The month of January celebrates one of the greatest theologians in the history of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas. A Dominican friar and Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas made significant contributions in his short life as a scholar and teacher. He was a nobleman born in 1225 and raised at Rocca Secca, the castle of his father in the territory of Naples near the small town of Aquino. As a young man, he was a devoted scholar who studied at the University of Naples for six years, leaving when he was sixteen years old. St. Thomas decided to leave the school because the Dominicans, who were beginning to enlist young scholars into their rapidly rising order, attracted him. In spite of his parent's objection, he joined the order. The young man was then kidnapped by his brothers and held in a castle for a year. When he regained his freedom, he immediately returned to the order
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas was sent to the Dominican School in Cologne, where he studied with a moving thinker of his age, Albertus Magnus. Years later, he was appointed second lecturer and named Magister Studentium. This point in time began his public life and immersion in literary activity. For years, he was committed to his order, traveling on journeys dedicated to defending the organization's affairs. Throughout his active service to his order, St. Thomas wrote volumes of works inspired by his fidelity to Sacred Scripture. Later, when he became seriously ill, he stopped all of his writing. A short time later, he died in 1274 on a journey to attend the Second Council of Lyons where he hoped to settle differences between the Greek and Latin churches. St. Thomas Aquinas was canonized in 1323 by Pope John XXII and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1567. We celebrate his feast day on January 28th . He is the patron saint of Catholic Universities, students and booksellers.
No other person has done more to shape the theological language of the Church than St. Thomas. His most famous work is the Summa Theologiae. Summa Theologiae is comprised of three parts: God, Man, and the God-Man. This work of St. Thomas covers almost every theological aspect of Christianity and the Church. The book provides the defense and critique of most of the Church's doctrines. Although his work was so extensive, St. Thomas stated, "All I have written seems to me like straw compared with what I have seen and what has been revealed to me."
Looking at St. Thomas' life, we see that he gave up title and privilege to become a Dominican monk. He lectured all over Europe and spent much time writing. What is most impressive is how he explains and defends Catholicism for us.
God calls us to be like St. Thomas. Not necessarily to live as monks, but to study and to reflect upon our faith. Often we follow the Church's teaching with little comprehension of its meaning or origin. St. Thomas believed that knowledge comes from two different sources: the mysteries of the faith and from truths that human reason brings us to. He believed that absolute truth comes from the one source of knowledge, God. This means that everything we say and do, everything, has God's reflection in it.
"The ultimate human knowledge of God is to know that we do not know God, and that insofar as we know, what God is transcends all that we understand of God."
-St. Thomas Aquinas
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