Bernard McGinn
University of Chicago Divinity School
 St. Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica:
A Masterwork Across the Ages
September 22, 2016 (5:30pm) Clark Hall 108
Missed the lecture? Then watch the video!

The great Summa Theologca is one of the most important works of theological wisdom ever written, a masterwork for the ages that continues to influence Western religion and philosophy. Despite its intellectual importance, many know far too little about the original purpose, the structure of the text, the historical reception over the past 700 years, and the continued relevance of the wisdom offered by the Summa Theologica. This public lecture by the eminent scholar of historical theology and Christian mysticism Bernard McGinn is free and open to all, so invite a friend and/or colleague. 


November 5 (1:00pm): Reinhard Hütter (Catholic University of America), "The Development of Doctrine and Why it Matters: The Ongoing Relevance of John Henry Newman's Thought"

Cosponsored with The Thomistic Institute and St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish, Location: 401 Alderman Rd., St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish Hall.

October 23, 2017 (Monday, 6:30pm): The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta, "We are ALL the Lord's"
In light of what happened at UVA and in Charlottesville on Aug. 11-12, it is important to know not only that the Church condemns racism, but also why it does so without equivocation. In the 1937 Papal encyclical Mit Brenneder Sorge, Pope Pius XI condemned the newly emergent Nazi ideology of race and warned the Church "to watch carefully ... that religious fundamental concepts be not emptied of their content and distorted to profane use." The Pope cautioned that "whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State,...divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distort[ing] and pervert[ing] an order of the world planned and created by God." Despite these prophetic words 80 years ago, it remains necessary not only to be reminded again why and how "we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:8) but "We all must raise our voices in condemning the vile acts that have taken place, and also stand in solidarity and union with those who are speaking out in their communities."
ALL are invited to attend this public lecture, which will begin at 6:30pm in Minor Hall Auditorium, and to the post-lecture reception at the nearby Colonnade Club (Pavilion VII).

March 27, 2017 (Monday, 7:30-8:30pm): On Happiness and Marriage: 5 Lessons from the Social Sciences

Although the Church consistently has taught that strong families are first foundations for stable societies and happy and healthy lives, sex ed proponents often focus single mindedly on short-term behaviors like contraception without realistically considering the longer-term effects on young adults' emotional lives, relationships, and their odds of forging stable and happy marriages. In this talk, Professor Brad Wilcox will discuss a robust body of social science research for students who wish to be happy and, eventually, successfully married. Sociology professor Brad Wilcox teaches sociology of family and also directs the National Marriage Project at UVA.

Emmanuel Falque

Professor of Philosophy,
Institut Catholique de Paris
Thursday, March 3, 2016 (5:15pm)
UVA-Minor Hall Auditorium
Missed the lecture?: Watch the video.
Christian theology largely has focused on asking the questions "What?" and "Why?," and in doing so has produced an immense body of creeds and doctrine. One significant question often bypassed is: "How?" Yet, as Prof. Falque's newly translated God, the Flesh, and the Other reveals, if we return to consider the Fathers and medieval theologians and their orders we find that they are deeply concerned with the question about how to create a manner of being in the Church and before God so that our lives are pleasing to God. For the mendicant orders, for example, preaching is not simply a work for the Dominicans; it is a way of being Christian. For the Franciscans, poverty is not so much what one does as how one lives in orientation to true friendship with God and creatures.  All are invited to attend Prof. Falque's public lecture, which promises to open up these older Christian sources in fresh ways to expose their varied and dedicated answers to the central question: "How?"

"The Dance of the Fertile Universe: Science and

the Search for God"

George V. Coyne, S.J.

McDevitt Chair of Religious Philosophy
Le Moyne College
Former Director of Vatican Observatory
UVA - Minor Hall Auditorium - 5:15pm
Missed the lecture?: Watch it here.
What is the modern scientific understanding of the development of the universe?  We observe, in multiple ways, that it is dynamic and evolving, but did we come about by chance or by necessity? Beyond this elemental inquire, what are we to make of the massive scale and "fertility" of an observable universe that is open, still unfolding, and yet explainable by the order of constant chemical and physical properties and the unpredictability of random variations that not only allows for new material forms but, most unexpectedly, human consciousness by which matter becomes both aware of itself and, in certain respects, free to desire and to act beyond its immediate material constraints. Fr. George Coyne, former Director of the Vatican Observatory and now McDevitt Chair of Religious Philosophy at Lemoyne College, will take up these initial questions and then ask: What do answers to these questions reveal about the purposes and ultimate ends of modern science, as well as about the constant, older and widespread quest to understand the invisible, eternal God who, according to a wide spectrum of religious believers, created the order and dynamics of the universe?

"Speaking of the Other:

On the 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate (1965)"

Michael Root
Professor of Systematic Theology
Catholic University of America


Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 (5:15pm)
UVA-Minor Hall Auditorium
Missed the lecture? Watch it here.
Nostra Aetate ("In our Time") is widely recognized as one of the

most important (and shortest!) works of the Second Vatican Council, and its immediate and enduring significance rests in its open and thoughtful discussion of the relationship of the Church to other religions, most especially our older Jewish brothers and sisters. Catholic University of America Professor of Theology Michael Root discussed the historical origins and text of Nostra Aetate and how its content continues to be influential for the Church and others 50 years later. 


"God as Infinite"

Fr. David Tracy

Professor Emeritus of Catholic Studies and
Professor of Theology and the Philosophy of Religions
University of Chicago Divinity School
Thursday, October 1, 2015 (5:15pm)
UVA-Minor Hall Auditorium
Missed this lecture?: watch it here.

How ought we to think of God? Christians have long believed in the deeply radical idea of God as the Creator of all things visible and invisible, but is God also infinite and does it make a difference if He is?

One of the leading theologians of our time, University of Chicago Professor David Tracy discussed the various meanings of the 'Infinite' as they relate to our understanding of God. He began by drawing a distinction between the modern mathematical concept of infinity and what the 'infinite' meant among the ancients, especially what it meant philosophically for Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus. For Plato, the ultimate grounding of Reality was what he referred to as "The Good." The Platonic idea of the Good transcends beyond Being--that is, beyond the limits of all existing things--and, therefore, it is beyond our capacities to grasp directly through our powers of reasoning. As a result, this ultimate Good was unknowable except only partially by the divinely-inspired philosopher or Truth-seeker. For Aristotle, infinity was a deep and especially unintelligible imperfection because it lacked the necessary boundary conditions associated with a distinct and, therefore, knowable form. For Plotinus, the ultimate grounding of Reality could be glimpsed and referred to as the all encompassing "Oneness" of Being. The "One" was both simple and an infinite overflowing Good, and yet it was an impersonal (and, therefore, unloving) Good. For early Christian thinkers, these Greek philosophical resources offered only a fragmented and an inadequate image of God as unknowable, inaccessible, unintellible, impersonal and unloving. Not surprisingly, early Christian descriptions of God did not commonly include the infinite as a Divine attribute.  Yet as Prof. Tracy explained,

Wolfgang Koch

University of Bonn

"Charlemagne, Adenauer, and the Crisis of European Union"


UVA Newcomb Hall-Gallery Room
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 (6:15pm)
In rather uninspiring ways, some leaders still repeat largely hollowed out Enlightenment platitudes about secularized societies deliberately designed to free us from all dogma, including of course our most deeply held religious beliefs and practices.  The results of social orders “freed” from moral foundations and of governance structures uncoupled from organic social boundaries are well-known except by those who casually or deceptively skip over the human tragedies of the 20th and now 21st centuries.   But even the most fragmented and bankrupted social orders can be rebuilt, and visiting University of Bonn Prof. Wolfgang Koch will close our 2014-15 public lecture series with an account of how the religiously inspired leadership of Charlemagne in the 8th and 9th centuries and of Konrad Adenauer after the destruction of WWII aided the reconstruction of western Europe.   All are invited to attend this public lecture, which will begin at 6:15pm in the Newcomb Hall Gallery Room at the University of Virginia.  Nearby parking is available in the University Bookstore garage.

"St. Hildegard's Hexaemeron in Art and Music"

Margot Fassler

Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy,
Director of the Program of Sacred Music,
University of Notre Dame
The achievements of St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) are less widely well known yet they are long and distinguished: a Doctor of the Church (!); a mystic whose extensive visions were vetted by the Pope and theologians of her time; advisor to many; vocal critic of political and Church corruption; a venerated Benedictine magistra; author of several influential works of moral theology and exegesis, the first medieval morality play, and several scientific and medical treatises; and the composer of an extensive corpus of highly inspiring artistic illuminations and chanted hymns. 
All are invited to attend this free public lecture, which will address Hildegard's understanding of the six days of Creation, the Hexaemeron.


"Enlightenment Saints in the Age of Reason"

Ulrich Lehner

Marquette University

Propelled by advances in the mathematical and practical sciences in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Enlightenment reshaped the contours and content of Western thought in ways that still define the modern era. This "Age of Reason" also yielded immense social upheaval that included anti-clerical and anti-religious thought and violence, especially by political actors intent on consolidating the powers of their states. Yet as Marquette University Professor Ulrich Lehner argued during his snow-filled (!) visit March 5-6, the Enlightenment was a time of intense religious zeal and fervor, and an era in which the reforms of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) finally were implemented. The Church, moreover, was aided and enriched by the saints of this era, who emerged to challenge not only the agendas of the most secular Enlighteners, but also the prevailing theological establishment through their insistence on the universal call to holiness and the need for reform of moral theology and pastoral care.

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