Today is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), one of the most celebrated theologians of all times, held in the esteemed title of Doctor of the Church. Not only was he a theologian and philosopher but he was also a very devout man and priest who wrote beautiful prayers and hymns. Fr. Don Miller (Franciscan Media) captures the essence of his genius, I think, when he comments that “unity, harmony and continuity of faith and reason, of revealed and natural truth pervades his writing.”
The most striking insight of this brilliant man came, it seems, three months before his death. His last work, the Summa theologiae, a compendium of Catholic theology, was unfinished; he stopped writing after celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273. When asked why, he replied, “I cannot go on…All I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.”
I find myself feeling deeply compassionate for this brilliant, holy man who had worked all his life to understand the workings of God and the universe only to find at the end of his life that holy mystery cannot be captured by the mind but only lived in wonder and awe in one’s whole being. My compassion moves to joy for the fullness of what he had seen that was, paradoxically, the completion of his life’s work.