The Holy Spirit and Moral Action in Thomas Aquinas is a detailed study of how, according to one of Christianity’s greatest visionary thinkers, God’s Holy Spirit is continuously at work in and through humanity’s moral activity. Jack Mahoney, SJ, documents, notably from Aquinas’s commentaries on scripture, how “the grace of the Holy Spirit” prompts and influences people’s minds, as well as their decisions to act, occasionally in unexpected ways. Through the gift of connatural wisdom, the Spirit empowers humans to appreciate God’s own wise and loving design for the whole of creation, and enables them to cooperate freely in fulfilling their unique part in it.
Jack Mahoney, SJ, has written and spoken extensively on ethics and theology. He is currently based at the London Jesuit Centre.
1.Understanding the Holy Spirit
2.The “Prompting” of the Holy Spirit
3.“The Law of the Spirit of Life” (Rom. 8.2)
4.Moral Decision-Making in the Spirit
5.Constants of the Holy Spirit
It is commonplace that the Holy Spirit is a neglected theological topic – perhaps nowhere more grievously than in Catholic moral theology. Jack Mahoney remedies the situation in a study of Aquinas that is focused yet expansive, technical yet spiritual, rigorous yet inspirational. The Holy Spirit comes into its own as the center, power, and joy of the Christian moral life. This is another stunning achievement from a renowned theologian whose prestige is once again resoundingly validated.
In this magisterial account, Jack Mahoney reveals to us the ‘drive’ by which the Holy Spirit prompts and guides Thomas Aquinas’s theological inquiries in the Summa Theologiae and the long-overlooked Commentaries on the Scriptures. Mahoney ably trains us to discern the synthesis of wisdom that pervades the corpus of Aquinas’s thought. This ground-breaking work, thoughtfully and beautifully conveyed by a theologian long known for his impeccable judgment, clarity of expression, and profundity of reflection, is certain to become a classic.
The long-established uncontroversial conception of Thomas Aquinas’s natural law ethics as baptized Aristotle, based on study of the relevant questions in the Summa and related scholastic disputations, finally crashes in this great work of theological scholarship: rather, grounded on reading his biblical commentaries, his ethics turns out to be an account of how the behaviour of Christian people is driven by the Holy Spirit. After all, expounding Scripture was Thomas’s everyday job: here Mahoney makes a wonderful contribution to what is still only a trickle of studies that engage deeply with the biblical commentaries. Then, while plainly at ease in recent philosophical work on Aquinas, Mahoney joins the increasing number of exponents of Thomas as theologian of the Trinity and spiritual master. This is a great book.
Mahoney must have done an immense amount of reading…. It is lovely to watch him ranging round Aquinas' scripture commentaries. He succeeds in showing that Aquinas is primarily a scriptural commentator, and that in this he was constantly being enriched by his attention to Augustine and Aristotle. It is a joy to see the depth of knowledge and breadth of reading [in his scripture commentaries] which lies behind the succinct arguments of the Summa of Aquinas’ teaching. It was also refreshing to see his use of imagery from the natural world, to illustrate the paradoxes of the workings of grace: the rushing waters of the Spirit move the human will ‘as a river moves sand and pebbles'.… The book is a noble illustration of the rich tradition of medieval thought.