Monday, March 7, 2016

The Common Doctor of the Church

(Benozzo Gozzoli)
A prayer in today's Lauds exhorts us:
O God, Who dost enlighten thy Church by the wonderful learning of thy blessed Confessor Thomas, and quickenest her through his godly labours, grant unto thy people, we humbly beseech thee, ever to apprehend by their understanding what he teacheth, and in their life faithfully to practise the same.
St. Thomas Aquinas is a polarizing figure among Catholic theologians, although when he is disliked it is often more because of the later Thomists than Thomas himself. Few in the Thomistic school have exuded the sheer joy of knowing that Thomas did in his Summas (where he essentially decides to play chess against himself) and in his many scriptural commentaries. The accusation that Thomism is dry and dusty is usually all too true.

In an age when non-theologians and even non-Catholics are being initiated into the ranks of the Doctores Ecclesiae, it is tempting to consider the ranking itself to be of little worth. St. Thomas deserves the title more than most, even if certain aspects of his theology ran out of control and led to some unfortunate obsessions among lesser-minded theologians in later years.

Do yourself a favor and peruse a few of his works, especially his scripture commentaries. Even his short exposition on the Hail Mary is rich with insight.

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