Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thomas Aquinas

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.


Molly said...

Well, look, you've got a first in line to make friends with St. Thomas! Do you have any books on him or by him that you would particularly recommend? I know the Summa is a given, but it seems a rather ambitious read, to say the least, at least all at one go.

Treskie said...

He's such a cool saint. :D

Amy said...

Those quotes are awesome. I really should read more about him. He's such a lovely Saint. :)

Katrina DeLallo said...

I must be a terrible person. My first thought was, "I LOVE that he recommended wine for alleviating sorrow. Good on ye, mate!"

My second thought was more fervent. I thought, quite piously too, "I shall be more like him."

Then it went all un-pious: "I shall drink more wine."

(I didn't want to say impious, 'cause it wasn't. It was more a gentle cessation of piety. Or something. That's my argument, anyway.)

Bella Rose said...

St Thomas - is he the one that kept falling there for a while? Either way, he is amazing and I love him
"... beware the man of a single book...." YES!

John Boswell said...

I like the book and friend quote. I think it would be weird meeting someone who only owned one book. Jack owns enough to open a library.

I have seen a few Hogan's Heroes but I would like to watch more if I could. I shall have to ask Jack. She likes old TV shows and found one called Jeeves and Wooster.

Jack said...

I think I've heard of him before....I should look him up to refresh my memory, or ask my information friend.

Thank you for your comment. It was a blessing to me and an encouragement. Everything here lately has been difficult, but knowing I have friends out there who care is one of the things which God has used to remind me of His blessings. (And besides, if I hadn't met the friend who turned out not to be a friend I never would have met you, so it was worth it for that alone 8-D)
So again, thank you.

Mahri said...

Oh, dear. I have fallen behind in responding to comments.

Molly ~ I agree that the Summa seems rather steep going. At present I am reading a sort of philosophical biography of the man himself by Anthony John Patrick Kenny. It is brief, and not very deep, but it is good so far. I am also reading "The Blessed Sacrament and the Mass". St. Thomas gives different arguements offered against various teaching on these subjects, and refutes them using classic logic and philosophy. I can't say that I am *enjoying* that one, but I find it mentally stimulating, and satisfying.

Kat ~ I laughed over that. I think it is very encouraging that a man as personally penitential as Thomas Aquinas suggests comfortable things in times of sadness. I rather think that most saint, and, indeed, most *good* people understand that there is a time an a place for penance, and a time and a place for pleasure.

Bella ~ I think you are thinking of Camillus De Lillis. But you are right. St. Thomas is a great saint. And I agree about the man of one book.

Jack said...

I should look up some of Thomas Aquinas' work, not only to see how much I've heard before but because I like reading things by intelligent men who were practical and humours from time to time. It is rare to find.

John Boswell said...

Stars are very good, all kinds. Even star fish.

Your closest sounds cooler then Jack's if it has book cases in it. All Jack has in her's is clothes and other weird stuff. Oh wait, she does have books in there too...

If you like Jeeves and Wooster it must be very good then. I liked the one we saw, when Wooster pushed the boy into the river and the girl liked him instead of his friend and then Jeeves got three kitties to scare off the girl's mum and dad. Jeeves is nice to Wooster, because I don't think a lot of people would like him. But maybe his cousins, because his cousins are funny.

John Boswell said...

I would stay up very late to read Redwall too, but Jack doesn't go to bed early and since I don't have school I don't have to I do stay up late but not with a flashlight...

Characters shouldn't be allowed to die in books if they are good books and good characters. It is sad...but Jack does it too so I probably shouldn't say that.

I think Rakkety Tam will be my favourite too, I like him because he wears a kilt and has a neat sword.

Jack said...

I was going to start the second Alice book but, of course, my library didn't have it so I will have to try elsewhere. I've heard that one is rather good though.

I think we got the blizzard you got. We were supposed to get it Saturday but it decided to laugh at the weathermen and catch us all off guard. One moment the sun was out, the next we were getting buried in huge snowflakes.