Today, January 28, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps one of the most gifted but certainly one of the most influential theologians that has ever lived. His most famous work, The Summa Theologica, is one of the most widely studied works of theology in history by Catholics and protestants alike. Because his theology was so influential, the Catholic Church has given him the special title of Doctor of the Church.
The title Doctor of the Church, is not one that is handed out very often and is reserved only for those that taught the highest doctrines. In the Western Church there are only 30 men and women that have received this title. Others include St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. Athanasius, St. Bernard, St. Theresa of Avila and St. Therese de Lisieux (a personal favorite of many modern Catholics, including myself).
Personally, I was a little surprised when I was perusing Mars Hill’s website and other sites connected with the Church a few months ago and came across what is a great synopsis of St. Thomas’ life, written by Pastor Mark Driscoll. I didn’t expect to find much praise for Aquinas on the website because he held so many theological positions that are distinctly Catholic, including the teaching that God gives Grace through the sacraments and the doctrine of Transubstantiation, which is the belief that the bread and wine used at Mass actually undergo a change in substance into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Yet, as you saw, there was a wonderful write up by Mars Hill’s pastor on one of his websites.
But as I’ve read more and more of Pastor Mark’s writings I have encountered a spirit of St. Thomas throughout. First of all, Pastor Mark does not shy away from objections to his theology especially in areas that pertain to culture and morality. Furthermore, I have seen St. Thomas’ theology and language spring up throughout his sermons. Take for example his sermon from his series on the prophet Habakkuk simply called Faith.
In this sermon Pastor Mark gives a definition of faith which, although he attributes to the reformers, syncs up rather closely with some of St. Thomas’ thoughts on the subject.
So today, Catholics around the world – and perhaps even a few reformed Christians as well – remember St. Thomas Aquinas and celebrate the amazing mind which God gave him to help us all understand the sacred mysteries of our faith in the Triune God. I ask St. Thomas – who is alive in Jesus Christ today – to pray that all who profess faith in Jesus Christ will thirst for truth and discuss all aspects of faith with humble Charity.
Let us Pray:
God our Father, you made Thomas Aquinas known for his holiness and learning. Help us to grow in wisdom by his teaching and in holiness by imitating his faith. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen.
- Called to Communion has an excellent post up on St. Thomas and the Mystery of God.
- Another great article from Ignatius Press.
- Although I have not read it, I am told that GK Chesterton’s book on Thomas Aquinas is excellent. I’m inclined to believe it, because GK Chesterton is awesome.