Christian satisfaction stands at the center of the Church’s teaching about salvation. Satisfaction pertains to studies about Christ, redemption, the Sacraments, and pastoral practice. The topic also enters into questions about God and the creature as well as about the divine mercy and providence. Somewhat neglected in the period after Vatican II, satisfaction now appears to scholars as the forgotten key to entering deeply into the mystery of Christ and his work. Seminarians especially will benefit from studying the place satisfaction holds in Catholic life.
Further, ecumenical work requires a proper understanding of the place that satisfaction holds in Christian theology. Various factors operative since the sixteenth century have worked to displace satisfaction almost entirely from reformed practice and theology. To address such concerns, The Godly Image, has, over the past several decades and more, done a great deal to put satisfaction within its proper context of image-restoration. That is, to interpret satisfaction within the context of the divine mercy and not the divine justice. This unique contribution to satisfaction studies owes a great deal to the achievement of Saint Thomas Aquinas. In this sense, the book enacts a retrieval of the theology of the high classical period. Like much of Aquinas’s refined teaching, a proper understanding requires appeal to the commentatorial tradition that follows him. Interested students will find in this study the touchstones for further studies of these authors.
The Godly Image aims also to distinguish the theology of Aquinas from that of the medieval author with whom the notion of satisfaction remains mostly identified, that is, Anselm of Canterbury. Although not a developed focus of the book’s contents, the attentive reader will recognize that Aquinas treats Saint Anselm with a reverential reading, even as the Common Doctor moves significantly away from interpretations of satisfaction that suggest that an angry God exacts from his innocent Son a painful substitutional penalty for a fallen human race.
"This thorough, comprehensive, and competent investigation into Aquinas fills a lacuna in the history of soteriology."~Thomist
"For many of us coming of age as students of St. Thomas Aquinas, the first edition of Fr. Cessario’s The Godly Image was that rare book that gave shape to our work and, in many ways, was defining of it. There was no book like it; it opened up a clear vista before which one stopped and simply gazed. There is still no book like it. Fr. Cessario’s magisterial grasp of the unity of St. Thomas’ mind and heart is manifest on every page. He moves across St. Thomas’ writings both systematic and scriptural, he moves through the major elements of sacra doctrina, and he shows the deeply integrated and integrating character of the thought of St. Thomas. This is not one more treatise on a topic in St. Thomas: Fr. Cessario shows how the substantive themes in St. Thomas are all deeply and inextricably unified in St. Thomas’ unparalleled grip on reality. Fr. Cessario does all of this with his usual clarity of mind and prose. Almost forty years later, it still opens up that clear and arresting vista."~John F. Boyle, University of St. Thomas
"Essential, comprehensive, magisterial. The Godly Image presents Fr. Cessario's penetrating synthesis of the soteriology of St. Thomas Aquinas which, within the unity of sacra doctrina, links inextricably with christology, sacramental theology, and the theology of grace, and at crucial junctures is sustained by a robust realist metaphysics. A matchless work of sustained theological argument."~Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, OP, Vatican City
"The re-publication in the Sacra Doctrina series of what has already become a classic presentation of Thomas Aquinas's theology of Christian satisfaction--until recently very hard to obtain--is to be warmly welcomed. A new introduction by the author enriches a perlucid presentation of what arguably is the acme of Aquinas's Christology--the personal transformation that Christ's salvific Passion and Death on the Cross has to offer to the world. Even more so than when it was originally published this clearly and compellingly written work is in the years to come indispensable reading for seminarians, priests, bishops, and all students of Thomas Aquinas."~Reinhard Hütter, author of Bound for Beatitude: A Thomistic Study in Eschatology and Ethics and Aquinas on Transubstantiation: The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist