Thursday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time
January 28, 2021
Readings for the Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church
Wisdom 7:7-10, 15-16; Psalm 119:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14; Matthew 23:8-12
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and perhaps our most highly regarded theologian. Today’s first reading speaks of the gift of Wisdom and how we should prefer it over anything else in life. Wisdom is the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit, because it is the perfection of faith. Through wisdom, we come to value properly those things which we believe through faith. Aquinas clearly possessed the gift of Wisdom and shared his insights through his voluminous writings.
Thomas lived in the 13th century and wrote the Summa Theologiae, his best-known work, which means ‘Summary of Theology’; also known as the Summa, and is his best-known work. The Summa is a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It was intended to be an instructional guide for theology students, presenting the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West.
The topics of this comprehensive body of work are presented in 3 parts:
First Part: The existence and nature of God; the creation of the world; angels; and the nature of man.
Second Part: General principles of morality, including individual virtues and vices.
Third Part: The person and work of Christ, who is the way of man to God; and the sacraments. Aquinas left this part unfinished.
In spite of the fact that his Summa is recognized for its brilliance on the subject of Catholic theology, Thomas never finished this work after he received a vision on the Feast of St. Nicholas in 1273. Following this vision he said that “All I have written seems like straw compared with what I have seen.” After that vision he wrote no more.
Thomas’ achievements as a writer and a thinker can make us forget that he was also a Saint. For it was from Thomas’ life as a religious that his writings flowed: his humble obedience to his brethren; his devotion to Christ; and his frequent recourse to prayer, from which he said he learned even more than he did from books.
I’d like to share a prayer with you now that Thomas wrote; a prayer that I pray before Mass. He also wrote a wonderful prayer to be prayed after Mass, which I won’t read today in the interest of time. I will, however, publish it on my website (deaconscott.com) if you would like a copy of that text. I’ll also include some links there where you will be able to learn more about Aquinas should you be inspired to do so.
Prayer before Mass – Saint Thomas Aquinas
Almighty and ever-living God,
I approach the sacrament
of Your only-begotten Son
Our Lord Jesus Christ,
I come sick to the doctor of life,
unclean to the fountain of mercy,
blind to the radiance of eternal light,
and poor and needy to the Lord
of heaven and earth.
Lord, in your great generosity,
heal my sickness,
wash away my defilement,
enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty,
and clothe my nakedness.
May I receive the bread of angels,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
with humble reverence,
with the purity and faith,
the repentance and love,
and the determined purpose
that will help to bring me to salvation.
May I receive the sacrament
of the Lord’s Body and Blood,
and its reality and power.
may I receive the Body
of Your only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
born from the womb of the Virgin Mary,
and so be received into His mystical body
and numbered among His members.
as on my earthly pilgrimage
I now receive Your beloved Son
under the veil of a sacrament,
may I one day see him face to face in glory,
who lives and reigns with You for ever.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us. God bless you.
Prayer after Mass – St. Thomas Aquinas
I give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
who have been pleased to nourish me,
a sinner and your unworthy servant,
with the precious Body and Blood
of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ:
this through no merits of mine,
but due solely to the graciousness of your mercy.
And I pray that this Holy Communion
may not be for me an offense to be punished,
but a saving plea for forgiveness.
May it be for me the armor of faith,
and the shield of good will.
May it cancel my faults,
destroy concupiscence and carnal passion,
increase charity and patience, humility and obedience
and all the virtues,
may it be a firm defense against the snares of all my
both visible and invisible,
the complete calming of my impulses,
both of the flesh and of the spirit,
a firm adherence to you, the one true God,
and the joyful completion of my life’s course.
And I beseech you to lead me, a sinner,
to that banquet beyond all telling,
where with your Son and the Holy Spirit
you are the true light of your Saints,
fullness of satisfied desire, eternal gladness,
consummate delight and perfect happiness.
Through Christ our Lord.