June 22, 2005

Aquinas & Augustine

Over the past year or so I've become interested in St. Thomas Aquinas & St. Augustine, the two spiritual giants of Catholic theology. And it's fascinating to me why someone becomes a Thomist and someone else an Augustinian. Is it merely a personality difference? Why a Fr. Groeschel adores St. Augustine and a Jacques Maritain finds Thomas to be his guru? Perhaps part of why Aquinas is so appealing is because so often in our lives (and in Christian history) there have been delusions (aka heresies) and his logical systemizing is like a salve on those wounds. And, as Saul Bellow once wrote,
I was always drawn to people who were orderly in a large sense and had mapped out the world and made it coherent. We had a buddy back in the States who liked to tell us, 'Order is charismatic.'
And no where does one find more order than in St. Thomas. Still, there is something very appealing about Augustine because he is so personal. This tends to be a very personal blog so it would seem I lean towards Augustine despite my admiration for Aquinas. I recently read something from a commenter on Dispuations that I hadn't seen before. The commenter quoted John Allen:
Of Aquinas, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once wrote, "His crystal-clear logic seemed to me to be too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made."

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