Areas of study

The Holy Spirit inspiring St. Thomas Aquinas

Thomistic Studies

Thomism is defined as a realist approach propounded by St. Thomas Aquinas on philosophy and theology. It assumes truth can be discovered and wherever this truth can be found, if in different religions, cultures or ages, it all stems from the source of all truth, God.

The Centre for Catholic Studies is inspired by the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, the thirteenth century philosopher acknowledged as perhaps the greatest of all those who have attempted to answer the most profound and yet the most common questions of human life and reality. Such questions are as old as time and as new as today. Similarly the answers must be essentially the same, in whatever age we may be living.

St. Thomas stands midway between ourselves and the masters of philosophical thought of ancient Greece and early Christianity. He gathered together their insights and summarised their wisdom for the benefit of future generations. At no time did he pretend to answer, nor could he, all the questions that perplex and puzzle the human mind. What he did do, however, was provide the principles and methods for their true resolution.

The Church has recognised this and has adopted him as the surest guide for us in our search to understand not only the things of the natural world, but also the truths of our Faith, as far as human reason can take us. There have been numerous expressions of this confidence by all the popes of recent times, such as this statement from Pope Paul VI, who called St. Thomas ‘a light for the Church and the whole world”.

Such praise of St. Thomas’ philosophy, however, is not confined to Catholic circles. Many recognise the greatness of his thought and work. He is by common consent acknowledged to be one of the greatest minds in the history of mankind.

It is to be noted that Thomism, the name given to the system of thought developed by St. Thomas and his followers, is by no means a closed system. It is able to accommodate all of what is true in the “systems” of other great philosophers. With the help of such an intellectual tradition we are able to resolve many apparent contradictions and better direct our thinking about the nature of reality and the object of human life.

However, it is not necessary, of course, to study St. Thomas in order to advance in our understanding of the truth “that the Catholic faith professes”. St. Thomas himself says that an unlearned person of simple faith can be holier and wiser than the most learned theologian. It is in charity, or the love of Christ, that true wisdom is to be found. That is what St. Thomas’s philosophy and theology is all about.