The Concluding Chapters of the Summa Contra Gentiles

We face judgment immediately after death:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 91

The blessed souls remain fixed forevermore on the good:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 92

The damned souls remain fixed forevermore on evil:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 93

The souls in purgatory do not change their wills, either:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 94

The reason why we cannot change from good to evil, or vice versa, after death:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 95

The Last Judgment:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 96

The cosmos after the Last Judgment:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 97

St. Thomas wrote many books. Among them, the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles have the most-monumental status.

St. Thomas did not live to complete the Summa Theologica. He died while working on Part III, and his student completed the task, using St. Thomas’ earlier writings.

St. Thomas did, however, write the entire Summa Contra Gentiles himself. Book IV is the final book of the SCG. So: we have reached the conclusion of the most-monumental work of St. Thomas that he himself also reached.

Praise the good Lord.

Reading Book IV aloud has done me enormous good. Hopefully it has done you some good, too, dear reader/listener.

Not sure when I will record more podcasts, or what they will include. Let me know if you have any thoughts.

Five SCG Chapters on Resurrected Bodies

tombstone cross

We will rise in bodies of the same nature as we have now, flesh and blood…

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 84

But with a different disposition: incorruptible and immortal…

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 85

…With perfect agility and freedom from suffering, for the blessed:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 86

With a place in the heavens:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 87

We will rise male and female, as we are now.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 88

adam-and-eve-in-the-garden-of-eden-giclee-print-c12267346

SCG: We Will Rise Immortal

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 82

In the last part of this chapter, St. Thomas presents two cosmological arguments about the impossibility of an endless cycle of life and death for human beings.

Contemporary cosmologists would no doubt consider St. Thomas’ scientific ideas quaint. But I think he actually achieves a more-profound insight.

St. Thomas includes the perceiving mind within his overall conception of the cosmos. The mind or soul, which can know and understand, exists as a greater being than any material thing in motion, including the earth, sun, and moon–whose motions relative to each other give rise to our conception of time passing.

liturgical-cycle

Objections to Faith in the Resurrection, and Answers

signorelli_resurrection
The Resurrection by Signorelli, in the Brizio Chapel in the Duomo in Orvieto

First St. Thomas outlines reasonable objections to Christian faith in the resurrection of the body…

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 80

Then he explains how those objections do not, in fact, stand in the way of the Christian faith:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 81

Final SCG Chapters on the Eucharist, and the First on Penance

st-john-vianney-confession

In Chapter 62 of Book IV of Summa Contra Gentiles, St. Thomas outlined reasonable difficulties in believing in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. The last one involved our custom at Mass of breaking the Host.

…It even seems absurd to say that the subject of the breaking of the bread at the Mass is the Body of Christ…

Since Christ’s Body, risen from the dead, and subject to no injury or corruption at this point, cannot be broken.

St. Thomas provided the key to solving this difficulty in Chapter 63. Now, in Chapter 67, he answers this particular objection. 

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 67

Next, St. Thomas comments on the saying of Christ that supported all the objections to the Real Presence, Namely:

The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 68

Finally, to conclude the section on the Holy Eucharist, St. Thomas considers the use of leavened vs. unleavened bread.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 69

passover seder plate

The next section of Book IV considers the Sacrament of Penance. St. Thomas begins by considering whether an initiated Christian can sin.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 70

Solution to Difficulties with the Real Presence

Ecce Agnus Dei

In Chapter 62 of Book IV of Summa Contra Gentiles, St. Thomas laid out a number of serious difficulties with crediting the Church’s faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Those difficulties include:

How the Body of Christ comes to be on the altar, how His Body can occupy this precise space that was previously occupied by the bread and wine, and how the Body of Christ can have the appearance, taste, and smell of bread, and His Blood the appearance, taste, and smell of wine, not to mention the capacity of bread and wine to nourish and inebriate, or the capacity to spoil or burn.

St. Thomas provides the idea necessary to resolve these difficulties in Chapter 63. The consecration of the Host and Chalice brings about the transformation of the substance of the bread and wine into the substance of the Body of Christ. The consecration does not entail bringing about the presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in their proper dimensions in space.

buy the world a coke

This distinction is indeed subtle, but we can understand it, if we think of a loaf of bread.

Let’s say it’s Pepperidge Farm pumpernickel. A distinct substance.

The entirety of Pepperidge Farm pumpernickel-ness is in every slice of the loaf, and in the loaf as a whole, and in even a small bite of one slice. Pepperidge Farm pumpernickel-ness does not, in and of itself, occupy space. It occupies space through the dimensions of the bread, and Pepperidge Farm pumpernickel-ness and the dimensions of the loaf are not the same thing. After all, there are tens of thousands of loaves of the same kind of bread all over the world right now. You don’t have to know how many, in order to know what Pepperidge Farm pumpernickel-ness is.

So if you hold a slice of the bread in your hand to put some mustard on it, you are actually dealing with two things: the reality of Pepperidge Farm pumpernickel-ness, and the size and shape of the slice.

Or think of Coca-Cola. The entirety of Coca-Cola-ness resides in a 12-ounce can, or a 2-liter bottle, or the tank for a soda fountain that dispenses Coke. If you go to Mickey D’s and fill a cup with Coke, you’re actually dealing with two things: Coca-Cola-ness and the size of the cup.

The consecration at Holy Mass involves the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, a miracle as great as the creation of the universe out of nothingIt is also involves a second miracle of similar grandeur: the entire dimensions in space of the bread and wine remain, with everything attendant upon that: that is, the sensible qualities and capacities.

With this solution, St. Thomas does not intend to make it easy to believe in the consecration; he cannot do that. The Angelic Doctor concedes, in fact: believing in the Real Presence is super-humanly difficult, and it should be. Only the grace of supernatural faith suffices. We believe by virtue of a gift from heaven.

What St. Thomas does show, however, is: what we believe by supernatural faith about the Blessed Sacrament does not contradict reason; it is not impossible; it is not absurd. When we premise that God Himself brings about the miracle, the whole thing does make sense.

Solution to difficulties regarding the place of the Body and Blood of Christ:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 64

Solution to difficulties regarding the sensible qualities of the consecrated Host and chalice.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 65

Solution to difficulties regarding the capacity of the consecrated sacrament to nourish you or make you drunk, or to rot or burn.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 66