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Tag Archives: St Thomas Aquinas

SHELTER THYSELF NEAR THE LOVING HEART OF JESUS

We read, in the life of St Thomas Aquinas, that one day a furious storm filled with terror all who were in the monastery.

The roof cracked as if ready to tumble; the walls shook, beaten by the storm. The monks, assembled at that hour in the community-room, ran, terrified, to seek shelter under the vaults of the cloister.

But he, the Angelic Doctor, the inspired singer of the Eucharist, hastening whither his heart summoned him, ran to the church, mounted the altar, and twining his arms round the tabernacle, with his venerable head resting against the prison of love where his Love reposed, awaited in that affectionate posture, the end of the tempest.

Oh! my soul, thou who art so happy as to live under the same roof with Jesus, fly at the first sound of the storm to shelter thyself near the loving Heart of thy Master.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

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ABOUT ST THOMAS AQUINAS: “NO OTHER REWARD, LORD JESUS, BUT YOURSELF”

He became a religious against his mother’s wishes

Thomas Aquinas was born of a noble family and as a youth entered the Dominicans against the wishes of his mother and brothers. He was sent to Paris, but on the way abducted by his brothers to the castle of St John. There the pure young man drove away with a firebrand the woman whom his brothers had sent to seduce him.

His brothers abducted him and sent a woman to seduce him

At Paris he studied so deeply that when barely twenty-five, he publicly interpreted the philosophers and theologians with very great acclaim.

He always prayed before beginning to read or write

He always prayed before beginning to read or write, and once when he heard Christ crucified say, “Thomas, you have written well of me; what reward will you have?, he lovingly answered, “None other, Lord, than you yourself.”

Patron of all Catholic schools

He was well-read in every branch of learning. Urban IV summoned him to Rome and commanded him to compose the office for the feast of Corpus Christi, and Blessed Gregory X sent him to the Council of Lyons.

On the way Thomas fell sick at the monastery of Fossa Nuova, where he wrote a commentary on the Canticle of Canticles in spite of his sufferings. There he died at fifty on the Nones of March 1274. Leo XIII made him patron of all Catholic schools.

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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HOW GOD’S EXISTENCE CAN BE PROVEN BY THE GRADUATION TO BE FOUND IN THINGS

“Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble, and the like. But more and less are predicted of different things according as they resemble in different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest, and, consequently, something which is most being, for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph, ii.

Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus, as fire, which is the maximum of heat, is the cause of all hot things, as is said in the same book.

Therefore there must be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.”

– The Path from Science to God, Roger Nesbitt, Faith Pamphlets, cf. St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

 

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KNOW YOUR ENEMY – MANUAL FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Aids in Battle

[‘Manual for Spiritual Warfare’, Paul Thigpen PH.D.] is divided into two parts. The first, entitled Preparing for Battle, looks at the Biblical and and theological foundations for the ongoing warfare between humanity and the devil.

Overcoming the Enemy’s attacks in one’s own surroundings

The second, Aids in Battle, offers aids to help believers in this struggle, including scriptural texts and prayers. As Paul Thigpen indicates in his introduction, the ‘primary purpose of this manual… is to help everyday Catholics recognise, resist and overcome the Enemy’s attacks in their own lives and the lIves of those for whom they bear responsibility.’

Keep the Enemy out of the Camp

The chapter headings for the first part include titles such as ‘Know your Enemy’, ‘Know your Commander and Comrades’, and ‘Keep the Enemy out of the Camp’, while the second part focuses on Church teaching, the lives of the saints, and various prayers, and various prayers, devotions and hymns as aids against demonic or diabolical influence.

Prayers and hymns against demonic or diabolical influence

The author begins by stating that belief in the devil and demons is obligatory for Catholics and Christians generally, based on the Scriptural witness, and particularly those accounts of Christ being tempted and casting out evil spirits. We can be tempted by demons, or attacked in more serious ways, such as by infestation, oppression, obsession, or most dangerous of all, possession, which is when an evil spirit takes control of the body of a victim.

We can be tempted by demons or attacked in more serious ways

Paul Thigpen cautions that while lay people can pray some prayers of deliverance, these are different from the solemn exorcisms of the Church, which should only be performed by designated Church exorcists.

Through His Passion, Death and Resurrection Jesus Christ has already defeated the devil

Through his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Christ, the ‘New Adam’ has already defeated the devil, so if we call on him when under any form of diabolical attack, he will always come to our aid. Likewise, Our Lady, the ‘New Eve’, has because of her Immaculate Conception and her obedience to God, great power over the devil and his demonic followers. As St Bonaventure said: ‘Men do not fear a powerful, hostile army as much as the powers if hell fear the name and protection of Mary. Similarly, we can always call on St Michael and our Guardian Angels for help against the devil.

Prayer is more powerful than all the demons

As the author points out, prayer is the number one weapon in our battle against Satan, and calling on the name of Jesus has been for the saints one of the best ways to defeat demonic attack. On this point, St Bernard of Clairvaux said: ‘However great may be the temptation, if we know how to use the weapon of prayer well, we shall come off as conquerors at last, for prayer is more powerful than all the demons.’ St John Vianney agreed with this saying: ‘We cab see how much the Devil fears those who pray, since there’s not a moment of the day when he tempts us more than we are at prayer.’

Assisting at Mass; prayer and fasting

Likewise, taking part in worship is important, and particularly the Mass, as is Eucharistic adoration. Fasting, too, has been recommended as a powerful weapon against the devil, and we can fortify ourselves spiritually by daily reading of the Bible.

Sacraments and sacramentals 

In particular, the sacraments are powerful means of protection against the devil, although the power of sacramentals such as the Sign of the Cross, holy water, St Benedict medals, and blessed objects generally, should not be underestimated.

Humility is the only virtue no demon can imitate

Regarding the struggle against the devil, as St John Climacus said, the essential virtue is humility: ‘Humility is the only virtue no demon cab imitate.’ As an example of this, Thigpen includes the following account from the lives of the Desert Fathers:

Learning from the Desert Fathers

Some people brought a demon-possessed man to an old monk to exorcise him. The monk said to the demon, ‘Get out of God’s creature!’

The Demon replied: ‘I’ll go, but first I will ask you a question: Tell me, who are the goats and who are the sheep? (cf. Mt 25:31-46).

The old mab said, ‘The goats are people like me. Who the sheep are, God alone knows.’

At these words, the demon cried out, ‘Look, I must go out of him because of your humility!’

Avoiding any possibility of demonic contamination

We also have to avoid any possibility of demonic contamination through such things as Ouija boards or any form of participation in magic rituals etc., and also keep a careful watch on our thoughts.

Keeping a very careful watch on our thoughts

The second, larger part of the book opens with a chapter on Church teaching about spiritual warfare and provides a series of quotes from various Church documents to emphasise how seriously the Church takes the whole area of demonic activity.

Relevant scripture passages to read during times of temptation

Then there is a whole section on how the Bible deals with the devil and his followers, including appropriate scriptural quotations and passages which will help the reader during times of temptation.

Attempts to play down the influence of the devil

There is also a chapter entitled ‘Help from the Saints,’ which contains many striking quotations, such as this text from Thomas Aquinas: ‘When the Devil is called the god of this world, it is not because he made it, but because we serve him with our worldliness.’

Apart from the above, the Manual for Spiritual Warfare contains many useful prayers, litanies, and devotions to strengthen us against demonic attack.

A resource in the struggle against the evil which is all around us

At a time when many people, even within the Church, are playing down the influence of the devil, this book is a very valuable resource in the struggle against the evil which is all around us.”

– Donal Anthony Foley, The Catholic Times, 16th January 2015. For subscriptions please contact The Universe Media Group, Allerton House, St Mary’s Parsonage, Manchester M3 2WJ

 

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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HOW GOD’S EXISTENCE CAN BE PROVEN FROM POSSIBILITY AND NECESSITY

“We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to be corrupted, and consequently, it is impossible for them to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which can not-be at some time is not. Therefore, if anything can not-be, then at one time there was nothing in existence.

If anything can not-be, then at one time there was nothing in existence

Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist begins to exist only through something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence – which is absurd.

Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something in the existence of which is necessary.

But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but admit the existence of some being having of its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.”

– St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, in The Path from Science to God, Faith Pamphlets

 

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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HOW GOD’S EXISTENCE CAN BE PROVEN BY THE NATURE OF EFFICIENT CAUSE

“In the world of sensible things we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible.

Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or one only. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect.

Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate, cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.”

– St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, from: The Path from Science to God, a pamphlet by Roger Nesbitt (faith pamphlets)

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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SPIRITUAL AND INTELLECTUAL ARTILLERY TO DEFEND THE FAITH

“Five hundred years ago this month, our holy father St Philip Neri was born in the early hours of 22nd July, the feast of St Mary Magdalene. Just hours later the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity were infused into his soul in Baptism. In the wretched heat and humidity that afflict Florence in high summer it was prudent to administer the Sacrament without delay.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed

Our Lord tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard which when it is sown is the tiniest seed in the field, but when grown it becomes a tree in the branches of which the birds of the air come and make their nests. The seed that was planted in St Philip’s heart in the famous Baptistery of St John, and which germinated and took root during his childhood in Florence, would eventually flourish into a mighty tree in Rome. His own room was the nest (he actually called it his ‘nido’) in which the fledgling first Oratory would become the base for an apostolic mission that would earn him the glorious title Apostle of Rome.

The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation

As other Oratories began to be established, it was St Philip’s wish that each house remain autonomous, and this status is preserved to this day in the Church’s law. Nevertheless, every Oratory is to be like a branch that stems from and is animated by that supernatural life that was nurtured in St Philip’s ‘nido’ half a millennium ago. The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation is to give encouragement and direction to anyone who seeks spiritual refreshment in the shade of its bough. An Oratory is supposed to provide a spiritual home, usually in an urban context, in which friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured under the gentle guidance of St Philip and the protection of Our Lady.

…where friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured

Mention of the Counter Reformation conjures up images of the Church rolling out all the engines of war. Established religious orders were to be reformed or suppressed; new congregations would be equipped with spiritual and intellectual artillery to defend the Faith and reclaim territories lost to schism. Jesuits were to be deployed around Europe to engage heretics in public dispute, or despatched to risk life and limb recruiting converts from the heathen New World. In contrast to this, St Philip’s mission within the Church Militant took place entirely on the home front. In the words of Bl. John Henry Newman, ‘He put away from him monastic rule and authoritative speech as David refused the armour of his king… His weapons should be but unaffected humility and unpretending love. All he did was to be done by the light and fervour and convincing eloquence of his personal character and his easy conversation. He came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him.” In other words, it was through personal contact and friendship that St Philip contributed to the success of the Catholic Reformation.

The Christian/spiritual meaning of friendship

Under the tyranny of sentimentalism that reigns supreme today, there is a danger that friendship can take on a shallow meaning and be understood mainly in terms of feelings and utility. To understand how friendship was so effective in St Philip’s apostolate, it is necessary to appreciate the classical and Christian traditions in which he had been formed by the Dominicans at San Marco, and through his later studies in Rome. In the Aristotelian understanding, friendship is a ‘settled disposition’ – a habit, based on virtue. It involves the recognition of an intrinsic good in the other, and a reciprocated commitment to serve that good and make it flourish. In a truly virtuous friendship, the parties will also work together for the common good. Whereas for Aristotele such friendship is only possible between equals (he said that the one good we must never desire for our friends is that they become gods because if our wish were fulfilled then we should immediately forfeit their friendship), St Thomas Aquinas’s teaching on Sanctifying Grace makes even friendship with God a reality, because God actually shares His Divine Life with us through Baptism.

The infectious spirit of generosity and charity

Saint Philip excelled in making men’s hearts receptive to this vocation to live as friends with God. His joyful influence fostered an ambience in which his spiritual children found pleasure in each other’s company and came to assist each other in living virtuously. A shy cobbler whom St Philip spotted sitting at the back of the Oratory was summoned to the front and hugged like a long-lost child returning to a family that included cardinals and princes. A watch-seller on the verge of bankruptcy found himself suddenly overwhelmed by eager customers at the Oratory, where St Philip’s friends had been primed to come to his assistance. This infectious spirit of generosity and charity was fostered by visits to attend to the poor in the Roman hospitals. Even those who came to the Oratory with unworthy motives were eventually captivated by the ‘Winning Saint’, and some found themselves taking Holy Orders or religious vows as a result.

This school of Christian friendship was the magnificent mustard tree which developed from that seed of the Kingdom planted in St Philip’s heart at his Baptism on 22nd July 1515. By his intercession, and under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin, may it continue to flourish in the Oratory today and in the years to come.”

– From: “The Oratory Parish Magazine – From the Provost”, London Oratory, Vol. 92, No. 1130 (subheadings in bold added afterwards)

 

 

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