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St. Thomas Aquinas: to Know in Order to Love

St. Thomas Aquinas shows us what it is to love God with all of your mind, as well as all of your body, and strength, and soul. Before he was a theologian and scholar of Scripture, before he was a philosopher, St. Thomas was a mystic who strove to love God as much as it was possible for him to do so. He was a Dominican, a friar who prays and contemplates and receives light from the Lord in order to share it with others. His studying was an act of charity towards God and his teaching was an act of charity to his neighbor.

Why study? How is it an act of love of God? Put simply, you cannot love what you do not know. And the more you love someone the more you want to know that person. From his early youth, St. Thomas would ask those who taught him, “Who is God? What is God?” It seems that he spent all of his life pondering the question. His compendium of theology, the Summa, his writings on Scripture and compilation of Early Church Fathers on the Gospels, the Golden Thread, everything he penned was a fruit of his prayer. He came to know God by spending time with him, and by knowing him more, he came to love him more. How can one forget his prayers, especially the texts and hymns he composed for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi? All of these things sprung from a heart on fire with the love of God. St. Thomas was very devoted to the Holy Eucharist and this is especially evident from the hymns, Sing My Tongue the Savior’s Glory (Pange Lingua) and Godhead Here in Hiding (Adore Te Devote).

I have been inspired by his desire and pursuit of Holy Wisdom. Ultimately, Wisdom is the Logos, the Word, through whom all things were created and for whom all things exist. Our minds exist for him, that we may grasp him with our intellects insofar as it is possible for finite creatures. Natural reason is elevated, guided by the light of faith through the revelation of the Word who enlightens man. He, Jesus Christ, was sent by the Father, so that we could have the supernatural assistance of knowing him. And the Holy Spirit brings us into a deeper understanding of the Truth revealed. Why? So that by knowledge of Divine Things we can better love God, the final end or purpose towards which we are tending. He makes it easier to love him by providing us knowledge of himself.

A brother friar sacristan, overheard a conversation between Jesus and Thomas. The Lord spoke to Thomas in these words, “You have written and spoken well of me, Thomas. What would you have in return?” Thomas answered, “Nothing but you, O Lord!” May it be the same for us – – may we come to know him more with our minds that we may love him all the more and come to the full possession of him who is the only possible reward we could ask for. St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

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