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Monday, December 27, 2010

0154: Pope Benedict XVI on Aquinas (XVII)

Entry 0154: In the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini of 30 September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI refers to Saint Thomas Aquinas three times as follows:


In Part I of Verbum Domini, in the section on “The creation of man,” the Pope writes:

“Every human being who comes to consciousness and to responsibility has the experience of an inner call to do good” and thus to avoid evil. As Saint Thomas Aquinas says, this principle is the basis of all the other precepts of the natural law. [28]

Footnote [28]: Cf. Summa Theologiae, Ia-IIae, q. 94, art. 2.

Here is what Aquinas says in Summa Theologiae, Ia-IIae, q. 94, art. 2.

Original Latin:

Primum principium in ratione practica est quod fundatur supra rationem boni, quae est, bonum est quod omnia appetunt. Hoc est ergo primum praeceptum legis, quod bonum est faciendum et prosequendum, et malum vitandum. Et super hoc fundantur omnia alia praecepta legis naturae.”

English Translation:

“The first principle of practical reason is one founded on the notion of good, namely, that 'good is that which all things seek after.' Hence this is the first precept of law, that 'good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided.' All other precepts of the natural law are based upon this principle.”


In Part I of Verbum Domini, in the section on “The Church as the primary setting for biblical hermeneutics,” the Pope writes:

And Saint Thomas Aquinas, citing Saint Augustine, insists that “the letter, even that of the Gospel, would kill, were there not the inward grace of healing faith”.[85]

Footnote [85]: Summa Theologiae, Ia-IIae, q. 106, art. 2.

Here is what Aquinas says in Summa Theologiae, Ia-IIae, q. 106, art. 2.

Original Latin:

Ad Legem Evangelii duo pertinent. Unum quidem principaliter, scilicet ipsa gratia Spiritus Sancti interius data. Et quantum ad hoc, Nova Lex iustificat. Aliud pertinet ad Legem Evangelii secundario, scilicet documenta fidei, et praecepta ordinantia affectum humanum et humanos actus. Et quantum ad hoc, Lex Nova non iustificat. Unde Apostolus dicit, II ad Cor. III, ‘Littera occidit, Spiritus autem vivificat.’ Et Augustinus exponit quod per litteram intelligitur quaelibet Scriptura extra homines existens, etiam moralium praeceptorum qualia continentur in Evangelio. Unde etiam littera Evangelii occideret, nisi adesset interius gratia fidei sanans.”

English Translation:

“There is a twofold element in the Law of the Gospel. There is the chief element, namely, the grace of the Holy Spirit bestowed inwardly. And as to this, the New Law justifies. The other element of the Evangelical Law is secondary: namely, the teachings of faith, and those commandments which direct human affections and human actions. And as to this, the New Law does not justify. Hence the Apostle says (2 Cor. 3:6) ‘The letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth.’ And Augustine explains this by saying that the letter denotes any writing external to man, even that of the moral precepts such as are contained in the Gospel. Wherefore the letter, even of the Gospel would kill, unless there were the inward presence of the healing grace of faith.”


In Part I of Verbum Domini, in the section on “Literal sense and spiritual sense,” the Pope writes:

Saint Thomas of Aquinas, for example, states that “all the senses of sacred Scripture are based on the literal sense”.[121] It is necessary, however, to remember that in patristic and medieval times every form of exegesis, including the literal form, was carried out on the basis of faith, without there necessarily being any distinction between the literal sense and the spiritual sense.

Footnote [121]: Summa Theologiae, I, q. 1, art. 10, ad 1.

Here is what Aquinas says in Summa Theologiae, I, q. 1, art. 10, ad 1.

Original Latin:

Auctor sacrae Scripturae est Deus, in cuius potestate est ut non solum voces ad significandum accommodet (quod etiam homo facere potest), sed etiam res ipsas. Et ideo, cum in omnibus scientiis voces significent, hoc habet proprium ista scientia, quod ipsae res significatae per voces, etiam significant aliquid. Illa ergo prima significatio, qua voces significant res, pertinet ad primum sensum, qui est sensus historicus vel litteralis. Illa vero significatio qua res significatae per voces, iterum res alias significant, dicitur sensus spiritualis; qui super litteralem fundatur, et eum supponit.

Hic autem sensus spiritualis trifariam dividitur. Lex Vetus figura est Novae Legis. In Nova etiam Lege, ea quae in Capite sunt gesta, sunt signa eorum quae nos agere debemus. Et ipsa Nova Lex est figura futurae gloriae.

Secundum ergo quod ea quae sunt Veteris Legis, significant ea quae sunt Novae Legis, est sensus allegoricus, secundum vero quod ea quae in Christo sunt facta, vel in his quae Christum significant, sunt signa eorum quae nos agere debemus, est sensus moralis, prout vero significant ea quae sunt in aeterna gloria, est sensus anagogicus.

Sensus isti non multiplicantur propter hoc quod una vox multa significet; sed quia ipsae res significatae per voces, aliarum rerum possunt esse signa. Et ita etiam nulla confusio sequitur in Sacra Scriptura, cum omnes sensus fundentur super unum, scilicet litteralem; ex quo solo potest trahi argumentum, non autem ex his quae secundum allegoriam dicuntur.”

English Translation:

“The author of Sacred Scripture is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning, not by words only (as man also can do), but also by things themselves. So, whereas in every other science things are signified by words, this science [the science of Sacred Scripture] has the property, that the things signified by the words have themselves also a signification. Therefore that first signification whereby words signify things belongs to the first sense, the historical or literal. That signification whereby things signified by words have themselves also a signification is called the spiritual sense, which is based on the literal, and presupposes it.

“Now this spiritual sense has a threefold division. First, the Old Law is a figure of the New Law. Again, in the New Law, whatever our Head has done is a type of what we ought to do. And the New Law itself is a figure of future glory.

“Therefore, so far as the things of the Old Law signify the things of the New Law, there is the allegorical sense; so far as the things done in Christ, or so far as the things which signify Christ, are types of what we ought to do, there is the moral sense. But so far as they signify what relates to eternal glory, there is the anagogical sense.

“These senses are not multiplied because one word signifies several things, but because the things signified by the words can be themselves types of other things. Thus in Sacred Scripture no confusion results, for all the senses are founded on one---the literal---from which alone can any argument be drawn, and not from those intended in allegory.”

The original Italian of the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, the English translation of the document, and translations into other languages can be found in the Official Web Site of the Holy See. (Accessed December 12, 2010.)