Please listen to Father Broom's talk on St. Thomas Aquinas
Endowed with one of the keenest
intellects ever, a philosopher, considered by many the “greatest” theologian”,
teacher, writer, priest and religious. (Dominican), contemplative and mystic,
saint and doctor of the church--- can you guess who this is? None other than the “Angelic Doctor” SAINT
BIRTH AND FAMILY. Born the 12th of a
noble family in today’s Naples, he was educated as a youth in the monastery of
the Benedictine monks. He had a quiet and contemplative disposition inclined
towards the academic life. Thomas felt the call to become a priest-religious,
but not according to the criteria of the noble Aquinas family. They had the
plans for him to be a Benedictine abbot to bring prestige and honor for the family.
POVERTY AND MENDICANT ORDER. Just recently, two mendicant
orders had been established: the Franciscans by St. Francis of Assisi, and the
Dominicans (Order of Preachers), founded by Saint Dominic Guzman. Young Thomas
felt the attractive pull towards the Dominicans. His parents and family
violently opposed this desire of Thomas.
|Saint Dominic Founder|
PERSECUTION. Persecutions rained down upon the
young Thomas, such that he had to flee his family. However, family members
captured him and locked him up in a family castle.
THE TEST! His family put Thomas to the test!
While in the castle they brought a loose woman (a prostitute) to tempt and
seduce Thomas into sin. With a fire-brand aflame, Thomas rushed at the shameless
woman threatening to brand her face if she did not abandon her pursuit; this
she did! Then, according to Thomistic
scholars, Thomas was given the gift of perfect chastity that would serve him to
plumb the depths of contemplation and comprehend the greatest of mysteries with
the purest of mind, heart, body and soul!
MORE TESTS AND PERSECUTIONS. Thomas was received into the
Dominicans. As a student he was blessed to have the greatest known teacher of
the day, another Dominican now known as the famous “St. Albert the Great”---
the universal doctor. Albert was the master of biology, physics, chemistry,
philosophy, logic, as well as theology. Brilliant as he was, Thomas preferred
the “Queen of all Sciences” Theology. He
had a more retired disposition, reticent by nature and stout in build. The other students started to taunt and mock
Thomas, such that they tagged a nickname to him: “The Dumb Ox.” St. Albert, hearing of this derogatory
title, asserted: “Ox he is and his bellow will be heard throughout the entire
world.’ Incidentally, the great English writer G.K Chesterton wrote a
masterpiece on Aquinas with the title, “The Dumb Ox”.
PROFESSOR. Ordained to the priesthood, one
of his first assignments was to teach as professor in one of the most
prestigious universities in the world, the University of Paris. A gifted
teacher, his fame spread like wildfire and his teaching rooms were packed to
the gills! He taught with depth but with great simplicity—which matched his
writing style! He was concise, clear, and to the point!
PREACHER AND RETREAT MASTER. The Holy Father, aware of the
powerful intellect of Thomas, called him
back to Italy. The young theologian
dedicated him time there to preaching
sermons and retreats that impressed and edified multitudes of people!
WRITER. Of even greater magnitude and
universal impact would be Aquinas’ ability as a writer. Thomas was a profound
thinker, both philosopher and theologian, but he was also both a mystic and
contemplative. It is said of him that he received his greatest insights not
from books but in contemplative prayer, praying in front of the most Blessed
Sacrament and Jesus crucified. When he
lacked clarity he would gravitate to the Tabernacle where Jesus, “The Light of
the world” would enlighten his intellect with the truth!
WRITING ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Thomas had such a fertile and
active mind that it was said of him that he could be dictating to four
Secretaries (four different topics) at the same time! His memory for the Word
of God and spiritual topics was nothing less than photographic! He wrote “Summa contra gentiles”, fundamentally a treatise to defend the
Catholic faith against the oncoming attacks of the Moslems.
CLAIM TO FAME OF ST
THOMAS: “SUMMA THEOLOGICA”. By far of greatest importance, was Thomas’
spiritual masterpiece, greatest in the world, his SUMMA THEOLOGICA! This contains five huge Volumes of his
thought on all Christian Mysteries. Covering Dogmatic Theology, Sacramental
Theology, Moral Theology, Prayer, and still much more. The “Summa” is still one
of the greatest spiritual gems and masterpieces in the world. Even the Council of Trent in the 16th
century used three text books to help in the formulation of the Council of
Trent’s decrees and the Catechism of the Council of Trent: The Bible, the writings
of the Popes, and the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas.
EUCHARIST: CORPUS CHRISTI AND THOMAS. The Holy Father, so as to
augment faith and devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist, asked both Thomas and
Bonaventure (a friend of Thomas and future saint) to write the Office for the
Feast of Corpus Christi--- The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Interesting experience! Both of the saints met! Bonaventure got a hold of the
writings of Aquinas for the Office of the Body and Blood of Jesus, and after
reading Aquinas’ writings, Bonaventure ripped his Office to shreds. Why? The
great humility of Bonaventure acutely aware of the divine inspiration of the
text of Aquinas which would be sung to praise the Eucharistic Lord until the
end of time! Among the mystical hymns of Aquinas are the following: “Tantum Ergo”, “O Salutaris Hostia”, Panis
|O Salutaris Hostia|
WELL DONE FAITHFUL SERVANT: A VISION! At the end of his life, Jesus
appeared to Thomas, complimenting the saint. Jesus said to Thomas, “Well done
Thomas; you have written well of me!’
Then Jesus asked Thomas to ask of Him for a favor! The saint responded, “Lord give me the grace
to love you more and more!” LOVE OF GOD!!!! That was all that Thomas really
wanted--- to live out the greatest calling: to love Jesus wholly and totally!
ECSTASY AND VISION! Another vision of the great saint
concluded his writings! Thomas had a vision of God, that we will know only when
we get to heaven and ask Thomas and the Lord. So powerful was this vision that
Thomas could no longer take up his pen and write. (Actually the Summa was not
totally finished!) From this Aquinas stated that all that he had written was
nothing more than straw!
EARLY DEATH. Asked by the Holy Father
to attend the Council of Lyons, on the way to the Council, Thomas became
gravely sick, was received into a Cistercian monastery and breathed forth his
spirit into the hands of the Lord. He
was only 49 years of age!
LESSONS OF THE “Angelic doctor” Many for us now and until the end of time!
PURITY. To communicate with the Lord we must attain
purity of life in body, mind, heart and soul. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure
of heart, they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)
DETERMINATION. Like Thomas we must
have a determined determination to discern God’s will and follow it.
POVERTY. Thomas chose a
poor-mendicant Order so as to follow Jesus in His poverty. “Blessed are the
poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(Mt.5:3)
PRAYER/CONTEMPLATION. Thomas learned
much from his books and studies, but even more through his prayer in front of
the Most Blessed Sacrament and Jesus Crucified.
STUDY. In this “Year of Faith” in imitation of St.
Thomas may we apply ourselves seriously to the study of our Catholic faith.
SILENCE. To study and pray well we urgently need
silence. “Speak O Lord for your servant is listening!” God speaks in the
silence of our hearts!
OBEDIENCE. Thomas obeyed both
Provincial and Pope. In obedience, we accomplish the will of God. Jesus was obedient even to death and death on
the cross. (Phil. 2)
LOVE. When asked by Jesus for a gift,
Thomas did not ask for honor or fame or riches but simply to love Jesus more
and more each day. Thomas himself says that charity(supernatural love) is the
“Queen of all virtues.”
DEATH. He died at 49 and accomplished
so much. May we recognize that our life is like the flower of the field that
rises in the morning and withers and dies as the sun goes down. Let us find
rest in two places: the cemetery and heaven. (St. Alberto Hurtado).
MARY. Thomas preached at great length
on the HAIL MARY-- a prayer that he loved.
Following St Dominic the charism of the Dominicans is to preach and
spread love for the Holy Rosary!
|Saint Dominic Receiving the Rosary From Mary!|