- 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 -

- 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 -

According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still
alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede
those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from
heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the
trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we
who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the
clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Because Jesus Christ came back to life, so will all believers. All
Christians, including those living when Christ returns, will live with
Christ forever. Therefore, we need not despair when loved ones die or world
events take a tragic turn. God will turn our tragedies into triumphs, our
poverty into riches, our pain to glory, and our defeat into victory. All
believers throughout history will stand in God's very presence, safe and
secure. As Paul comforted the Thessalonians with the promise of the
resurrection, so we should comfort and reassure each other with this great

January 28th - Thomas Aquinas, OP, Priest, Doctor

Born at Rocca Secca near Aquino in Naples, Italy, c. 1225; died at
Fossanuova (near Rome), 1274; canonized 1323; declared Doctor of the Church
in 1567; Pope Leo XIII named him patron of Catholic universities and centers
of study in 1880; feast day formerly March 7.

Saint Thomas was born in the family castle of Rocca Secca, the son of Count
Landulf of Aquino (a relative of the emperors Henry VI and Frederick II and
kings of France, Castile, and Aragon) and Theodora, Countess of Teano. It is
said that when he was a baby, a thunderbolt struck the castle and killed his
nurse and little sister. Thereafter, Thomas had a fear of lightning and
would pray with his head against the Tabernacle during a storm.

At age 5, he was sent as an oblate to the Monte Cassino Monastery and was
educated there until age 13. Around 1239, he attended the University of
Naples, and he became a Dominican in 1244 (age 19). His superiors sent him
to Rome en route to Cologne and Paris.

His family was so upset that he joined a mendicant order that they had him
kidnapped by his brothers before he reached Paris and returned to the
castle, where they held him for 15 months in the hopes of changing his mind.
His mother and sisters used caresses to shake his vocation.

His brothers used vile attempts to destroy his chastity. Snatching from the
hearth a burning brand, the saint drove the wretched woman from his chamber.
Then marking a cross upon the wall, he knelt down to pray and immediately
went into ecstasy. An angel girded him with a cord in token of the gift of
perpetual chastity that God had given him. (The cord is still preserved at
the convent of Chieri in the Piedmont.) The girdle caused pain so sharp that
he cried out, bringing his guards into the room. But he confessed this grace
shortly before his death and only to his spiritual director Father Raynald.

Patiently, Thomas conquered all the temptations used to turn him away from
his vocation. Instead of bemoaning his situation, he used his two-year
confinement to memorize the Bible and study religion. When his family
realized they would not change his mind, his brothers relaxed their guard
and Thomas, with the help of his sisters, escaped from the tower and
rejoined the Dominicans in 1245.

Finally he reached Cologne and was put in the charge of Saint Albert the
Great, a man of encyclopedic knowledge. From 1245 to 1248 he continued his
studies in Paris under Albert. Thomas's nonparticipation at disputations and
his large figure led him to be called "the dumb Sicilian ox." Nevertheless,
Albert predicted that Thomas's voice would one day fill the world.

One of the young men took pity on Thomas and offered to tutor him. The saint
accepted with humility and thanks. But one day the teacher made a mistake.
For the sake of the truth, Thomas corrected him and explained the lesson
very clearly. The teacher was astonished. He then begged Thomas to be the
teacher. Thomas agree but only if it could remain a secret arrangement.

A contemporary described Thomas as "tall, erect, large and well- built, with
a complexion like ripe wheat and whose head early grew bald."

From Cologne, Saint Albert and Saint Thomas walked more than 250 miles to
the University of Paris. Here Thomas met and became friends with a young
Franciscan monk named Bonaventure, later known as the 'Seraphic Doctor.'

Thomas went with Albert to a new Dominican studium generale in Cologne in
1248 and was ordained about 1250. He said Mass with such great devotion that
he often shed tears. Those who assisted at his Masses always felt themselves
moved to greater love for God. After his own Mass, he often served another
in thanksgiving.

Armed with several university degrees, including a doctorate in theology
from the renowned University of Paris, Thomas moved easily from one
environment to another. In 1252 he returned to Paris to undertake his first
teaching appointment at the Dominican monastery of Saint-Jacques. Here he
wrote a spirited defense of the mendicant orders against William of
St-Amour, a commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, De ente et
essentia, works on Isaiah and Matthew. He was master of theology in Paris in
1256. He then taught in Anagni, Ovieto (1261-64), Rome (1265-67), Viterbo
(1268), Paris again (1269-71) and Naples (1272-74).

During this period (1259-64), he completed his Summa contra Gentiles, a
theological statement on the Christian faith argued partly by the use of
pure reason without faith against Islam, Judaism, heretics and pagans. This
was not designed for use by missionaries but rather to counteract the
influence of Aristotelian thinkers in the universities by answering them
from Aristotle's viewpoint. Around 1266, he began his five-volume Summa
theologica, which is a comprehensive statement of his mature thought on all
the Christian mysteries. It poses questions, then systematically answers
them. Unfortunately, Thomas never finished the work.

In 1263, Thomas was present at a general chapter of the Dominicans in
London. It seems almost impossible to believe he could have produced his
enormous literary output while travelling as extensively as he did,
especially considering the number of authorities he must have studied in
order to cite them and the depth of his prayer life as reflected in them.
Yet, he was capable of intense concentration and was known to dictate to
four secretaries at one time. He frequently used abbreviations in his
writings because the friars did not have sufficient supplies of parchment.

Always, he was a humble and prayerful man. In fact, it is said of Thomas
that 'his wonderful learning owes far less to his genius than to the
effectiveness of his prayer.' He was made a preacher general and was called
upon to teach scholars attached to the papal court. During Holy Week 1267,
Thomas preached in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. He moved the people to
tears with his sermon on the Passion of our Lord. On the following Easter
Sunday he spoke about the Resurrection, and the congregation was filled with
the greatest joy. As he was coming down from the pulpit that day, a poor
woman who touched the hem of his garment was instantly cured of a disease
that had troubled her for years.

Thomas wrote much about our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. One day Jesus
appeared to him and said, "Thomas, you have written well concerning the
Sacrament of My Body." Another time the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and
told him how pleasing his writings were to her divine Son.

At the request of Saint Thomas, the pope extended the feast of Corpus
Christi to the entire Church. The two hymns sung during Adoration of the
Blessed Sacrament, O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo, are taken from the
office of the feast written by Thomas Aquinas. The saint also wrote
beautiful prayers to be said before and after Holy Communion.

In 1269, Thomas was recalled to Paris for three years. King Saint Louis IX
highly esteemed Thomas and consulted him; so did the University of Paris.
Once, when he was a guest at the king's table, he was absorbed in thought
and quite oblivious of his surroundings. To the astonishment of everyone
present, the now corpulent friar banged his fist on the table and exclaimed:
"That's finished the heresy of the Manichees." A gentle reproof from his
prior was followed by Thomas's apology and the immediate arrival of a scribe
to take down his thoughts. Thomas's power of concentration was
extraordinary: He had the ability to dictate to four secretaries at once.

Upon his return to Paris, he became enmeshed in the struggle between the
Dominican priests and the seculars, and opposed the philosophical teachings
of Siger of Brabant, John Peckham, and Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris. When
dissension racked the university causing a general strike in 1272, Thomas
was sent as regent to head a new Dominican school in Naples.

Saint Thomas experienced visions, ecstasies, and revelations. He stopped
writing the Summa theologiae because of a revelation he experienced while
saying Mass on the feast of Saint Nicholas 1273. He confronted the
consternation of his brethren saying, "The end of my labors is come. All
that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that
have been, revealed to me." Nevertheless, the work became the basis of
modern Catholic theology.

He was appointed by the Pope Gregory X to attend the General Council of
Lyons, called to discuss the reunion of the Greek and Latin churches.
Although he was sick, he set off for Rome in obedience. The illness overtook
him on his way. He suffered for about a month before he died in the
Cistercian Abbey of Fossanuova outside Terracina near Rome.

The day before he died, he asked to be laid on the floor in ashes. Just
before receiving our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, he exclaimed: "You, O
Christ, are the King of Glory. You are the everlasting Son of God." On March
7, 1274, he received Extreme Unction before dying peacefully about age 48.

He is considered to have been the greatest Christian theologian and his work
dominated Catholic teaching for hundreds of years. The amount of writing he
accomplished is staggering. His writings are characterized by a sharp
distinction between faith and reason, but emphasizing that the great
fundamental Christian doctrines, though impossible to establish by reason,
are not contrary to reason and reach us by revelation; nevertheless, he
believed that such truths as the existence of God, His eternity, His
creative power, and His providence can be discovered by natural reason.

Among Aquinas's works are Quaestiones disputatae, Quaestiones quodlibetales,
De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas, and commentaries on the Lord's
Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, Hail Mary, and various parts of the Bible. He
also wrote hymns, many of which are still used, though the authorship of
some attributed to him is now questioned.

Probably his greatest contribution to Western civilization was the
retranslation and utilization of the works of Aristotle. Thomas explained
Aristotle's works in the light of Christian revelation. Aquinas used the
logic of Aristotle to consider the mysteries of religion. Thomas Aquinas
suffices to upset the myth that religion fears thought.

Saint Thomas was less influential on his contemporaries than were Saint
Bonaventure and Saint Albert, but his work has endured the test of time. Leo
XIII in 1879 wrote an encyclical encouraging the revival of Thomistic

Yet for all his intelligence, Thomas Aquinas was a man of great humility-he
thought poorly of his work. He had come to live in so habitual a communion
with God, actually in the country wherein the most accurate theology is but
the map, that he said, "all I have written now seems to me but of little
value." When asked by the pope to accept the archbishopric of Naples, he
respectfully asked to remain a simple Dominican monk. Thomas was always
charitable. Never did he refuse anyone who came to him for help. He was
kind, gentle, and simple in his ways.

He was called "the Angelic Doctor" for his superior intellect was combined
with the tenderest piety. Prayer, he said, taught him more than study. After
his death, one of his companions saw a vision of Saint Thomas enjoying in
heaven the fruit of the labors he performed for God. Many miracles were
granted through his intercession. In 1368, his body was translated to
Saint-Sernin in Toulouse. In 1974, it was moved to the Jacobin's church in
the same city (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Butler, Delaney, Dorcy,
Farmer, Martindale, Melady, Waltz, Weisheipl, White).

He is depicted in art as a portly Dominican friar, carrying a book; or with
a star on his breast and rays of light coming from his book; or holding a
monstrance with Saint Norbert. At times he may be shown: (1) with the sun on
his breast; (2) enthroned with pagan and heretic philosophers under his
feet; (3) at a teacher's pulpit or desk, with rays coming from him; (4) with
a chalice and host; (5) listening to a voice speaking to him from the
Crucifix; (6) as angels bring him a girdle; or (7) in a library with Saint
Bonaventure who points to the crucifix (Roeder, White). Saint Thomas is the
patron saint of Roman Catholic schools, colleges, universities, and
academies, scholars and students, apologists, philosophers, theologians, and
booksellers (due to his patronage of education in general), and
pencil-makers (Roeder, White).

He is invoked for chastity and learning, and against storm and lightning


Saint Quote:
"Word made flesh,
true bread Christ makes
By his word his flesh to be,
Wine his Blood; which whoso takes
Must from carnal thought be free
Faith alone, though sight forsakes,
Shows true hearts the mystery."
-Saint Thomas Aquinas


I wake up in the morning to face another day,
A day filled first with gladness,
For I have learned to pray.
I lift my eyes to Heaven, and ask what I can do to
Face another working day
Along the path to You?
Temptations are beside me, for me to cast aside;
For there has been a promise
To be Your loving bride.
I open wide the door, steadfastly on my way,
To give and take the worst and best
With every passing day.
My mission fills my heart,
There is no room for fear,
I'll always tell the story
Of when you came so near.
They'll never quite believe me,
Though what I say is true
That all these visions that I saw,
Were gifts that came from You!

St. Teresa


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