This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28 -- Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Serious, scholarly Thomas Aquinas
I've dodged this post for a couple years, hoping to get better informed about Thomas Aquinas.  He's a pretty big dog, after all, and to short-sell him is poor form.  That said, any explanation of his philosophy that I have attempted to comprehend so far has left me scratching my head.  I suspect that Chesterton will come to my rescue when I purchase and read his book.  For now, I'll content myself with acknowledging the Saint's greatness without actually understanding it.

Thomas was born into a noble family in the Kingdom of Sicily, though not actually on the island of Sicily.  That kingdom occupied the southern chunk (30%?) of the Italian peninsula for much of the pre-unification history.  Thomas' dad Landulf wasn't the Count, but he was a respected semi-aristocrat with a lot of privileges.  Being a younger brother, Thomas was marked for Church service, just like his Uncle Sinibald, the Abbot of Monte Cassino.  [That abbey, but the way, was the original Benedictine house.  If you were to be an abbot, it doesn't get much more prestigious than that in the West.] 

Angels comforted Thomas after he rejected a hooker
Thomas studied at both Monte Cassino and the brand new University of Naples.  Speaking of brand-new, the Dominican Order of Friars had only been around for twenty-eight years when Thomas decided to join it.  This was a bit shocking for his mom, who was hoping for a more respectable ecclesiastical path, perhaps something culminating in abbot or bishop.  The 1970s equivalent would be Baptist and Episcopalian kids who joined the Moonies and the Hare Krishnas.  And just like in the 1970s, Mama Aquinas hired some goons to kidnap Thomas and get him home for some straightening out.  The Dominicans guessed this and tried to send him  to Paris for further education, but Mama's boys got him en route as he stopped at a spring to drink.  He was firm in resisting his family's attempts to dissuade him.  His two brothers even hired a hooker to get him laid, but he drove her away with a fire iron.  I don't think I even need to comment on that -- the scene speaks for itself. 

A couple years later he was back with the Dominicans.  Mama Theodora Aquinas acknowledged to herself that she could not keep her son imprisoned for the rest of his life, nor could she sacrifice the family's honor by permitting him to join a radical cult.  [NB. My use of the word cult there is not in the Catholic sense of devotion to a saint or conceptual phenomenon, but rather in the pejorative modern sense of a freaky new religious movement that exploits naive recruits.]  The servants left a window open for him; out he went, leaving the family honor in tact but far behind him.

This much, I think, for this year.  Next year, his studies and career. By then, Mr. Chesterton will give me an inkling of what I am talking about. 

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