Master Class on "The Causality of Petitionary Prayer: C.S. Lewis, Peter Geach, & Thomas Aquinas"

Feb 6, 2015
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Stephen L. BrockPontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome


Stephen L. Brock (Pontifical University of the Holy Cross)


If, as Christians believe, God is all-wise and all-good, what sense does it make to ask Him for things?  He is already perfectly aware of our true needs, and He already wants to provide for them.  Many of our petitions, it seems, will be ignorant and misguided; and the others, unnecessary and superfluous.  And if He already knows everything that will happen, can our requests really make a difference anyway?  Yet petitionary prayer is part of the whole Christian tradition.  Jesus himself practiced it, exhorted His followers to do so, and taught them how.  In this seminar, we will first look at how petitionary prayer is defended by two 20th-century Christian thinkers, C. S. Lewis and Peter Geach.  Then we will examine Thomas Aquinas’s position on the question.  The discussion will take us into such thorny topics as time and eternity, divine foreknowledge and human freedom, and even predestination.

This master class is open to all graduate and undergraduate students, including non-University of Chicago students. Copies of the readings will be provided.  Space is limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have any questions, please contact Mark Franzen.

Fr. Brock will also be leading a summer seminar for graduate students in Rome this summer on “Metaphysics and the Soul in Thomas Aquinas.”

Stephen L. Brock is a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei.  He is Ordinary Professor of Medieval Philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Chicago and a PhD in Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto.  Brock writes widely on Thomas Aquinas and action theory, ethics, and metaphysics. He is the author of The Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. A Sketch (Wipf & Stock, 2015) and Action & Conduct: Thomas Aquinas and the Theory of Action (T&T Clark, 1998).  During 2017 he was a visiting scholar in the Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago, collaborating in the Templeton Foundation project “Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning in Life,” directed by Candace Vogler and Jennifer Frey.