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Vision of St. Thomas Aquinas

Vision of St. Thomas Aquinas

History of the School

As St. Thomas Aquinas High School celebrates its 83rd year, the school community harkens back to 1936 when St. Anthony School enrolled 12 high school students to initiate Catholic secondary education in Broward County. Under the aegis of the Dominican Sisters from Adrian, Michigan, and motivated by the motto, &ldquoNot for school but for life we learn,&rdquo the school grew to a student body of 42 in four years, boasting nine graduates who comprised the Class of 1940.

St. Anthony High School earned its initial affiliation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1941. Although boys&rsquo basketball made its debut before football, the young Raiders opened their first football season in 1946. The school published its first yearbook, the 110-page Veritas, Volume 1, in 1950 and St. Anthony High School saw its last class graduate in June of 1952.


Early life (1225–1244) Edit

Thomas Aquinas was most likely born in the castle of Roccasecca, near Aquino, controlled at that time by the Kingdom of Sicily (in present-day Lazio, Italy), c. 1225 , [19] According to some authors, [ who? ] he was born in the castle of his father, Landulf of Aquino. He was born to the most powerful branch of the family, and Landulf of Aquino was a man of means. As a knight in the service of Emperor Frederick II, Landulf of Aquino held the title miles. [20] Thomas's mother, Theodora, belonged to the Rossi branch of the Neapolitan Caracciolo family. [21] Landulf's brother Sinibald was abbot of Monte Cassino, the oldest Benedictine monastery. While the rest of the family's sons pursued military careers, [22] the family intended for Thomas to follow his uncle into the abbacy [23] this would have been a normal career path for a younger son of southern Italian nobility. [24]

At the age of five Thomas began his early education at Monte Cassino but after the military conflict between the Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX spilled into the abbey in early 1239, Landulf and Theodora had Thomas enrolled at the studium generale (university) recently established by Frederick in Naples. [25] It was here that Thomas was probably introduced to Aristotle, Averroes and Maimonides, all of whom would influence his theological philosophy. [26] It was also during his study at Naples that Thomas came under the influence of John of St. Julian, a Dominican preacher in Naples, who was part of the active effort by the Dominican order to recruit devout followers. [27] There his teacher in arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music was Petrus de Ibernia. [28]

At the age of nineteen Thomas resolved to join the Dominican Order, which had been founded about 30 years earlier. Thomas's change of heart did not please his family. [29] In an attempt to prevent Theodora's interference in Thomas's choice, the Dominicans arranged to move Thomas to Rome, and from Rome, to Paris. [30] However, while on his journey to Rome, per Theodora's instructions, his brothers seized him as he was drinking from a spring and took him back to his parents at the castle of Monte San Giovanni Campano. [30]

Thomas was held prisoner for almost one year in the family castles at Monte San Giovanni and Roccasecca in an attempt to prevent him from assuming the Dominican habit and to push him into renouncing his new aspiration. [26] Political concerns prevented the Pope from ordering Thomas's release, which had the effect of extending Thomas's detention. [31] Thomas passed this time of trial tutoring his sisters and communicating with members of the Dominican Order. [26] Family members became desperate to dissuade Thomas, who remained determined to join the Dominicans. At one point, two of his brothers resorted to the measure of hiring a prostitute to seduce him.

As included in the official records for his canonization, Thomas drove her away wielding a burning log with which he inscribed a cross onto the wall and fell into a mystical ecstasy and two angels appeared to him as he slept and said, "Behold, we gird thee by the command of God with the girdle of chastity, which henceforth will never be imperiled. What human strength can not obtain, is now bestowed upon thee as a celestial gift." From that moment on, Thomas was given the grace of perfect chastity by Christ and he wore the girdle till the end of his life. The heavenly girdle was given to the ancient monastery of Vercelli in Piedmont, The holy girdle is now at Chieri, near Turin. [32] [33]

By 1244, seeing that all her attempts to dissuade Thomas had failed, Theodora sought to save the family's dignity, arranging for Thomas to escape at night through his window. In her mind, a secret escape from detention was less damaging than an open surrender to the Dominicans. Thomas was sent first to Naples and then to Rome to meet Johannes von Wildeshausen, the Master General of the Dominican Order. [34]

Paris, Cologne, Albert Magnus, and first Paris regency (1245–1259) Edit

In 1245 Thomas was sent to study at the Faculty of the Arts at the University of Paris, where he most likely met Dominican scholar Albertus Magnus, [35] then the holder of the Chair of Theology at the College of St. James in Paris. [36] When Albertus was sent by his superiors to teach at the new studium generale at Cologne in 1248, [35] Thomas followed him, declining Pope Innocent IV's offer to appoint him abbot of Monte Cassino as a Dominican. [23] Albertus then appointed the reluctant Thomas magister studentium. [24] Because Thomas was quiet and didn't speak much, some of his fellow students thought he was slow. But Albertus prophetically exclaimed: "You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world." [23]

Thomas taught in Cologne as an apprentice professor (baccalaureus biblicus), instructing students on the books of the Old Testament and writing Expositio super Isaiam ad litteram (Literal Commentary on Isaiah), Postilla super Ieremiam (Commentary on Jeremiah) and Postilla super Threnos (Commentary on Lamentations). [37] Then in 1252 he returned to Paris to study for the master's degree in theology. He lectured on the Bible as an apprentice professor, and upon becoming a baccalaureus Sententiarum (bachelor of the Sentences) [38] he devoted his final three years of study to commenting on Peter Lombard's Sentences. In the first of his four theological syntheses, Thomas composed a massive commentary on the Sentences titled Scriptum super libros Sententiarium (Commentary on the Sentences). Aside from his master's writings, he wrote De ente et essentia (On Being and Essence) for his fellow Dominicans in Paris. [23]

In the spring of 1256 Thomas was appointed regent master in theology at Paris and one of his first works upon assuming this office was Contra impugnantes Dei cultum et religionem (Against Those Who Assail the Worship of God and Religion), defending the mendicant orders, which had come under attack by William of Saint-Amour. [39] During his tenure from 1256 to 1259, Thomas wrote numerous works, including: Questiones disputatae de veritate (Disputed Questions on Truth), a collection of twenty-nine disputed questions on aspects of faith and the human condition [40] prepared for the public university debates he presided over on Lent and Advent [41] Quaestiones quodlibetales (Quodlibetal Questions), a collection of his responses to questions posed to him by the academic audience [40] and both Expositio super librum Boethii De trinitate (Commentary on Boethius's De trinitate) and Expositio super librum Boethii De hebdomadibus (Commentary on Boethius's De hebdomadibus), commentaries on the works of 6th-century Roman philosopher Boethius. [42] By the end of his regency, Thomas was working on one of his most famous works, Summa contra Gentiles. [43]

Naples, Orvieto, Rome (1259–1268) Edit

In 1259 Thomas completed his first regency at the studium generale and left Paris so that others in his order could gain this teaching experience. He returned to Naples where he was appointed as general preacher by the provincial chapter of 29 September 1260. In September 1261 he was called to Orvieto as conventual lector he was responsible for the pastoral formation of the friars unable to attend a studium generale. In Orvieto Thomas completed his Summa contra Gentiles, wrote the Catena aurea (The Golden Chain), [44] and produced works for Pope Urban IV such as the liturgy for the newly created feast of Corpus Christi and the Contra errores graecorum (Against the Errors of the Greeks). [43] Some of the hymns that Thomas wrote for the feast of Corpus Christi are still sung today, such as the Pange lingua (whose penultimate verse is the famous Tantum ergo), and Panis angelicus. Modern scholarship has confirmed that Thomas was indeed the author of these texts, a point that some had contested. [45]

In February 1265 the newly elected Pope Clement IV summoned Thomas to Rome to serve as papal theologian. This same year he was ordered by the Dominican Chapter of Agnani [46] to teach at the studium conventuale at the Roman convent of Santa Sabina, founded some years before, in 1222. [47] The studium at Santa Sabina now became an experiment for the Dominicans, the Order's first studium provinciale, an intermediate school between the studium conventuale and the studium generale. Prior to this time the Roman Province had offered no specialized education of any sort, no arts, no philosophy only simple convent schools, with their basic courses in theology for resident friars, were functioning in Tuscany and the meridionale during the first several decades of the order's life. The new studium provinciale at Santa Sabina was to be a more advanced school for the province. [48] Tolomeo da Lucca, an associate and early biographer of Thomas, tells us that at the Santa Sabina studium Thomas taught the full range of philosophical subjects, both moral and natural. [49]

While at the Santa Sabina studium provinciale Thomas began his most famous work, the Summa theologiae, [44] which he conceived specifically suited to beginning students: "Because a doctor of Catholic truth ought not only to teach the proficient, but to him pertains also to instruct beginners. As the Apostle says in 1 Corinthians 3:1–2, as to infants in Christ, I gave you milk to drink, not meat, our proposed intention in this work is to convey those things that pertain to the Christian religion in a way that is fitting to the instruction of beginners." [50] While there he also wrote a variety of other works like his unfinished Compendium Theologiae and Responsio ad fr. Ioannem Vercellensem de articulis 108 sumptis ex opere Petri de Tarentasia (Reply to Brother John of Vercelli Regarding 108 Articles Drawn from the Work of Peter of Tarentaise). [42] In his position as head of the studium Thomas conducted a series of important disputations on the power of God, which he compiled into his De potentia. [51] Nicholas Brunacci [1240–1322] was among Thomas's students at the Santa Sabina studium provinciale and later at the Paris studium generale. In November 1268 he was with Thomas and his associate and secretary Reginald of Piperno, as they left Viterbo on their way to Paris to begin the academic year. [52] [53] Another student of Thomas's at the Santa Sabina studium provinciale was Blessed Tommasello da Perugia. [54]

Thomas remained at the studium at Santa Sabina from 1265 until he was called back to Paris in 1268 for a second teaching regency. [51] With his departure for Paris in 1268 and the passage of time the pedagogical activities of the studium provinciale at Santa Sabina were divided between two campuses. A new convent of the Order at the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva had a modest beginning in 1255 as a community for women converts, but grew rapidly in size and importance after being given over to the Dominicans friars in 1275. [47] In 1288 the theology component of the provincial curriculum for the education of the friars was relocated from the Santa Sabina studium provinciale to the studium conventuale at Santa Maria sopra Minerva, which was redesignated as a studium particularis theologiae. [55] This studium was transformed in the 16th century into the College of Saint Thomas (Latin: Collegium Divi Thomæ). In the 20th century the college was relocated to the convent of Saints Dominic and Sixtus and was transformed into the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum.

Quarrelsome second Paris regency (1269–1272) Edit

In 1268 the Dominican order assigned Thomas to be regent master at the University of Paris for a second time, a position he held until the spring of 1272. Part of the reason for this sudden reassignment appears to have arisen from the rise of "Averroism" or "radical Aristotelianism" in the universities. In response to these perceived errors, Thomas wrote two works, one of them being De unitate intellectus, contra Averroistas (On the Unity of Intellect, against the Averroists) in which he reprimands Averroism as incompatible with Christian doctrine. [56] During his second regency, he finished the second part of the Summa and wrote De virtutibus and De aeternitate mundi, contra murmurantes (On the Eternity of the World, against Grumblers), [51] the latter of which dealt with controversial Averroist and Aristotelian beginninglessness of the world. [57]

Disputes with some important Franciscans conspired to make his second regency much more difficult and troubled than the first. A year before Thomas re-assumed the regency at the 1266–67 Paris disputations, Franciscan master William of Baglione accused Thomas of encouraging Averroists, most likely counting him as one of the "blind leaders of the blind". Eleonore Stump says, "It has also been persuasively argued that Thomas Aquinas's De aeternitate mundi was directed in particular against his Franciscan colleague in theology, John Pecham." [57]

In reality, Thomas was deeply disturbed by the spread of Averroism and was angered when he discovered Siger of Brabant teaching Averroistic interpretations of Aristotle to Parisian students. [58] On 10 December 1270, the Bishop of Paris, Étienne Tempier, issued an edict condemning thirteen Aristotelian and Averroistic propositions as heretical and excommunicating anyone who continued to support them. [59] Many in the ecclesiastical community, the so-called Augustinians, were fearful that this introduction of Aristotelianism and the more extreme Averroism might somehow contaminate the purity of the Christian faith. In what appears to be an attempt to counteract the growing fear of Aristotelian thought, Thomas conducted a series of disputations between 1270 and 1272: De virtutibus in communi (On Virtues in General), De virtutibus cardinalibus (On Cardinal Virtues), De spe (On Hope). [60]

Final days and "straw" (1272–1274) Edit

In 1272 Thomas took leave from the University of Paris when the Dominicans from his home province called upon him to establish a studium generale wherever he liked and staff it as he pleased. He chose to establish the institution in Naples, and moved there to take his post as regent master. [51] He took his time at Naples to work on the third part of the Summa while giving lectures on various religious topics. He also preached to the people of Naples every day in Lent, 1273. These sermons on the Commandments, the Creed, the Our Father, and Hail Mary were very popular. [61]

Thomas has been traditionally ascribed with the ability to levitate. For example, G. K. Chesterton wrote that "His experiences included well-attested cases of levitation in ecstasy and the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, comforting him with the welcome news that he would never be a Bishop." [62] [ better source needed ]

It is traditionally held that on one occasion, in 1273 at the Dominican convent of Naples in the chapel of Saint Nicholas, [63] after Matins, Thomas lingered and was seen by the sacristan Domenic of Caserta to be levitating in prayer with tears before an icon of the crucified Christ. Christ said to Thomas, "You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?" Thomas responded, "Nothing but you, Lord." [64] [65] After this exchange something happened, but Thomas never spoke of it or wrote it down.

On 6 December 1273, another mystical experience took place. While he was celebrating Mass, he experienced an unusually long ecstasy. [65] Because of what he saw, he abandoned his routine and refused to dictate to his socius Reginald of Piperno. When Reginald begged him to get back to work, Thomas replied: "Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me" [66] (mihi videtur ut palea). [67] As a result, the Summa Theologica would remain uncompleted. [68] What exactly triggered Thomas's change in behavior is believed by Catholics to have been some kind of supernatural experience of God. [69] After taking to his bed, he did recover some strength [70] but died three months later.

In 1054 the Great Schism had occurred between the Latin Church following the Pope (known as the Roman Catholic Church) in the West, and the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the East (known as the Eastern Orthodox Church). Looking to find a way to reunite the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Gregory X convened the Second Council of Lyon to be held on 1 May 1274 and summoned Thomas to attend. [71] At the meeting, Thomas's work for Pope Urban IV concerning the Greeks, Contra errores graecorum, was to be presented. [72]

On his way to the council, riding on a donkey along the Appian Way, [71] he struck his head on the branch of a fallen tree and became seriously ill again. He was then quickly escorted to Monte Cassino to convalesce. [70] After resting for a while, he set out again, but stopped at the Cistercian Fossanova Abbey after again falling ill. [73] The monks nursed him for several days, [74] and as he received his last rites he prayed: "I have written and taught much about this very holy Body, and about the other sacraments in the faith of Christ, and about the Holy Roman Church, to whose correction I expose and submit everything I have written." [75] He died on 7 March 1274 [73] while giving commentary on the Song of Songs. [76]

Condemnation of 1277 Edit

In 1277 Étienne Tempier, the same bishop of Paris who had issued the condemnation of 1270, issued another more extensive condemnation. One aim of this condemnation was to clarify that God's absolute power transcended any principles of logic that Aristotle or Averroes might place on it. [77] More specifically, it contained a list of 219 propositions that the bishop had determined to violate the omnipotence of God, and included in this list were twenty Thomistic propositions. Their inclusion badly damaged Thomas's reputation for many years. [78]

In the Divine Comedy, Dante sees the glorified soul of Thomas in the Heaven of the Sun with the other great exemplars of religious wisdom. [79] Dante asserts that Thomas died by poisoning, on the order of Charles of Anjou [80] Villani cites this belief, [81] and the Anonimo Fiorentino describes the crime and its motive. But the historian Ludovico Antonio Muratori reproduces the account made by one of Thomas's friends, and this version of the story gives no hint of foul play. [82]

Thomas's theology had begun its rise to prestige. Two centuries later, in 1567, Pope Pius V proclaimed St. Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church and ranked his feast with those of the four great Latin fathers: Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, Jerome and Gregory. [82] At the Council of Trent, Thomas had the honor of having his Summa theologiae placed on the altar alongside the Bible and the Decretals. [78] [83]

In his encyclical of 4 August 1879, Aeterni Patris, Pope Leo XIII stated that Thomas Aquinas's theology was a definitive exposition of Catholic doctrine. Thus, he directed the clergy to take the teachings of Thomas as the basis of their theological positions. Leo XIII also decreed that all Catholic seminaries and universities must teach Thomas's doctrines, and where Thomas did not speak on a topic, the teachers were "urged to teach conclusions that were reconcilable with his thinking." In 1880, Saint Thomas Aquinas was declared patron of all Catholic educational establishments. [82]


In 1962, Bishop Henry Soenneker (2nd bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro) had a vision to begin the project, and the diocese acquired the Max Nahm house located at 1403 College Street. The house was renovated to hold a chapel, lounge, recreation room, study rooms and a library, as well as the priest’s living quarters.

In Bishop Soenneker sent Fr. Bill Allard to be the founder of the Newman Center. Fr. Allard formed a small gathering of students at the new Newman Center.

As WKU’s enrollment grew, so did Fr. Allard’s congregation. The house was no longer adequate for the needs of the students. So, in 1967, the house was torn down and replaced with the current building, which was dedicated on Oct. 27, 1968. The building is now known as the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Campus Center.

Six priests have served the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Campus Center since 1962: Fr. Bill Allard, Fr. Phillip Waters, O.S.B., Fr. Thomas O’Connor, O.S.B., Fr. Raymond Goetz, Fr. John Little, and Fr. Darrell Venters.The current director is Fr. Mike Williams.

The Catholic Campus Center serves the students, faculty and staff of Western Kentucky University. We aim to give people a comfortable place to pray, study, and build relationships based on faith.

St. Thomas Aquinas is the Roman Catholic presence at Purdue University. We are a vibrant and diverse community of student and resident parishioners. We are welcoming to all, a beacon of peace and God’s love, and a model of Jesus Christ to the local community at Purdue University, the Greater Lafayette area, and the world. We value spiritual and intellectual formation and take action to be a source of church leadership.

Purdue Catholic Campus Ministry began in 1906 when the Catholic Club was founded. Students traveled across the Wabash River to attend services at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lafayette. The Newman Club was chartered in 1927. In 1928, Reverend Leo Pursley was assigned as associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church and to work with Purdue students.

Fifty years ago, Fr. Thomas Heilman had a vision to establish a student center at Purdue University to serve the spiritual needs of Catholics attending Purdue University. That vision became reality when the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel was dedicated in April, 1951. Fr. Heilman’s vision called for adequate space and facilities for programs, faith sharing and for social as well as educational activities.

By 1963, St. Thomas Aquinas faced the challenge of meeting the needs of a growing Catholic population on campus. At that time the seating capacity of the worship area was expanded from 350 to 1,200. Large meeting rooms in the lower level provided study areas and space for religious programs.

The year 2000 saw the arrival of the Dominican Friars from the Province of St. Albert the Great in Chicago. Today, the Center is under the leadership of Fr. Tom McDermott, OP, and is among the largest parish/campus ministries programs in the nation. St. Tom’s serves over 815 resident parishioner families and the nearly 13,000 Catholic students attending Purdue. St. Tom’s provides over 35 ministries and programs to its membership that not only benefits the church but both the local and internal communities. It is this mix of resident and student parishioners that create a vibrant community. The home atmosphere created by the resident parishioners make St. Tom’s one of the great memories the Purdue students take with them into their lives.

Influences exerted on St. Thomas

How was this great genius formed? The causes that exerted an influence on St. Thomas were of two kinds, natural and supernatural.

Natural causes

(1) As a foundation, he "was a witty child, and had received a good soul" (Wisdom 8:19). From the beginning he manifested precocious and extraordinary talent and thoughtfulness beyond his years.

(2) His education was such that great things might have been expected of him. His training at Monte Cassino, at Naples, Paris, and Cologne was the best that the thirteenth century could give, and that century was the golden age of education. That it afforded excellent opportunities for forming great philosophers and theologians is evident from the character of St. Thomas's contemporaries. Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, St. Bonaventure, St. Raymond of Pennafort, Roger Bacon, Hugo a S. Charo, Vincent of Beauvais, not to mention scores of others, prove beyond all doubt that those were days of really great scholars. (See Walsh, "The Thirteenth, Greatest of Centuries", New York, 1907.) The men who trained St. Thomas were his teachers at Monte Cassino and Naples, but above all Albertus Magnus, under whom he studied at Paris and Cologne.

(3) The books that exercised the greatest influence on his mind were the Bible, the Decrees of the councils and of the popes, the works of the Fathers, Greek and Latin, especially of St. Augustine, the "Sentences" of Peter Lombard, the writings of the philosophers, especially of Plato, Aristotle, and Boethius. If from these authors any were to be selected for special mention, undoubtedly they would be Aristotle, St. Augustine, and Peter Lombard. In another sense the writings of St. Thomas were influenced by Averroes, the chief opponent whom he had to combat in order to defend and make known the true Aristotle.

(4) It must be borne in mind that St. Thomas was blessed with a retentive memory and great powers of penetration. Father Daniel d'Agusta once pressed him to say what he considered the greatest grace he had ever received, sanctifying grace of course excepted. "I think that of having understood whatever I have read", was the reply. St. Antoninus declared that "he remembered everything be had read, so that his mind was like a huge library" (cf. Drane, op. cit., p. 427 Vaughan, op. cit., II, p. 567). The bare enumeration of the texts of Scripture cited in the "Summa theologica" fills eighty small-print columns in the Migne edition, and by many it is not unreasonably supposed that he learned the Sacred Books by heart while he was imprisoned in the Castle of San Giovanni. Like St. Dominic he had a special love for the Epistles of St. Paul, on which he wrote commentaries (recent edition in 2 vols., Turin, 1891).

(5) Deep reverence for the Faith, as made known by tradition, characterizes all his writings. The consuetudo ecclesiae — the practice of the Church — should prevail over the authority of any doctor (Summa II-II:10:12). In the "Summa" he quotes from 19 councils, 41 popes, and 52 Fathers of the Church. A slight acquaintance with his writings will show that among the Fathers his favourite was St. Augustine (on the Greek Fathers see Vaughan, op. cit., II, cc. iii sqq.).

(6) With St. Augustine (On Christian Doctrine II.40), St. Thomas held that whatever there was of truth in the writings of pagan philosophers should be taken from them, as from "unjust possessors", and adapted to the teaching of the true religion (Summa I:84:5). In the "Summa" alone he quotes from the writings of 46 philosophers and poets, his favourite authors being Aristotle, Plato, and, among Christian writers, Boethius. From Aristotle he learned that love of order and accuracy of expression which are characteristic of his own works. From Boethius he learned that Aristotle's works could be used without detriment to Christianity. He did not follow Boethius in his vain attempt to reconcile Plato and Aristotle. In general the Stagirite was his master, but the elevation and grandeur of St. Thomas's conceptions and the majestic dignity of his methods of treatment speak strongly of the sublime Plato.

Supernatural causes

Even if we do not accept as literally true the declaration of John XXII, that St. Thomas wrought as many miracles as there are articles in the "Summa", we must, nevertheless, go beyond causes merely natural in attempting to explain his extraordinary career and wonderful writings.

(1) Purity of mind and body contributes in no small degree to clearness of vision (see St. Thomas, "Commentaries on I Cor., c. vii", Lesson v). By the gift of purity, miraculously granted at the time of the mystic girdling, God made Thomas's life angelic the perspicacity and depth of his intellect, Divine grace aiding, made him the "Angelic Doctor".

(2) The spirit of prayer, his great piety and devotion, drew down blessings on his studies. Explaining why he read, every day, portions of the "Conferences" of Cassian, he said: "In such reading I find devotion, whence I readily ascend to contemplation" (Prümmer, op. cit., p. 32). In the lessons of the Breviary read on his feast day it is explicitly stated that he never began to study without first invoking the assistance of God in prayer and when he wrestled with obscure passages of the Scriptures, to prayer he added fasting.

(3) Facts narrated by persons who either knew St. Thomas in life or wrote at about the time of his canonization prove that he received assistance from heaven. To Father Reginald he declared that he had learned more in prayer and contemplation than he had acquired from men or books (Prümmer, op. cit., p. 36). These same authors tell of mysterious visitors who came to encourage and enlighten him. The Blessed Virgin appeared, to assure him that his life and his writings were acceptable to God, and that he would persevere in his holy vocation. Sts. Peter and Paul came to aid him in interpreting an obscure passage in Isaias. When humility caused him to consider himself unworthy of the doctorate, a venerable religious of his order (supposed to be St. Dominic) appeared to encourage him and suggested the text for his opening discourse (Prümmer, op. cit., 29, 37 Tocco in "Acta SS.", VII Mar. Vaughan, op. cit., II, 91). His ecstasies have been mentioned. His abstractions in presence of King Louis IX (St. Louis) and of distinguished visitors are related by all biographers. Hence, even if allowance be made for great enthusiasm on the part of his admirers, we must conclude that his extraordinary learning cannot be attributed to merely natural causes. Of him it may truly be said that he laboured as if all depended on his own efforts and prayed as if all depended on God.

Our History

In 1987, the parish community of Saint Thomas Aquinas, under the direction of the Pastor Reverent Fabian Gimeno, approached the Diocese of Orlando with a desire and plan to build the first parochial school in Osceola County. Father Fabian presented a plan and study to the Diocesan Board of Education, that got him the approval to build a school on the church’s property on Brown Chapel Road.

In December of 1987, Saint Thomas Aquinas launched its fund raising campaign, quickly raising the funds to begin construction. Built as the first school in the newly formed Diocese of Orlando, Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic School opened on August 21, 1989 under the devoted leadership of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. Presiding over the school as principal, Sister Linda Martin, along with Assistant Principal Sister Ann Whitley, welcomed the first one hundred and twenty-three pre-kindergarten to second grade students.

As years passed, Saint Thomas has steadily increased its enrollment figures. Twenty-five plus years of quality Catholic education, along with the vision of the current school community, have provided a solid foundation to children and families in the St. Cloud area. As a Catholic school, St. Thomas Aquinas School views the spirituality of its children as one of its highest priorities. The school day must crevolve around the faith, both in teaching and in living. Our Catholic identity is lived and celebrated every day at St. Thomas Aquinas School.

The Doctrine of Double Happiness

Already in his Summa Contra Gentiles, Aquinas had taken a position similar to St. Augustine’s, that perfect happiness is not possible in this lifetime. Aquinas takes seriously St. Paul’s assurance in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that “for now we see as through a glass darkly, but then we see face to face.” This world is too plagued with unsatisfied desires to achieve that ultimate good which we all seek by nature. Furthermore, God has basically created us with a desire to come to perfect knowledge of Him, but this is hidden from us while in our mortal bodies. True knowledge of God would require being able to see him directly, but this is only possible by a completely purified soul. When this occurs, we will experience the ultimate pleasure—a pure and everlasting bliss that will be the satisfaction of every human desire and the obliteration of every sadness or worry.

However, unlike St. Augustine, Aquinas goes on to maintain that we can achieve a kind of “imperfect happiness” here on earth. In this he is undoubtedly influenced by Aristotle, who argued that happiness depends on the actualization of one’s natural faculties. The highest faculty the human being possesses is Reason, from which it follows that we can achieve happiness in this life in proportion to the level of truth accessible to Reason. As he writes:

Man’s ultimate happiness consists in the contemplation of truth, for this operation is specific to man and is shared with no other animals. Also it is not directed to any other end since the contemplation of truth is sought for its own sake. In addition, in this operation man is united to higher beings (substances) since this is the only human operation that is carried out both by God and by the separate substances (angels). (Summa Contra Gentiles, book 3, chapter 37)

While the perfect realization of Truth will only occur in heaven where we will perceive God “face to face,” there is an imperfect counterpart of that vision here on earth. Thus Aquinas is lead to make a distinction between “perfect happiness” which he calls beatitudo, and “imperfect happiness” called felicitas. By making this distinction, Aquinas is able to tone down the pessimistic view of human nature expressed by St. Augustine, including the doctrine of Original Sin. As Aquinas writes, “Human Nature is not so completely corrupted by sin as to be totally lacking in natural goodness.” We have an impulse in us that seeks God and other impulses that pull us down to worldly pleasures. However, it is possible to begin the process of healing in this lifetime by exercising the natural virtues that Aristotle talks about—the virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation, justice, friendship, etc. Furthermore, God in his grace has now revealed to us three additional virtues: those of faith, love and hope. These will pull us through to the final end so long as we begin the effort.

More About Saint Thomas Aquinas

Image of St. Thomas Aquinas depicting him as a great instructor. Bishops, Cardinals, Priest and others.

Perhaps you have heard of St. Thomas Aquinas as the Patron saint of Catholic schools – or maybe you heard his name in a philosophy or theology class – or perhaps you have even heard him called “the dumb ox”! As a great saint and Doctor of the church, St. Thomas Aquinas was a very bright, virtuous, and humble man whose example and writings are still admired and studied to this day.

Saint Thomas Aquinas was born in 1226 in Roccasecca, Italy. His father, Landulph, was the Count of Aquino, and his mother, Theodora, was also part of a powerful . When he was young, his father sent him to live with the Benedictines at Monte Cassino. As a student, he was a very quick learner. He quickly surpassed the other students in both knowledge and virtue. As he grew he felt God calling him to the religious life, which disappointed and even angered his family, who prized their wealth and status. His family held him prisoner in one of their castles for a year, trying to persuade him to change his mind. They even sent a woman in, to try to convince him that he should marry rather than take a vow of celibacy. Instead of allowing her in, he took two logs out of the fire and branded a cross on his door, making his intentions very clear. His mother, in an attempt to stop the family contention, helped him to escape in the night through a window. St. Thomas Aquinas fled to meet with Johannes von Wildeshausen, the Master General of the Dominican Order in Naples, Italy. He joined the Dominican Order and became a priest.

St. Thomas Aquinas was sent to study under Albert the Great (soon to be known as St. Albert the Great) in Paris. He was a quiet, slow-moving student, which led other students to give him the nickname of the “dumb ox.” Upon hearing this. St. Albert the Great stated, “You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world.” As time passed, St. Thomas Aquinas grew into an extraordinarily gifted professor and writer of theology and philosophy. His works are still highly regarded and studied by many today. He is most famous for his writings entitled the “Summa Theologica,” often referred to simply as “the Summa.” It is said that while writing the third volume of the Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas had a vision in the chapel before an icon of Christ crucified. St. Thomas Aquinas heard Jesus say to him, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?” St. Thomas Aquinas answered, “Nothing but you, Lord.” After this, St. Thomas Aquinas stated that he would not continue writing, for “all I have written seems like straw to me.” It is said that his mystical experience with Christ was so great that his words would never be sufficient to describe the glory and majesty of God.

While traveling along the Appian Way to meet with Pope Gregory X at the Second Council of Lyons, St. Thomas Aquinas was struck in the head by a falling branch while riding his donkey. He fell ill and was taken to Monte Cassino to recover. After resting, he began traveling again, then stopped at the Cistercian Fossanova Abbey where the monks nursed him for several days. As he received his last rites he prayed, “I receive Thee, ransom of my soul. For love of thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached, and taught.” St. Thomas Aquinas died on March 7, 1274. His remains are entombed at the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse, France. Fifty years after his death, Pope John XXII, while seated in Avignon, France, declared Thomas a saint. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V. Because of his perfect chastity, St. Thomas Aquinas has been given the title of the “Angelic Doctor.” His feast day is celebrated on January 28, which is the date his relics were transferred to Toulouse, France.

When St. Thomas Aquinas likened his work to straw, was that a retraction of what he wrote?

In the Thurston and Attwater revision of Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints, the episode is described this way:

On the feast of St. Nicholas [in 1273, Aquinas] was celebrating Mass when he received a revelation that so affected him that he wrote and dictated no more, leaving his great work the Summa Theologiae unfinished. To Brother Reginald’s (his secretary and friend) expostulations he replied, “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.” When later asked by Reginald to return to writing, Aquinas said, “I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings like straw.” (www.catholic-forum.com/saintS/stt03002.htm)

Aquinas died three months later while on his way to the ecumenical council of Lyons.

Aquinas’s vision may have been a vision of heaven, compared to which everything else, no matter how glorious, seems worthless. We can only speculate on that point. Scholars, hagiographers, and Catholics in general have never understood Aquinas’s comment to be a retraction or refutation of anything he wrote. If it had been, Pope Leo XIII would not have encouraged a renewed interest in Thomistic theology and philosophy, and Aquinas would not have been named a Doctor of the Church.

Watch the video: Saint Life: Thomas AquinasAntidote to Modernism 7 March (November 2021).