On Tuesday, February 3rd, the communities of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary and the Augustine Institute came together for the annual J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Lecture. “The Stafford Lectures are a great tradition that we have here at the seminary,” reflects Matt Magee, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Denver. “They give us the opportunity to engage various theological or philosophical topics in a sophisticated way from leading scholars in their respective disciplines.”
“The Cardinal Stafford Lecture is a principal academic event to honor the work and vision of the founding Archishop of SJV,” explained Fr. Andreas Hoeck, the Academic Dean for the seminary. “It began back in 2000, and this February we celebrated the 17th Stafford Lecture.”
This year, Fr. Stephen Brock, a priest of the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei, was invited to present on two philosophical topics. “Whenever I had to choose my classes for the following semester, I always chose the classes [Fr. Brock] offered first,” said Fr. Angel Perez-Lopez, a formation advisor and professor at SJV. “Fr. Brock is a very sharp scholar: a man with a towering intellect, capable of contemplating with precision the truth.”
Fr. Brock teaches Medieval Philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. On Tuesday, he presented to seminarians and faculty two lectures. In the morning, “St. Thomas’ Third Way of Proving a God: Logic or Love?” set out to give an explanation of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Third Way from the Summa Theologiae. In the afternoon, “The Causality of Petitionary Prayer” offered an understanding of the way our prayer affects the events of the world as not contradictory to the omniscience of God.
“Father Brock made a compelling case against holding either a purely philosophical or anthropomorphic conception of God,” remarked seminarian Chris Marbury who is currently studying philosophy at SJV.
“I found it incredible that one man could spend an hour and a half talking about three small paragraphs of Thomas’ third way,” said Magee. In reference to the lecture about the causality of prayer, Magee noted the application of Fr. Brock’s lecture: “it’s a common question that a lot of people have that he tried to answer in a very thorough way.”
“I think it’s important to have these lectures as an enrichment,” continues Magee who is currently studying Theology at SJV, “because they are designed to stimulate our desire to continue further study, both outside of class time and outside of when our time at the seminary comes to an end.”
The seminaries of the Archdiocese along with the Augustine Institute are committed to excellent intellectual formation. “The Stafford Lecture is a rare opportunity for the entire community to share in a common intellectual activity,” reflected Marbury, “which always inspires meaningful and enjoyable conversation between seminarians across all stages of formation.”
This year’s Stafford lectures can be accessed here:
Morning Lecture: “St. Thomas’ Third Way of Proving a God: Logic or Love?” Download | Stream:
Afternoon Lecture: “The Causality of Petitionary Prayer” Download | Stream: