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Saint Thomas Aquinas

Blessed feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas!

Aquinas prayer

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Today, the Dominican family rightly rejoices in their brother Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor. Thomas is one of Holy Church’s greatest theological minds. One can speak of all the things Aquinas has given us, and we can speak of the need to have Thomism as a way to begin to come to understand Divine Mystery; we’re not there yet. Aquinas would certainly agree: you can know it all but unless you live the Christian faith you really have nothing.

The opening prayer for Mass today speaks of Aquinas’ zeal for holiness as the first premise; understanding and imitating the accomplishments is secondary. The Prayer after Communion speaks of Christ the teacher, Christ the living bread, truth and the need to express all these things in works of charity.

Works of charity are an expression of the Good News given to us by the Lord.

The priest at Mass today reminded us of a fact that I tend to fall into errors that are all-too-common: on the one hand we can say, “I know it all” and on the other hand we can say, “I don’t know enough, I can never measure up.” One attitude is arrogant, keeping the faith as an idea, with very little attention to the heart. The other attitude is simplistic, silly and rooted in a false humility and laziness. Both are straw, grass clippings as Aquinas would state. What both have in common is a the theological virtue of charity. Charity connects us with the Divine Mystery.

Most certainly, Thomas would tell us to know the faith well, but allow the faith to be a point of encounter with the Lord in a contemporary way. No good Catholic would hold to knowing nothing of the content of Divine Revelation. Jesus, indeed, is contemporary with our daily existence.

What Thomas Aquinas has given us is a map by which we come to understand the Divine Mystery through charity. Charity is key to the Dominican charism for the Church and for our daily living of our Catholic faith. No charity, no real belief in Jesus Christ as Messiah. There is no via media here. The point: don’t confuse the map for the road on which to walk.

Where do we get happiness?

In case you didn’t know it, there are levels of happiness. You also may not know that God wants us to be happy in this life. Period. Can we open our eyes to what true happiness is?

Four levels of happiness that we encounter in our experience:

  1. happiness in a thing: I need a steak and a bourbon; I need that vacation
  1. problem: short-termed pleasure: the flashy new toy
  2. we are created more than a designer purse: 
  3. who’s measure do we use for happiness?
  4. what do we really ask God for?

2. as persons we are more than comparative advantage, but we compare ourselves with others

      a. problem: the “advantage” has a limitation; it’s effectiveness is not long-lasting nor does it account for the truth of who we really are as persons made in God’s own image

3. finding joy in a sincere gift of self … to a point

  1. problem: when the person to whom our joy is directed leaves, then what happens? Was our serving really sincere? What are the motivations in looking for joy in serving?
4. union with God: the only place where we find true peace, love and happiness; the beloved rests with the lover;
  1. we are restless until our hearts rest in the Lord
  2. God thirsts for you to thirst for Him
  3. what does it do to God when we thirst for a designer purse more than for God?
  4. why does a created thing take the priority over the creator?

We are meant, by God, to be happy in this life and in the next. You may be asking yourself: What are the requirements for attaining true happiness?

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Saint Thomas Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas with bk detail.jpgO God, who made Saint Thomas Aquinas outstanding in his zeal for holiness and his study of sacred doctrine, grant us, we pray, that we may understand what he taught one imitate what he accomplished.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, patron of Catholic school teacher and researchers, pray for us.
“Man’s good and what makes man good in God’s sight does not, principally, consist in external acts. But in the external actions we must use discretion and make charity the measure of our use of them”

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The learned will shine like the brilliance of the firmament, and those who train many in the ways of justice will sparkle like the stars for all eternity.

O God, you made Saint Thomas known for his zeal for holiness and his dedication to sacred doctrine. Help us to grow in wisdom by his teaching and in holiness by imitating his faith.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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