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Pope Benedict surveys profound contribution of St. Thomas Aquinas

June 02, 2010

The work of St. Thomas Aquinas has "fundamental importance in the history of philosophy and theology as well as for history and culture," Pope Benedict XVI said at his public audience on June 2.

Resuming his series of weekly talks on the major intellectual figures in Church history-- which he had interrupted for a shorter series of talk on the priesthood at the close of the Year for Priests-- the Pope said that the fundamental contribution of St. Thomas Aquinas lies in "using Aristotelian thought with great breadth and intelligence." By showing the lines of convergence between Greek philosophy and Christian thought, the great 13th century scholar "demonstrated that a natural harmony exists between reason and the Christian faith."

However, the Pope continued, St. Thomas was not only a scholar but also a saint. He remarked that the deep friendship St. Thomas developed with his secretary, Reginald of Piperno, illustrated a common characteristic of saints: "The cultivate friendship because it is one of the most noble manifestations of the human heart and holds something of the divine within it."

Moreover, St. Thomas had a "profoundly Eucharistic soul," which found voice in the beautiful hymns that he composed and in especially in his contribution to the liturgy for Corpus Christi.

Shortly before his death, St. Thomas had a mystical experience, after which he stopped all theological writing, telling Reginald that all his work seemed to be "so much straw." Pope Benedict observed that this was "a mysterious episode that helps us understand not only Thomas' personal humility but also the fact that all that we are able to think and say about the faith, as elevated and pure as it may be, is infinitely surpassed by the greatness and beauty of God who will reveal himself to us in the fullness of paradise."


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