Monday, June 19, 2017

St Thomas Aquinas on the Virtue of Religion

Here is a series of eight short videos about St Thomas's understanding of the virture of religion, produced by two Dominican friars from the Western Province.

I found them fascinating. The virtue of religion is what St Thomas calls the practice of the worship of God. It is an aspect of justice - giving to God what is due to Him - which is natural to man, and furthermore, it is the highest virtue, according to his teaching.

You can see all eight talks, each a well produced video of about 10 minutes duration, on vimeo here: St Thomas Aquinas on the Virtue of Religion.

I have heard it said before that it is natural to man to worship God. Benedict XVI talks of this in his writings; in this talk, the presenter describes how St Thomas says that there are no societies in which there is not worship, even if it is pagan worship.

That might have been true in his day, it has occurred to me, but probably not now. There is a whole section of Western society that seems to feel no need to worship God. Benedict talks of other practices emerging that are a redirecting of this natural instinct, such as some manifestations of rock concerts; the exaggerated adulation given to pop stars and also sports teams comes to my mind.

However, I was never totally convinced by these. While they represent an adulation of a sort, they don't seem to constitute anything like the complexity of ritual that we see in the liturgy of the Church or that existed in pagan rites. Furthermore, there do seem to be some people today in which this instinct is erased.

An answer is provided in these presentations. It is explained that while it is natural for man to worship God, it is not an instinct that can be manifested without a faith in a God to worship. The virtue of religion, while still a natural virtue, arises when man reflects upon his faith. Therefore, if there is no faith it might be that there is no exercise of the virtue of religion at all.

You can access all eight here, or watch the first one on the link below:

Virtue of Religion - Part 1 (Introduction) from OPWest on Vimeo.

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