The Corruption of the Good of Nature and Moral Action: The Realism of St. Thomas Aquinas

After exploring in the introduction the current sacramental and moral crisis and its foundation in ‘salvation optimism’ and in ‘moral optimism’, this article explores the realistic assessment of the human condition according to St. Thomas Aquinas in order to shed light on the connection between the sacramental and the moral crisis. First, I recall some essential elements of the doctrine of original justice and original sin. Secondly, I explore the wounding of human nature as an effect of original sin. Finally I discuss the fourfold effect of man’s wounded nature on moral action. In light of this crisis, St. Thomas’ account of the postlapsarian human condition is at the same time frightful and realistic. While St. Thomas is adamant in affirming that the root of man’s inclination to virtue as a good of nature remains, he is equally realistic regarding the moral fragility of postlapsarian man as a result of the diminution of the same inclination to virtue.