Deacon Stu Dobson’s Reflection – January 28, 2022
3rd Friday in Ordinary time, Feast of St Thomas Aquinas
2 Sm 11:1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17; Ps 51:3-7, 10-11; Mk 4:26-34 or Wis 7:7-10, 15-16, Mt 23:8-12
When we look at all the Saints in the church, the number of them that are recognized is mind boggling. According to the Saint encyclopedia I have, published in 2014, there are over 10,000 saints that the church recognizes. Yet, there are a few that stand out. And today, we celebrate the feast day of one of those, St. Thomas Aquinas.
Born in 1225 to noble parents, St. Thomas Aquinas spent most of his life studying the Church. He entered his studies at age 5, and very early on he was recognized as having an extraordinary brilliance in regard to theology. In 1239 he entered the university in Naples where he concentrated on philosophy, grammar, rhetoric, and logic. I guess in today’s terms we would probably call that reading, writing, and arithmetic. While there, he was intrigued by a new order called the Dominican’s and wanted to become a friar. But his family did not agree so they captured him and held him captive for a couple years. They finally relented to his wishes and in 1245 he went to Rome and eventually Paris where he entered the university. After going to the new Dominican college in Cologne, he was ordained.
St. Thomas returned to Paris and began lecturing on theology and continued his studies. In 1257 he received his doctorate in Theology and gave his inaugural lecture, “The Majesty of Christ,” based on Psalms 104:13. He held many positions in the Church, and also turned many down so he could work on his writings and lectures. He wrote many papers and began working on his most famous piece, the Summa Theologiae, which, unfortunately he never finished.
He spent a large amount of his time defending the faith and teaching, and during this time he became ill. Yet, he still obeyed Gregory X, that he should attend the council of Lyons. It was on his way there that he collapsed and died on March 7, 1274.
His sheer number of writings and his personal theology became known as Thomism. It is so well known and sound that Pope Leo XII declared that all priests and theology students should study him. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V, and in 1323 he was canonized by Pope John XXII. In 1880, Pope Leo XIII honored him as the patron saint of Catholic Schools, colleges, and Universities.
His writings are sometimes difficult to understand, but with a well written guide to explain them, they are magnificent. One could spend a lifetime studying his works and still not get through it all. Truly a brilliant Saint who explained our faith so wonderfully.
St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.