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This post is related to How should one read the Summa Theologiae?

In Peter Turner's answer to the question posed in the above link, he states:

The arguments against are listed first, so everything St. Thomas does not think are the objections. Everything else is what he does think is true.

The "On the Contrary" part is not always there, but usually is a summation of the refutations.

In light of this, I ask: (i.) If one is going to quote a thought of St. Thomas (say, in a book)---may one quote from the Summa as coming from St. Thomas---that which begins, "On the contrary,"?

For example, in reference to IIa-IIæ Q32 A5. Whether almsgiving is a matter of precept?,

On the contrary, No man is punished eternally for omitting to do what is not a matter of precept. But some are punished eternally for omitting to give alms, as is clear from Matthew 25:41-43. Therefore almsgiving is a matter of precept.

may I quote the above as a thought coming from St. Thomas?

Regarding the next paragraph, I'm pretty sure that I may say something like:

St. Thomas says: "As love of our neighbor is a matter of precept, whatever is a necessary condition to the love of our neighbor is a matter of precept also. Now the love of our neighbor requires that not only should we be our neighbor's well-wishers, but also his well-doers, according to 1 John 3:18: 'Let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth.' And in order to be a person's well-wisher and well-doer, we ought to succor his needs: this is done by almsgiving. Therefore almsgiving is a matter of precept...."

Finally, regarding "Spiritual Alms", (ii.) is it safe to assume that the terms "Spiritual Alms" and the more current, "Spiritual Works of Mercy", are synonymous?

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  • objection 1. there are things that St. Thomas believes are true; and there are things that St. Thomas believes are evidence of the topic at hand. If any of the objects were untrue in-and-of-themselves, the summa would be a collection of straw man arguments. (reply to objection 1, maybe that's why he referred to his writing as "so much straw"). On the contrary - everything I say is wrong; and it should be noted that eques pointed this out, not me, I made a bad assumption about the title being what he thought was true.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 16:26
  • When citing the Summa, I would follow this abbreviation recommendation for citing particular reference to the whole Question, an individual Article, or even a subsection within an article (examples: "arg. 1" for objection 1, "s.c." for "On the contrary", and "ad. 1" for reply to objection 1). Commented Jun 1, 2023 at 12:22

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Yes, that on the contrary may be said to be from Aquinas. Note that the "on the contrary" more often is a direct citation of some authority with some addendum from Aquinas. In that case, the authority should be cited not as Aquinas' words but as quoted by Aquinas.

On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. ii, 26) that "the gift of wisdom is given as a remedy against folly." -- Summa IIa IIae, Q46 A1

This might be quoted as "Aquinas, citing Gregory asserts that wisdom is opposed to folly" or "Aquinas quotes Gregory the Great saying 'the gift of wisdom is given as a remedy against folly'"

is it safe to assume that the terms "Spiritual Alms" and the more current, "Spiritual Works of Mercy", are synonymous?

Yes. For as Aquinas says in the same part of the Summa:

"almsgiving is a work of mercy"

In Aquinas' schema, almsdeeds is an external act of charity whereas mercy is an internal. The terminology you are familiar with simply associates almsdeeds directly with mercy rather than indirectly.

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