January 28th is an important date for the Dominican Family as we celebrate the feast day of our brother St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the most influential theologian of all times. Ever since his death in 1274, our saint has been through periods of popularity and disfavor, and frequently of misunderstandings as well as of shallow, instrumental interpretations; yet to those who approach his heritage with open minds and hearts, Thomas offers powerful resources of spiritual wisdom.
Today, as a little teaser, I wanted to share just a few quotes from Aquinas for personal meditation, followed by one of my favorite Thomas stories.
“For God nothing is past and nothing is future” (On Sentences, 38, 1, ad 5)
“We can open our hearts before God, but only with God’s help” (On Truth, 24, 15 ad 2)
“Everyone who speaks the truth, no matter who he stands before, will be invincible” (On Job, 13, 3)
“Merciful is the one who takes another’s misery upon himself as his own” (On John, II, 1)
“Whatever exists is good because it exists” (Summa Theologiae, I, 5, 3, ad 1)
The life and teaching of St Thomas Aquinas could be summed up in an episode passed down by his ancient biographers. While, as was his wont, the Saint was praying before the Crucifix in the early morning in the chapel of St Nicholas in Naples, Domenico da Caserta, the church sacristan, overheard a conversation. Thomas was anxiously asking whether what he had written on the mysteries of the Christian faith was correct. And the Crucified One answered him: “You have spoken well of me, Thomas. What is your reward to be?” And the answer Thomas gave him was what I would love for all of us to be able to give: “Nothing but Yourself, Lord!”