SANTA PAULA, CALIF — On Friday, January 28, 2005, Thomas Aquinas College hosted a lecture by Rev. Romanus Cessario, O.P., on Aquinas on New Law Sacrifice as part of the college’s traditional celebration of the feast day of its patron saint. On the vigil of the feast day, the college’s faculty enjoyed a private dinner with Fr. Cessario, and on the holiday itself, students were free from classes; they instead attended the lecture, a votive Mass in honor of St. Thomas, and a formal dinner.
Noting that Fr. Cessario is a lecturer much in demand throughout the United States and Europe as well as in Australia, the Bahamas, and at the Vatican, college president Dr. Thomas Dillon said, “We are indeed grateful and honored that this great disciple of the Angelic Doctor made the long trek from Massachusetts to our campus to celebrate the feast of St. Thomas with us.”
Dr. Michael McLean, dean of the college, later remarked that Fr. Cessario “gave an excellent lecture explaining the sacrificial nature of the Mass as a re-presentation of Our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary. He stressed the necessity of the Mass for the forgiveness of sins, the important differences between sacrifice and gift, and the contribution of St. Thomas Aquinas to the Church’s teaching on these matters.”
Popes throughout the centuries have exhorted theologians and philosophers alike to study the writings of St. Thomas. In his encyclical, Aeterni Patris, Pope St. Leo XIII declared him “the prince and master of all Scholastic doctors” and designated him patron of all Catholic academic institutions throughout the world. Pope John Paul II refers to St. Thomas as “the guide and model for theological studies.” The updated Code of Canon Law, written in 1983, urges seminarians to study theology “with St. Thomas in particular as their teacher.” (Can. 252 §3)
Today, Thomas Aquinas College is at the forefront of American academic institutions that keep the rich theological tradition of St. Thomas alive. Indeed, the College was founded on the primacy of his thought, and the faculty, themselves disciples of the Angelic Doctor, nurtures the intellectual formation of the students under the guidance of the teaching Church.
During the Q & A session that followed the St. Thomas Day lecture, students asked Fr. Cessario to elaborate on topics such as how the Mass is the same sacrifice as Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, and the nature of the relationship between “sacrifice” and “communion.”
Fr. Cessario, who holds advanced degrees in philosophy from St. Stephen’s College in Massachusetts, the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., and the Université de Fribourg in Switzerland, is highly esteemed as a theologian in academic circles throughout the world.
Currently he is professor of systematic theology at St. John’s Seminary School of Theology in Massachusetts and visiting professor at the American and Australian campuses of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. Fr. Cessario is also associate editor of The Thomist, editor of Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology Series, and senior editor of Magnificat. A prolific writer, his contributions to academic journals are manifold; his most recently published book is John Capreolus: Treatise on the Virtues (CUA Press, 2001).