Somehow I completely did not connect that today was the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas. Now I am not sure why, because I have been well aware that the day has been coming. Not the least of which was because of reading my friend Todd’s blog, Catholic Sensibility. (He has been making a novena to St. Thomas, his patron.)
St. Thomas Aquinas had an interesting life. He was born in 1225 to a noble family. Thomas wanted to enter religious life, but his parents were duly horrified, so they did what any good family of the 13th century would do… well not exactly. They took their son and apparently had him locked in a castle in southern Italy. This did not do any good and eventually they relented and off he went to the Dominican order. This is an interesting choice given that he was educated by Benedictines at Monte Cassino. However, he chose the relatively new Order of Preachers, the Dominicans.
Thomas was very large and very quiet as he studied in Cologne; thus he became known as the “Dumb Ox.” It was in Cologne that he studied under another great Dominican saint, Albert the Great, aka, Albertus Magnus. St. Albert knew that Thomas had much to offer the world. Thomas later became known as “the Angelic Doctor,” a more apt appellation. Today he is revered for his work, in particular, his Summa Theologica, his vast work that was a synthesis of Aristotle’s philosophy and Christian doctrine.
The image above reminds us that joy is essential to the Christian life!
It is said that Aquinas wrote about The Song of Solomon, but no such work is extant. In later life he had a mystical experience that caused him to say this… “All that I have written seems to me like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me.”
Aquinas is often quoted and pointed to in support of very orthodox viewpoints. I always have to think that his words, heard in the chant of Tantum Ergo:
|Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui
Praestet fides supplementum
|Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! oe’r ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.
Laus et jubilatio
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio. A-men
|To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor blessing,
Might and endless majesty.
Newer rites of grace prevail… God is always making a new thing. Thomas, as theologian and philosopher knew this – we cannot go backward.