Saturday, January 28, 2006
St. Thomas Aquinas

Memorial (1969 Calendar): January 28
Double (1954 Calendar): March 7

Today the Church remembers my confirmation saint and certainly one of the deepest intellectual saints in the Church's history, St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor of the Church. He is especially dear to me since I chose him as my confirmation saint.

One of the greatest glories of the Dominican Order is St. Thomas Aquinas, who is known as The Angelic Doctor.

St. Thomas Aquinas was born to noble parts in Aquino, near Naples, Italy in the year of our Lord 1225. In his childhood the young saint was the provider for the poor of the neighborhood during a famine; his father, meeting him in a corridor with the food he had succeeded in taking from the kitchen, asked him what he had under his cloak; he opened it and fresh roses fell on the ground. The nobleman embraced his son and amid his tears, gave him permission to follow thereafter all inspirations of his charity.

At the young age of 19, he received the Dominican habit in Naples Italy, only a short time after the Dominican Order was established. But his family was opposed to the choice. His brothers captured him while he was on his way to Paris and locked him in the castle of Rocca Secca for two years. During this time the threats would not deter him from following his religious vocation. St. Thomas managed by his holy example to win over his older sister who decided to renounce a high-class marriage that was going-to-be and instead embrace the life of a nun. She would become the Abbess in Capua.

In order to stop Thomas from joining the Dominicans, St. Thomas's father sent him impure women to seduce him to the pleasures of this world. St. Thomas responded by chasing the women away with a flaming torch. As a reward, St. Thomas was privileged to receive a vision of an angel who girded him with a cincture of purity, and from that day he was free from all bodily temptations. St. Thomas Aquinas is often depicted in one famous image as receiving the belt of chastity after this temptation. He later accepted and joined the Dominicans.

He was taught in Paris and Cologne under St. Albert the Great. As a young student he was recognized by his professors as a genius, but it was Saint Albert the Great who later said of his disciple whom some called “the mute ox,” that “someday the lowing of this ox will resound throughout the entire world.” This prophecy has indeed come true and with it, the Dominican Order would see its greatest saint.

St. Thomas Aquinas' writings exhibit some of the greatest harmony ever conceived on paper. His works including Summa Theologica (which he did not finish before his death) and his 5 proofs for God's existence are still regarded as theologically brilliant.  Few though also own and read his fantastic Commentary on the Gospels, the four-volume set Catena Aurea. St. Thomas Aquinas' thoughts led to the formation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the 1800s.

Near the end of his life, St. Thomas received an extraordinary grace when a crucifix in Naples actually came alive and the Lord spoke to Thomas: “Well hast thou written concerning Me, Thomas. What shall I give thee as a reward?” St. Thomas replied, “No other reward except Thyself, O Lord.” And it is to this end that St. Thomas said that all of his works were but straw before the magnificence of Almighty God.

St. Thomas became a counselor to the papacy, and Pope Gregory X personally invited him to participate in the General Council of Lyons in 1274, but the Dominican saint died on his way there at Fossa Nuova near Terracina, Italy on March 7, 1274.

He was only 49 years old when he was called home to Heaven and exactly 49 years later he was canonized by Pope John XXII in 1323. Thomas was officially declared a "Doctor of the Church" in 1567 by Pope Saint Pius V and his feast day has traditionally been celebrated on March 7th up until the Second Vatican Council. It still is in the Traditional Roman Calendar. The Dominican Rite Calendar keeps his feast on March 7th and keeps a second feastday in his honor on January 28th in honor of the translation of his relics.

Thomistic Philosophy has been the cornerstone of seminary formation since the formation of seminaries themselves after the Protestant Revolt in the 1500s. A Catholic would be hard-pressed to study any area of Theology where the writings and teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas are not integral to the doctrine at hand. St. Thomas Aquinas is truly the glory of the Dominican Order and one of the most intelligent saints that God has blessed His Church with.

The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, is one of the greatest sources of intellectual inspiration in the history of the world. It is especially ironic that St. Thomas, who was dubbed the "dumb ox" by some, would become recognized as the most brilliant scholar in the history of the Church. Having written more than just the Summa, we sing hymns written by him each time at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament when we sign the "O Salutaris Hostia" and "Tantum Ergo."

Studiorum Ducem:
In a recent apostolic letter confirming the statutes of Canon Law, We declared that the guide to be followed in the higher studies by young men training for the priesthood was Thomas Aquinas. The approaching anniversary of the day when he was duly enrolled, six hundred years ago, in the calendar of the Saints, offers Us an admirable opportunity of inculcating this more and more firmly in the minds of Our students and explaining to them what advantage they may most usefully derive from the teaching of so illustrious a Doctor. For science truly deserving of the name and piety, the companion of all the virtues, are related in a marvelous bond of affinity, and, as God is very Truth and very Goodness, it would assuredly not be sufficient to procure the glory of God by the salvation of souls-the chief task and peculiar mission of the Church-if ministers of religion were well disciplined in knowledge and not also abundantly provided at the same time with the appropriate virtues.

Encyclical of Pope Pius XI promulgated on June 29, 1923

Litany of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Glorious Mother of the King of kings, Pray for us.

Saint Thomas of Aquinas, Pray for us.
Worthy child of the Queen of virgins, Pray for us.
St. Thomas most chaste, Pray for us.
St. Thomas most patient, Pray for us.
Prodigy of science, Pray for us.
Silently eloquent, Pray for us.
Reproach of the ambitious, Pray for us.
Lover of that life which is hidden with Christ, Pray for us.
Fragrant flower in the garden of Saint Dominic, Pray for us.
Glory of the Friars Preachers, Pray for us.
Illumined from on high , Pray for us.
Angel of the Schools, Pray for us.
Oracle of the Church, Pray for us.
Incomparable scribe of the Man-God, Pray for us.
Satiated with the odor of His perfumes, Pray for us.
Perfect in the school of His Cross, Pray for us.
Intoxicated with the strong wine of His charity, Pray for us.
Glittering gem in the cabinet of the Lord, Pray for us.
Model of perfect obedience, Pray for us.
Endowed with the true spirit of holy poverty, Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
Oh, how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory, For the memory thereof is immortal.

Because it is known with God and man,
And it triumpheth crowned forever.

V. What have I in Heaven, or what do I desire on earth!
R. Thou art the God of my heart, and my portion forever.
Let Us Pray. O God, Who hast ordained that blessed Thomas should enlighten Thy Church, grant that through his prayers we may practice what he taught, through Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.


O God, through Whom Thy Church is glorified by the wonderful learning of Thy blessed Confessor Thomas and profiteth still from his holy labors: grant, we pray, that we may grasp his teaching with our minds and show it, as he did, in our lives. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

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