*An altarpiece in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, by Carlo Crivelli (15th century)*
Today the Church remembers
Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was an especially gifted and devout Christian and there are many quotations attributed to him. However two quite different examples appeal to me. These are:
"Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate."
"Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine."
The latter reminded me of another quote (not from Aquinas but Bette Davis), displayed on the desk I share with my wife Audrey, which is "There comes a time in every woman's life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne."
At this time of unending lockdown it is good to know that a glass of wine or champagne is not to be dismissed in favour of deep or contemplative thought! However it is important to convey that despite that route to solace, Thomas Aquinas produced written work that opened the minds of many and changed the direction of western theology. He was born in 1225 and died at the relatively early age of 49. He was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. He was also an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism. He argued that reason is found in God. Much of modern philosophy either developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.
Today, one of the set readings comes from Mark 4:21-25, Jesus said to his disciples, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”.
Thomas clearly understood that injunction and through his example and writings illuminated the truth of the Gospel, and delivered to others contemplated truths rather than merely contemplating them. A glass of wine helped no doubt, but his actions inspired and encouraged many to invite the Lord into their lives.
John Hillier - Retired Priest