Monday, January 28, 2008

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, OP, priest, friar, doctor of the Church

Thomas Aquinas' feast day is today.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) lived at a critical juncture of western culture when the arrival of the Aristotelian corpus in Latin translation reopened the question of the relation between faith and reason, calling into question the modus vivendi that had obtained for centuries. This crisis flared up just as universities were being founded. Thomas, after early studies at Montecassino, moved on to the University of Naples, where he met members of the new Dominican Order. It was at Naples too that Thomas had his first extended contact with the new learning. When he joined the Dominican Order he went north to study with Albertus Magnus, author of a paraphrase of the Aristotelian corpus. Thomas completed his studies at the University of Paris, which had been formed out of the monastic schools on the Left Bank and the cathedral school at Notre Dame. In two stints as a regent master Thomas defended the mendicant orders and, of greater historical importance, countered both the Averroistic interpretations of Aristotle and the Franciscan tendency to reject Greek philosophy. The result was a new modus vivendi between faith and philosophy which survived until the rise of the new physics. Thomas's theological writings became regulative of the Catholic Church and his close textual commentaries on Aristotle represent a cultural resource which is now receiving increased recognition. The following account concentrates on Thomas the philosopher and presents him as fundamentally an Aristotelian. (
One of my favorite saints, I used him greatly in teaching. I wish that I had had time to study him more when I was in the seminary.
Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas: Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you,a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.
Another prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas: [Recited in Preparation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass]
Almighty and ever-living God, I approach the sacrament of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I come sick to the Doctor of Life, unclean to the Fountain of Mercy, blind to the Radiance of Eternal Light, and poor and needy to the Lord of Heaven and Earth. Lord, in your great generosity, heal my sickness, wash away my defilement, enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness. May I receive the bread of angels, the King of kings and the Lord of lords with humble reverence and with the purity and faith, the repentance and love, and the determined purpose that will help to bring me salvation. May I receive the Lord’s body and blood, and its reality and power. Kind God, may I receive the Body of your only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born from the womb of the Virgin Mary, and so be received into His Mystical Body and numbered among his members. Loving Father, as on my earthly pilgrimage I now receive your beloved Son under the veil of a sacrament, may I one day see Him face to face in glory, who lives and reigns with you forever. AMEN.

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