Cloud of Witnesses

St. Thomas Aquinas: Dumb Ox?

It’s the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. My middle name is Thomas. I’m in good company. This Thomas, by his correspondence with God’s grace and gifts of wisdom and intelligence, was one of the Catholic Church’s most greatest theologians and philosophers. His Summa Theologica is the greatest theology textbook ever written. St. Thomas was a student of St. Albert Magnus (remember him from an earlier post?).

Born in Aquino, Italy to a count and countess, Tomaso was sent to be educated by the Benedictine monks at age 5! There at Monte Cassino he would ask questions like “what is God?”

Later he was at the University of Naples where he was introduced to the Dominicans–that new order of friars. Soon enough he wanted to join the Dominicans. His family? They were not having that. So his brothers kidnap him and locked him up in the family castle! His resolve to be a Dominican friar and priest was unbroken. One day his brothers have a immoral young woman pay him a visit. St. Thomas heads for the fireplace grabs a fire brand and proceeds to chase her out! (Fighting fire with fire!) Then he makes a cross on door with the hot iron, prays for purity and continues his reading.

After he joined the Dominican order or Order of Preachers, he was nicknamed “Dumb Ox” because of his shyness and his reticence to speak. “You call him Dumb Ox, but I tell you the ox’s bellows will be heard around the world” St. Albert prophesied about his pupil.

St. Thomas sought Truth with all humility because humility is acknowledgment of the truth. He wrote prolifically about what he pondered in prayer at the feet of Jesus. A voice from the cross spoke “You have written well of me, Thomas! What do you desire?” Thomas replied, “Only you, Lord Jesus” – “Non nisi te, Domine”

He broke down the philosophy of Aristotle and was a Scripture exegete. Through faith and reason he taught the Truth who sets us free. And how blessed we are from his love for Jesus in the Eucharist! Great hymns and poetry! Pange Lingua, Tantum Ergo, Adoro Te Devote.

Near the end of his life he such a had a powerful experience during Holy Mass that he declared that what he had written was so much straw compared with the glory of God!

St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, pray for us!

Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.

– St. Thomas Aquinas

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