Theology chair for the University of Saint Mary of the Lake Dr. Matthew Levering presented the annual St. Thomas Aquinas Lecture at Christendom College this past week to a packed room of students, faculty, and staff members. Held every year on or around the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Levering delivered a lecture entitled “Aquinas on Studiousness,” explaining how studiousness is significant for the Christian moral life.
Levering, who is the author of numerous books, spoke on studiousness in a nuanced manner, examining the topic through the lens of Paul J. Griffiths’ work Intellectual Appetite and through the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. Levering touched upon the differences between studiousness and curiosity, stating that the studious do not seek to dominate what they hope to know, but look to respond lovingly to knowledge as a gift. The curious, on the other hand, look at reality as something to be seized or dominated.
“Studious Christians love and study that which God has written, and give back God’s words in liturgical praise and proclamation, that in turn give these words to the whole world. The virtue of studiousness, as a result, should be devoted to grateful receipt, and to stewardly use of what you learn,” said Levering.
Furthermore, Levering pointed out that Aquinas stated that the virtue of studiousness moderates man’s natural desire to know, directing the mind to think about the right things in the right way. Curiosity, on the other hand, is generally about pleasures arising from the knowledge of the senses.
“All things must be referred to God, and we are only stewards. Knowing involves wonder, praise, and also tremendous limitations. Curiosity involves a rejecting of this true order of things, and in its seeking of dominance over knowledge, it ends up leading to boredom,” concluded Levering. “Thankfully, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the studious person desires knowledge not for domination, but for intimate sharing in God and His gifts.”
Throughout the year, Christendom College hosts many notable speakers, providing its students with exposure to some of the great Catholic thinkers of today.