Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Saint of the Day - St Thomas Aquinas

You know, I've never read any of his writings. I know it's good stuff. But I've also heard it's pretty heavy stuff. Maybe I should try it anyway...

Thomas lived in the thirteenth century. He was the son of a noble family of Italy. He was very intelligent, but he never boasted about it. He knew that his mind was a gift from God. Thomas was one of nine children. His parents hoped that he would become a Benedictine abbot some day. The family castle was in Rocca Secca, just north of Monte Cassino where the monks lived. Thomas was sent to the abbey for schooling when he was five. When he was eighteen, he went to Naples to finish his studies. There he met a new group of religious men called the Order of Preachers. Their founder, St. Dominic, was still living. Thomas knew he wanted to become a priest. He felt that he was called to join these men who would become known in popular language as "Dominicans." His parents were angry with him. When he was on his way to Paris to study, his brothers kidnapped him. They kept him a prisoner in one of their castles for over a year. During that time, they did all they could to make him change his mind. One of his sisters, too, came to persuade him to give up his vocation. But Thomas spoke so beautifully about the joy of serving God that she changed her mind. She decided to give her life to God as a nun. After fifteen months, Thomas was finally freed to follow his call. St. Thomas wrote so well about God that people all over the world have used his books for hundreds of years. His explanations about God and the faith came from Thomas' great love for God. He was effective because he wasn't trying to make an impression on anyone. He just wanted with all his heart to offer the gift of his life to Jesus and the Church. St. Thomas is one of the greatest Doctors of the Church. Around the end of 1273, Pope Gregory X asked Thomas to be part of an important Church meeting called the Council of Lyons. While traveling to the meeting, Thomas became ill. He had to stop at a monastery at Fossanova, Italy, where he died. It was March 7, 1274. He was only forty-nine. St. Thomas was declared a saint in 1323 by Pope Paul II; Pius V declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1567; Leo XIII declared him master of all scholastic doctors in 1879 and the universal patron of universities, colleges, and schools in 1880. May the message of St. Thomas "to seek the truth in charity" penetrate our heart and mind.