Posted by: fvbcdm | January 29, 2013

Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas (28 Jan 2013)

Today is another red-letter day for us Dominicans for it’s the feast of our brother, Saint Thomas Aquinas. It’s especially meaningful for me this year, because I have had the opportunity to visit the place of his death. Although a Dominican, he took sick while traveling between Naples and Rome and was taken to a nearby Cistercian abbey called Fossanova. There he died in March of 1274, at the age of 50. As I celebrated Mass in that venerable building which is some 800 years old, I reflected on the different ways we can view someone like that. When we were seminarians, Saint Thomas Aquinas was presented to us as the giant of philosophy and theology; he was somewhat intimidating and we knew that we would learn only a small portion of the immense truths that he grasped, and explained, so clearly. But over the years since then, I have been able to visit places where he went to school as a boy, places where he lived, taught, and wrote in Cologne, Paris, and Orvieto. Once I spent a week in our Dominican priory in old Naples; just four doors down the hall from my room was his room, which is now a chapel. It was awesome for me to sleep in a room just four doors away from the room in which he lived for some years. And now, at Fossanova, I was able to pray in the room where he died. I wondered what it’s like for a saint and a brilliant mind like that to come to the end of life and then go into eternity. Once, while he praying before a crucifix in the church in Naples, the crucifix was seen by another friar to seem to come to life and say to Saint Thomas, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What would you like as a reward?” And he promptly responded, “Nothing, Lord, but yourself.” On his deathbed, I daresay that as he felt his life ebbing away, again he asked our merciful and generous Savior to give him that which we have all been created to enjoy forever: God, in an eternity of happiness. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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