What does it mean to love? What are the traits of character that support love’s activity? How does the economy of grace—the mission of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit—elevate and transform human love, virtue, and the desire for happiness?
In On Love and Virtue: Theological Essays, the eminent Dominican theologian Michael Sherwin considers how the Catholic tradition has addressed these questions. Fr. Sherwin places this tradition in dialogue with contemporary questions.
Taking St. Thomas Aquinas as his primary guide, Fr. Sherwin reads St. Thomas in light of his biblical and patristic sources (especially St. Augustine) and engages contemporary developments in philosophy in order to deepen our understanding of how grace both heals and elevates human nature. Along the way, Fr. Sherwin considers the vocation of the theologian and the biblical and patristic understanding of the Christian call to moral apprenticeship and friendship with God.
About the author:
Michael S. Sherwin, O.P. is Professor of Fundamental Moral Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Director of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Institute for Theology and Culture and of the Pinckaers Archives, Fr. Sherwin has written extensively on the psychology of love, virtue ethics, and moral development. Author of By Knowledge and By Love: Charity and Knowledge in the Moral Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, his work places Thomas Aquinas’ thought in dialogue with contemporary questions. Sherwin is especially known for his interest in the analogies between moral development and the arts, underlining the affinities between Christian virtue, music, dance and sport.
“These admirable essays excel in both scholarship and insight. They make clear how dangerously we may go astray in our thinking about love, happiness, and the virtues if we fail to attend to what can only be learned from theological reflection. This is theological reflection at its best.”
University of Notre Dame
“Michael Sherwin’s On Love and Virtue is a worthy, indeed splendid, sequel to his outstanding study, By Knowledge and By Love: Charity and Knowledge in the Moral Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. In this new work, Fr. Sherwin displays himself again as a profound—and profoundly engaging—interpreter of the very heart of Aquinas’s moral theology, love and virtue. With great intellectual dexterity, with a wealth of ancient and modern literary allusions at his display, and in a graceful style, Sherwin confronts his readers with the blinding luminosity and the burning relevance of Aquinas’s thought in its encounter with the modern ‘conditio humana.’”
The Catholic University of America
“Fifty years ago, Christian Ethics was all about Love. But moral theologians soon discovered that love was not all we needed, and so we sought to recover the virtues. In this masterful collection, Michael Sherwin shows us that we need both love and virtue to guide and nourish our deepest desires. Furthermore, for Christians love and virtue flow from discipleship to Jesus Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit. Sherwin writes with grace and erudition. He engages not only the giants of Patristic and Medieval theology, but also recent advances in the cognitive sciences, and with contemporary and classic literary narratives. We must continue to be grateful to Sherwin for the guidance he provides all of us.”
Regis College, University of Toronto
“This collection of essays journeys through a stunning landscape of scholarly reflection on matters of unparalleled significance: what it means to love, what it takes to love, and what objects of love truly satisfy. Around every corner is a striking insight, intersection, or contrast that sheds new light upon these questions, but nevertheless vindicates—though often in unexpected ways—the ancient wisdom of the Christian faith. Even the most skeptical readers will find themselves drawn to Sherwin’s refined erudition, generous interpretation, clear argumentation, and profound commitment to Christian anthropology. After reading these essays I could not help but marvel once again at Jesus’ call to love as He has loved, and at its incredible implication that, by grace, it is actually possible to do so.”
Patrick M. Clark
University of Scranton