The Aquinas Academy
The Aquinas Academy was set up under the auspices of the Australian Province of the Marist Fathers by Fr Austin Woodbury SM in March 1945. The Academy began as a centre for the study of Philosophy and Theology in the Thomistic tradition. For some twenty-nine years it continued in this capacity under Fr Woodbury's guidance, in premises at the back of St Patrick's Church, Gloucester Street, in The Rocks (Sydney, NSW). For a short while the Academy offered a License in Philosophy under accreditation from the University of St Thomas in Rome. Since its inception, a number of qualified priests, religious and laity have been part of the lecturing staff. The Academy was one of the pioneers of Catholic adult education in Australia.
Since 1975, the Academy has increasingly focused on general adult education in the faith. Perhaps the most popular of the programs mounted was the Christian Growth Program, offering basic education in theology, morality, psychology and spirituality.
The fear conundrum
How much fear do we want? Enough of it preserves our lives. Too much of it diminishes our lives. Currently, the balance is skewed by an overload of fear. Anxiety, its clinical name, is in epidemic proportions.
In favour of the measure to monitor social networks, it can be argued that it can significantly improve security agencies’ ability to deal with terrorist organizations. The claim is that intelligence agencies that monitor the networks, in many cases, can protect their territory from terrorist attacks. For instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), ... Read more
Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism
In God We Trust. This phrase is printed on the banknotes of the United States of America and is the current national motto. It appeared for the first time on a coin in 1864 but did not become official until Congress passed a motion in 1956. A motto is important for a nation whose foundation was rooted in religious motivations. For many it is a simple declaration of faith. For others, it is the synthesis of a problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy. Read more
Finding the high way
In our society ethical questions such as those to do with marriage, crime and punishment, the beginnings and endings of life and freedom of speech are often 'highway' issues. Protagonists establish in advance the right way to go, keep their foot down and their eyes on the road without noticing the terrain the highway traverses. Road signs indicating other destinations or alternative routes are ignored and towns by-passed. Certainty is gained; understanding of country is sacrificed.
Ethical reflection can also be done by taking the tourist route, preferably by bicycle. Read more
Review: Tracey Rowland’s ‘Catholic Theology’
Tom Ryan SM
Tracey Rowland, an Australian theologian, is a current member of the International Theological Commission (ITQ). Her latest book aims to a) outline the basic principles in any approach to Catholic theology (Ch. 1) and b) explain four dominant approaches (or ‘schools’) in ‘doing’ Catholic theology today and their respective historical backgrounds (Chapters 2-5). Her goal is to offer guideposts for seminarians (and the interested reader) to make sense of theological developments since Vatican 2.
Conscience, hope and the double bind
Michael Whelan SM
One of the most wonderful gifts one human being can give another is the sense of realistic possibility. The presence of faith, hope and love tends to do this for us – especially when we are young and vulnerable. When others – typically parents – communicate faith in us, hope for us and love no matter what, it can awaken a realistic sense of our own dignity and worth and allow us to engage the world with some confidence and honesty. It tends to engender in us a life-giving sense of possibility, preparing us for adulthood ...
Course: Film Lectio III - Conscience and Commitment in “Silence”
Starts Thursday 17 August
Martin Scorsese's film Silence tells the story of two Jesuit missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) - at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden.
This film is the culmination of Scorsese’s 28-year journey to bring Shusaku Endo's 1966 acclaimed novel of the same name to life. A sombre, introspective meditation on faith and resilience, the film makes for demanding viewing.
Life is gracious
Michael Whelan SM
The fundamental polarity of human life between what is and what ought to be, between lack and fulfilment, between determination and freedom, is not abnormal; it is the norm. Every person is exposed to it because of the inescapable structure of human formation. (Adrian van Kaam, The Transcendent Self, Dimension Books, 1979, 172.)
We grow well when we interact well with the grace of living, in the midst of the tension “between lack and fulfilment, determination and freedom”. Grace is everywhere! Facing your limits, submitting to the truth of your limits, is potentially a particularly rich experience of grace.
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
1. Pain can have its genesis and manifestation in any or all of three dimensions:
Spiritual Practices and Attitudes 1 – Listening to what is going on
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
We can speak of emotion (feeling, affect) as a reaction that tends to move us in a certain way. It is reaction not response, a matter of reflex not choice – initially at least. The English word emotion comes from the Latin word movere meaning to move.
The movement involves the whole person, though it may be more focused in the body – eg as physical pain or satisfaction – or in the psyche – eg as anxiety or anger – or in the spirit – eg compunction or ecstasy. It is important to discern the source of the emotion. For example, “feeling depressed” might have its roots in the body, the psyche or the spirit.
Gospel for the Twentieth Sunday (20 August 2017)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28 – NRSV)