In his zeal for truth, Aquinas reverences the Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom

From Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio (1984):

Another of the great insights of Saint Thomas was his perception of the role of the Holy Spirit in the process by which knowledge matures into wisdom. From the first pages of his Summa Theologiæ,48 Aquinas was keen to show the primacy of the wisdom which is the gift of the Holy Spirit and which opens the way to a knowledge of divine realities. His theology allows us to understand what is distinctive of wisdom in its close link with faith and knowledge of the divine. This wisdom comes to know by way of connaturality; it presupposes faith and eventually formulates its right judgement on the basis of the truth of faith itself: “The wisdom named among the gifts of the Holy Spirit is distinct from the wisdom found among the intellectual virtues. This second wisdom is acquired through study, but the first ‘comes from on high’, as Saint James puts it. This also distinguishes it from faith, since faith accepts divine truth as it is. But the gift of wisdom enables judgement according to divine truth”.49

Yet the priority accorded this wisdom does not lead the Angelic Doctor to overlook the presence of two other complementary forms of wisdom—philosophical wisdom, which is based upon the capacity of the intellect, for all its natural limitations, to explore reality, and theological wisdom, which is based upon Revelation and which explores the contents of faith, entering the very mystery of God.

Profoundly convinced that “whatever its source, truth is of the Holy Spirit” (omne verum a quocumque dicatur a Spiritu Sancto est)50 Saint Thomas was impartial in his love of truth. He sought truth wherever it might be found and gave consummate demonstration of its universality. In him, the Church’s Magisterium has seen and recognized the passion for truth; and, precisely because it stays consistently within the horizon of universal, objective and transcendent truth, his thought scales “heights unthinkable to human intelligence”.51 Rightly, then, he may be called an “apostle of the truth”.52 Looking unreservedly to truth, the realism of Thomas could recognize the objectivity of truth and produce not merely a philosophy of “what seems to be” but a philosophy of “what is”.

48 Cf. I, 1, 6: “Præterea, hæc doctrina per studium acquiritur. Sapientia autem per infusionem habetur, unde inter septem dona Spiritus Sancti connumeratur”.
49 Ibid., II-II, 45, 1 ad 2; cf. also II-II, 45, 2.
50 Ibid., I-II, 109, 1 ad 1, which echoes the well known phrase of the Ambrosiaster, In Prima Cor 12:3: Patrologiæ Cursus completus, Series Latina 17, 258.
51 Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Æterni Patris (4 August 1879): Acta Apostolicæ Sedis [AAS] 11 (1878-79), 109.
52 Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Lumen Ecclesiæ (20 November 1974), 8: AAS 66 (1974), 683.

Fides et Ratio 44

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