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.
Outline of Courses for 2019
All Courses are held at Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney and include class notes.
Reading Graciously: Mercy and the Heart in St Paul and Pope Francis
Presenter: Robert Tilley, PhD
When: 3 Wednesday mornings, 10am – 12noon, February 6, 13, 20
Development, Social Justice and Globalisation: An Experiential and Reflective Approach
Presenter: Joffre Balce, MSc Industrial Eonomics
When: 4 Friday evenings, 6pm – 8pm, Feb 8, 15, 22, Mar 1
Religious freedom in secular Australia
Seven months on, the Morrison government has published the Religious Freedom Review — a report of an expert panel chaired by Philip Ruddock. It has also published its response. The review was instituted by Malcolm Turnbull during the plebiscite on same sex marriage. Many 'yes' voters in the plebiscite were convinced that a change to the law of marriage would not make one iota of difference to freedom of religion in Australia. Many 'no' voters were worried that the changes could be frightful. The debate which then erupted about religious freedom when Parliament was legislating to recognise same sex marriage highlighted that Australian legislation at the Commonwealth and state level for the protection of all human rights, including freedom of religion, was at best patchy. Read more
Thomas Merton: the embrace of difference
Michael Barnes SJ
Thomas Merton, the famed spiritual writer, died on 10 December 1968. His writings are still as relevant as his life story is fascinating, particularly his treatment of ‘difference’, a word that ‘now commands an attention that would never have been possible fifty years ago,’ writes Michael Barnes SJ. The fiftieth anniversary of Merton’s death, particularly as it falls in Advent, is an opportunity to contemplate with him the action of the Spirit. Read more
A Time of Reckoning
Second thoughts about the sexual revolution.
By Mary Eberstadt
Hegel famously wrote that the owl of Minerva flies only at dusk, meaning that history’s unfolding is most plainly seen in retrospect. With all due respect to Herr Doktor, some moments are so transparently situated at a cultural crossroad that they illuminate history even in real time. Improbably enough, the MeToo movement seems to be one.
As anyone following events can see, the ongoing sex scandals that gave rise to MeToo are more than just placeholders in the news cycle. They reveal a shift in the cultural plates of the last half-century and ... Read more
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: Reading Graciously - Mercy and the Heart in St Paul and Pope Francis
The opposition to Jesus by the religious authorities of the day tended to revolve around how sacred Scripture, in particular the Law, was to be read and applied. Jesus summed up his approach when he said, quoting the prophet Hosea, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13/Hosea 6:6).
But what did he mean by this? In a sense the whole history of the Church is the Holy Spirit giving us the answer to this question.
Course: Development, Social Justice and Globalisation - An Experiential and Reflective Approach
This course aims to more than introduce concepts but to attune participants to the trends and concepts of development and globalisation in conflict with social justice and the dignity of the individual person.
The study of dealing with such issues is usually a complex and many times a drudgery of complex concepts, theories and models. However, the most famous authority of the common man in the 19th Century, Henry George, said:
Course: Dealing with Addictions - Introduction to the Twelve Steps Program
“A.A.’s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole. .... Many people, nonalcoholics, report that as a result of the practice of A.A.’s Twelve Steps, they have been able to meet other difficulties of life. They think that the Twelve Steps can mean more than sobriety for problem drinkers. They see in them a way to happy and effective living for many, alcoholic or not” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 15-16).
Anything that promotes obsessive or compulsive behaviours may be regarded as addictive – work, exercise, prescription drugs, sex, pornography, shopping etc. Ours is an addictive society.
Spiritual Practices and Attitudes 7. Eucharist: Bread of Life
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002) goes to the heart of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist:
The sacrificial nature of the Mass, solemnly asserted by the Council of Trent in accordance with the Church’s universal tradition, [Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session 22, Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, 17 September 1562 : Enchiridion Symbolorum, H. Denzinger and A. Schönmetzer, editors (editio XXXIII, Freiburg: Herder, 1965; hereafter, Denz-Schön), 1738-1759.] was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which offered these significant words about the Mass: ‘At the Last Supper our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood, by which he would perpetuate the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until he should come again, thus entrusting to the Church, his beloved Bride, the memorial of his death and resurrection.’
Reflection on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (13 January 2019)
By Michael Whelan SM
In October 1536 there was an uprising in the northern parts of England. It became known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. These were people rebelling against the decisions of Henry VIII to place himself at the head of the Church and have his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, disband the monasteries and confiscate their properties. Not only were the rebels crushed and their leaders executed – some hung, drawn and quartered – in destroying the monasteries, Henry destroyed a substantial healthcare system, a solid religious practice and a social structure that sustained and enriched the lives of the people – see Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, Yale University Press, 1992.
In 1952, Hilda Prescott published her account of this tragedy in her historical novel, The Man on a Donkey. Eamon Duffy has described this work as “a largely forgotten masterpiece” (Eamon Duffy, ‘Pitiless Power of Henry’s Man’, review of Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, The Tablet 19 May 2012, 18).