Sunday, January 31, 2016

Everything I forgot about St Thomas Aquinas

This week marked the feast day of St Thomas Aquinas.

As I reflected on that, I realized how little I remembered about this great Saint.  Yes, I quickly noted that he was a great philosopher of the Church, and yes, I remembered he authored the Summa theologiae.  But there were many other facts I just could not recall.  

So I spent some time re-learning about him, and wanted to share some of the info with any of you that happen to be as forgetful as I am!

  • St Thomas grew up not far from Rome in a wealthy family
  • While studying in Naples, he decided he wanted to join the newly formed Dominican Order
  • When he told his parents of this decision, they found it unacceptable, for they wanted him to stay at the Monte Cassino Abbey
  • As Thomas headed off to join the Dominicans, his brothers kidnapped him and locked him up in their castle
  • His family even sent a prostitute to his cell seduce him?!  He drove her out with a burning torch.
  • When he finally got out, he continued his studies in Paris and Cologne, where he was known as the "dumb ox" to his classmates because of his size and quiet nature
  • He wrote many papers and books, the most famous being the aforementioned Summa theologiae
  • St Thomas was known as a masterful preacher who argued against his opponents with both respect and brilliance
  • At one point his brethren witnessed him in ecstasy, and heard the Lord tell him "You have written well of me Thomas.  What reward would you have for your labor?"  Thomas replied, "Nothing but you, Lord."
  • He stopped writing shortly thereafter, and when urged to continue, he simply said "I can do no more.  Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value."  
  • He died on March 7, 1274, and because that day usually falls in Lent, the church moved his Feast Day to January 28th.

I also re-read St Thomas' five arguments for the existence of God, which are certainly worth remembering for all those times we encounter those who just do not believe.

But I must admit, I spend a great deal of time wondering what God showed this passionate writer that caused him to stop writing.   How beautiful that vision must have been for this wise man feel he could not come close to describing it!

I hope you all have a spiritual week, and God Bless you.


Victor S E Moubarak said...

Thank you so much Michael for your well-researched articles, like this one, which make us think as well as educate us. I am so grateful and I have learnt a lot from you. I sometimes wish you would write more often.

God bless you.

Shirley said...

I had read his biography, and purchased the Shorter Summa. I started reading it and found that at that time (6 years ago) it was beyond the level of understanding that I needed to finish it, so I put it aside until I gain more insight and wisdom. I am close to being able to pick it up again.
I am so thankful for the writing of saints to help us on our spiritual journey.