Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church. Thomas is probably best known for his theological work, the Summa Theologiae, an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching. Because he was regarded as one of the greatest theologians and teachers of our church, he is most often associated with academics, schools and universities. One of my favorite places on the campus of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, my alma mater, is the Thomas Aquinas Chapel.
There was another side of Aquinas that I suspect is less known about this famously acclaimed Doctor of the Church! While he is best known as a great scholar, there are those close to him that have shared the personal story of Thomas. He was a person of prayer, modest and a model of childlike simplicity and goodness. He believed everyone was as innocent as he himself was. He suffered with the poor and needy and devoted his life to easing other’s pain and suffering.
In our gospel reading from Matthew, we read,
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
But whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
It seems this passage highlights the virtue of humility, the same virtue practiced by Thomas Aquinas. Near the end of his lifetime, Thomas Aquinas stopped writing after having a vision of the glory of God, claiming that ‘All that I have written seems to me like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me.’ Maybe it would behoove us to step back and reflect on how we practice this virtue of humility and resolve to be less proud and more humble, more prayerful and simple and good.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, model of humility and goodness, pray for us!
Theresa Secord is a Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.