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The Sacramental Consummation of the Moral
Life According to St. Thomas Aquinas



This paper shows the theological vision of Aquinas’ moral theology by exploring the intimate connectedness of his moral thought in the prima secundae of the Summa theologiae with his sacramental theology and Christology in the tertia pars. While some have disputed the theological and Christological character of Aquinas’ moral thought, both the structural presentation of the Summa and the key role grace plays in his treatment of the moral life point to the importance of the sacraments, which, empowered by the Holy Spirit, communicate the grace of Christ's Passion to men, who by themselves cannot act to attain their end in God because of God's infinity and man's sinfulness. The paper proceeds by exploring Aquinas’ moral writings on man's end, habits and human action, and law and grace to a discussion of why man needs a savior. The paper then discusses the Passion of Christ the savior and its function in forgiving sin and opening the way to the infinite God in heaven for finite men, and concludes with a discussion of the importance of the Sacraments in the moral life as the instruments through which the effects of Christ's Passion are transmitted to men.