Wednesday, January 28, 2009

St. Thomas Aquinas: 29 January 2009 (transferred)

St. Thomas Aquinus
29 January (transferred)

St. Thomas Aquinas was the greatest theologian of the High Middle ages, and is counted by some as the second greatest theologian in Western Christianity. He was born to a noble Italian family in about he year 1225. He enered the then new Dominican Order of Preachers (O.P.) and became an outstanding teacher. His family fought him entering the Dominicans, and even had him kidnapped to prevent him from joining the order. They also sent him a prostitute to compromise his celibacy, but he drove he away with a burning stick. His mother finally allowed him to escape in secret rather than openly surrender to the Dominicans. Thomas studied and taught in Paris and Cologne before returning to Naples.

Because of the rediscovery of Aristotle’s works, Thomas asserted that reason and faith are in basic harmony. “Grace is not the denial of nature, but the perfection of it.” Thomas accomplished this synthesis in his greatest workd, Summa Theologia and Summa Contra Gentiles which continue to influence Christian thought and philosophy today. He was considered a radical in his time, and some of his thoughts were regarded as heretical by his contemporaries.

Thomas understood that when God revealed his name to Moshe, “I am who I am” to mean that God is being, the ultimate reality form which everything else derives its being. The difference between God and the universe, is that God’s essence is to exist, wherefore everything else derives its being from God. God is reflected in his creation, and therefore can be partially understood through the creation. Therefore human reason can demonstrate the existence of God. Distinctive truths about God, though must come through revelation. It is important to note that much of western philosophy today is based on reflection of his thought.

Thomas was also known for his hymns, “O Saving Victim” and “Now my tongue the Mystery Telling.”

Thomas died in 1274 at the age of forty-nine.

Collect: Lord, as you raised Thomas Aquinus as a theologian in your church, grant wisdom as grace that your church may always have teachers to expound the truth and guide us in faith and knowledge of you, that our faith would not be blind, but based on understanding. This we ask through our great teacher Yeshuah, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.

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