ON THE FEAST DAY OF
OUR BIG BROTHER,
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
Today is the feast day of our Dominican brother, St. Thomas Aquinas, a saint whose impact on the Church, the Order, and the world, is still being felt in his many theological writings, most notably the Summa Theologiae, and in the lovely Eucharistic hymns he composed for the feast of Corpus Christi.
The late Fr. Herbert McCabe, O.P., remarks that "whatever his many other virtues, the central sanctity of St. Thomas was a sanctity of the mind." Very true. Our brother was a real intellectual "heavyweight," graced by God with immense intellectual gifts. However, sadly, those very gifts seem to make Thomas an inaccessible and unappealing saint to many.
Being Dominicans, we enjoy having the "inside" story on our "big brother," by our easy access to the recollections of his family, his brethren, his students, and his opponents. Their accounts are fascinating in what they reveal of this humble and gentle giant: Thomas the precocious child, baffling his family and Benedictine-monk teachers with his favorite question, "What is God?"; Thomas the focused young man, who faced down the opposition of his noble family in his desire to become a friar preacher and nothing else; Thomas the shy, reserved, and brilliant student; Thomas the kind and compassionate brother; Thomas the dynamic and engaging teacher, beloved by his students; Thomas the Angelic Doctor who defended the faith with calm, courage, and always, with courtesy; Thomas the poet, who gave the Church an incomparable gift in the Eucharistic hymns he composed for the feast of Corpus Christi; Thomas the lover, who responded to the Lord's offer of a "reward" for writing so well of Him, with, "Nothing but Thyself, Lord!"; and, lastly, Thomas the mystic, who, at the end of his life, was granted a vision of "such things" (a "sneak peak" into heaven?) which made all his writing seem like "so much straw."
We invite you to celebrate this feast of St. Thomas Aquinas in a fitting manner, perhaps by breaking open a volume of the Summa(!), participating in a SUMMA-THON(!), or, better yet (and this would certainly be Thomas' own recommendation!), to spend time in adoration before Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, making Thomas' words (from the "Adore Te devote") your own:
Godhead here in hiding, Whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service, low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder, at the God Thou art.