The mission of The Aquinas Institute is to form a new generation of Catholic theologians and philosophers through direct contact with the sources of Catholic doctrine, faithful to the teaching authority of the hierarchy of the Church, and in a community that has the Incarnate Word of God as its center.
The primary means of this formation is teaching, and the secondary means is the publication of the works of great teachers.
Crest and Patronage
The Mother of Jesus is signified by the star of Mount Carmel. As she brought forth her firstborn son according to her fiat, so the truths she was given to contemplate in her heart bear fruit in the preaching of the Gospel.
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is signified by the simplicity of Mount Carmel. St. Thérèse lives the life of the Trinity as a child who loves. As children, we come forth from God in His Image, and in union with Him we love with the Holy Spirit.
St. Thomas Aquinas is signified by the deepest desire of his heart: non nisi te Domine. Out of his familiar conversation with God and the Saints, St. Thomas loved and wrote; and through this intimate relationship with his beloved, St. Thomas was called to preach Christ crucified to the world.
We are called out of the world so that we may learn to love and to see as St. Thomas and St. Thérèse. We are sent back into the world so that we may set the world on fire with the love and the knowledge of Jesus. Such a formation requires familiar love of God, intense study of the sources of Catholic teaching, and contemplation in friendship with others who love and study.
Elaboration of the Mission
“And this is eternal life: to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Sacred Doctrine is the science, at once speculative and practical, of things divinely revealed. It is the science of attentive listening to God in all His revelations, so that one may conform one’s mind and life to Him. Of all the kinds of knowledge available to man, it is the science most worth pursuing in itself and the science most useful to pursue.
Among the various means rightly used to pursue this Wisdom, the Holy Catholic Church recommends in a special way St. Thomas Aquinas. In advocating St. Thomas, the Church does not ask that we simply study his works; she asks that we imitate his very manner as a holy theologian. St. Thomas’s radically self-emptying life, his example of heroic virtue, is the embodiment of the mysteries of which he treats in his writings. It is precisely in this holistic way that The Aquinas Institute seeks to approach Sacred Doctrine: as the “holy teaching” eloquently expounded and intensely lived by the Angelic Doctor.
Given the desire to draw near to the Sacred Mysteries in a systematic and principled way, as following faithfully in the footsteps of St. Thomas, it is most natural to turn one’s attention to the invaluable works of St. Thomas as a starting point for learning both the doctrine and the method, the goal and the way. The written works he left behind are thus an initiation into, as well as authentic tokens of, a life of contemplation and of sharing the fruits of contemplation. Hence, in a spirit of docility to the constant teaching of the Church, The Aquinas Institute in a particular way relies on, makes available, and seeks to study the original works of St. Thomas.
The science of Sacred Doctrine is, of course, in no way limited to the written works of St. Thomas Aquinas; even less is it limited to what are commonly called “Thomistic studies.” The aim of The Aquinas Institute is rather to approach the whole of God’s revelation as this great saint and doctor of the Church would do. Hence, the primary focus of any course at the Institute is not the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas as such, but the mysteries of God. For the aim of Sacred Doctrine is not the work of any particular theologian: it is the reality of God Himself.
While The Aquinas Institute’s efforts are organized for all teachers and students who desire to come closer to God by an intensive study of His mysteries, we seek in a special way to assist in the ongoing sacerdotal formation of priests and seminarians, “the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1).