Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas
Today we reflect on the scriptures for the solemnity of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, Catholic priest and Doctor of the Church. He was an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism. His works have been studied by scores of ordained, professed and lay ecclesial ministers over the years as part of the prescribed formation program for leadership in the Church. We find in the Book of Wisdom a beautiful prose rendition of the importance of prudence and wisdom. In The Gospel of Matthew we find more good news and worthy advice concerning humility.
Aquinas’ teachings and writings were more of a scholarly manner, but he also shared some common- sense advice regarding the virtues of prudence, wisdom and humility. For example, he lays out four simple steps for growing in wisdom: to “listen willingly, seek diligently, respond prudently, and meditate attentively.” He suggests that if we follow this pattern of living it can make us wiser, smarter, and holier. He explains this pattern further with these words; “One should practice the virtue of prudence in knowing when to speak and when to keep quiet. In other words, shut your mouth if you don’t know what you are talking about! It is a wise person who knows when to practice the virtues of prudence and wisdom. It is the humble person to admit that they do not know the answer to the question being put forward.” (paraphrased)
It seems to me that this is good advice for all of us who try to live a decent Christian life. It is easier to be imprudent and run off at the mouth giving answers to questions that haven’t been asked. It is easier to blow off the advice of a wiser person than ourselves and think we have a better way. It is easier to hang onto our pride rather than to admit humbly that we were wrong and ask forgiveness.
We are given strength for the journey with these words found in Wisdom:
“I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.”
And in The Gospel of Matthew:
“Whoever exalts themselves will be humbled and whoever humbles themselves will be exalted.”
In faith we must recommit ourselves daily to practice the virtues of prudence, wisdom and humility! Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
Theresa Secord recently retired as a Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.