Formal Opening of the New Semester

Students, faculty and staff were treated to an introduction by Fr. Dr. Jean-Yves Brachet to the year 2018 commemorating 50 years Humanae Vitae and 25 years Veritatis Splendor

- Download here the talk by Fr. Dr. Jean-Yves Brachet on "The truth will make you free." (John 8, 32) Some thoughts on he occasion of the Church in this year 2018 commemorating 50 years of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) and 25 years Veritatis Splendor (1993 - Read below the Homily by Fr. Dr. Josef Spindelböck: Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, Today at the beginning of the new semester here in Trumau at the ITI, it is a special occasion and joy for us all to celebrate the Holy Mass in honor of St Thomas Aquinas. His feast day is on January 28th according to the ordinary liturgical calendar of the Roman rite; but there is also the traditional date of March 7th in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, reminding us of the day when St Thomas left this earthly house to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The liturgical reading from the book of Wisdom tells us that true Wisdom can only be found in God as a fruit of prayer and meditation. St Thomas Aquinas was well aware of all this. Of course, he was talented with many natural gifts for study and discernment, and he was willing to use them all in a good way. But he knew that true Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and this gift is given to the pious and humble ones, not to proud and selfish persons. In this way, we might say, that for St Thomas there was a priority of holiness in his life. Everything else had to be in the service of this Divine vocation of holiness. True holiness does not destroy the gifts of nature but elevates and transforms them. Therefore, there was no suspicion in the mind of St Thomas that deeper studies and reflections – even of a pagan teacher like Aristotle – could be an obstacle on the way to holiness. The great charism of St Thomas is the union of piety and science, the unity of holiness and theology including philosophy. And so, St Thomas realized the ideal of his Dominican order, as it had been formulated: namely to contemplate the truth of God and to communicate the insights of meditation and reflection – namely of true contemplation – to all the people whom God had chosen (“contemplata aliis tradere”). This purely selfless attitude was the motivating force for the life of St Thomas: He wanted to honor God as the origin of all natural and supernatural gifts, and in doing so he served the salvation of souls. All this was realized in a way of Divine integrity, of true holiness. In this way St Thomas proved himself as a “doctor angelicus”, as a teacher like an angel. How can we be inspired by the example and doctrine of St Thomas? First, we should be aware that St Thomas is a patron of the universal Church, who prays to God for all of us. He does not only belong to the Latin Church but also to the Eastern Church. He is not only a Dominican saint representing the tradition of his order but a saint for us all. The Church herself has repeatedly recommended the example and the doctrine of St Thomas to the teachers and students of philosophy and theology. The latest recommendation (from December 27th, 2017) is contained in the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Francis “Veritatis gaudium” on Ecclesiastical universities and faculties which is now obligatory and relevant as a following document of “Sapientia Christiana”. Pope Francis tells us in this Apostolic Constitution in Article 64. § 1: “The research and teaching of philosophy in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy must be rooted in the ‘philosophical patrimony which is perennially valid’, which has developed throughout the history, with special attention being given to the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas. At the same time, the philosophy taught in an Ecclesiastical Faculty must be open to the contributions that more recent research has provided and continues to offer. One must emphasize the sapiential and metaphysical dimensions of philosophy.” The same remains true for the field of theology, and Pope Francis refers not only to “Optatam totius” (no. 16) of Vatican Council II but also to the letter of Blessed Pope Paul VI “Lumen Ecclesiae, about St. Thomas Aquinas, of November 20, 1974. Let us raise – in a friendly way! – a critical question at the end of these reflections: Is Thomistic philosophy and theology an ideology? Is it a narrow-minded and distorted way to look on reality? Are we slaves of the concepts and errors of St Thomas? In no way! This great teacher of the Church always asked for the truth, both Divine and human, and he used every way to come to the knowledge and contemplation of truth, both by way of reason and in the light of faith. His openness allowed him to correct himself if necessary. The doctrine of St Thomas is systematic, but it is not a closed system as if there were a barrier or obstacle for a more and more perfect knowledge of truth. St Thomas reminds us by his example and teaching to be open for the truth wherever we can find it. We should not fear anything, since Christ is the redeemer. God himself has given all these wonderful talents and graces to St Thomas so that he could serve the Church in a most perfect way. Therefore, let us study and read St Thomas and many other authors who can teach us human and Divine truth; let us strive to follow the example of St Thomas in a holy life, and let us be confident that his intercession from heaven will be a true help for us here on earth. Amen.