Monday, January 28, 2008

Notes on the Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Today the Roman Catholic Church honors the memory of the 13th-century Dominican friar Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and patron saint of philosophers, theologians, and scholars in general. It would be difficult to overstate the influence that St. Thomas had on the development of Catholic doctrine or on the history of Western philosophy. The complete works of Aquinas are remarkably numerous for a man who died before the age of fifty, and the breadth and depth of questions considered in Aquinas' Summa Theologiae and other texts remains impressive. Though Aquinas' work was controversial during his lifetime, in death he would win recognition as the greatest theologian in the Christian West since St. Augustine of Hippo. Aquinas also helped to reintroduce Aristotle to Western European readers after many centuries in which the works of the ancient Greek philosopher were presumed to have been lost. I could say a lot more about Aquinas, but instead I'll simply refer you to the weblog of the English Dominican Students, who have posted a fine appreciation of their brother in religion.

I've had ample opportunity to study the works of Thomas Aquinas in various courses, first at Georgetown and Notre Dame and now again at Fordham. In some ways, I feel like I've gotten to know Aquinas well. Nonetheless, I realize that he still has a lot more to teach me. Today, I pray that St. Thomas Aquinas will intercede for me and my fellow Jesuit scholastics as we go about our mission of studies. I pray that we might acquire some small share of the wisdom that God granted to St. Thomas, and I pray too that we will put this knowledge to good use in our future apostolic endeavors. AMDG.


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