"Nothing but You, Lord"
January 28th Readings Reflection: Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the great 13th century theologian and philosopher. As a young man, St. Thomas wanted to join the Dominican Order, a decision his family did not support. His family imprisoned Thomas in their castle and even hired a prostitute to seduce him into violating his celibacy, but Thomas remained firm in his decision. According to a legend, he drove the prostitute away with a burning iron from the fireplace. After this trial, he fell into an ecstasy in which an angel appeared and bound a cord around his waist, thereby freeing Thomas from sexual temptations for the rest of his life.
St. Thomas’ great purity helped earn him the title of Angelic Doctor. In his Summa Theologiae, he wrote, “Now in order for the mind to be united to the Supreme Being it must be withdrawn from inferior things: and hence it is that without purity the mind cannot be applied to God” (ST II-II, q. 81, a. 8). This quote seems to directly correlate with today’s Gospel reading.
The Apostles became afraid of the strong wind and crashing waves, thinking that they were about to perish. Rather than feeling safe because Jesus was asleep in their boat, they awakened Him. He immediately calmed the storm and then asked His Apostles, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” The Apostles had let inferior things cloud their eyes and prevent them from seeing Jesus as He truly is.
My favourite story from the life of St. Thomas Aquinas occurred while he was working on his great Summa Theologiae. While celebrating Mass one day, he received a vision in which Our Lord spoke to him through an icon. Jesus said, “You have written well of Me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labour?” “Nothing but You, Lord,” was St. Thomas’ reply.1
Soon after this incident, Thomas received another vision, after which he never wrote again. When asked why he had stopped writing, the Angelic Doctor said, “I cannot go on…. All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.”2 He died just three months later.
St. Thomas Aquinas, ora pro nobis!
“St. Thomas Aquinas,” at Catholic Online, www.catholic.org.
“Saint Thomas Aquinas,” at Franciscan Media, www.franciscanmedia.org.