Aquinas and the gifts: contemporary contributions to the place of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the christian moral life

Summary: I. Introduction. II. Two modes, two theories. 1. John of St. Thomas
and the standard two modes account. 2. The Rival two modes account. 3. Evaluation. III. The Gifts in the moral life: New proposals. 1. Angela McKay Knobel:
Natural and supernatural virtue. 2. José Noriega: The instinctus rationis and the
instinctus Spiritus Sancti. 3. John M. Meinert: Grace and the gifts. 4. Andrew
Pinsent: The Gifts as second–personal dispositions. 5. Animal instincts and the
gifts. IV. Concluding remarks.

This study offers a status quaestionis of recent contributions to Thomas Aquinas’s
understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This article first outlines two schools
of thought or interpretations of Aquinas’s account of the gifts in relation to the
acquired and infused virtues: the “standard two modes account” represented by
John of St. Thomas and the “rival two modes account” represented by Angela
McKay Knobel. The latter account, which arguably represents Aquinas’s mature
thought, envisions the gifts of the Holy Spirit as a necessary element in all meritorious activity and therefore integral to the Christian moral life. In this vein,
a handful of contemporary authors have attempted to better delineate the role
of the gifts within the dynamic of practical reason. The principal contributions
of these authors—Angela McKay Knobel, José Noriega, John M. Meinert, and
Andrew Pinsent—are outlined.