Short SCG Chapters on the Sacraments of Initiation

Baltimore Catechism sacraments

St. Thomas has outlined an analogy between bodily life and spiritual life. Now he develops that analogy to explain the sacraments of Christian initiation…

Holy Baptism

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 59

Confirmation

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 60

The Holy Eucharist

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 61

SCG on the Sacraments

Rogier Van der Weyden Seven Sacraments altarpiece

Three short chapters.

On having visible sacraments

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 56

On the sacraments of the Law, and of the Gospel

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 57

And on the number of the sacraments, which reflects what is necessary for the propagation and sustenance of bodily life…

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 58

SCG on the Suitability of the Incarnation

Palermo Pantocrator Christ priest

First St. Thomas outlines objections to the suitability of the Incarnation…

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 53

He outlines a solution, demonstrating the eminent suitability of God becoming man…

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 54

Then he answers the objections laid out in chapter 53.

pedagogue = teacher or tutor

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 55

Twenty years ago today, I made my lifetime promises, and then-Cardinal-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick ordained me a transitional deacon. I entered this mysterious thing called “the clerical state.”

May the good Lord preserve me, and all of us, in His service, according to His holy will.

Summa Contra Gentiles on Original Sin

the-fall

St. Thomas has established that believing in the Incarnation does not go against reason. Now he considers the “suitability” of God becoming man.

He begins by identifying Original Sin.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 50

First he considers the Christian doctrine of original sin.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 51

Then he considers objections to the idea.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 52

Then he solves those objections.

The Holy Spirit and The Incarnation

fra-ang-annunc

We rightly attribute the Incarnation to the Holy Spirit.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 46

But Christ is not the “son” of the Holy Spirit.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 47

We cannot call Christ a “creature” without qualification.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 48

[Click HERE to catch up on previous chapters.]

Three SCG Chapters Touching on the Birds and the Bees

Now St. Thomas considers the formation of the Body of God Incarnate, in His mother’s womb. St. Thomas applies the doctrine about the divine Personality of Jesus to His hidden life as an unborn baby.

Leonardo da Vince Madonna and ChildAs we try to understand these chapters, we should remember that we have insights into the fertilization of a human egg by human sperm, as well as the formation of a human embryo and its development–insights that St. Thomas did not have.

In Chapter 43, St. Thomas makes an argument about the conception of the Christ that we would now say actually applies to every human being. St. Thomas recognizes that the logic of the Incarnation required that the divine Person be united with the conceived embryo at the moment of conception. Christ the embryo was a Person from the moment He came into being in the womb.

In order to understand St. Thomas’ first argument in Chapter 45, we have to keep in mind that the he did not hold this to be true for other human beings. St. Thomas thought that the embryo was “pre-human” and only became a human person with a rational soul–and a properly “human” body–at some later point in development, during pregnancy.

This explains St. Thomas’ remarks at the end of Chapter 44, where he speaks of the “quantitative” increase of the preternaturally “organized” prenatal Body of Christ. He is talking about the growth of the size of the baby’s body. In the saint’s mind, in human beings in general, that growth in size is not yet “human” until some later point during pregnancy.

Again, what St. Thomas maintains about Christ is actually true of everyone, as developments in science have taught us. The one-celled human conceptus does in fact possess the full “organization” of a human body, in the DNA. It is all just a matter of “quantitative” growth from there, with no change of substance or essence.

In Chapter 45, St. Thomas’ gets bogged-down in a controversy over whether or not the male supplies any “matter” in human conception. We can leave that aside and still appreciate the saint’s points about the power of the divine cause.

I dare you not to smile at the end of Chapter 45, when the Angelic Doctor makes a humbly manful distinction about what exactly causes a mother to lose her virginity.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 43
Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 44
Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 45

Christ’s Human Nature: God’s “Very Own Instrument”

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 41

aquinas

St. Thomas held an ax in his hand.

He saw an instrument that he could hand to someone else–the ax. And he saw an instrument that was “his very own”–his hand.

In Chapter 41, he proposes this distinction as a solution to the one-Person-with-two-natures problem.