Category Archives: Heidi L. Keiser

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas – and Giveaway Winner

St. Thomas Aquinas

Happy Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas! We have already sent an e-mail to Thomas, the winner of the NovAntiqua Summa Giveaway 2011, to let him know how to claim his volume of the NovAntiqua Summa. (And let me assure our readers that it is entirely coincidental that the winner’s name is Thomas.)

In honor of the Feast, I wanted to post an excerpt from one of Pope Benedict XVI’s Wednesday audiences last year in which he treated St. Thomas Aquinas:

Faith consolidates, integrates and illumines the heritage of truth that human reason acquires. The trust with which St Thomas endows these two instruments of knowledge, faith and reason, may be traced back to the conviction that both stem from the one source of all truth, the divine Logos, which is active in both contexts, that of Creation and that of redemption.

Together with the agreement between reason and faith, we must recognize on the other hand that they avail themselves of different cognitive procedures. Reason receives a truth by virtue of its intrinsic evidence, mediated or unmediated; faith, on the contrary, accepts a truth on the basis of the authority of the Word of God that is revealed. St Thomas writes at the beginning of his Summa Theologiae: “We must bear in mind that there are two kinds of sciences. There are some which proceed from a principle known by the natural light of the intelligence, such as arithmetic and geometry and the like. There are some which proceed from principles known by the light of a higher science: thus the science of perspective proceeds from principles established by geometry, and music from principles established by arithmetic. So it is that sacred doctrine is a science, because it proceeds from principles established by the light of a higher science, namely, the science of God and the blessed” (ia, q. 1, a.2).

This distinction guarantees the autonomy of both the human and the theological sciences. However, it is not equivalent to separation but, rather, implies a reciprocal and advantageous collaboration. Faith, in fact, protects reason from any temptation to distrust its own abilities, stimulates it to be open to ever broader horizons, keeps alive in it the search for foundations and, when reason itself is applied to the supernatural sphere of the relationship between God and man, faith enriches his work. According to St Thomas, for example, human reason can certainly reach the affirmation of the existence of one God, but only faith, which receives the divine Revelation, is able to draw from the mystery of the Love of the Triune God.

Moreover, it is not only faith that helps reason. Reason too, with its own means can do something important for faith, making it a threefold service which St Thomas sums up in the preface to his commentary on the De Trinitate of Boethius: “demonstrating those truths that are preambles of the faith; giving a clearer notion, by certain similitudes, of the truths of the faith; resisting those who speak against the faith, either by showing that their statements are false, or by showing that they are not necessarily true” (q. 2, a.3). The entire history of theology is basically the exercise of this task of the mind which shows the intelligibility of faith, its articulation and inner harmony, its reasonableness and its ability to further human good. The correctness of theological reasoning and its real cognitive meaning is based on the value of theological language which, in St Thomas’ opinion, is principally an analogical language. The distance between God, the Creator, and the being of his creatures is infinite; dissimilitude is ever greater than similitude (cf. DS 806). Nevertheless in the whole difference between Creator and creatures an analogy exists between the created being and the being of the Creator, which enables us to speak about God with human words.

This is from the second Audience of Pope Benedict XVI on St. Thomas Aquinas (16 June 2010).  Here also are links to the first Audience (2 June 2010) and the third  Audience (23 June 2010).


Beyond NovAntiqua: Logic – The Art of Defining and Reasoning

Logic: The Art of Defining and ReasoningLogic: The Art of Defining and Reasoning (Prentice Hall, 1963) by John A. Oesterle is the introduction to Aristotelian logic (read: the system of logic that ruled the West for two millennia) for those who would rather not plow through Aristotle. Or, better, for those who would like a summary and workbook on hand as they grapple with the Philosopher himself.

The list price for this not-very-large book is astonishing to me – $60 for a cheaply bound facsimile of a book published in 1963 (and originally published more than a decade before that), but since the copyright was renewed in 1980, it’s not in the public domain, and Prentice Hall can charge whatever it wants. Used copies of the various editions are usually available, and sometimes, with searching, one can even run across a copy for less than $20. If you ever see one, grab it!

Beyond NovAntiqua: The Intellectual Life

The Intellectual LifeA copy of The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods by A. G. Sertillanges, O. P. (Catholic University of America Press, 1987) is an ideal gift for someone beginning graduate studies. It is worth reading cover to cover – and more than once – but even opening it at random will  give the reader something worth mulling over. As evidence, the  fruit of a few entirely random openings right now:

From page 135:

The more precious an idea is, the less it matters where it comes from. Train yourself to indifference about sources. Truth alone has a claim, and it has that claim wherever it appears. As we must  not swear allegiance to anyone, so still less must we disdain anyone; and if it is not expedient to believe everybody neither must we refuse to believe anyone who can show his credentials.

From page 63:

But carried too far, silence in its turn has a disturbing effect; when all a man’s powers are intensely concentrated on his thinking, he easily loses his balance, his vision of the way; a diversion is indispensable to the life of the brain; we need the soothing effect  of action.

From page 150:

Choose your  books. Do not  trust interested advertising and catchy titles. Have devoted and expert advisors. Go straight to the fountainhead to satisfy your thirst. Associate only with first-rate thinkers. What is not always possible in personal relations is easy, and we must take advantage of it, in our reading. Admire wholeheartedly what deserves it, but do not lavish your admiration. Turn away from badly written books, which are probably poor in thought also.

So, where are we anyway?

To any readers who have come here and been wondering if we’ve quit the commentary:

No, we haven’t.  But my wife Heidi and I have been busy for a while.  The doctoral dissertation needed some immediate attention, and we’re both preparing for an interstate move and for my new job.  So posting has been, and will continue to be sparse.  I will not be able to compose many new posts, but I do intend to continue posting once a week or so, putting up things that I have already written.  Once the doctoral dissertation is finished, I will perhaps return to the frequency with which I started.

The bilingual Summa project is continuing, but we’re not sure we’ll meet our original goal of August 15th for volume 3 (I-II, q. 1-70).

Beyond NovAntiqua

You may have noticed that we are now incorporating a section titled “Beyond NovAntiqua” in the sidebar of this site. In this section, you’ll find links to non-NovAntiqua titles that we think (based, in part, on the search terms that bring people to this site) our readers would appreciate.

The space in the sidebar being limited, though, we wanted to provide a bit more of an introduction to the titles we have listed right now.

One-Volume Latin Summa Theologiae – A number of people have ended up at this site having done a search not for NovAntiqua‘s Volume One of a Latin-English edition of the Summa (let alone the newly-released Volume Four), but for a one-volume Latin edition of the Summa. The only one-volume Latin Summa that we are aware of is this one, published by San Paolo Edizioni (1999). It is the Latin of the Leonine edition, with critical apparatus. It’s a hefty book, but smaller than many editions of Shakespeare’s complete works or most unabridged dictionaries. You won’t find it on or in any American bookstore, but after some digging, we were able to find it being sold by and Deastore via – probably your best bet short of going to Italy yourself.

If you do find yourself in Rome and want to pick up a copy, stop in the Libreria Internazionale San Paolo (right up the street from St. Peter’s). Assuming things haven’t changed much in the last few years, it’ll be on the second floor of the bookstore along with other works of Aquinas in Latin – right next to the section of books in French. If they’re out of stock, try Ancora (also on Via della Conciliazione) or Libreria Leonina. Buy your copy, go to Mass at St. Peter’s, and then celebrate with a 2-euro cone of gelato from Old Bridgecrema, cioccolata, and nutella, with panna – have one for me, please. Thank you.

Lexicon of Saint Thomas AquinasA Lexicon of Saint Thomas Aquinas, byRoy J. Defarrari – This 1,200-page tome contains every Latin word found in the Summa Theologiae, as well as terms found in other works of Aquinas. In the words of the author’s foreword: “Each word as it appears will be followed by the different English meanings with which it is used, followed in turn by some illustrations of its use in each meaning taken from the works of Saint Thomas.” A goldmine for those interested in acquainting themselves with the Latin of St. Thomas.

Torrell's Saint Thomas AquinasWe are also featuring Jean-Pierre Torrell’s incomparable two-volume introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas: Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Person And His Work and Saint Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master. These are not light reading, but if you want to have a better understanding of the man behind the works, these are the books to go to.

Anyone spending time with the works of Thomas Aquinas will soon be struck by the number of scripture references scattered throughout his text. With that in mind, we thought that it would make sense to locate a Latin-English Bible for readers of our Latin-English Summa. We are pleased to say that we found the ideal scriptural companion for our Summa Theologiae: Baronius Press’s Douay-Rheims and Clementina Vulgata: English-Latin Bible. The authorization of the Clementina Vulgata postdates Thomas Aquinas by roughly three centuries, but as we don’t have access to the actual Latin manuscripts of Scripture that St. Thomas studied, this will have to do. (The Douay-Rheims and the Clementine Vulgate are, however, the English and Latin texts referred to in the text and footnotes of the English translation contained in our edition of the Summa.)

Those interested in Latin-English resources and Gregorian Chant might find Fr. Samuel Weber, O.S.B.’s new Office of Compline worth a look. Chant settings for the night prayers from the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours (novus ordo) are arranged with Latin and English settings on facing pages. The book contains complete instructions for praying Compline, as well as a foreword by Cardinal Burke.

Keep an eye on the sidebar; I’m sure we’ll be adding titles from time to time. If you know of a title worth recommending to students of St. Thomas or readers of NovAntiqua in general, let us know in a comment or drop us an e-mail (mail[at], and we’ll check it out.

Also note that if you do decide to purchase any of these titles through the links provided here at, we do receive part of the proceeds from the sales. Thank you!

Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis

quovadischurchIn Volume II of The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch notes that the stational church for today, Monday of Holy Week, was originally the church commonly known as Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis – the Church of Domine Quo Vadis.

The station originally was the Church “de fasciola,” which according to an old legend took its origin from an incident during St. Peter’s flight from Rome at the time of Nero’s persecution. This is the story. The apostle had come to the first milestone on the Appian Way when the bandage (fascia) covering his foot-wounds (due to prison chains) became loose. Suddenly the Lord appeared to him. Peter asked, “Domine, quo vadis? (Lord, where are you going?)” Jesus answered, “I go to Rome, to be crucified again.” Ashamed, Peter returned to the city.

This is, of course, the story that provided the inspiration and the title for Henryk Zienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis.

The station for Monday of Holy Week was moved in the tenth century to its current spot  – Santa Prassede.

The site for the  Canons Regular of St. John Cantius has an excellent article about the ancient tradition of observing the stational churches.