key insights of Part
In Part One of the Summa, Aquinas takes in the broad sweep of
the known universe: the mystery of why there is not nothing, the
inherent desire of life to flourish, our ability to use our reason
to understand and further this destiny, the revelation of the
Trinity as God's delighted and loving self-knowledge, and our
ultimate purpose of growing into an enjoyment of this graced state
of happiness ourselves.
In Part Two, moving beyond philosophy and theology, Aquinas
becomes a psychologist and a social thinker and delves into
particulars of practical human behavior, showing us how to reason
our way to happiness by figuring out the actions that move us
closer, day by day, to our own flourishing. Declaring
that the whole point of morality is to support this unfolding,
to goodness, drawing us like a magnet to seek it, and how to
be truly happy, we have to be vulnerable enough to let this
He shows how the practice of virtue moves
us closer to our ultimate happiness and how sin blocks the
Laws and grace also keep us on the straight and narrow and heal
us when we stray.
It's key insights are as follows:
The point of morals is to make us happy! Our primary moral
imperative is to recognize what we are—seekers of a
happy self-awareness via possession of truth and goodness—and
act accordingly. And to become happy, we must act, so the
morality, including behaviors considered virtuous or sinful,
the idea of grace, and the purpose of law, is meant to identify
which of our actions advance happiness and which block the
Charity, the act of letting our hearts be drawn by love
to goodness, is essential to happiness. When we allow ourselves
to be aware of and open to the goodness in the world, we we
are drawn to it and want to cherish it, and in this knowing
and loving we are happy. Charity is the natural response to
the wonder of the universe and all its life forms (especially
the human ones). Without being vulnerable enough to love something,
it is impossible to be happy; we love in order to have the
and perception of the world that leads to beatitudo.
Law is an act of reason planning action based on the fact that
lifeforms seek their own good (i.e., to grow into their own
potential). So the primary law, upon which all other laws must
be based, is that good be done (i.e., fourishing occur) and
evil avoided. This is what Aquinas calls natural law.
Grace is the mysterious means by which we are healed, recharged,
and recommited to the right path to our own flourishing.
When God plays in space-time, what we get is the known universe,
including us, growing in complexity and consciousness, thinking
our way back to the happy self-awareness of the Trinity, carried
along by what Aquinas describes in the Summa's Part Three.