Saint John Paul II wrote: “Philosophy is like the mirror in which the culture of the people is reflected” [1] . Therefore, the study of philosophy is for us – dedicated specifically to the evangelization of culture [2] – of singular and eminent relevance. This is how our Constitutions state it, where it is stated that “philosophy is what leads us to a deeper knowledge and interpretation of the person, of his freedom, of his relations with the world and with God […] in the face of a cultural situation completely particular, which exalts subjectivism as a criterion and measure of truth” [3]. In such a way that to us, religious and missionaries of the Incarnate Word, it is necessarily incumbent on us to have a “certainty of the truth”, which is given only by a sound metaphysics and founded on the objective reality of things [4] .

Hence, following the example of the Popes, the directives of the Second Vatican Council and the current Code of Canon Law, which have given a privileged place to the teachings of the Angelic Doctor, it is our clear intention to follow Saint Thomas Aquinas; for that is what the specific purpose of the Institute requires of us, since only in this way can we discern among the elements of a given culture what corresponds and can be assumed by the Gospel in order to accept it and what not, in order to reject it. Which also entails an active judgment on human thought and on Thomism itself in relation to modern thought.

For this reason, our intellectual and philosophical formation is clearly and intentionally Thomistic as the Church mandates [5] and the dignified task of “inculturating the Gospel” [6] requires it . Since it is “from the philosophy of being that man can find his true foundation, which is being, he can find his last end, which is Being by Essence, and can also find his bottom, which is freedom.” . And in this way, discover the true cultural values” [7] .

In this regard, the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote: “It is only accidental that St. Thomas belongs to the thirteenth century. His thinking is not confined to that period of human history any more than multiplication tables are confined to the past. Truth is eternal, even though its verbal expression is localized in time and space. If necessity creates a reality, then Saint Thomas was never more real than he is today. If reality makes modernity, then Saint Thomas is the prince of modern philosophers. If a progressive universe is a contemporary ideal, then the philosophy of St. Thomas is the greatest realization of it. Modern idealism needs the complement of its realism; empiricism needs its transcendental principles; philosophical biologism its metaphysics; sociological morality its ethics; sentimentalism his theory of intelligence; and the world needs the God he knew, loved, and adored.”[8] .

Santo Tomás, in fact, gives perennial light to all the themes that touch man and human endeavor. His thought “wants to be the most vigorous expression of the possibilities of reason in its task of founding science and faith” [9] . His metaphysics, as Saint Paul VI said well, is the natural metaphysics of human intelligence . Indeed, “it has a permanent aptitude to guide the human spirit in the search for truth, for the truth of the real being that is its own and first object, and of the first principles, until reaching the discovery of its transcendent cause that is God. Under this aspect, he escapes the particular historical situation of the thinker who has explored and illustrated it as the natural metaphysics of human intelligence.[…] Likewise, ‘reflecting the essences of things that really exist in their certain and immutable truth, it is neither medieval nor proper to a particular nation; rather, it transcends time and space, and is no less valid for today’s men’” [10] . With good reason, then, the Holy Doctor has been called “the man of all hours, homo omnium horarum ” [11] .

Therefore, we do not fit a vulgarized, manual Thomism, as happens with those who know ‘something’, generally superficial and epidermal, and almost always impregnated with formalist or essentialist scholasticism, which transmuted esse for existentia and where formalist or essentialist ‘spiritualities’ and ‘pastorals’ arose, without claw and without biting into reality [12]. Rather, we strive to acquire a truly metaphysical intelligence, which enables our religious to know reality, and be capable of making precise diagnoses and applying the appropriate remedies. That is to say, ours is to acquire a metaphysics that bites into reality, and that is projected afterwards for the good of souls and the world, and that because it is precisely objective and realistic, ‘has claw’.

For this reason, our own right emphatically invites us to “transcend the manual method through constant recourse to reading the great philosophical works of antiquity ; with a living Thomism , which implies: direct contact with Aquinate himself, in his main and secondary works, thus reaching the authentic thought of Saint Thomas until being able to think from him, entering into dialogue and controversy with contemporary problems and thinkers. A living Thomism that contrasts with a formalist and fossilized Thomism and which is what Fr. Cornelio Fabro calls ‘essential Thomism’ [13] ” [14] .

We do this “through the reading of the great commentators on Saint Thomas ” [15] , among whom the proper law explicitly mentions Fr. Cornelio Fabro, arguing that he is more important than all the commentators of the past “because he is knowledgeable of all of them and possessor of authentic texts and more advanced historical studies on Aquinas, which put him in purer contact with the original thought of the Angelic” [16] . And also, “through the study of modern philosophy : since it is to the questions and questions of modern authors that we must respond. In particular, it is fundamental to have a critical knowledge of the thought of Kant and Hegel” [17] .

That is why in various General Chapters of the Institute [18] and in accordance with the thought of our Founder and what was mandated by our own right, our clear intention to follow St. Thomas and Within this framework, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, who is, in our view, “the deepest connoisseur of Saint Thomas of all time” [19] .

Simply because the philosophy of Saint Thomas is the philosophy of being, this is of the ‘ actus essendi’ , whose transcendental value is the most direct way to rise to the knowledge of the subsistent Being and pure Act that is God. So then we, who are disciples of the Incarnate Word who one day presented himself to the apostles saying I am[20] thus we want to be priests, religious, and missionaries of ‘being’.


[1] Cf. Fides et Ratio , 103.

[2] Constitutions , 26.

[3] Pastores dabo vobis , 52.

[4] Cf. Constitutions , 220.

[5] Cf. Notes of the V General Chapter , 5.

[6] Constitutions , 5.

[7] Cf. Directory of Evangelization of Culture , 11.

[8] God and Intelligence , Foreword [Translated from English]

[9] C. Fabro, “Santo Tomás facing the challenge of modern thought”, in AA.VV., The reasons for Tomism , Pamplona, EUNSA, 1980, p. 43.

[10] Saint Paul VI, Address to the International Thomist Congress , September 10, 1965, in AAS 57 (1965), pp. 788-792; the highlighting is ours. The citation included is from Saint Paul VI, Letter to PA Fernández, Master General of the Friars Preachers , dated March 7, 1964; AAS 56 (1964) pp. 303-304.

[11] Ibid .

[12] The art of the Father , Part III, chap. Four.

[13] Directory of Intellectual Training , 56; op. cit. “For an essential Tomism”, in AA.VV., Las razones del Tomismo , Pamplona 1980. “An ‘essenzial Tomism’ and a Tomism that has not carattere simply historical ma è, anzitutto ed eminently, a speculative Tomism that must know approfondire I will be radicalized, having in mind also the legitimate esigenze of the modern pensiero”. Cf. A. Dalledonne, Il tomismo essenziale nell’esegesi “intensive” di Cornelio Fabro , in Renovatio, XVI, 1981, p. 118.

[14] Directory of Intellectual Training , 56.

[15] Ibid .

[16] Ibid .

[17] Ibid .

[18] See Notes of the V General Chapter , 5 and Notes of the VII General Chapter , 21 and 104.

[19] Fr. Carlos Buela, IVE, The art of the Father , Part III, chap. Four.

[20] Mt 14, 27