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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.

St. Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century Dominican friar, was too big to sit at a regular desk. The combination of his great size with the fact that he was quiet and did not speak much prompted some of the students at the College of St. James in Paris to call him a “dumb ox.” His professor at the time, Albertus Magnus, came to Thomas’ defense by prophesying, “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.”

Indeed, St. Thomas Aquinas’ teaching has changed the world. He combined his natural gifts with supernatural grace. His deep life of prayer enabled him to understand the depths of Christianity and pass that knowledge on to future generations.  The secret of his success is revealed in the first verse of today’s reading from the Book of Wisdom: “I prayed, and prudence was given me.  I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me” (Wisdom 7:7).

Thomas was the author of three great works: Disputed Questions on Truth, Summa contra Gentiles, and Summa Theologiae.  He also contributed greatly to the topics of political order, ethics, psychology, revelation, just war, the nature of sin, the goal of human life, and the nature of God, which includes five proofs for the existence of God. Thomas was declared a saint 50 years after his death and a doctor of the church some 200 years later. He is the patron saint of all Catholic educational establishments.

I will conclude with St. Thomas’ own words on the topic of the cross: “Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a two-fold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act. If you seek an example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake.

“Do not be attached,” St. Thomas continues, “to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves. Not to honors, for he experienced harsh words and scourging. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

“In patience,” St. Thomas summarizes, “let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, bore his cross and despised the shame.”

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.