Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION LXXXII.: OF DEVOTION. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION LXXXII.: OF DEVOTION. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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Article I.—Is devotion a special act?
R. Devotion is so called from devoting: hence they are called devoted, who in some manner devote themselves to God, so as to make themselves entirely subject to Him. Wherefore among the heathen of ancient times they were said to be devoted, who devoted themselves to idols unto death for the preservation of their army, as Titus Livius tells of the two Decii. Hence devotion seems to be nothing else than a will promptly to devote oneself to the things that concern the service of God. Hence it is said that “the multitude of the children of Israel offered first-fruits to the Lord with a most ready and devout mind.”1 But it is manifest that a will promptly to do what belongs to the service of God is a special act. Therefore devotion is a special act.
Article II.—Is devotion an act of religion?
R. It belongs to the same virtue to do a thing and to have a prompt will for doing it; because there is the same object to both acts. Wherefore, as the Philosopher says: “Justice is that whereby men will and do just things.” But it is manifest that the performance of what appertains to the divine worship or service belongs properly to religion. Therefore it belongs to the same to have a prompt will for the performance of such acts, that is, to be devout. And so evidently devotion is an act of religion.
§ 1. It appertains immediately to charity that a man should deliver himself over to God, adhering to Him by a union of spirit; but that a man should deliver himself over to God for the performance of acts of divine worship, that appertains immediately to religion, and mediately to charity, which is the principle of religion.
§ 3. The devotion that is had to the saints of God, living or dead, does not terminate in them, but passes on to God, inasmuch as we venerate God in the ministers of God. But the devotion which subjects are said to have to their temporal lords is of another kind, as also the service of temporal lords differs from the service of God.1
Article III.—Is contemplation, or meditation, a cause of devotion?
R. The extrinsic and principal cause of devotion is God, of whom Ambrose says: “God calls whom He deigns to call, and whom He wills He makes religious; and if He had willed, He would have made the Samaritans devout from being indevout.” But the intrinsic cause on our side must be meditation or contemplation. For devotion is an act of the will, to the effect of promptly giving oneself up to the divine service. Now every act of the will proceeds from some consideration, because the object of the will is good understood. Hence also Augustine says that “will arises from understanding.” Meditation therefore needs must be the cause of devotion, inasmuch as by meditation it is that man gets the thought of giving himself over to the service of God. To this he is led by a twofold consideration: on the one hand, of the divine goodness and of the benefits of God, according to the text: “It is good for me to adhere to God, and to put my hope in the Lord God;”1 and this consideration excites love, which is the proximate cause of devotion. On the other hand is the consideration of self and of one’s own deficiencies, in consequence whereof one needs to lean on God, as it is said: “I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains from whence help shall come to me;”2 and this consideration excludes that presumption, which is a hindrance to a man submitting to God, as it makes him rest on his own ability.
§ 1. To the objection, that subtle meditations on speculative matters are often a hindrance to devotion,—it is to be said that the consideration of what is naturally calculated to excite love of God, causes devotion; but the consideration of other topics, not appertaining to this, but withdrawing the mind from it, does hinder devotion.
§ 2. The attributes of the Divinity are of themselves most calculated to excite love, and consequently devotion, because God is to be loved above all things; but the weakness of the human mind requires to be led as it were by the hand to the knowledge and love of things divine, by aid of the things of sense that are known to us. Chief of these objects of sense is the Sacred Humanity, as is said in the Preface: “That while we contemplate God in visible form, by Him we may be caught up to the love of things invisible.” And therefore what appertains to the Humanity of Christ especially causes devotion, and leads us by the hand thereto: and yet devotion principally turns upon the attributes of the Divinity.1
§ 3. Knowledge, and whatever else points to greatness, is an occasion to man of trusting in himself, and therefore of neglecting to give himself over entirely to God. Hence such gifts occasion hindrance to devotion: while in women and simple persons devotion abounds, and elation is suppressed. Knowledge however, and every other perfection, ministers increase to devotion in the man who perfectly lays it at the feet of God.
Article IV.—Is joy an effect of devotion?
R. Devotion ordinarily and in the first place causes spiritual joy in the mind, but consequently and incidentally it causes sorrow. For devotion arises in the first place from the consideration of the divine goodness: which consideration is taken from what we may call the terminus of the movement of the will giving itself over to God; and from this consideration there ordinarily arises delight, according to the text: “I remembered God and was delighted.”1 But incidentally this consideration causes a certain sorrow to them who do not yet fully possess God, as the text has it: “My soul hath thirsted after God the living spring;”2 and after that: “My tears have been my bread.” Secondarily, devotion is caused from the consideration of one’s own defects: for this consideration is taken from the starting-point, from which the movement of a devout will recedes so that the man comes no longer to live in himself, but to subject himself to God. This consideration works in the reverse way to the former: for ordinarily it is calculated to cause sorrow, when a man cons over his own shortcomings; but incidentally it causes joy through the hope of divine succour. Thus it appears that delight belongs to devotion primarily and ordinarily; but secondarily and incidentally there belongs to it that “sorrow that is according to God.”3
[1 ]Exodus xxxv. 20, 21.
[1 ]Cf. Cæsar, De Bello Gallico, iii. 22. “Cum DC. devotis, quos illi soldurios appellant.” (Trl.)
[1 ]Psalm lxxii. 27.
[2 ]Psalm cxx. 1.
[1 ]As mercy, holiness, wisdom, power, faithfulness, shining upon us in fullest lustre from the Person of the God made Man. (Trl.)
[1 ]Psalm lxxvi. 4.
[2 ]Psalm xli. 3, 4. St. Thomas reads fontem vivum for fortem vivum.
[3 ]2 Cor. vii. 10.