Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thomistic Thursday: Thomas Aquinas the Saint

As an apt student of philosophy, I was highly tempted to make my blogging reboot a dedication to St. Thomas Aquinas. I realized, however, that a little Thomas goes a long way and that I should really place most of my emphasis on areas of more importance (e.g. my Psalm Saturday series). Nevertheless, I have decided that my favorite philosopher-saint will get his own day.

That day is, of course, today!

If you’re not familiar with his life, I highly recommend G.K. Chesterton’s biography of St. Thomas Aquinas. He drew the title “Dumb Ox” from the nickname Aquinas had in school – but while he may have been quiet and mild-mannered, Thomas possessed a keen intellect and desire for sanctity. Indeed, when he decided to become a Dominican monk his family locked him away for a time and his brothers tempted him with a prostitute. Driving her away by wielding a firebrand, he used it to sear a cross into the bedroom door and his family quickly realized he was serious about his faith!

During his life, Aquinas wrote volumes of theological works – including his masterpiece, the “Summa Theologica.” It is this very “Summary of Theology” which I would like to discuss through the following series of blogs posts. While Aquinas’ brilliance will be noted here, it is of the most importance to stress once more his desire for holiness. At the proceedings for his saintly canonization, a fellow monk testified that he heard the Lord speak to Thomas in their chapel. God said told Thomas that he had spoken great words of theology and asked him what he desired in return.

Aquinas’ reply: “Only you, Lord.”

Thomas Aquinas is known as the Angelic Doctor – and while this may be particularly true because of his ontology regarding angels, it may also be true because his saintly heart was so open to the grace of God that his intellect was made more free to dwell on theology, the “sacred science.” Ultimately the human person possesses an intellect to know with and a free will to love with. Aquinas’ life was a life of love for God – but this love always led to a hunger for more divine knowledge. Because of this, he found himself in a wonderful cycle: the more he knew God, the more he loved God; the more he loved God, the more he came to knowledge of God. In other words, Aquinas is a model image of what the human person should be like.

That’s why he’s a saint.

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