Faithful readers of this blog know that I often post about saints' days. Sometimes it is because the saint is a particular favourite of mine, and I want other people to make friends of him too. Sometimes it is because there are really wonderful traditions associated with the celebration of the day, and I am a very traditional person. Sometimes, it is just because there is something unusual or interesting about them.
So, today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, a man, who at first glance, seems rather too much for the average person to form any opinion of at all. He was a man of prodigious intellect, a theologian and a philosopher. His densely written, intensely logical Summa Theologica was intended to be merely an introduction into theology, and yet, Thomistic scholars will devote their whole lives to the study of it. He loved God passionately and enjoyed visions and revelations from our Saviour, so that he said that all he wrote was but straw, compared to what he had seen. In short, he is quite overwhelming upon first acquaintance, which is rather a pity, he was, at heart, a simple man, who retained throughout all of his life a child-like joyfulness.
He was also practical, poetic, witty and delightfully human. Here are some useful quotes, which show the weighty intellectual in quite a different light than he is usually perceive:
*Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.
*Beware the man of a single book.
*There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.
*Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.
*A song is the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice.
*Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.
And here, as well, is a translation of a very lovely poem:... and if that doesn't sound like the writing of a congenial individual, in love with God and God's creation, I don't know what does.
Very Bread, Good Shepherd, Tend Us
Very Bread, Good Shepherd, tend us;
Jesu, of Thy love befriend us;
Thou refresh us, Thou defend us,
Thine eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see:
Thou Who all things canst and knowest,
Who in earth such Food bestowest,
Grant us with Thy saints, though lowest,
Where the heavenly feast Thou showest,
Fellow heirs and guests to be.