Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

The Angelic Doctor: St. Thomas Aquinas

A Student’s Prayer

By St. Thomas Aquinas

Creator of all things, True source of light and wisdom, Origin of all being, Graciously let a ray of your light penetrate The darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness In which I have been born, An obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding, A retentive memory, and The ability to grasp things Correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent Of being exact in my explanations And the ability to express myself With thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning, Direct the progress, And help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Taken from the Apple Seeds website, produced by Fr. Brian Cavanaugh of the Third Order Franciscan and is found here: http://www.appleseeds.org/aquinas_stdpryr.htm

What is a Doctor?

From Microsoft Office

The Doctors writings are used to educate

The title ‘Doctor of the Church’ does not refer to a medical practice, but is the title of an authorized teacher and theologian of the Catholic Church. [1] This is a special title given by the pope to people who fulfill three requirements: remarkable holiness even for a saint; depth of doctrinal insight; extensive body of writings that are an expression of authentic and life giving Catholic Tradition. [1]

Often times, these people are also considered fathers of Christianity and whose works are well respected by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. There are thirty-three official Doctors of the Church; each one is considered to not be infallible—meaning there may be errors in their writings and teachings, however their writing impacted and guided the Church none-the-less. [2] St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales and St. Catherine of Siena are a few of the Doctors.

Five Lessons from the Angelic Doctor of the Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas recently had a feast day on January 28th. Here are five key points about his life, a model for all to look up to.

  1. With his parent’s end goal of gaining prestige and power by their son becoming the Abbey of Monte, St. Thomas was submitted to the care of the Benedictines of Monte Casino at the age of five around the year 1231. [3, 4] There St. Thomas excelled in his education, even going beyond his peers in education and virtue. [4]
  2. At the age of 17, his father, the Count of Aquinas, sent St. Thomas to the University of Naples so to further his education. [3] To the distress of his parents, St. Thomas became inspired by the Dominicans and decided to join the order despite his family’s plans. [3, 4]
  3. His parents tried everything to dissuade him of this decision. During his two years of discernment, they went as far as sending St. Thomas an impure woman to tempt him. But St. Thomas remained chaste and for this, God rewarded him the gift of perfect, ‘Angelic’ chastity. [4]
  4. St. Thomas Aquinas’s writings and sermons flowed from his personal prayer life. [3] His greatest writing, Summa Theologiae summarizes and explains the entire body of Catholic teaching and is used even today to educate people. [5]
  5. He died in 1274, canonized as a saint and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1323. [4] St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of Academics, apologists, theologians, chastity, lightning and storms. [5]

References and Additional Reading

On Doctors of the Catholic Church:

[1] Introduction to the Doctors of the Catholic Church; Definition and Complete List, The Crossroads Initiative, Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D., available online (1/31/12). 

[2] Doctors of the Church, Catholic Online, available online (1/31/12).

On St. Thomas Aquinas:

[3] St. Thomas Aquinas: His Life and Writings, The Crossroads Initiative, available online (1/31/12).

[4] St. Thomas Aquinas, Catholic Online, available online (1/31/12).

[5] January 28th, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor, CatholicCulture.org, available online (1/31/12).

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The Communion of Saints

Catechism 962 “We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers” (Paul VI, CPG § 30).  [1]

Revelation 5:8 presents the saints in heaven a...

The Apostles Creed, a statement that covers the pillars of the Catholic faith, includes the belief in the Communion of Saints.  But what is the Communion of Saints?  In order to understand this topic better, let us break it down into two words: “Communion” and “Saints”.

Communion is defined by Dictionary.com as “association; fellowship; interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication; the act of sharing or holding in common; participation”. [2] It is also defined by Catholicism to be “In Christian parlance [or manner of speaking] the most sacred expression for any one of different forms of togetherness.” [3]

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys

The Saints are of course the holy people on Earth who live by the word of God.  Usually when we think of saints, we think of unique people who have set themselves apart for the will of God such Saint Theresa.  The Church defines the Saints (with a capital S) to be:

A name given in the New Testament to Christians generally (Colossians 1:2), but early restricted to persons who were eminent for holiness. In the strict sense, saints are those who distinguish themselves by heroic virtue during life and whom the Church honors as saints either by her ordinary universal teaching authority or by a solemn definition called canonization. The Church’s official recognition of sanctity implies that the persons are now in heavenly glory, that they may be publicly invoked everywhere, and that their virtues during life or martyr’s death are a witness and example to the Christian faithful. [4]

Based on this, the Communion of Saints can be defined as the togetherness of the persons who were eminent for holiness during their life on earth.  The Church goes even further to say that all people are called to holiness. [5]  The Church itself can be defined by the term ‘Mystical Body of Christ’ which is the belief that the Church consists of the people present on earth (Church Militant), the souls in purgatory (Church Suffering), and the souls already in heaven with God (Church Triumphant).  [6, 7]  The Communion of Saints is considered to be the togetherness of the all persons in the Church; those on earth, in purgatory and in heaven [Please visit reference 7 for scriptural basis of this belief]. [7]

Praising-hands

Just as people on earth ask one another to pray for each other, it is the Catholic belief that we can ask anyone in the Church to pray for us, including the souls in purgatory and the souls already in heaven.  When we pray to the Saints, it is not out of worship, but it is embedded in this belief of the Communion of Saints, that when we pray to the Saints, they then pray with us and for us just like our fellow Christians on earth and lay our requests at the feet of Christ. [7]

References

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Holy See, Website Link

[2] Communion, Dictionary.com, Website Link

[3] Communion, Catholic Culture, Website Link

[4] Saints, Catholic Culture, Website Link

[5] Pope speaks on the communion of saints, News Feature, Catholic Culture, Website Link

[6] Mystical Body of the Church, Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent, Website Link

[7] Communion of Saints, Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent, Website Link

Related Articles

Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A by Whosoever Desires

St Augustine of Hippo on Prayer for the Dead by Dominus mihi adjutor

The Holiness of God in the Lives of His Saints by Transformed in Christ

For the Communion of the Saints by Blessings on the Journey

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All Things Saintly

SaintsIt’s a busy day for me today, so just a short post for now.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post on Halloween, November is the month to ponder our lives, the lives of the saints, heaven, purgatory and hell, and the second coming of Christ since it is the last month in the Liturgical Calendar. 

Just as October was the month of the Rosary and I focused on all things Rosary, this month I plan to focus on the saints and to learn about the traditions in the Church around the saints.  Here is a list of planned topics for posts and about when you can expect them:

  • Today, November 2:  What are feast days and days of obligation?  What is All Saints feast day and All Souls feast day?
  • November 7:  What is the Communion of Saints, and do Catholics worship the saints?
  • November 14:  How does the Church determine who are worthy of the title saint?  How does a person become a saint?
  • November 21:  What are Patron Saints and why do people take on the name of a saint when they enter into the Church?
  • November 28:  The start of Advent and a new series of posts

As always, I am open to comments, suggestions, topics, and questions.  Just leave a comment.  Enjoy!

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