St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor
Feast: January 28
St. Thomas Aquinas is the Dominican order's greatest glory. He taught philosophy and theology with such genius that he is considered one of the leading Christian thinkers. His innocence, on a par with his genius, earned for him the title of "Angelic Doctor".
St. Thomas ranks among the greatest writers and theologians of all time. His most important work, the "Summa Theologica," an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. At the Council of Trent it was consulted after the Bible.
To a deeply speculative mind, he joined a remarkable life of prayer, a precious memento of which has been left to us in the Office of Corpus Christi. Reputed as great already in life, he nevertheless remained modest, a perfect model of childlike simplicity and goodness. He was mild in word and kind in deed. He believed everyone was as innocent as he himself was. When someone sinned through weakness, Thomas bemoaned the sin as if it were his own. The goodness of his heart shone in his face, no one could look upon him and remain disconsolate. How he suffered with the poor and the needy was most inspiring. Whatever clothing or other items he could give away, he gladly did. He kept nothing superfluous in his efforts to alleviate the needs of others.
After he died
his lifelong companion and confessor testified, "I have always known him to be
as innocent as a five-year-old child. Never did a carnal temptation soil his
soul, never did he consent to a mortal sin." He cherished a most tender devotion
to St. Agnes, constantly carrying relics of this virgin martyr on his person. He
died in 1274, at the age of fifty, in the abbey of Fossa Nuova. He is the patron
saint of schools and of sacred theology.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Patron: Academics; against storms; against lightning; apologists; book sellers; Catholic academies; Catholic schools; Catholic universities; chastity; colleges; learning; lightning; pencil makers; philosophers; publishers; scholars; schools; storms; students; theologians; universities; University of Vigo.
Symbols: Chalice; monstrance; ox; star; sun; teacher with pagan philosophers at his feet; teaching.
Things to do:
Read G.K. Chesterton's biography, St. Thomas Aquinas, The Dumb Ox, which is full of Chestertonian profundity and wit.
Dive into the intellectual depth and beauty of St. Thomas' thought in his Summa Theologiae. Familiarize yourself with his method of inquiry by reading his section on God's attributes, especially the goodness of God. Here is a Bibliography in English.
Nearly everyone, especially young people, knows and appreciates the story of St. Thomas chasing the prostitute from his room with a burning log. (She was sent by his wealthy family to tempt him away from the religious life.) After he drove away the temptress, two angels came to him and fastened a chastity belt around his waist. Buy or fashion your own chastity belt, easy to make from braided yarn or thin, soft rope. (St. Joseph chastity belts are available at some Catholic shops.) This would be a beautiful alternative or addition to the "True Love Waits" chastity pledge and ring. It is a wonderful low-key symbol for self-conscious teens. It also serves as an excellent reminder to pray daily for the virtue of chastity.
Meditate upon the profound humility of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose intellectual capacity far surpasses any since his time. He stopped writing at the end of his life after having a vision of the glory of God, claiming that 'All that I have written seems to me like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me.' How often do we take pride in our own intellectual achievements, fully crediting them to ourselves?
Read Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Aeterni Patris, strangely relevant to our time in its exhortation towards a renewal in philosophical study with a focus on the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Finally, read Pope John Paul II's encyclical, Fides et Ratio, especially the section on The enduring originality of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. He expresses a similar intent to that of Pope Leo XIII's in the following words, "If it has been necessary from time to time to intervene on this question, to reiterate the value of the Angelic Doctor's insights and insist on the study of his thought, this has been because the Magisterium's directives have not always been followed with the readiness one would wish."
From the Catholic Culture library: Light from Aquinas , The Meaning of Virtue in St. Thomas Aquinas and The Philosophy of Woman of St. Thomas Aquinas. For many more documents search the library for "aquinas".
Pray........Liturgy of the Hours