St Thomas Aquinas

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Thomas, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Today in the calendar of the Catholic Church we celebrate St Thomas Aquinas.

    Perhaps most famous for his philosophical works, the Summa Theologiae and the Summa Contra Gentiles, his genius as a dialectician is rightly acknolwdged, as is his benchmark deployment of Aristotelian philosophical principles in these two works — still discussed today in secular circles as exemplars of the method of philosophical debate.

    What is not so well known however is that Aquinas was undoubtedly a Christian Neoplatonist — the two references he cites more than any other throughout his works are St Augustine and St Denys the pseudoAreopagite, two men whose theologies are profoundly Neoplatonic.

    And furthermore that he was a mystic. St Thomas is known in the Church as the Doctor Angelicus, and his writings on angels is vast and deeply informed by his own first-hand experiences. It is interesting that his friend and contemporary, another Doctor of the Church, was St Bonaventure, the Doctor Seraphicus who is known more for his mysticism than his theology.

    Both men lectured at the University in Paris in the 14th century ... they must have presented a formidable pair!

    To a friends he declared that he had learned more in prayer and contemplation than he had acquired from men or books, and his biographers mention 'mysterious visitors' who came to encourage and enlighten him. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him, as did St Peter and St Paul to aid him in the interpretation of obscure passages in Isaias.

    When he first entered the Dominican Order he was considered a dunderhead. It took the genius of another master, Albertus Magnus, to recognise his potential, and put him to work. Later, when he considered himself unworthy of the doctorate offered him, a 'venerable religious of his order' (supposedly St. Dominic) appeared to encourage him and suggested the text for his opening discourse!

    Of course, much exaggeration accrues in such tales, but his ecstasies are mentioned by all his biographers, as are his abstractions in the presence of King Louis IX and of other distinguished visitors.

    And St Bonaventure? Check back in July!

    Thomas
     
  2. friendofbill

    friendofbill Established Member

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    At the end of his life, St. Thomas was urged to continue writing and refused, saying, "I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings seem as straw." The greatest of all theologians had transcended theology.
     
  3. Eclectic Mystic

    Eclectic Mystic Well-Known Member

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    It's funny that most Protestants don't even know who he is.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    The Reformation took against him (especially Luther) because he employed 'pagan philosophy' by citing Aristotle in support of theology, which they considered somewhat blasphemous.

    Thomas
     
  5. bob x

    bob x Well-Known Member

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    Well, another reason is that his writings are just unspeakably dull, and if you haven't been raised in the tradition he takes for granted, it is difficult to rouse enough interest to wade through him.
     

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