The Catholic University of America

 

Final Examination
John M. Meinert
for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Monday, March 23, 2015
10:00a.m., Caldwell Hall, Room 125
 
abstract:
Donum habituale: grace and the gifts of the holy spirit in st. thomas Aquinas
 
Director:William Mattison III, Ph.D.
 
Three contemporary problems contextualize my research. First, there is a dispute among Thomists over how often the gifts of the Holy Spirit are operative. Second, contemporary Thomists see Aquinas’sSumma as an integral whole rather than disparate treatises, but this vision has yet to be implemented fully in the exegesis of Aquinas concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit or grace. Indeed, it seems that these two topics must be read together since they are both part of what Albert Patfoort calls Aquinas’s loci of pneumatology. Third, secondary literature pays relatively little attention to the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Aquinas’s thought, though Aquinas himself considers them central. In light of these contexts, I argue (1) that in order to understand fully Aquinas’s thought on the gifts of the Holy Spirit or grace one must read them in light of each other and (2) that by doing this one realizes that the spiritual life is fundamentally pneumatological. The gifts are always operative in the supernatural life.
 
In the first chapter, I survey a selection of settled positions and ongoing debates surrounding grace and the gifts in Thomism afterAeterni Patris. I find that much of the secondary literature could benefit from a more unified conception of Aquinas’s corpus in which the two topics are brought into dialogue with each other. In the second chapter, I interpret Aquinas’s thought on the gifts in light of his thought on grace. In the third chapter, I elucidate Aquinas’s thought on grace in light of his thought on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the final chapter, I return to the ongoing debates and settled positions in light of the mutual reading attempted in chapters two and three. I argue that the mutual contact of chapters two and three makes a substantial contribution. In other words, in order to rightly interpret St. Thomas on either grace or the gifts of the Holy Spirit one must have information from the other and in so doing one can see that the spiritual life according to St. Thomas is fundamentally pneumatological.