Summa Theologiae by St. Thomas Aquinas

(Green Bay: Aquinas Institute, 1274/2012)

!2019-01-10-A Shorter Summa


Physical text:
- Summa Theologiae: Aquinas Institute, St. Paul Center

Read online:


FIRST PART (QQ. 1-119)






2021-10-22: Memory in ST IIa-IIae Q49, A1 (Secunda Secundae, from Memorize the Gospel of John!)

  • "Prudence requires the memory of many things. Hence memory is fittingly accounted a part of prudence."
  • "There are four things whereby a man perfects his memory":

    1. take suitable yet unwonted illustration

    2. carefully consider and set in order

    3. be anxious and earnest about the things we wish to remember

    4. often reflect on the things we wish to remember



How to Read the Summa

Email from Fr. Raymund Snyder, OP, 2021-08-07:

Glad to hear you got My Way of Life. Your idea is exactly what I would recommend. If you read through My Way of Life it will give you a broad overview. Then you’ll be able to go deeper with what interests you but also have some general knowledge of the whole. I don’t doubt Fr. Farrell took some liberties in paraphrasing and grouping together large sections of the Summa without precise references. His much longer work Companion to the Summa (several volumes) was more of a commentary.

Some thoughts on reading the Summa itself:

When you do turn to the Summa I would encourage you to read the articles where the question is of interest. For any given question (i.e. a grouping of 4-12 articles or sub-questions), there may only be 3-4 that seem interesting and the others seem either just basic an obvious or too technical or just boring. Just skip through. Some articles are worth reading five times over (because they are so important) before you even bother with others.

Remember that the sed contra does not necessarily represent what St. Thomas thinks but is just a dialectical push back from an authority. It’s a common mistake people make in thinking the sed contra is really Thomas speaking as Thomas. He only really gives his own position in the respondeo (usually later on in the respondeo) and responses to the objections.

Some of the best material is actually in the responses to the objections. I recommend reading the question, then the sed contra and respondeo. Then read the first objection (not to understand it in detail but just the general path of the objection) and then read the Ad 1. Then read Obj. 2 and go down to Ad 2.

If you get the point where you can easily hold more ideas in your head at once from a Summa article you could start reading them straight through, but admittedly that’s sort of difficult especially when there are more than 2-3 objections. By the time you get to the bottom you can’t remember what the objection were.

Created: 2021-08-12
Updated: 2021-10-22-Fri