St. Thomas Aquinas is called the “Angelic Doctor,” not for medical skills but for his philosophical writings and the scope of his scholarship. His biography oozes intelligence and diligence, seen in his effort to memorize the entire text of the Bible! I always shied away from this saint, fearing a lack of understanding of his work. (Who would think that the Summa Theologica (his summary of theology) could be grasped without a PhD? Little did I know that when I was singing the “Pange lingua” (Sing my tongue the Savior’s glory…) during the Holy Thursday procession in Church every year with full voice and full devotion, that he was the author of that great hymn. I knew nothing of his appreciation for all of nature and of his poetic heart. Today I am happy to celebrate this great saint on his feast!
In a poetic translation of the works of twelve masters of spirituality, I found a Thomas of Aquinas that I could love and try to understand. Here is one of his reflections that translator Daniel Ladinsky offers under the title, “Whenever He Looks At You:”
“God sees nothing in us that He has not given. Everything is empty until He places what He wishes into it. The soul is like an uninhabited world that comes to life only when God lays his head against us. The delight a child can know tossing a ball in the air my Lord confesses He experiences whenever he looks at you. God sees nothing that He has not given.”