Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: Truth and Tolerance, Christian Belief and World Religions

Jesus on the Cross attended by His Mother and St. John

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” By maintaining the truth of Christ’s claim does the Catholic Church exhibit intolerance and religious arrogance? Cardinal Ratzinger responds to public scorn of the document Dominus Iesus and reflects on the Christian claim to Truth, the tolerance of Love, and the maintenance of peace. First published in 2004. ISBN recommendation: 1-58617-035-X.

John Henry Newman: An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine

Rev. John Henry Newman

Upon observing a movement toward the abandonment of traditional principles and doctrine by many Bishops, clergy, and theologians in the Anglican communion, John Henry Newman developed criteria for rationally assessing and discerning between authentic development and corruption of Christian doctrine. First published in 1845, image links to Newman’s 1878 revised edition. ISBN recommendation: 0-268-00921-X

St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica

St. Thomas Aquinas holding the Summa Theologica, Fra Angelico, Museo di San Marco dell'Angelico, Florence, Italy

Aquinas’ deep and exhaustive synthesis of Catholic doctrine and philosophic thought which continues to exert a dominant influence over Roman Catholic theology. Officially recognized as a Doctor of the Church, Aquinas labored on the Summa Theologica from 1265 to 1274, dying before its completion. Image links to Aquinas Institute translation. ISBN recommendation: 0870610635

St. Bonaventure: The Journey of the Mind to God

Stigmatisation of Saint Francis, 1325, fresco, Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

Bonaventure’s stairway of contemplation from the exterior world, to the interior, to the Eternal. Conceived by the “Seraphic Doctor” in 1259 while contemplating, at Mt. Alverna, the stigmata of St. Francis; Journey of the Mind to God (Itinerarium mentis in Deum) is perhaps his defining work. Image links to translation derived from Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Hardcopy recommendation: The Works of Bonaventure, Mystical Opuscula, translated by Jose de Vinck, St. Anthony Guild Press.

St. Bonaventure: The Breviloquium

Byzantine Mosaic of Seraph from Monreale Cathedral

In 1257 Bonaventure was elected General Minister of the Franciscan Order, effectively ending his teaching career at the University of Paris. That same year he completed the Breviloquium, a brief synthesis of theology and a concise summary of his mature teaching: “The first Principle created this perceptible world as a means of self-revelation so that, like a mirror of God or a divine footprint, it might lead man to love and praise his
Creator… the universe is like a book reflecting, representing, and describing its Maker,
the Trinity.” Bonaventure stands out as a teacher of seeing God by means of creation/nature. Image links to an online library copy of de Vinck translation. Hardcopy recommendation: The Works of Bonaventure, The Breviloquium, translated by Jose de Vinck, St. Anthony Guild Press.

St. Bonaventure: Retracing the Arts to Theology

Saint Bonaventure, Vittorio Crivelli, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

As summarized by Bonaventure himself: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, says James in the first chapter of his epistle. These words of Sacred Scripture not only indicate the source of all illumination but they likewise point out the generous flow of the manifold rays which issue from that Fount of light. Notwithstanding the fact that every illumination of knowledge is within, still we can with reason distinguish what we may call the external light, or the light of mechanical art; the lower light, or the light of sense perception; the inner light, or the light of philosophical knowledge; and the higher light, or the light of grace and of Sacred Scripture. The first light illumines in regard to structure of artifacts; the second, in regard to natural forms; the third, in regard to intellectual truth; the fourth and last, in regard to saving truth.” Image links to translation of unknown origin. Hardcopy recommendation: The Works of Bonaventure, Opuscula, Second Series, translated by Jose de Vinck, St. Anthony Guild Press.

St. Anselm of Canterbury: Proslogion

St. Anselm enthroned as archbishop, Composite manuscript. MS. Auct. D. 2. 6, pt.III ( = fols.156-200), St. Anselm's Prayers and Meditations in a copy made c.1130-40 for a house of white canons, Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Recognized as a Doctor of the Church and celebrated by many as the progenitor of Scholasticism, Anselm is a preeminent representative of philosophical theology. In the Proslogion (originally titled: Fides Quaerens Intellectum [Faith Seeking Understanding]), Anselm “aims at proving in a single argument the existence of God”. Written during 1077-78, it remains his most renowned work. Image links to Hopkins and Richardson translation. ISBN recommendation: 0889460000

St. Anselm of Canterbury: Monologion

St. Anselm hands over his writings to Mathilde. Anselm of Canterbury, Orationes, Diocese of Salzburg, around 1160. Admont, Stiftsbibliothek, Ms. 289, fol. 1v.

Anselm’s An Example of Meditation on the Grounds of Faith (Monologion) is a philosophic soliloquy upon the highest of all existing things (God) and prepares the foundation for the Proslogion. It was written during 1075-76 and relies heavily upon writings of St. Augustine and Boethius. Image links to Hopkins and Richardson translation. ISBN recommendation: 0889460000