Friday, April 22, 2005

Pope Benedict and St. Augustine

Also in the Wall Street Journal today, Daniel Henninger writes about Pope Benedict and his love for St. Augustine, whose theology the pope studied in his doctoral dissertation. In the book "Milestones," then Cardinal Ratzinger said he prefers Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas, "whose crystal-clear logic seemed to me to be too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made."

As someone who loves St. Thomas, I winced a little to read that! I love Thomas' crystal clear logic. But that's why the Church has a rich variety of theological traditions. Pope John Paul's thought was well-rooted in Thomism, as well as the philosophical school of phenomenology. So I suppose after 26 years of a Thomist Pope, it's time for an Augustinian Pope.

Which one do you prefer and why?

8 comments:

Anthony said...

My sister and I were discussing this last night. (She's working on a Masters in Theology at WTU.) She is fascinated by the fact that he is an Augustinian. She also believes that his Augustinian method of inquiry, (looking at both sides of an issue fully), has contributed somewhat to the belief that he has reversed himself on some issues when all he was doing was what came naturally; analyzing before deciding.
I too am looking forward to seeing what this mindset will bring. I am admittedly biased though, I too am a fan of Augustine.

Anthony said...

Oh, and as for why I prefer Augustine to Aquinas; I can identify more fully with St. Augustine. Our lives have very similar parallels. It was a copy of his book Confessions, given to me by a Priest, that was instrumental in my returning to my faith.

Sr. Lorraine said...

That's a really good point about looking at both sides of an issue before deciding. I hadn't connected it to his Augustinian background before.

Sr. Lorraine said...

It also just struck me that St. Thomas, too, looked at all sides of an issue but he did it in a different way than Augustine. Thomas would always bring all the objections to the fore and lay them out one after another; then he would give his reply and answer the objections. In the Summa he generally only uses about 3 objections per question, but in other writings like Disputed Questions sometimes he has loads of them.

Anonymous said...

Love both! But I can identify more with St Augustine...

Anonymous said...

My father named me for Aquinas. But Augustine's Confessions were one of the keys of my reversion. St. Thomas is now someone I have read and appreciate, but in my heart I feel drawn more to St. Augustine. there is an unbridled joy for Christ there that is attractive

Leslie Fain said...

I have a lot of respect for St. Augustine (I chose St. Monica for confirmation when I converted to Catholicism), but I find what I have read of St. Thomas' work to be optimistic and reassuring. When I read St. Augustine, I find myself breaking out in a case of scruples. Maybe this says more about me, however. Maybe because I have a melancholy temperament and analyze my feelings a lot, it pushes me over the edge to read writings by someone who does the same thing. Plus, wasn't St. Augustine big into Predestination? That doctrine really makes me lose sleep. Seriously.

I do assign the section in Confessions where St. Monica dies to my students. The point where St. Augustine asks future readers to remember his mother at the Altar is very moving. I wonder how many millions of prayers St. Monica received as a result of that book. I guess that is fair payback for all the prayers she said on St. Augustine's behalf.

Sr. Lorraine said...

I've found the Confessions very moving too. What a great book.
Thomas never really wrote about himself. Once in a while you can get a little glimpse into him but not too often. I wish he had written an autobiography--imagine how great it would have been!

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