St. Thomas knew that all truth finds its source - and its fulfillment - in the One who is Truth Incarnate, Jesus the Christ. In this way, he was a pioneer of a New Evangelization of his own second millennium and a model for our efforts to do the same in the Third.
St. Thomas Aquinas
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - During this Year of Faith and in this time when the Catholic Church is calling upon all of the faithful to engage in a New Evangelization, the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas presents us with a model to emulate.
His story should inspire each of us to find - and then to live - our own specific vocation, in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world. We should also expect that such a task will not be easy. Jesus never promised easy. It will take saints. God is in the business of making saints. All he asks of us is our willing ness to say yes to his invitations and then to persevere in our specific vocation.
Thomas Aquinas is an example of that pattern of life.He lived his life in the Lord by living it in the heart of His Church.
Born of a wealthy family and educated with the finest the Benedictines had to offer, Thomas was seemingly set on a "career path' of sorts with a foregone concusion. All, including his family, recognized his extraordinary intellectual gifts.
So, when this young man with so much promise decided to take up with mendicants, the Latin word means beggars, those Dominicans who lived on the resources of gifts given by others, he was not greeted with the support of his family.
In fact, they actually kidnapped their son away from this new band of friars who were so suspect among the established Catholics of their age. After a year of trying to dissuade him, they were no match for the young mans resolve to follow the voice of the Lord and pursue his vocation to the Dominican life.
He studied in Paris and Cologne under St. Albert the Great, a philosopher of great reputation. The entirety of Europe was caught up in a major time of intellectual ferment and change. The writings of the ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle had been reintroduced to contemporary Western thought by,, of all sources, the intellectual community of the Islamic world.
Already suspect in most circles - and accused of being "Anti-Christian" - the re-presentation of Aristotle by the Muslim intellectuals made this body of philosophical work even more of a threat to many within the Catholic Church in Thomas' day.
As he had done in choosing the way of the Dominicans, when so many thought he was to walk a different road, Thomas rejected the contemporary suspicions surrounding the allegedly contradictory nature of Aristotelian thought and orthodox Christianity. Instead he pursued it with all of his natural and supernatural gifts.
He did so because he loved, above all and everyone else, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He loved him so much that he had a deep and intimate relationship with him. Thomas became such a great theologian because he prayed. One of the early monks of the Church, Evagrius of pontus, once wrote, "A theologian is one who prays and one who prays is a theologian."
Thomas knew that all truth finds its source - and its fulfillment - in the One who is Truth Incarnate, Jesus the Christ. In this way, he was a pioneer of a New Evangelization of his own second millennium and a model for our efforts to do the same in the Third. He was not afraid.
Thomas set about re-presenting the fullness of the Truth which is found within the Catholic faith right within the framework of Aristotelian philosophy. In other words, he used a philosophical framework from his own age to present the eternal truths of the ancient but ever new Catholic faith. That is our task as well as we embark upon what is a new missionary age for the Church!
Using his formidable intellect, sincere and profound faith and solid grounding in the Patristic sources, Thomas produced a body of work which is still the theological and philosophical equivalent of the "gold standard" in the West. His 'Summa Theologiae' became the primary theological textbook for seminarians, theologians and ordinands for centuries.
However, Thomas produced more than theology. His poetry and prose inspired some of the greatest liturgical music and piety in the Latin Rite. His holiness has been - and continues to be - the source of countless religious and lay vocations.Holiness is a fruit of an intimate and sustained relationship with the Lord.
What is needed in our own age are men and women who can, as did Thomas, take the thought of this, the Third Millennium, and use it as the framework for the essential task of building an apologetic for the New Evangelization of this age. These men and women, like Thomas, will live their lives in communion with the Lord because they pray.
On this Feast of the Great St. Thomas Aquinas, let us reflect on these words which he wrote:
"Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue."
"If you seek the example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake."
"If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross".
"Great patience occurs in two ways: either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth."
"Therefore Christ's patience on the cross was great. In patience let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, bore his cross and despised the shame."
"If you seek an example of humility, look upon the crucified one, for God wished to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to die.If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death. For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous."
"If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink".
"Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves. Nor to honours, for he experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."
By Marshall Connolly, (California Network)
If you are an American, today is Thanksgiving. Hopefully today you have made a point to attend Mass and to give thanks to God for all His blessings. If you are not American, today's holiday is a reminder that God deserves thanks from all His creation. We pray you will ... continue reading
By Billy Atwell
In the face of the current "witch-hunts" endured by some of our Bishops, let us remember a hero on October 17, the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch. St. Ignatius of Antioch is a bishop and martyr of the Church who died in the ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
There is so much to write about in this marvelous account of the life of one of my own personal heroes, the saint whose witness led me back to the Church, Francis of Assisi. However, I will focus on one aspect of Bonaventure's tribute to Francis. He was his ... continue reading
By Youngsun Jun
Though I am not strong enough to hold the suffering souls in my arms and carry them home, I can do one thing: I can pray for the deliverance of the souls who are in the darkness. I can request help from the angels for them. I can make a 911 call for them. So again, I ... continue reading
By Deacon F. K. Bartels
The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us - The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition (328). Charged by God to ... continue reading
By Matt Hicks
Miraculous testimony of an elite level gymnast touched by Padre Pio: 'Pio, like all the saints, is like the window-washer that scales tall buildings to clear away the muck and allow us to see His luminous rays aflame. God sends them, as He pushes us forward, ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
There is confusion over the proper title of Mother Teresa. Her name is appearing in the media as both "Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta" and "Mother Teresa of Kolkata," sometimes written with the word "Mother" and sometimes without. Which is correct? LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
The saints are real and active in our lives. This is more obvious than ever following the miraculous recovery of a baby in an Irish intensive care unit. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A relic of Saint Padre Pio has been credited with a dramatic improvement in ... continue reading
By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
In her convent of San Damiano, Clare heroically practiced the virtues that should characterize all Christians: humility, a spirit of piety and penance, and charity. Her fame of sanctity and the prodigies that came about thanks to her intervention led Pope ... continue reading
By Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck
August 9 is the Memorial of St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, Edith Stein, Catholic feminist, philosopher and martyr of Auschwitz. In this sketch, Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck, Jewish born priest and Chair of the National Pro-Life Center (Washington, DC), examines the ... continue reading