Yesterday, Friday, March 7, 2014, was the Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, O.P., the Angelic Doctor whose philosophical school, Scholasticism, has long been hated by Modernists, including the now-retired Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, who has never been bashful about his criticism of the saint whose teaching has been praised by true pope after true pope prior to the dawning of the age of “conciliarism.”
Although Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Antipope Emeritus, has long used the language of obfuscation to express his theological positions on various matters, there is nothing truly mysterious about his methodology. It is not necessary to possess any kind of “hidden” powers to be able to use one’s reason to understand that the entirety of Ratzinger/Benedict’s theological methodology is shaped by the Modernist presuppositions of the New Theology of the late Fathers Hans Urs von Balthasar, Karl Rahner, Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar, among others, including the late layman, Maurice Blondel. This is really very simple to understand. Indeed, it takes gargantuan efforts of all manner of theological and intellectual gymnastics not to recognize and to accept Ratzinger/Benedict’s deconstruction of the Faith according to the methodological paradigms offered by the “New Theology” (see Proud Of His Blasphemy And Of His Blaspheming Mentor).
The expression of the Catholic Faith is meant to be clear, not foggy. The expression of the dogmas of the Catholic Faith is precise, not ambiguous or subject to a variety of different interpretations. While it is certainly the case that many theological questions (such as the coexistence of God’s Divine foreknowledge of human events with human free will, a matter that divided the Thomists and the Dun Scotists and is still a matter of active debate among orthodox Catholic theologians) are subject to legitimate interpretations and explanations, the dogmas of the Faith are meant to be grasped clearly by the human mind and accepted on the authority of the One Who has revealed them and caused them to be expressed in precise terms by legitimate popes and councils of the Catholic Church. While it is certainly true that the application of certain theological principles in concrete circumstances can be fraught with subjective considerations and other difficulties of the practical order, solemnly defined dogmatic truths demand the assent of the mind and the will without any degree of dissent or deviation whatsoever.
The Scholasticism of Saint Thomas Aquinas has been a major protection against the imprecise expression of the doctrines of the Church and a sure guide to their definitive explication. One true pope after another has recognized this to be the case. Pope Saint Pius X did so in a tribute to Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctoris Angelici:
For just as the opinion of certain ancients is to be rejected which maintains that it makes no difference to the truth of the Faith what any man thinks about the nature of creation, provided his opinions on the nature of God be sound, because error with regard to the nature of creation begets a false knowledge of God; so the principles of philosophy laid down by St. Thomas Aquinas are to be religiously and inviolably observed, because they are the means of acquiring such a knowledge of creation as is most congruent with the Faith; of refuting all the errors of all the ages, and of enabling man to distinguish clearly what things are to be attributed to God and to God alone….
St. Thomas perfected and augmented still further by the almost angelic quality of his intellect all this superb patrimony of wisdom which he inherited from his predecessors and applied it to prepare, illustrate and protect sacred doctrine in the minds of men. Sound reason suggests that it would be foolish to neglect it and religion will not suffer it to be in any way attenuated. And rightly, because, if Catholic doctrine is once deprived of this strong bulwark, it is useless to seek the slightest assistance for its defense in a philosophy whose principles are either common to the errors of materialism, monism, pantheism, socialism and modernism, or certainly not opposed to such systems. The reason is that the capital theses in the philosophy of St Thomas are not to be placed in the category of opinions capable of being debated one way or another, but are to be considered as the foundations upon which the science of natural and divine things is based; if such principles are once removed or in any way impaired, it must necessarily follow that students of the sacred sciences will ultimately fail to perceive so much as the meaning of the words in which the dogmas of divine revelation are proposed by the magistracy of the Church. . . . (Pope Saint Pius X, Doctoris Angelici, quoted in James Larson’s Article 11: A Confusion of Loves.)
Other popes have also praised the precision and certainty provided by the Scholasticism of Saint Thomas Aquinas:
Innocent VI: “The teaching of this Doctor above all others, with the exception of Canon Law, has precision in terminology, propriety of expression, truth of judgment: so that never is one who has held it been found to have deviated from the path of truth.”
Pius V: “It was wrought by the providence of Almighty God that by the force and truth of the Angelic Doctor’s teaching, by which he illumined the Apostolic Church with the refutation of innumerable errors, that the many heresies which have arisen after his canonization have been confounded, overthrown and dispersed. This has been made evident both earlier and recently in the sacred decrees of the Council of Trent.”
Clement VIII to the Neapolitans: “Devoutly and wisely are you thinking of adopting a new patron of your city, your fellow citizen, the Angelic interpreter of the Divine Will, splendid in the sanctity of his life and by his miracles, Thomas Aquinas, since indeed is this honor owed with the greatest justification to his virtues joined to his admirable doctrine. Indeed, witness to his doctrine is the great number of books which he composed, in a very brief time, in almost every class of learning, with a matchless arrangement and wondrous clearness, without any error whatsoever.”
Paul V: “We greatly rejoice in the Lord that honor and veneration are increasing daily for the most splendid champion of the Catholic Faith, blessed Thomas Aquinas, by the shield of whose writings the Church Militant successfully parries the spears of the heretics.
And Leo XIII, at once embracing hand surpassing all of the praises of his predecessors, says of him: “Distinguishing reason from Faith, as is proper, but nevertheless combining the two in a friendly alliance, he both preserved the rights of each and had regard for the dignity of both., in such a way too that reason, carried on the wings of Thomas to the highest human limit, now almost cannot rise any higher, and faith almost cannot expect more or stronger helps from reason than it has already obtained through Thomas.”
–And again, presenting St. Thomas to Catholics as a model and patron in various sciences, he says: “In him are all the illustrious ornaments of mind and character by which he rightly calls others to the imitation of himself: the richest doctrine, incorrupt, fittingly arranged; obedience to the Faith, and a marvelous consonance with the truths divinely handed down; integrity of life with the splendor of the greatest virtues.” (Readings from the Dominican Breviary (II Nocturn) for the feast of the Patronage of Saint Thomas Aquinas, November 13.)
Pope Leo XIII, writing in Aeterni Patris, August 4, 1879, explained those who deviate from Saint Thomas Aquinas and Scholasticism will always be suspected of error:
But, furthermore, Our predecessors in the Roman pontificate have celebrated the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas by exceptional tributes of praise and the most ample testimonials. Clement VI in the bull “In Ordine;” Nicholas V in his brief to the friars of the Order of Preachers, 1451; Benedict XIII in the bull “Pretiosus,” and others bear witness that the universal Church borrows luster from his admirable teaching; while St. Pius V declares in the bull “Mirabilis” that heresies, confounded and convicted by the same teaching, were dissipated, and the whole world daily freed from fatal errors; others, such as Clement XII in the bull “Verbo Dei,” affirm that most fruitful blessings have spread abroad from his writings over the whole Church, and that he is worthy of the honor which is bestowed on the greatest Doctors of the Church, on Gregory and Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome; while others have not hesitated to propose St. Thomas for the exemplar and master of the universities and great centers of learning whom they may follow with unfaltering feet. On which point the words of Blessed Urban V to the University of Toulouse are worthy of recall: “It is our will, which We hereby enjoin upon you, that ye follow the teaching of Blessed Thomas as the true and Catholic doctrine and that ye labor with all your force to profit by the same.” Innocent XII, followed the example of Urban in the case of the University of Louvain, in the letter in the form of a brief addressed to that university on February 6, 1694, and Benedict XIV in the letter in the form of a brief addressed on August 26, 1752, to the Dionysian College in Granada; while to these judgments of great Pontiffs on Thomas Aquinas comes the crowning testimony of Innocent VI: “His teaching above that of others, the canonical writings alone excepted, enjoys such a precision of language, an order of matters, a truth of conclusions, that those who hold to it are never found swerving from the path of truth, and he who dare assail it will always be suspected of error.”
The ecumenical councils, also, where blossoms the flower of all earthly wisdom, have always been careful to hold Thomas Aquinas in singular honor. In the Councils of Lyons, Vienna, Florence, and the Vatican one might almost say that Thomas took part and presided over the deliberations and decrees of the Fathers, contending against the errors of the Greeks, of heretics and rationalists, with invincible force and with the happiest results. But the chief and special glory of Thomas, one which he has shared with none of the Catholic Doctors, is that the Fathers of Trent made it part of the order of conclave to lay upon the altar, together with sacred Scripture and the decrees of the supreme Pontiffs, the “Summa” of Thomas Aquinas, whence to seek counsel, reason, and inspiration.
A last triumph was reserved for this incomparable man — namely, to compel the homage, praise, and admiration of even the very enemies of the Catholic name. For it has come to light that there were not lacking among the leaders of heretical sects some who openly declared that, if the teaching of Thomas Aquinas were only taken away, they could easily battle with all Catholic teachers, gain the victory, and abolish the Church. A vain hope, indeed, but no vain testimony. (Pope Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris, August 4, 1879.)
One would hope that it has been established beyond all shadow of doubt that the now retired “Benedict XVI” has rejected the Scholasticism of Saint Thomas Aquinas throughout his scholarly and priestly lives, believing that the “bastions” provided by Scholasticism have to be “razed’ in order to look at Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church without the “filter” provided by the Angelic Doctor and those “attached” to the “terminology of the philosophical tradition to which he belonged” (as Ratzinger referred to Scholasticism in Spe Salvi, January 25, 2007.) Ratzinge explained his contempt for Scholasticism in his own book of memoirs, Milestones:
The cultural interests pursued at the seminary of Freising were joined to the study of a theology infected by existentialism, beginning with the writings of Romano Guardini. Among the authors preferred by Ratzinger was the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber. Ratzinger loved St. Augustine, but never St. Thomas Aquinas: “By contrast, I had difficulties in penetrating the thought of Thomas Aquinas, whose crystal-clear logic seemed to be too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made” (op. cit., p.44). This aversion was mainly due to the professor of philosophy at the seminary, who “presented us with a rigid, neo-scholastic Thomism that was simply too far afield from my own questions” (ibid.). According to Cardinal Ratzinger, whose current opinions appear unchanged from those he held as a seminarian, the thought of Aquinas was “too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made,” and was unable to respond to the personal questions of the faithful. This opinion is enunciated by a prince of the Church whose function it is to safeguard the purity of the doctrine of the Faith! Why, then, should anyone be surprised at the current disastrous crisis of Catholicism, or seek to attribute it to the world, when those who should be the defenders of the Faith, and hence of genuine Catholic thought, are like sewers drinking in the filth, or like gardeners who cut down a tree they are supposed to be nurturing? What can it mean to stigmatize St. Thomas as having a “too impersonal and ready-made” logic? Is logic “personal”? These assertions reveal, in the person who makes them, a typically Protestant, pietist attitude, like that found in those who seek the rule of faith in personal interior sentiment.
In the two years Ratzinger spent at the diocesan seminary of Freising, he studied literature, music, modern philosophy, and he felt drawn towards the new existentialist and modernist theologies. He did not like St. Thomas Aquinas. The formation described does not correspond to the exclusively Catholic formation that is necessary to one called to be a priest, even taking into account the extenuating circumstances of the time, that is, anti-Christian Nazism, the war and defeat, and the secularization of studies within seminaries. It seems that His Eminence, with all due respect, gave too much place to profane culture, with its “openness” to everything, and its critical attitude…Joseph Ratzinger loved the professors who asked many questions, but disliked those who defended dogma with the crystal-clear logic of St. Thomas. This attitude would seem to us to match his manner of understanding Catholic liturgy. He tells us that from childhood he was always attracted to the liturgical movement and was sympathetic towards it. One can see that for him, the liturgy was a matter of feeling, a lived experience, an aesthetically pleasing “Erlebnis,” but fundamentally irrational (op. cit. passim.). (The Memories of a Destructive Mind: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s Milestones.)
One who rejects Scholasticism, the official philosophy of the Catholic Church, will lose the surety, clarity and precision with which to understand for himself and then to explicate to others the truths of the Faith. Such is the expressed goal of Modernism and of its off-shoot, the New Theology, as various terms of the Faith are employed in a “double sense” to signify one thing to those who understand those terms as they have been defined by the Church from time immemorial but which are meant to signify quite another to the schismatics and heretics in the various sects of Protestantism and in Orthodoxy. The goal of Modernism and the New Theology in this regard is “strip away,” if you will, the “filter provided by Scholasticism in order to “understand” Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church in a manner that would serve as the “bridge” to “unity” with such schismatics and heretics.
Pope Pius XII noted this very clearly in the encyclical letter that condemned the precepts of the New Theology, Humani Generis, August 12, 1950:
In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.
Moreover they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.
It is evident from what We have already said, that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism, but that they actually contain it. The contempt of doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it is expressed strongly favor it. Everyone is aware that the terminology employed in the schools and even that used by the Teaching Authority of the Church itself is capable of being perfected and polished; and we know also that the Church itself has not always used the same terms in the same way. It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deducing, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been used by the Oecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them.
Unfortunately these advocates of novelty easily pass from despising scholastic theology to the neglect of and even contempt for the Teaching Authority of the Church itself, which gives such authoritative approval to scholastic theology. This Teaching Authority is represented by them as a hindrance to progress and an obstacle in the way of science. Some non Catholics consider it as an unjust restraint preventing some more qualified theologians from reforming their subject. And although this sacred Office of Teacher in matters of faith and morals must be the proximate and universal criterion of truth for all theologians, since to it has been entrusted by Christ Our Lord the whole deposit of faith — Sacred Scripture and divine Tradition — to be preserved, guarded and interpreted, still the duty that is incumbent on the faithful to flee also those errors which more or less approach heresy, and accordingly “to keep also the constitutions and decrees by which such evil opinions are proscribed and forbidden by the Holy See,” is sometimes as little known as if it did not exist. What is expounded in the Encyclical Letters of the Roman Pontiffs concerning the nature and constitution of the Church, is deliberately and habitually neglected by some with the idea of giving force to a certain vague notion which they profess to have found in the ancient Fathers, especially the Greeks. The Popes, they assert, do not wish to pass judgment on what is a matter of dispute among theologians, so recourse must be had to the early sources, and the recent constitutions and decrees of the Teaching Church must be explained from the writings of the ancients.
Although these things seem well said, still they are not free from error. It is true that Popes generally leave theologians free in those matters which are disputed in various ways by men of very high authority in this field; but history teaches that many matters that formerly were open to discussion, no longer now admit of discussion.
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me”; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.
Joseph Ratzinger has sought to exempt himself from being bound by the “language” of various doctrinal pronouncements and papal encyclical letters that he believes have become “obsolete” in the particulars they contain:
The text [of the document Instruction on the Theologian’s Ecclesial Vocation] also presents the various types of bonds that rise from the different degrees of magisterial teaching. It affirms – perhaps for the first time with this clarity – that there are decisions of the magisterium that cannot be the last word on the matter as such, but are, in a substantial fixation of the problem, above all an expression of pastoral prudence, a kind of provisional disposition. The nucleus remains valid, but the particulars, which the circumstances of the times influenced, may need further correction.
In this regard, one may think of the declarations of Popes in the last century [19th century] about religious liberty, as well as the anti-Modernist decisions at the beginning of this century, above all, the decisions of the Biblical Commission of the time [on evolutionism]. As a cry of alarm in the face of hasty and superficial adaptations, they will remain fully justified. A personage such as Johann Baptist Metz said, for example, that the Church’s anti-Modernist decisions render the great service of preserving her from falling into the liberal-bourgeois world. But in the details of the determinations they contain, they became obsolete after having fulfilled their pastoral mission at their proper time. (Joseph Ratzinger, “Instruction on the Theologian’s Ecclesial Vocation,” published with the title “Rinnovato dialogo fra Magistero e Teologia,” in L’Osservatore Romano, June 27, 1990, p. 6; Card. Ratzinger: The teachings of the Popes against Modernism are obsolete.)
Modernists must make the “necessary adjustments” in the language of the Church, being “liberated” by their rejection of Scholasticism to use the terms of the Faith in murky and ambiguous ways that obfuscate their true sense and convey a sort of imprecision that is designed to appeal to an esoteric “love” of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ without adhering to everything that He has revealed to men exclusively through His Catholic Church as part of the Deposit of Faith.
Pope Saint Pius X, writing in Pascendi Dominici Gregis, September 8, 1907, explained that the Modernist must do away with Scholasticism in order to “have at” the the doctrines of the Faith by rendering dogmatic language susceptible of multiple interpretations:
Would that they had but displayed less zeal and energy in propagating it! But such is their activity and such their unwearying labor on behalf of their cause, that one cannot but be pained to see them waste such energy in endeavoring to ruin the Church when they might have been of such service to her had their efforts been better directed. Their artifices to delude men’s minds are of two kinds, the first to remove obstacles from their path, the second to devise and apply actively and patiently every resource that can serve their purpose. They recognize that the three chief difficulties which stand in their way are the scholastic method of philosophy, the authority and tradition of the Fathers, and the magisterium of the Church, and on these they wage unrelenting war. Against scholastic philosophy and theology they use the weapons of ridicule and contempt. Whether it is ignorance or fear, or both, that inspires this conduct in them, certain it is that the passion for novelty is always united in them with hatred of scholasticism, and there is no surer sign that a man is tending to Modernism than when he begins to show his dislike for the scholastic method. Let the Modernists and their admirers remember the proposition condemned by Pius IX: “The method and principles which have served the ancient doctors of scholasticism when treating of theology no longer correspond with the exigencies of our time or the progress of science.” They exercise all their ingenuity in an effort to weaken the force and falsify the character of tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight and authority. But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea, where it condemns those “who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind…or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church”; nor that of the declaration of the fourth Council of Constantinople: “We therefore profess to preserve and guard the rules bequeathed to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, by the Holy and most illustrious Apostles, by the orthodox Councils, both general and local, and by everyone of those divine interpreters, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.” Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: “I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church.” (Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominci Gregis, September 8, 1907.)
None of this means anything to Ratzinger/Benedict, who referrred constantly in his “official” writings as Benedict XVI to the likes of Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar, both of whom had contempt for Scholasticism and used ambiguity to express terms such as “love” and “faith.” One can see this in the work of Mr. James Larson, a Catholic writer who understands Ratzinger/Benedict’s rejection of Catholicism but who is also very much opposed to sedevacantism:
De Lubac, and proponents of the “New Theology” in general, simply do not understand “the God of scholastic theology.”
To them, the God of St. Thomas and the traditional Church is not sufficiently “vitally immanent.” The God Who created us in His own Image, and sustains us every second of our lives with this same creative action; the God Who died for our sins and for our eternal salvation, and draws us into His very own life through baptism and the other sacraments; the God Who gives His Own Son in Holy Communion, Who insures that we are in possession of infallible truth through His Church, and promises His faithful the Gift of the Beatific Vision – this God, and this faith, are too sterile, absolute, and pharisaical for them.
The problem for these people seems to be that all that constitutes the traditional Catholic concept of grace and supernatural life is considered as Gift, and not something that is their own by right, or by nature.
They choose to barter the Infinite Gift of God for the paltry personal possession of an ounce of supernatural life which is somehow independent of this Gift. It is almost unbelievable foolishness; but even more, it amounts to infinite ingratitude.
What we may be sure of is the enormously destructive consequences of their effort. Again, we have the wisdom of Pope St. Pius X in Pascendi [#34]:
“The domineering overbearance of those who teach these errors, and the thoughtless compliance of the more shallow minds who assent to them, create a corrupted atmosphere which penetrates everywhere, and carries infection with it.”
It has penetrated everywhere. It penetrated to the heart of Fr. Joseph Ratzinger when he said that the survival of Catholicism depended on it being freed from the “constraining fetters of Roman Scholastic Theology.” We are now experiencing that freedom – the very freedom which has virtually destroyed the faith of Catholic Europe and much of the rest of the world. It is this atmosphere, created by Modernist philosophy and theology in response to reductive secular science, which must be combated as the primary source of decay in the Church. (James Larson, By Arts Entirely New.)
Saint Thomas Aquinas was a model of humility throughout his life. His mother was so intent on preventing him from joining the Order of Preachers of Saint Dominic de Guzman that she had two of his brothers kidnap him, thereafter imprisoning him for a period of two years. His mother wanted him to follow the example of his uncle and become a Benedictine, which she considered to be the more “prestigious” calling than the mendicant friars of the late Saint Dominic de Guzman. Saint Thomas’s mother relented eventually, leaving a window open so that her son could escape and join the Dominicans. She just couldn’t bring herself to let him go openly. In all of this, you see, Saint Thomas was a model of humility–and of angelic purity as he wielded an iron from a fire place to chase out a woman of questionable character who had been brought in by his brothers to entice him into a sin against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments.
Saint Thomas was a model of perfect humility throughout his priesthood. He obeyed when his writings were being studied by his superiors for their orthodoxy. He even quit writing altogether in December of 1273, concentrating on his preaching in Naples. Some of his students were so scandalized to hear Saint Thomas preach in the native Neapolitan dialect that they refused to transcribe his sermons as they were given, deciding to “polish” them for posterity. Saint Thomas was a master teacher. He was also a humble priest who wanted to make himself understood to the faithful when he preached from the pulpit, ever trusting in the power of Our Lady’s Most Holy Rosary as he did so.
The Angelic Doctor was able to write so clearly and precisely not only because of the natural gifts of the mind with which he had been endowed by God. Saint Thomas’s natural abilities were sharpened and purified by the time he spent in fervent prayer before Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament. So great and intense and fervent was Saint Thomas’s love of Our Lord’s Real Practice and so faithful was his practice of Eucharistic piety that his good friend and fellow doctoral student in the Order of Friars Minor, Saint Bonaventure, illustrious in his own right his ardent love of the Most Blessed Sacrament, tore up a hymn in honor of Our Lord’s Real Presence that he had composed once he had seen the hymn that Saint Thomas had written. (For two very good and readable biographies of our saint, please see Saint Thomas Aquinas, by Placid Conway, OP and Saint Thomas Aquinas, by G K Chesterton.)
Apart from his friend Saint Bonaventure, the life of Saint Thomas Aquinas intersected with his great teacher, Saint Albert the Great, and, at least indirectly, with Saint Louis IX, King of France, who used his good offices to try to resolve a dispute between the civil authorities of the City of Paris and the University of Paris that delayed the awarding of the Doctor of Theology degree to himself and Saint Bonaventure. The Thirteenth Century, the apogee of the glories of Christendom, certainly gave us a foretaste of what the Church Triumphant in Heaven will look like.
In addition to Saints Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, Louis IX, and Bonaventure, both of whom were Franciscans, this century of sanctity also gave us Saint Francis of Assisi (who died in the year 1226 at the age of forty-five) and Saint Dominic de Guzman (died in the year 1221 at the age of fifty-one) and Saint Anthony of Padua, O.F.M., Saint Elizabeth of Hungry, a Third Order Franciscan, the Dominicans Saint Hyacinth and his brother Saint Ceslaus and Saint Peter Verona (who died in the year 1213), Saints John Matha and Felix of Valois, Saint Hedwig, Saint Rose of Viterbo, Saint Peter Nolasco, Saint Juliana, Saint Simon Stock, Saint Margaret of Hungary, among others, including two who lived most of their lives in the Thirteenth Century but died in the Fourteenth Century, Saint Gertrude the Great and Saint Mechtilde. We need, therefore, to pray to Saint Thomas Aquinas that we can repent of our sins once and for all and to be ready for the point of our physical deaths by persisting in a state of Sanctifying Grace so as to join that great company of witnesses to which his life’s work as the Angelic Doctor has joined him for all eternity in the glory of the Beatific Vision of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
In his treatise on The Little Number of Those Who are Saved, Saint Leonard of Port Maurice related the wisdom that Saint Thomas Aquinas imparted to his own sister as to how to save one’s immortal soul and to get home to Heaven:
When Saint Thomas Aquinas’s sister asked him what she must do to go to heaven, he said, “You will be saved if you want to be.” I say the same thing to you, and here is proof of my declaration. No one is damned unless he commits mortal sin: that is of faith (doctrine). And no one commits mortal sin unless he wants to: that is an undeniable theological proposition. Therefore, no one goes to hell unless he wants to; the consequence is obvious. Does that not suffice to comfort you? Weep over past sins, make a good confession, sin no more in the future, and you will all be saved. Why torment yourself so? For it is certain that you have to commit mortal sin to go to hell, and that to commit mortal sin you must want to, and that consequently no one goes to hell unless he wants to. That is not just an opinion, it is an undeniable and very comforting truth; may God give you to understand it, and may He bless you. Amen.
Entreating the ever humble, ever pure adorer of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament and devoted client of the Mother of God, Saint Thomas Aquinas, may we intensify our efforts to mortify ourselves as we enter into the third week of Lent, making sure, of course, to use the instrument that Our Lady herself gave to Saint Dominic, her Most Holy Rosary, to help to plant the seeds for the restoration of the Church Militant on earth and of Christendom in the world.
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Isn’t it time to pray a full fifteen decade Rosary now?
Our Lady of the Rosary, us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Albert the Great, pray for us.
Saint Bonaventure, pray for us.
Saint Dominic de Guzman, pray for us.