The Aquinas Academy
The Aquinas Academy was set up under the auspices of the Australian Province of the Marist Fathers by Fr Austin Woodbury SM in March 1945. The Academy began as a centre for the study of Philosophy and Theology in the Thomistic tradition. For some twenty-nine years it continued in this capacity under Fr Woodbury's guidance, in premises at the back of St Patrick's Church, Gloucester Street, in The Rocks (Sydney, NSW). For a short while the Academy offered a License in Philosophy under accreditation from the University of St Thomas in Rome. Since its inception, a number of qualified priests, religious and laity have been part of the lecturing staff. The Academy was one of the pioneers of Catholic adult education in Australia.
Since 1975, the Academy has increasingly focused on general adult education in the faith. Perhaps the most popular of the programs mounted was the Christian Growth Program, offering basic education in theology, morality, psychology and spirituality.
Courses Outline - 2021 (February & March)
THE SOUL IS A LONELY HUNTER: Mid Century American Short Stories
Presenter: Elizabeth Guy BA Dip Ed, Diploma in Art History, Masters, Hons., PhD in Poetry & Politics
When: 4 Wednesday mornings, 10am – 12noon, February 3, 10, 17, 24
Where: Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, Sydney
Cost: $150/person (Including summary notes)
Thomas Merton: Contemplation and Action
Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
During my sabbatical in Merton’s hermitage, the world, my own issues and hurts, all my goals and desires gradually dissolved and fell into proper perspective. God became obvious and ever present. (Sunday)
The contemplative life is not, and cannot be, a mere withdrawal, a pure negation, a turning of one’s back on the world with its sufferings, its crises, its confusions and its errors. —Thomas Merton (Monday)
Course: The Soul is a Lonely Hunter
Mid Century American Short Stories
Starts Wednesday 3 Feb
This course explores the preoccupations of four mid-20th century American short story writers: William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor and Ernest Hemingway. In particular we will read, examine and discuss the way these writers represent spiritual isolation, desire for redemption and hunger for true connection. These giants of American Literature hold in their cross hairs a landscape driven by uncertainty and estrangement.
Course: Catholic Social Teaching - A Historical and Theological Overview
Concluding with Francis' Fratelli Tutti
Starts Thursday 4 Feb
This course will consider the development of Catholic social teaching from both a historical and theological perspective. It will begin with the attempts by Catholic thinkers and pastoral leaders to respond to the injustices of industrialization in nineteenth-century Europe. It will then consider
Course: Developing Your Own Spirituality, Unit II
Crises & dimensions, thinking & willing
Starts Thursday 4 February
In Unit I we focused on some general principles underlying the development of a healthy spirituality. In Unit II we will focus more on particular concrete facets of spirituality. Walker Percy, the American essayist, wrote: “It is pilgrims we are, wayfarers on a journey, and not pigs, not angels.” (Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins: Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World, Avon Books, 1978, 104.)
Pilgrims frequently come to crossroads, choices must be made – sometimes without much knowledge of what the consequences might be.
Course: "Take off your Shoes" - The Sanctuary of Conscience
Starts Tuesday 2 March
We often hear the phrase ‘follow your conscience’. But what exactly does the word ‘conscience’ mean? How does ‘follow your conscience’ differ from ‘anything goes?’ How important is the role of ‘conscience’ - in the eyes of the Church and, more importantly, in the eyes of God? How can we understand the ‘primacy of conscience’ and the way it relates to the ‘primacy of truth’?
By Michael Whelan SM
Three months before he died on 7 March 1274, St Thomas Aquinas had an extraordinary “experience” while celebrating Mass. As a result of this “experience”, St Thomas refused to do any further work on the Summa Theologica – his major life project. The English Dominican Thomistic scholar, Brian Davies, tells us that Aquinas’ secretary, Reginald of Piperno, begged him to return to the writing. St Thomas replied: "Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me" (Brian Davies, The Thought of Thomas Aquinas, Oxford University Press, 1993, 9).
The self-emptying of Divine Presence
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
•“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
Spiritual Practices and Attitudes 11 - A Primary Conversation
Notes by Michael Whelan SM
“I will be with you!” [Exodus 3:12] This is not only a promise, it is an expression of the very nature of God. To be God is to be with! Jesus enfleshes this same promise and the Divine Nature: “And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20).
We are made in the image and likeness of the One whose nature it is to be with. It is also our nature to be with. We are at our best when that “being with” is embraced generously and allowed to shape our lives. We thrive in constructive and life-giving relationships, we wither in the absence of such relationships. “Relationship is written into the very nature of human beings. As the Bible sees human beings, you cannot think about them, without recognizing that they are, as it were, made for relationship” (Aelred Squire, Asking the Fathers, SPCK, 1972, 20).
Gospel for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (24 January 2021)
Gospel Notes by Michael Whelan SM
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him (Mark 1:14-20 – NRSV).