Are you a priest?
No, I am a layman, a husband and father of five. But I am a seminary professor. I have a mandate from the Archbishop of Newark to teach theology to men preparing for the priesthood.
If you are not a priest, why should I listen to you?
Unfortunately, many of our priests are very poorly educated. This is mostly not their fault. Many people who teach in the name of the Church do not have a very good idea of what the Church teaches.
I have a Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America. My education is primarily in the theology and philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, especially as taught in the Dominican tradition. I have also been fortunate to have good professors to teach me Scripture, the Fathers, and the modern Magisterium. And I am fortunate to have a job that lets me continue to immerse myself in these great teachers.
I have put together this Web site not to present my own opinions, but because I believe I have been uncommonly fortunate in my education, and I hope I can share that with people who want to grow in the spiritual life. This Web site is an overflow from my reading and teaching of the Catholic tradition.
What does Thomas Aquinas have to do with the spiritual life? Isn’t he just a philosopher – and a really abstract, inhuman one, at that?
Thomas Aquinas consecrated his life to the total evangelization of the world in the Order of St. Dominic. He left a life of privilege to live a life of radical poverty. He was known as a man of angelic purity and gentleness, profound commitment to the mission of his order, and a deep mystical life of prayer. He spent most of his life teaching and writing commentaries on Sacred Scripture.
My favorite description of his theological method is from Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Aeterni Patris: “Because he most venerated the ancient Doctors of the Church, in a certain way he seems to have inherited the intellect of all. The doctrines of those illustrious men, like the scattered members of a body, Thomas collected together and cemented, distributed in wonderful order, and so increased with important additions that he is rightly and deservedly esteemed the special bulwark and glory of the Catholic faith. With his spirit at once humble and swift, his memory ready and tenacious, his life spotless throughout, a love of truth for its own sake, richly endowed with human and divine science, like the sun he heated the world with the warmth of his virtues and filled it with the splendor of his teaching.”
In other words, Thomas only used philosophy to help him better explain what it is that the Fathers of the Church, and more fundamentally, Sacred Scripture teaches us about life in Christ. That teaching is perhaps best encapsulated in one of Thomas’s favorite passages from Scripture, 2 Peter 1:2-4: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue: whereby exceeding great and precious promises are given to us: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through disordered passion.”
So what are you trying to do here?
My basic purpose is to promote a spirituality rooted in Sacred Scripture and in Sacred Scripture’s teaching that our hearts are restless until they rest in God, and that God really acts in our hearts to transform us into “partakers of the divine nature.”
Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI constantly warned us about the tendency to act as if God did not exist. Solid theology, and solid spirituality, is based on the constant affirmation that God is living and active.
Can I use your reflections for homily preparation?
Absolutely. And please let me know if you find anything I write helpful, confusing, or just generally interesting.