Feast of St Thomas Aquinas
Every now and then the Church throws up a great thinker whose work influences many generations after them. The latest such great thinker was Pope John Paul, whose Theology of the Body is a modern work for a modern people.
However, in the 13th century, there was an occasion when three Doctors of the Church were alive and working at the same time. The three men were St Thomas, Albert the Great, who was the teacher of St Thomas and finally, St Bonaventure. Thomas and Albert were Dominicans and Bonaventure was a Franciscan.
What was special about St Thomas was that he took the teaching of the Church and wrote it all down in a precise and accurate way that was accessible to the ordinary person. He also used philosophy to show that the teachings of the Church were in perfect accord with reason.
This last point, that the teachings of the Church were in perfect accord with reason, is why Thomas is so often attacked by modern atheists who try to say that the Church is based on superstition and not reason.
Of course their arguments do not hold up when it comes to the bit, because Thomas’ genius was to build slowly point on point until, before you know it, the whole question makes sense. As we would say today, he leaves no stone unturned.
Some of the issues that cause us great concern today, for example the rise of relativism, Thomas deals with in a single paragraph. Early in his great work, the Summa Theologica, Thomas deals with this issue.
He simply says, ‘When mankind takes God out of the equation and tries to make their own rules, we end up in confusion.’
That is the genius of St Thomas; he cuts straight to the quick and in a no nonsense way shows the beauty and truth, as well as the reasonableness, of the Catholic faith.