Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory in Thomas Aquinas with Dr. Kent Lasnoski

December 4, 2018

Each Sunday at Mass we repeat the same words: “ I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” We also remind ourselves that Jesus is coming again, most of us would rather not think too deeply about death and with it about Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. But how often do we take the time to consider what exactly that means?

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote his Compendium Theologiea during the last two years of his life, completing it in 1273. Unlike his Summa Theologiae, theology for theologians, Thomas wrote the Compendium to help laypeople to love God more by coming to know Him better. That is, it’s theology for everyone seeking to know, love, and serve God through faith in Jesus Christ.

During the waning days of this fall semester, Wyoming Catholic College juniors under Dr. Kent Lasnoski’s tutelage have been considering what St. Thomas had to say about judgment, Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven in the Compendium.

Dr. Lasnoski is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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Old Testament Judges and Kings and the Question of Centralization with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

November 13, 2018

“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)

When Israel entered the Promised Land, Joshua was the clear commander and leader of the people. Then he and his generation died. It was a generation that, as a friend used to say, forgot to make disciples. The memory of the Exodus and of the Lord God faded and, well, disaster was the result.

Enemies came to oppress Israel. In their pain they called out to the Lord who, because he is faithful, heard and answered by sending a judge to deliver them. Then, when the judge died, the cycle began all over again.

Dr. Jeremy Holmes and I have been team teaching freshman theology, a course that surveys the history of Israel in the Old Testament. Our classes that reflected on the judges and the subsequent anointing of a king over Israel got us thinking. Dr. Holmes is our guest on The After Dinner Scholar.

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Gods, Monsters, and Heroes: The Epic of Gilgamesh with Prof. Kyle Washut

October 9, 2018

“When the gods created Gilgamesh,” the ancient text says, “they gave him a perfect body. Shamash the glorious sun [god] endowed him with beauty, Adad the god of the storm endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull. Two thirds they made him god and one third man.”

Every year freshmen at Wyoming Catholic College struggle to find their bearings in the midst of The Epic of Gilgamesh. The epic was composed in Babylon in the mid- to late-second millennium BC. It was something of a founding myth for the Babylonian kings and the parallels between Gilgamesh and the Bible and Gilgamesh and Homer are, to say the least, intriguing.

Professor Kyle Washut has just finished teaching The Epic of Gilgamesh and is anxiously awaiting student papers reflecting on the tale. Prof. Washut is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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Veritatis Splendor and Conscience with Dr. Kent Lasnoski

September 18, 2018

Last week theologian Dr. Jeremy Holmes gave us an introduction to St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, The Splendor of Truth.

St. John Paul II wrote the encyclical in response to trends in moral theology that for the most part denied that morality can be universal, objective, and permanent.

He critiqued any doctrines that would “grant to individuals or social groups the right to determine what is good or evil.

Yet we make judgments about good and evil every day and the source of those judgments is our consciences.

Dr. Kent Lasnoski teaches moral theology at Wyoming Catholic College and has for many years been a student of St. John Paul II and his ethical writings. In this edition of The After Dinner Scholar, he explains the nature of conscience in Pope St. John Paul's writings.

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“The Splendor of Truth” Twenty-Five Years Later (Part 1) with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

September 11, 2018

As George Weigel’s biography of St. John Paul II makes clear, even as a young man, Karol Wojtyła had a passionate concern for truth. In his theological and philosophical studies, the question “What is truth?” was utmost in his mind along with the question of how to communicate the truth to others. And truth became a theme of his pontificate.

Twenty-five years ago last month on August 6, 1993, the Feast of the Transfiguration, John Paul promulgated the encyclical Veritatis Splendor, The Splendor of Truth. What he had to say needed to be heard twenty-five years ago and needs to be heard with even greater urgency today.

In this week’s podcast, part one of a two part series, Dr. Jeremy Holmes explains the need for the encyclical, the argument St. John Paul made, and some of the errors he addressed.

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Lecture - St. Antony and Purifying Courage by Prof. Kyle Washut

August 28, 2018

For Achilles, Hector who killed Patroclus was the great enemy. For Antigone, it was Creon the tyrant. For Aristotle, it was those attacking the city. Each case called for courage. But in the Christian era, something changed.

When Christians in the fourth century thought of courage, St. Antony came to mind. He led no army, fomented no rebellion against human tyrants, and did not defend any city. Instead Antony was a paragon of the courage it takes to battle the world, the devil, and the flesh, that is, our inner self, our sin nature.

At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Prof. Kyle Washut lectured on St. Athanasius’ masterful “Life of Antony.” Here are his comments on that life and this new way of understanding courage.

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Lecture - Courage in Conquest: Joshua and the People of Israel by Dr. James Tonkowich

August 7, 2018

“Have I not commanded you?” God said to Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The Bible, to no one’s surprise, is filled with examples of courage. Moses stood up to Pharaoh, David ran to battle Goliath with nothing but a sling and a few stones, Elijah called out King Ahab, Peter stood up to the Sanhedrin and eventually the Roman authorities who put him to death. G. K. Chesterton, commenting on Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane said, “Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator.”

At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought in June, Dr. Jim Tonkowich spoke about the meaning of courage in the Bible, focusing on the Old Testament story of Joshua.

Here are his remarks in their entirety.

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Humanae Vitae: Contributing to the Creation of a Truly Human Civilization with Dr. Kent Lasnoski and Dr. Jeremy Holmes

July 31, 2018

For most American Christians, contraception is simply a part of life requiring no more thought than whether to eat lunch or bathe regularly. It’s just done. What most don’t know is that for more than 1900 years, every Christian church taught that artificial contraception was a grave sin.

That changed in 1930 when the Anglican Communion ruled that contraception by married couples in certain limited circumstances was permissible. In 1931, the Federal Council of Churches—precursor to the National Council of Churches—followed suit. 

 Thirty-seven years later, on July 25, 1968, fifty years ago, Blessed Paul VI promulgated his encyclical Humanae Vitae, restating what Christians had believed for nearly two millennia. His rejection of artificial birth control was met with shock “Where did the pope get these ideas?” with anger “How dare he?” and with dissent that fifty years later continues to plague the Church and the world. Today, Humanae Vitae continues to be an encyclical that is as vilified and unheeded as it is unread.

Wyoming Catholic College theologians, Dr. Kent Lasnoski and Dr. Jeremy Holmes discuss what Paul VI actually said and why it matters this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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St. Thomas Aquinas and the Emotion of Courage with Dr. Stanley Grove

July 10, 2018

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, courage is an emotion before it’s a virtue. It’s something that arises in us naturally when we are faced by something we perceive as evil.

At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, we discussed St. Thomas’s understanding of the emotion or passion of courage with the help of Dr. Stanley Grove.

Dr. Grove pointed out that the passions are buried deep down in Thomas’s understanding of human nature. Through our rational nature, we take the world in with our intellect and reach out to the world with our will.

We sense the world through the animal aspect of our nature, that is the part we share with other animals who, while they are not in the image of God, also have bodies and live in the physical world. This includes our senses and our emotions or passions.

Dr. Grove is our guest for this After Dinner Scholar.

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Reading and Believing: De Verbum with Prof. Kyle Washut

May 8, 2018

In the second century AD, St. Irenaeus wrote, “We have known the method of our salvation by no other means than those by whom the gospel came to us; which gospel they truly preached; but afterward, by the will of God, they delivered to us in the Scriptures, to be for the future the foundation and pillar of our faith.”

Of course, just how the Scriptures serve as “the foundation and pillar of our faith” is a complicated question. Is it sufficient on its own as most of our Protestant friends believe? Or does it require the hand of the Church and of tradition lest we be led astray? Is interpretation open-ended, subject to the ideas and spirit of every age? Or is there a right and a wrong way (or assorted wrong ways) of understanding the Scriptures?

Professor Kyle Washut has been considering those kinds of questions with our freshmen looking at, among other texts, De Verbum from the Second Vatican Council. Professor Washut is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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