything that exists has its raison d'etre, intrinsic or 

1382 Every contingent being depends on an efficient cause.

1383 Every agent, including natural agents not endowed with 
cognition, acts for an end.

1384 Rom. 8:16.

1385 IIa Ilae, q. 8, a. 1, 2, q. 45, a. 2.

1386 This conception, that theology is nothing but a spirituality 
which has developed its own regimen of intelligibility, comes in 
great measure from John Moehler, in particular from his book, Die 
Einheit in der Kirche, oder das Princip des Katholizismus 
(Tubingen, 1825). This book would call for a critical and 
theological study to correct its deviations. It reduces faith to 
religious experience. Cf. Dict. theol. cath.: s. v. Moehler, cols. 

1387 la IIae, q. 57, a. 5, ad 3. 

1388 Ethica, VI, 2.

1389 la IIae, q. 19, a. 3, ad 2.

1390 Ethica, VI, 2.

1391 In the corpus he had argued: Goodness in the will, speaking 
properly, depends onthe object aimed at by the will. Now the 
will's object is proposed to it by the reason. Hence goodness in 
the will depends on the reason, just as it depends on its object. 

1392 Denz.: no. 2058.

1393 See note 10.

1394 L'Etre and les etres, 1935, p. 415.

1395 Ia IIae, q. 17, a. 6: In truths to which the intellect 
assents naturally, in first principles, we cannot choose between 
assent or dissent, but our necessary assent is a work of nature.

1396 Ibid.: ad I, 2. 

1397 La science et la religion, 1908, p. 290.

1398 Cf. De veritate, q. 1, a. 1.

1399 We hold that St. Thomas would see, in this replacement of the 
traditional definition of truth by the pragmatic definition, an 
insensate enterprise, an unlimited imprudence, fated to destroy 
all truth, even that of prudent judgment, which presuppose a 
higher truth. 

We speak thus to young seminarians, who, fearing not to be up to 
date, prefer the doctrine of Maurice M. Blondel, or even that of 
Henri Bergson, to the doctrine of St. Thomas. Now it is easy, 
without being a prophet, to foresee that a hundred years hence 
Henri Bergson will be forgotten, whereas St. Thomas, like St. 
Augustine, will live forever. 

Bergson, we admit, the author of Matiere et memoire and of Donnees 
immediates de la conscience, has indeed liberated many minds from 
materialism and mechanism, but his book, L'evolution creatrice, 
has drawn many others away from higher certitudes, especially 
during the epoch of modernism. I seem to hear him still, as, in 
1904-1905, at the College de France, he was explaining Book XIl of 
Aristotle's Metaphysics. His commentary on Aristotle's proofs for 
God's existence ran thus: "Gentlemen, it is astounding that 
Aristotle seeks to explain motion by aught else than itself, 
whereas for us motion explains everything else. "

These words say, equivalently, that what is in process of becoming 
is more than what is, more even than He who eternally is being 
itself. To compare Bergson with Aquinas is to compare a pretty 
villa with a Gothic cathedral. Surely it has been justly said, 
"Anyone not informed by ancient learning can never read such works 
without danger. "

1400 Rev. de met. et de mor.: July, 1907, pp. 448 f. 

1401 Cf. Dieu, son existence et sa nature, 7th ed.: pp. 133 ff.: 
156 ff.: where we examine the theories of Bergson and Le Roy. 

1402 These positions return to that of Nicholas d'Outrecourt, who 
held that all first principles are merely probable. As one example 
of many who agree with us, see M. J. Maritain, Reflexions sur 
l'intelligence, 1924, chap. 3, pp. 78-141. See also p. Descoqs, 
Praelect. theol. naturalis, 1932, 11, 287ff. ; 1, 150. P. Descoqs 
quotes a long passage from Archambault, one of the most faithful 
of Blondel's disciples, and compares it with a proposition 
condemned by the Holy Office in 1924. 

1403 Cursus philos.: II, 341. 

1404 Philosophers are often better than their philosophy. Hume, to 
escape from his skepticism, would play billiards. Stuart Mill, to 
escape empiricism, would assume the viewpoint of religion. Beneath 
the philosopher, or rather above, is the man, the Christian. But 
the question remains: Does not his philosophy lead men away from 
wisdom rather than toward it? The Church thus questioned the 
philosophy of that holy priest whom we call Antonio Rosmini. 

1405 Acta Acad. rom. S. Thomae, p. 51. 

1406 Ibid.: pp. 174-78.

1407 Conformity of mind with life must replace the abstract and 
chimerical conformity of intellect with reality (Annales phil. 
chre't.: 1906, p. 235). Metaphysics has its essence in the acting 
will. It reaches truth only under this experimental point of view. 
It is the science of what is to be rather than of what is 
(L'Action, 1893, p. 297). 

Accord of thought with reality must be replaced by immanent 
conformity of ourselves with ourselves (L'illusion idealiste, 
1898, pp. 12, 17). 

1408 We quoted his retraction in Acta. Acad.: 1935, p. 54.

1409 La pensee, 1, 39, 130, 131, 136, 347, 355.

1410 Ibid.: II, 39, 65, 67, go, 96, 196. 

1411 See the condemned propositions of Nicholas d'Outrecourt 
(Denz.: nos. 553 f.: 558 567, 570). See also the propositions 
condemned by the Holy Office (December, 1924): in Monitore 
ecclesiastico, 1925, p. 194, in Documentation catholique, 1925, I, 
771 ff.: and in Descoqs, Praelect. theol. nat.: 1932, I, 150, 11, 
287 ff. 

1412 We have, we may add, always admitted, as valid proof of God's 
existence, man's desire for happiness (see la IIae, q. 2, a. 8). 
But this proof presupposes the ontological validity of the 
principle of finality; every agent, and in a special manner the 
rational agent, acts for a purpose. 

1413 Cf. Ia IIae, q. 19, a. 3, ad 2. 

1414 See our review of his work in Rivista di filosofia 
neoscolastica, January, 1944, pp. 63-67.

1415 In IIIam, q. 4, a. 2. 

1416 Op. cit.: p. 158.

1417 We treated this question as early as 1909 (Sens commun, la 
philosophie de l'etre et les formules dogmatiques, 5th ed.: pp. 
365-77). A recent defense of Cajetan's view appears in Acta Acad. 
rom. S. Thomae, 1938, pp. 78-92. 

1418 See Tabula aurea, s. v. suppositum, persona, personalitas, 
modus, assumere, substantia, substantla pnma, subsistentia, quod 
est, quo est. 

1419 In omni creatura differt esse et quod est. Cont. Gent.: II, 

1420 Solus Deus est suum esse. Esse irreceptum est unicum.

1421 Distinctio realis inadequata.

1422 Distinctio realis adaequata.

1423 Esse consequitur naturam non sicut habentem esse, sed sicut 
qua aliquid est, personam autem seu hypostasim consequitur sicut 
habentem esse. IIIa, q. 17, a. 2, ad I. Ipsum esse non est de 
ratione suppositi: Quadl.: q. 2, a. 4, ad 2. In Deo tres personae 
non habent nisi unum esse: llla, q. 17, a. 2, ad 3. 

1424 I Sent.: d. 23, q. 1, a. 4, ad 4.

1425 la, q. 39, a. 3, ad 4.

1426 la, q. 3, a. 5, ad I. 

1427 IIIa, q. 4, a. 2, ad 3.

1428 De veritate q. 1, a. 1. 

1429 De potentia, q. 9, a. 2, ad 6. 

1430 As personality corresponds to person, so subsistence 
corresponds to "suppositum, " not to "subsistere. " The abstract 
noun corresponding to the concrete "subsistere" is "existentia 
substantiae. " An error of correlation has here beclouded the 

1431 In III Sent.: d. V, q. 3, a. 3,  2. 

1432 Here is, in reduced form, the argument of Cajetan: Requiritur 
aliquid reale et positlvum quo subjectum existens est id quod est 
(contra Scotum). Atque hoc non potest esse nec natura singularis, 
quae se habet ut quo, nec existentia quae est praedicatum 
contingens subjecti creati. Ergo requiritur aliquid aliud 
positivum, quae est ultirna dispositio naturae singularis ad 

1433 In IIIam, q. 2, a. 2, no. 8. 

1434 Cf. IIIa, q. 16, a. 1, 2. 

1435 Objicitur: Ex actu et actu not fit unum per se; sed natura 
individuata et personalitas sunt duo actus, ergo ex eis non fit 
unum per se Respondetur: Ex actu et actu non fit unum per se, 
scil. una natura in I modo dicendi per se, concedo; non fit unum 
suppositum, per se subsistens, in 3 modo dicendi per se, nego. 
Ita in Christo est unum suppositum, quamvis sint duae naturae. 

Insistitur: Sed anima separata est id quod existit, et tamen non 
est persona. 

Respondetur: Anima separata retinet suam essentiam, suam 
subsistentiam et suum esse, sic est id quod est; sed non retinet 
nomen personae, quia non est quod completum, sed pars principalis 
Petri aut Pauli defuncti. 

1436 See especially pp. 41-50, of the work cited above. 

1437 Ezech. 36: 27

1438 Ps. 134:6.

1439 Esther 13:9; 14:13, 15:11.

1440 See also Prov. 21: I; Ecclu. 33: 13, 24-47; John 10: 27; 17: 
2; Phil. 2:13. 

1441 Denz.: no. 182. 

1442 1 ad Bonif.: chap. 20

1443 Concordia, ed. Paris, 1876, pp. 51, 565. Cf. also the index, 
s. v. Auxilium. Cf. also Lessius, De gratia efficaci, chap. 18, 
no. 7: Not that he who accepts accepts by liberty alone but 
because from liberty alone arises the distinction between the two, 
not from diversity previous aid of grace. 

1444 John 15: 5. 

1445 I Cor. 4: 7

1446 See Aristotle, Met.: IX 3. 

1447 In Ep ad Eph, chap. 3, lect. 2. See also la IIae, q. 109, a. 
1, 2, 9, 10; q. 113, a. 7, 10. 

1448 In Ep. ad Tim, 2: 6.

1449 Ia, q. 23, a. 5, ad 3. 

1450 la IIae, q. 1o6, a. 2, ad 2.

1451 lla IIae, q. 2, a. 5, ad 1.

1452 Alvarez, De auxiliis, Bk. III, disp. 80; Gonet, Clypeus 
thom., De vol. Dei, disp. 4, no. 147; del Prado, De gratia et 
libero arbitrio, III, 423.

1453 Cf. Ia IIae, q. 79, a. 3. See also Tabula aurea s. v. 
Satisfactio, no. 36.

1454 la, q. 19, a. 6, ad I. 

1455 Ibid.

1456 1a, q. 21, a. 4.

1457 See St. Augustine, De natura et gratia, chap. 43, no. 50 
(PL., XLIV, 271) ; Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap. II (Denz, no. 

1458 1a, q. 19, a. 6.

1459 PL, CXXVI, 123; Denz.: 17th ed.: p. 145 no. 320 note 2.

1460 Ia, q. 20, a. 3.

1461 1 Cor. 4: 7. 

1462 la, q. 23, a. 5. 

1463 Ia Ilae, q. 79, a. 2. 

1464 Causalitas divina requisita ad actum physicum peccati 
praescindit omnino a malitia.

1465 Rom. 9:14-24. 

1466 In Joan., tr. 26.

1467 Ia, q. 23, a. 5.

1468 Does the phrase "ante praevisa merita" imply a succession in 
God? This has been recently asserted. But it is clear that 
Thomists recognize in God only one act, by which God wills 
efficaciously the merits of the elect in order to save them. Not 
on account of this does God will that, says St. Thomas (Ia, q. 19, 
a. 5): but He wills (by one and the same act) this to be on 
account of that. The principle of predilection (to be better than 
another, one must be more loved by God) is independent of all 
temporal succession

1469 See eg.: la IIae, q. 10, a. 4, ad 3. 

1470 In his recent treatise Anthropologia supernaturalis, De 
gratia, (Turin, 1943, p. 199): Msgr. P. Parente confused the 
Thomistic sensus divisus with that of Calvin. Calvin said: Under 
efficacious grace the power to the opposite does not remain, it 
only reappears afterward. Thomists say nothing like that. 
Parente's position is syncretistic, an attempted medium between 
Thomism and Molinism. Now there can be no medium between these 
[two contradictory propositions: God knows futuribilia before His 
decrees, and God doesnot know futuribilia before His decree. God's 
knowledge either determines, or it is determined; there is no 

1471 Cf. Ia, q. 23, a. 4. 

1472 See del Prado, De gratia, 1907, III, 417-67: Utrum 
Bannezianismus sit vera comeodia Molinistis inventa. 

1473 Concordia, Paris, 1876, p. 152.

1474 Ia, q. 23, a. 3. 

1475 Rom. 9: 14-24; II: 33-36. 

1476 OEvres completes, Paris, 1845, p. 664. See also his index, s. 
v. Grace. See also his La defense de la tradition, XI, 19-27.

1477 Thus a grace may be efficacious for an imperfect act and yet 
only sufficient in relation to the perfect act which ought to 
follow. See del Prado, De gratia et libero arbitrio, Fribourg, 
1907, II, 5-23.

1478 Those Thomists, like Gonzales, Bancel, Guillermin, who extend 
to the limits the field of sufficient grace, still maintain, as an 
essential element of Thomism, that no fully salutary act can come 
to pass unless God's consequent will have so decreed from 
eternity. Actual and limited effects, says St. Thomas (Ia, q. 19, 
a. 4): proceed from God's infinite perfection by the determining 
decree of God's will and intellect. This terminology, it is clear, 
antecedes Duns Scotus.

1479 See De praedest. sanctorum, passim.

1480 Nothing positive and good can exist outside God without 
causal dependence on God. If this be denied, all proofs for the 
existence of God are compromised. God is, without any exception, 
the author of all that is good.