Pius X and Thomism

Wasn’t it Pius X that is requiring us to understand Thomism or we wouldn’t truely understand the faith? All catholics do not understand intellectual pursutes so what would they do? I think he said something about needing a “basic understanding”.

I don’t know what Pope St. Pius X wrote about thomism but St. Thomas lived in the 1200’s. There were plenty of people who understood the faith before St. Thomas.

Theology before the 1200’s was monastic - based on the prayerful meditation and reading of scripture. Theologians studied literature and linguistics so as to be able to better understand the sacred texts and holy writings of the Early Church Fathers and monastic Desert Fathers.

Even today not everyone is thomistic/scholastic. Many people have a monastic theology, whether they know it as such or not. Not everyone is into philosophical debate nor is an understanding of philosophy and "thomism’ required to understand our faith. It is not a matter of education but has more to do with a persons spirituality. I am educated - an engineer - and nothing bores me more than scholastic theology, philosophical debate and reading works such as the Summa Theologica or The Sentances by Peter Abelard which St. Thomas himself studied and for which he wrote a commentary. Some of our most beautiful doctrines on Mary come out of the monastic schools of theology from people like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a Cistercian monk from the 1100’s,

Pope Benedict XVI held a general audience where he spoke briefly about scholastic and monastic theology. It is short and worth reading. ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/b16ChrstChrch94.htm

The short answer is, for people who are not thomistic, they should open that Bible and get into the holy word of God. They should read Augustine’s Confessions, the sayings of the Desert Fathers, Diadochus of Photike, Symeon the New Theologian or a modern author like Michael Casey or Fr Jacques Philippe.

An excellent book is The Sun at Midnight: Monastic Experience of the Christian Mystery by Bernardo Olivera. It is not mystical mumbo-jumbo nor is it poetry but an thorough yet understandable explanation of mystical theology using Christ as the example of the supreme mystic.



It is worth mentioning that St. Thomas Aquinas’ intention was that the Summa Theologica should be read by catechumens (beginners in the faith). Aquinas is one of only 33 Doctors of the Church.

“What is a Doctor of the Church? This is a very special title accorded by the Church to certain saints. This title indicates that the writings and preachings of such a person are useful to Christians “in any age of the Church.” Such men and women are also particularly known for the depth of understanding and the orthodoxy of their theological teachings. There are a certain number of “ecclesiastical writers” whose writings and preaching have an application limited to and directed at problems and opportunities their particular age. Such writings and preachings can be difficult to apply to other sets of conditions. Such are never named Doctors.” - ourladyswarriors.org/saints/doctlist.htm

This means Aquinas applies to all ages, not just medieval times. An important (and perhaps overarching) function of scholastic theology is to correct and prevent heresy, and heresy is a huge problem at this moment in history. For these reasons I would not be at all surprised to find that St. Pius X urged the faithful to read St.Thomas.

Where in the world did you get that idea?
When you make such implications, you really should give some source showing that such a thing is true – that is, quote the Pius X document that required Catholics to understand Thomism. (Or at the very least, some reference to where you got the idea from.)

I think I am quite safe in assuring you Pius X made no such proclamation.
He make the study of Aquinas’ writings a recommended or necessary seminary course,

A quick Google search located the following passage in the Wikipedia entry for Thomism:

" In the encyclical *Doctoris Angelici * Pope Pius X cautioned that the teachings of the Church cannot be understood without the basic philosophical underpinnings of Thomas’ major theses."

Have you even read the document you claim to cite?

We therefore desired that all teachers of philosophy and sacred theology should be warned that if they deviated so much as a step, in metaphysics especially, from Aquinas, they exposed themselves to grave risk. --We now go further and solemnly declare that those who in their interpretations misrepresent or affect to despise the principles and major theses of his philosophy are not only not following St. Thomas but are even far astray from the saintly Doctor. Doctoris Angelici

The US that the Pope is referring to is not US typical laypeople, but specifically to “all teachers of philosophy and sacred theology.” I am not one of those people, and I think that you are probably not, either.

Furthermore, if you read the very first line of this decree, you will see that it is clearly intended to be an act of the Pope in his limited role as Bishop of Rome, and not as Supreme Pontiff, and furthermore to apply only to Catholic school education, and not even to his Archdiocese at large:

Motu Proprio for Italy and the adjacent islands, to encourage the study of the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas in Catholic Schools.

What you said is partly true. Western theology has been so profoundly influenced by this school, that it is difficult to understand the common theological language without a basic understanding of some of the fundamental principles of the scholastic theology.

What you are speaking of it what I am citing. I came across a summary of it and not the entire encyclical. What ever I was reading took it’s point from a few lines of that encyclical.

I was reading something that was referring to this document. Not the entire document itself.

I can see where the Holy Father is coming from but I am not quite sure that I agree with this scholastic vs monastic theology. I just do not think he’s quite expressed his point well enough—and I do not say that lightly considering the great intellect of Papa Benedict—because it has to be considered that scholasticism started in the monasteries. The schools were born at the great Abbeys. The forerunners of scholastic theology were Abbots themselves. Saint Thomas Aquinas is not the be-all-and-end-all of scholasticism after all. The mendicants certainly took to it with gusto but I still do not think the terminology is the appropriate means to measure the distinction. And it also has to be considered for a moment that the Dominicans have historically been more monastic than mendicant. But that is an aside.

I do not disagree with your post or Emeritus Pope Benedict’s point. I just think that the terminology does not quite capture the historical reality.

Yours in Jesus and Mary,

Many people mis-represent what the Catholic Church teaches. Here is a teaching that is intended to apply specifically to teachers of philosophy/theology in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Rome. It probably applies to no more than a few dozen people, all of whom should be well acquainted with Thomistic theology.

Yet, your source would impose this teaching upon ALL Catholic laypeople throughout the world.

It’s good to check, because people mis-represent the Church all the time. This particular document is brief (eleven paragraphs), and easily verified. Modern Vatican documents are freely available - in English. Older documents are also available, but many only in Latin. Fortunately, Google Translate now handles Latin.

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