Napa Seminars: Sacraments, Grace & Free Will


Hosted by Thomas Aquinas College

In conjunction with the
Meritage Resort and Spa
Napa, Calif. | July 30-31, 2015
Open to all conference attendees

Please join members of the faculty of Thomas Aquinas College for two seminars and a buffet breakfast at this year’s Napa Institute conference, “Equipping Catholics in the Next America.” The seminars are open, free of charge, to all of the conference’s attendees. 

Seminar I: The Sacraments and Grace

Thursday, July 30
Complimentary breakfast: 7:30 – 8:00 a.m.
Seminar discussion: 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.

Christ acts through the Sacraments, and so the Catholic Church is thoroughly sacramental. But if God’s grace is sufficient for us, and if Christ’s death on the Cross satisfied for our sins, why do we need the Sacraments at all? St. Thomas Aquinas considers these questions and others in the Summa Theologiae. He discusses, for example, whether the Sacraments are necessary because of sin — after all, would there have been Sacraments in the Garden of Eden? In this seminar we will look closely at St. Thomas’s treatment of the Sacraments and, in so doing, we will come to the heart of the Church’s teaching about their role in our salvation.

Seminar II: Grace and Free Will

Friday, July 31
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Having discussed the necessity of the Sacraments in Thursday’s seminar, we now move on to the Church’s teaching about grace and free will. We will do so by considering a brief set of excerpts from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Contra Gentiles, the work in which he explains the faith to unbelievers. Our goal will be to better understand and defend the reasonableness of the Church’s teaching about the mysterious cooperation between divine grace and human freedom.

Note: these seminars are not lectures; nor are they discourses among a panel of experts. Everyone in attendance is invited to participate actively in the conversations, working together to distill and analyze the meaning of the texts. Leading the seminars will be the College’s president, Dr. Michael F. McLean, and its vice president, Dr. Paul J. O’Reilly. Dr. McLean and Dr. O’Reilly have collectively spent more than 50 years leading seminars as members of the Thomas Aquinas College teaching faculty. At the College, all classes are taught via the Discussion Method. The curriculum consists exclusively of the great books of Western civilization, including various Church documents and encyclicals.

Some Comments from Past Participants:

  • “Great and fascinating discussion.”
  • “The seminar was excellent. Excellent format, excellent discussion.”
  • “Perfect topic for today’s event.”

Registration for the seminars and breakfast is open only to registered attendees of the Napa Institute Conference. To participate in the seminars and breakfast:

1. Register for the Napa Institute Conference.

2. Register for either or both of Thomas Aquinas College’s Seminars.

3. Read the brief, highly accessible readings. The College will mail them to you, but you can also can download and print them for yourself:

• Seminar I: The Sacraments and Grace (PDF)
• Seminar II: Grace and Free Will (PDF)

Space is limited — register now! Questions? Please e-mail Robert Bagdazian or call, 805-421-5927.