Faith and reason, theology and science, God and atheism all surfaced in debate this past week at the Venerable Fulton Sheen House of Formation's annual Thomistic Studies. This three-day long philosophical conference offers an intensive examination of topics in philosophy relevant to the modern age, as seen through the seraphic thought of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas.
The perennial dialogue between faith and reason presented the material for this year's event, a dialogue increasingly more strained in a modern society that stresses the diametric opposition between the "parrhesia of faith" and the "boldness of reason." The Church, for her part, emphasizes the truth of the "fundamental harmony between the knowledge of faith and the knowledge of philosophy," the "two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth."
The Thomistic Studies began with a series of historical and doctrinal presentations made by the religious brothers and sisters of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará. These presentations examined the influences of philosophers, good and bad, throughout history on the correlation, affirmation, and denial of a relationship between faith and reason. The doctrinal lectures picked apart specific aspects of these doctrines, notable for their validity or their falsity. In the last days of the Studies, the priests of the Institute offered a number of "applications," depicting the roles of faith and reason in subjects such as theology, seminary formation, and critical thought.
This year, the Institute was honored to host a number of prestigious professors as the event's featured lecturers. Dr. William Murphy came to the Fulton Sheen House of Formation from the Pontifical College, Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio answering "Why Moral Theology Needs Philosophy: A Critique of J. Selling's Revisionist Ethic." From the nearby Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C., Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP, lectured on "Monotheistic Rationality and Divine Names: Why Aquinas' Analogy Theory Transcends both Theoretical Agnosticism and Conceptual Anthropomorphism." Also visiting from the Pontifical College Josephinum, Dr. Patricia Pintado spoke on "Pope Benedict on the Crisis of Faith and Reason." Finally, the renowned Jesuit philosopher, teacher, and priest, Fr. James Schall, SJ, gave an enlightening address on "How Philosophy and Revelation Address the Meaning of the Universe."
The Thomistic Studies concluded with the celebration of the Holy Mass, offered by the rector of the Venerable Fulton Sheen House of Formation, Father Mariano Vicchi, IVE.
We give thanks to the Lord for these Thomistic Studies and ask that He, through the intercession of Mary, Seat of Wisdom, illumine our hearts ever more with the wisdom of His Holy Spirit.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
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