Wednesday, February 19, 2020

(244) Scott Hahn to Speak on How You Can Participate in the New Evangelization and How You Can Make Your Home a Domestic Church at the 2020 Steubenville Diocesan Men’s Day of Renewal

AMDG

Dr. Scott Hahn
       For the eleventh consecutive year, the Diocese of Steubenville is sponsoring a Men's Day of Renewal on Saturday, March 7 from 9 am to 4 pm at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption, 506 Fourth St. in Marietta off of Route 7 or Exit 1 on I-77.  The patron of the Conference is St. Joseph, a model of a true man of God, whose intercession we count upon for its success.

The goal of the Men's Day of Renewal is the spiritual development of the men of our diocese. That includes helping the men to take the right path before having to face the four last things.......Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell.  Having spiritually strong men of faith and character translates into more solid families, more dynamic parishes, and better communities. This is crucial to the Church and particularly our diocese, now and in the future. It is also critical for nurturing vocations.   The theme of the Conference isThe Challenge of Being Catholic

       To complement the Holy Hour, the Penance Service, and Mass presided by Bishop Monforton, the featured speaker is Scott Hahn, Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990.  He is the Founder and President of the St. Paul Center, an apostolate dedicated to teaching Catholics how to read Scripture from the heart of the Church.  Scott has been married to Kimberly for forty years, and together they have six children and eighteen grandchildren. Two of their sons are seminarians studying for the Steubenville Diocese.  

       A former Presbyterian pastor, Scott entered the Catholic Church in 1986. The author or editor of over forty popular and academic books, including “Rome Sweet Home” and “The Lamb’s Supper”.  Dr. Hahn has delivered thousands of talks, nationally and internationally, on a variety of topics related to Scripture and the Catholic faith.

The Conference will open with both talks of our main speaker, Dr. Scott Hahn since he will be on his way to Rome for a lecture series at the Angelicum Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.   In his first talk, Scott will draw on Church's teaching and his own experience to show how ordinary Catholics can effectively share their faith, and so fulfill the New Evangelization.  

Every one of us, as Catholics, is called not only to keep the faith, but also to share it with others. This talk will help Catholic laymen to reach friends, co-workers, and family members, especially those who are non-practicing or have drifted away from the Church. He will also address the question, why and how can we remain faithful Catholics -- in the face of clerical corruption and the scandals we have witnessed?
 
In his second talk, Dr. Hahn will speak on how to strengthen our marriages and our family life, both of which are in crisis.  Drawing from Scripture, and forty years of experience as a husband and a father.  Scott will offer some practical tips on how to make your home a domestic church --which St. Pope John Paul II advocated-- particularly with the help of the Holy Family.  He will also share some valuable lessons learned from his own struggles, drawing from his most recent book, The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order.  

Sacrifice. The fact, that travel time may be long and distance may be far for many, gives the conference a pilgrimage flavor.  Lent, of course, is all about sacrifice and spiritual growth.  Since the Basilica of St. Mary  in Marietta is in the geographic center of our far flung diocese, the Steering Committee is hopeful that the men of Steubenville in the north and the men of Ironton and Chesapeake in the south will be able to participate.   Regardless of distance, this mini-pilgrimage is a Lenten sacrifice of early rising and a long trip with great fellowship in a van or bus as the men pray together, discuss the talks and other events of the Conference, and deepen friendships.  A bag lunch is provided.

Another option is to stay at a motel in Marietta and make a retreat out of it.  The Basilica is one of the most beautiful churches in the world and is ideal for prayer and reflection.   There will be Eucharistic Adoration all day Friday until 7 pm in the Chapel of the English Martyrs to the right of the main altar.  Stations of the Cross will follow.  The men may bring their families to stay overnight at a motel and explore Marietta during the Conference.  Go to https://mariettaohio.org/

It should be a great day of enjoyable fellowship and spiritual invigoration. In each of the last ten years men returned reinvigorated, enthusiastic, and spiritually refreshed.  Expect the same this year.  It is awesome to hear the men lift up their voices in song and be moved by the beauty and power of the faith.  But mostly, through God’s grace, we will have more good spiritually strong men for the kingdom of God as well as for the battle against secularism and other evils that plague our society. We will have more men who put Christ into their professions. We will have men who will become more knowledgeable in their faith and better prepared for a joyful Easter and an eternal closeness to God.  The Men's Day of Renewal has grown into an annual event in our diocese, thus fulfilling a great need.

Promotional Help Needed.  Many if not most men will hardly notice the bulletin announcements, posters, and brochures, although they are indeed important and helpful.  What they can’t miss is the one-on-one personal selling by their peers, i.e., talking it up.  The most effective form of advertising or promotion is word of mouth.  Most effective is the witness of men who have gone to a previous Conference, especially the parish representative that we are asking the pastor to appoint or accept as a volunteer.  Thus one or two men are urgently needed in each parish to assure the success of this event

To ease the burden on our pastors, we are depending upon our men to offer their assistance as parish representatives to mobilize the men with good one on one personal selling, register them, and organize van pools.  Word-of-mouth advertising is essential to maximize the promotion of the Men’s Day of Renewal throughout each parish. We ask participants of past years to tell their friends about this awesome opportunity for spiritual renewal.  If there is no parish representative in your parish, please consider volunteering by informing your pastor and by e-mail “Don Coen - Chair Diocesan Men's Day of Renewal” <donandmargcoen@yahoo.com>. 
 
Equally important, women can be most valuable in encouraging their husbands, sons (including teens), fathers, brothers, boyfriends, etc., to attend. This is a very important part of the New Evangelization.” 

Father and son can make this day an unforgettable shared experience in which they become closer to each other.  For the first time, boys 18 and under will be admitted free of charge.  If the pastor accompanies the men, he would have an opportunity to know the men better and thus solidify the parish.  The Men’s Day of Renewal needs confessors.

 The local Knights of Columbus council can be most valuable since the spiritual formation of their men is part of their mission.  They are asked to mobilize their men to attend and organize a van pool.  Traveling together can build friendships, solidify the Council, and provide opportunities to tell about the Knights, thus making the Conference a recruiting tool.       

The men may register individually or the parish representative may collect the registration forms with payment and send them as a package to Roger Huck; %Men’s Day of Renewal, P.O. Box 54; Beverly, OH 45715.  This would save considerable time waiting at the door.  Checks for the Registration cost of $25.00 per person are to be made payable to the Diocese of Steubenville with “Men's Day of Renewal” written on the memo line of the check.   

Transportation Needs. A car pool, van pool, or bus saves on fuel costs and gives an opportunity for fellowship while traveling to and from the event—especially for those traveling greater distances. Please invite other men and assist with the organization of transportation for those attending in your parish.

Donations Needed. It is very expensive to put on a conference of this magnitude and feature nationally known  top speakers. While the Steering Committee does its best to minimize the cost for each participant, we are seeking donations from businesses, parish organizations, the Knights of Columbus, and individuals. Please send donations to Roger Huck as shown above.  Furthermore, we do not charge men who are unable to pay so that no man is excluded.  Boys 18 and under are admitted free of charge.

Ads in the Program Booklet.  Details on placing the ad for a business or community organization, or Knights of Columbus Council are in the Conference Blog or call Roger Huck at 740-984-2234 or 740-336-9128 (e-mail: huck4816@roadrunner.com).
  
More information is available from your pastor, from Don Coen above, or Paul Sebastian at (740) 245-9404 or paulrsebastian@yahoo.com. The Men's Conference Blog at diosteubmen.blogspot.com has a wealth of promotional materials for use at the parish level…….1) Overview & Poster, 2) Ad Form, 3) Press Releases, 4) Possible Bulletin Blurbs, 5) Pulpit Announcements, 6) Promotional Ideas, 7) Functions of the Parish Rep, 8) Sign-Up Sheet, 9) Sample Bulletin Insert, and 10) a Possible Talk By One of the Men after Mass.  There are also interesting articles on men’s spirituality, past conference highlights, etc.  After the Conference and throughout the year, articles will be added to help the men keep in good spiritual shape.  Clergy, Religious, and knowledgeable layman are invited to submit articles.

Please submit your registration as soon as possible. Registration will be accepted at the door; however, doing so in advance makes our planning more efficient and also helps to minimize waiting at the conference entrance.


BENEFIT SUMMARY OF WHAT THE MEN'S CONFERENCE CAN DO FOR YOU:

 Get you into good spiritual shape.
 Have a great day of enjoyable fellowship and spiritual invigoration with fellow parishioners and participants at the conference, resulting in deeper friendships and parish cohesion.
Develop ourselves as men of character and spiritual strength as we obtain the graces to cope with problems and conquer problematic issues that trouble our society.
Be an effective spiritual leader to your family as a better husband and father.
Prepare our hearts for the great feast of Easter as we become closer to God.
Become more knowledgeable about our Catholic faith and grow in Christian maturity.
Become a more effective soldier of Christ, and help strengthen His kingdom on earth.

Visit http://diosteubmen.blogspot.com for additional resources to help promote the Men's Day of   Renewal.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

(243) Family of the Year For 2018 (Tim & Chrissy Stapleton) and 2019 (Scott & Bernadette Lewis) and Other Awards at St. Louis Church, Gallipolis, Ohio

AMDG

       Each year the Knights of Columbus Council 3335 recognizes an outstanding family and others who have made significant contributions to the parish of St. Louis Church in Gallipolis, Ohio.  The February 2020 and the October 2018 issues of the Council's newsletter is dedicated to them and is reproduced here..  Some of their stories are inspiring and worth sharing with the readers of this blog. 

NEWS AND ACTIVITIES OF THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS ST. LOUIS COUNCIL 3335
February 2020


The Lewis Family receives the St. Louis Knights of Columbus Council’s most important and prestigious award, “Family of the Year 2019”.  Mama Bernadette is standing on the extreme left behind Madison (11).  Toby (8) is holding the plaque.  Next to him is little Gianna (6) with big sister, Faith (15) behind her.  Giving his acceptance speech is Papa Scott while holding baby Anna (1).  On the right are Noah (12) and Elijah (14).  One of the children is missing.  Kolbe (4) is there, but where?  Bernadette can only conclude that he’s lost in the temple……hiding behind the podium on the left.  The Lewis Family is amazing!  They not only live in a domestic church; the kids go to their own home school that their mother runs.  On February 22 they are all going on a mission trip to Costa Rica for a week……..being witnesses as they give a testimony after Mass and meet Costa Rican families; helping to build a chapel; and visiting the home bound.  If the Lewis Family discerns a calling, they will return for at least a year.  Both husband and wife must agree.
    
The Lewis home is a beautiful Christ centered model of what a domestic church should be.  They have daily prayer time which includes the rosary.  Story time features the saint of the day.  In preparation for Sunday Mass that they attend as a family every week without fail, they discuss the readings.  As part of their homeschooling, they set aside time for some Bible reading according to each child’s age.  Scott is a super convert, having entered the Church almost five years ago.  During lulls while helping patients with kidney dialysis at Holzer Hospital, Scott does spiritual reading.  According to his wife Bernadette Stapleton Lewis, “Scott will go to any Catholic event up and down the state with his family, including a family retreat, conferences, visiting shrines, etc.”   He wants to show the kids that things Catholic are fun!  They have gone to the March For Life in Washington as a family in January, help out in the Right to Life booth at the Flea Market, and participate in the Life Chain along Route 7 in October.  The family is very active in our parish.  The three older boys are altar servers at even some daily Masses.  Our thanks to Mike Stapleton for taking the photos in this issue.

Fr. Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus to promote, preserve, and protect families.  The current national campaign is to promote the domestic church in order to strengthen both the family and the parish.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR YOUR MARRIAGE TODAY?  In his apostolic exhortation, “Familiaris Consortio, on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World”, St. Pope John Paul II explained how the married state is designed by God to lead toward mutual sanctification of both husband and wife. By virtue of the mystery of the death and Resurrection of Christ, conjugal love is purified and made holy.  The graces of the sacrament of Matrimony accompanies the couple throughout their lives.  The goal of any marriage should be mutual sanctification and so much will follow.  In difficult times pray and tap the graces of Matrimony.  Help to make your wife holy.  


Gretchen McConnell & Justin McClelland after the Graduation Mass in May.  They both received Knights of Columbus $1000 scholarships.  Gretchen is currently a student at the University of Rio Grande.  She played varsity soccer at Gallia Academy.  Justin is a business major at Capital University in Columbus, where he is continuing his football career as a quarterback.  Even though a freshman, he got considerable playing time.  At Gallia Academy he played varsity football, basketball, and baseball.  Both were altar servers and continue to serve when not away at school.


On the right is Paul Sebastian giving an acceptance speech after receiving the Knight of the Year award.  He talked about his struggle to maintain a balance of priorities even though retired…….1) God; 2) Family; 3) Job to support the family; and 4) Service.  Paul advocated that each knight specialize in at least one activity instead of simply paying dues and never showing up to help.  Sebastian attends every meeting as lector where he gives a brief five minute talk on diverse subjects and organizes the Knights of Columbus Mass five times a year.  Previously Paul was treasurer for two years.  He writes this monthly newsletter and other articles subject to the approval of our pastor.  Together as a team, Paul and his wife Jaga bring Communion to the sick every Sunday and advise the Catholic Newman Club at the University of Rio Grande.  Paul is on the Steering Committee for putting on the annual Diocesan Men’s Day of Renewal since 2010 and tries to mobilize our men to attend.  They are generally patient with him.

NOTES

*Our grateful thanks to the Ours Family for another stellar job with the Giving Tree

*Many thanks to Allen White, his son Alex, and his nephew Frederick Michael Edelmann for their work with the Coats For Kids campaign.

*Don’t forget our Coffee and Donuts Breakfast after the Sunday Masses on February 9.

*We need your participation at the next Knights of Columbus meeting.  Your presence makes a difference and animates everybody present……..great fellowship and most of all, your ideas.  Since our chaplain cannot make the usual 4th Monday, the meeting may be changed to another day.  Our Council is as strong as its members.
*********************************************************************************


Patty Hays receives the Lady of the Year award from our grand knight, Tyler Reynolds.  A professional photographer, Patty has taken many wedding and First Communion photos.  She’s a real prayer warrior who mobilizes those on her Prayer Line to pray for those in distress by e-mail and Facebook, which she uses as an apostolate.   Hays also organizes the women to participate in retreats and mini-pilgrimages.  Patty was at Fr. Bill’s side when he died, comforting and caring for him in Dayton.  Similarly, she helped Blanche Champer in her last days.


Bill Griffith, who entered the Church only about seven years ago, has helped enough for a lifetime.  An expert in the culinary arts, he has cooked at many a wedding, fish fry, parish festival, and other gatherings in the parish.  Even though he’s not a knight, Bill helped us sell raffle tickets to his brothers in the Elks, raising over a $1000.  He even helps out with maintenance in the parish.  Thus he earned the Volunteer of the Year award.


Our pastor, Fr. Thomas Hamm, was chosen as Chaplain of the Year in appreciation for attending all of our meetings and keeping us on track in regard to the parish.  He blesses our meals and leads prayer at the beginning of our meeting and for those members who are ailing.  Thank you, Father, for your faithful service.

The Awards Breakfast

Krystal Davison receives the Youth of the Year Award.  Krystal continues as an altar server, especially when her Mom is lector.  Krystal often helps out at the fish fries.


Frederick Michael Edelmann receives the Bluecoat of the Year Award from Grand Knight Tyler Renolds.  Frederick Michael works with a company that sells cabinets.  He is a member of the National Guard that could be deployed with little notice.  In his spare time Frederick Michael is a volunteer fire fighter…….risking life and limb to protect us.  He was very helpful with the Catholic Newman Club at the University of Rio Grande a couple of years ago.
  
The awardees, all together.  Coach Jared McClelland is a stand-in for his son Justin.  Thank you for all that you have done for the parish community.  And the Lewis Family found little Kolbe on the far left.  His mother has her hand on him, just to make sure he doesn’t get lost again.  The Lewis Family is intact.  



NEWS AND ACTIVITIES OF THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS ST. LOUIS COUNCIL 3335
October 2018


Grand Knight Tyler Reynolds in the blue Knights of Columbus shirt presents the St. Louis Council’s most important and prestigious award, “Family of the Year” to the Stapleton family.   From oldest to the youngest, tallest to shortest are Aubree on the left, Riley on the right, Eden behind the plaque, Josiah to the left of it and Ezekiel to the right.  Mama Chrissy has her hands on Lucia and Papa Tim is holding baby Lilian.  Chrissy homeschools the kids while Tim restores salvage cars totaled by insurance companies and resells them at a moderate price to support the family.  Their home is a domestic church with Jesus Christ the center of their home and the Holy Family their model.  They all feel at home at Catholic Familyland every year where large families are not unusual.  Tim is an amazing apostle, having brought an extraordinary number of people into the Church by his witness and sharing the faith.  The husband and wife team work together with the Confirmation class.  The Knights of Columbus was founded by Fr. Michael J. McGivney to promote, preserve, and protect families.   
   
WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR YOUR MARRIAGE TODAY?   Do something together each day.  It could be a rosary walk, going to daily Mass, eating out, watching a movie or video, doing volunteer work in the parish or community, doing a home project together as a team, host a dinner together for friends, go on a date together or a family outing, etc.  They say that crawling into bed together at the same time is a help.  Pray for her daily and together too every day.

The five minute lecture at the September meeting by Lector Paul Sebastian was on St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day we will celebrate on October 4. In a time of crisis, laxity, and corruption for the Church in the 13th Century, the Lord told him: “Rebuild My Church”. Our Supreme Knight Carl Anderson challenged the Knights of Columbus, each one of us, to get to work on that task, beginning with renewing the domestic church as fathers and heads of family in our own homes. That includes each knight making our own council the best. Francis once kissed the consecrated hands of a notoriously corrupt priest, showing that the Mass and sacraments celebrated by the most corrupt priest is still valid and no excuse for missing Mass on Sunday or leaving the Church. Now is the time to be pillars of the parish in helping our pastor to renew and purify our parish.


Big Mike McConnell receives the Volunteer of the Year award along with Keith Davison (center).  Mike refinished all of the pews……first sanding off all of the old brown paint and varnish.  Then he made the natural wooden  pews look like new although well over 60 years old.  It was a long and painstaking job, really an exquisite work of art.  Big Mike is often an usher at the Saturday 5:30 pm Mass and could pass for a bouncer at the same time.


Keith Davison is still recovering from a liver transplant, used his electrical engineering skills to plan a complete rewiring of the church.  The original wiring was antiquated and unsafe.  Now the wiring and lighting is state of the art.  The members of the parish mobilized their resources along with a loan to finance the over $400,000 undertaking from September 2017 to Lent 2018 while we had Mass in the parish hall.  Our pastor had to act as a construction superintendent, overseeing the project at every step. 


Chris Davison (right) received the Knight of the Year award.  When work needs to be done in Knights of Columbus projects, clean-up of the grounds, maintenance of the cemetery, etc., Chris is front and center. 

      


Paul Sebastian introduces Fr. Donald Maroon and accepts the “Chaplain of the Year” award for him in abstentia as Grand Knight Tyler Reynolds on the left and Master of Ceremonies Allen White look on.  Fr. Maroon was a very dedicated pastor of St. Peter & Paul in Wellston for the last 19 years.  His parish included a parish hall and an elementary school above the church in the same building.  As pastor and chaplain, he gave the local council of the Knights of Columbus ample support and was always available for them. 


Grand Knight Tyler Reynolds presents the Lady of the Year award to Kitty Griffith.  When work has to be done with the Lenten Fish Fries, the summer Spaghetti Dinner, and other parish function, Kitty is right there and her husband Bill teams up with her as one of our chefs.


Grand Knight Tyler Reynolds presents the Youth of the Year Award to the McConnell sisters Gretchen and Gaby.  Both have done their share, working at our Lenten Fish Fries and other functions.  Both are altar girls.  Gretchen competed with boys on the Gallia Academy soccer team before the girls finally got their own team.



Catie White receives the Knights of Columbus scholarship for $500 from Tyler Reynolds.   She is often the soloist in the choir.  Catie is currently a nursing student at the University of Rio Grande, following in the footsteps of the great healer.


Tony Easton, shown in the right photo, was named “Bluecoat of the Year”.   Even though he is a student in Industrial Technology at the University of Rio Grande, Tony volunteered to be a firefighter despite all of the required training, risks, and dangers.  We take fire departments for granted until our own house is on fire. 



Finally, all of the awardees are together as the Knights of Columbus Council 3335 Award Class of 2018.  Thank you all for what you have done for our parish community.  May your efforts stimulate others to step up and do their share. 








Tuesday, January 28, 2020

(242) St. Thomas Aquinas, the Theologian and His Writings

AMDG

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) is the Patron Saint of Universities and Students.  His Feast Day is January 28.  Much is taken from the DVD Series: Catholicism, the Pivotal Players by Bishop Robert Barron.




























    St. Thomas Aquinas was a philosopher, theologian, scientist, mystic, and biblical commentator.  There is no sacrifice of the mind to be religious.  He boldly asked all the questions.  Reason poses no threat to religion when both reason and religion are authentically understood.  There is no contradiction between faith and reason.  They go hand in hand.  Truth is truth.  St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict reiterated that.  As a rationalist, Thomas made theology logical and understandable.  His contributions to religion and culture are massive.
       
       He was a saint deeply in love with Christ.  As a spiritual master, his main purpose in writing was to bring people to Christ.  His theological masterpiece was the “Summa Theologica” that sums up Catholic theological beliefs and teaching.   It includes the doctrine of the Eucharist to which he had a special devotion and love.  It actually consists of several volumes.  It is said that he placed the finished work at the foot of the cross and Christ told him: “Thomas, you have written well on the sacrament of my body.  What would you have as a reward?”   Thomas replied: “I will have nothing except you”.
 
    Thomas was born in 1225 in aristocracy in Roccasecca, a castle near Aquino between Rome and Naples.  Even as a child, he desired a close friendship with God for his life.  Thomas was from the age of six educated for nine years at near-by Monte Cassino by the Benedictines.  At the age of 15 he entered the University of Naples.  In his efforts to understand God, Thomas agreed with Peter of Ireland in applying the practical view of the pagan Greek philosopher, Aristotle, who was controversial at the time.


       Thomas joined the teaching friars of St. Dominic who preached while practicing poverty with begging, the simple life, and complete trust in God……somewhat similar to St. Francis from the same era.  The Dominicans aspired to revitalize Christianity to return to the radicalism and simplicity of its original message and to renew the Church.  Aren’t we trying to do the same today?  Since they were considered weird, his family did everything possible to prevent him from staying with them, even locking him up.  Thomas used that time of confinement to memorize much of the Bible.



          In 1245 he studied under the best scholars in Paris, the intellectual capital of the Christian world at the time, mainly on the Left Bank of the Seine River, also called the “Latin Quarter” because Latin was the international language of the scholars and students in the Middle Ages.  A question or proposition would be presented followed by debate.  Finally, the professor gave a magisterial resolution and explanation after answering the objections.  The professor would be on the second floor of a building and the students would sit below on bales of hay.

       While studying, Thomas became a protégé or apprentice of the Dominican, St. Albert the Great, a brilliant philosopher and scientist of the time who saw the great potential in his student.  St. Albert also relied on Aristotle as a starting point.  Thomas followed him to Cologne (in Germany today) and was ordained there.  This genius was quiet, humble, and very big; thus he was dubbed the “dumb ox”.  As a baccalaureate (bachelor degree), he returned to Paris in 1252 to become a magister (master’s degree) and then obtain his doctorate.  Notice how customs of Academia date to the Middle Ages.  The cap and gown of graduation go back to this time.

       Scholar and Saint.  In his scholarly career that spanned 25 years, Thomas was a prolific author of over 50 thick volumes or books and wrote commentaries on the Bible.  Even today the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Aquinas Institute has taken on the task of translating  and publishing the works of St. Thomas Aquinas that have not yet been translated into English. 



He was a genius as seen in the detail in his thinking and in the nature of his analysis.  His mind had such order and discipline.  St. Thomas beautifully integrated faith and reason; that was the title of one of St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals.
    
St. Thomas Aquinas would constantly think (even at dinner and while resting), read, and write.  He would sometimes dictate three different writings of his to three different scribes at the same time, even at times dictating while taking an afternoon nap.  As with many geniuses, he was very absent minded, yet a very balanced and integrated person.  Every day Thomas would say one Mass and assist at a second one.  He once dined with King St. Louis, the patron of our church.
 
       In 1274, the year of his death, the mystic received a revelation from Christ and exclaimed to his friend, Reginald after 25 years of scholarly work.  “Everything I wrote is straw compared to what has been revealed to me”.  After that, he never wrote again.  He died dictating a commentary of the “Song of Songs” from the Bible.

The Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274)
St. Thomas Aquinas clarified and gave us a deeper understanding of the teachings of the Church.  The relationship of faith and reason is under intense scrutiny in an age beholden to the competing claims of fundamentalism and secularism.  Atheists insist that the claims of religion amount to superstition, a retrograde holdover from centuries past.  Religious fundamentalists adhere to a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible, often independent of logic or rational introspection and development.  St. Thomas Aquinas anticipated these objections and demonstrated that to believe is to think and that the life of the mind is integral to life in Christ.

His Doctrine of God.  Since a child, Thomas asked the question, “What is God?”  It was an obsession that he pursued for the answer the rest of his life.  He proposed that God is not a being, but the sheer act of existence, being itself (Ipsum esse).  There is no distinction between God’s essence and existence without restriction.  It is wrong to imagine God as a supreme version of a creature as do the atheists Feuerbach, Marx, Freud, and Sartre.  He is not a being exalted among many.  The creator of the universe is not an item in the universe.
 
Therefore, when Moses asked God: “Who are you?”, the Lord answered: “I am who am”.  God is simplicity, yet unconditioned, unrestricted, without limit, eternal, infinite, perfect and fulfilled in His manner of being, immutable, unchangeable.  Thus He is reliable and consistent with mind, will, and freedom.
St. Pope John Paul II putting the words of St. Thomas Aquinas in practice.
God stands outside of time, not restricted to any point in time.  He transcends it without being restricted by it.  Thus He is eternal.  God is present in all moments of time.  Since God is immaterial and not restricted to one place, He is everywhere (omnipresent) and without borders.  Because He transcends the material, Christ was able to appear to the apostles through locked doors and walls.  Because God is already perfect and infinite, He cannot rise to a higher level.
 
God made all things (ominipotent); they exist because God knows them as good and wills them into being.  God is the condition for all existence.  He is the condition for the possibility of the existence of contingent things.  Everything finds its existence in God.  

God is love which is so great and intense that it overflows and creation is the result. God is all knowing (omniscient).  God is personal; He knows everything about each one of us and loves all who participate in His being.  He is not passive, but creative.  God is one, yet three persons, i.e., the Trinity…….the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Faith (Theology) and Reason (Philosophy) cannot be in conflict (Averoism) because they come from God who is truth itself.  Aquinas brought faith and reason together.  All truth is from God.  Faith stands above and beyond reason which explores the faith without compromising the mind.  There is an integration between faith and reason.  There is no contradiction between faith and reason nor between science and Theology.

The Human Person (Theological Anthropology) is an integration or unity of body and soul.  The body is not a prison for the soul which is in every part of the body just as God is present to the entire universe.  The body should be reverenced, appreciated, and taken care of since it is from God.  It is the energy that makes the body distinctly human.  After the Last Judgment, the body and soul come together.
  
The human person is made according to the image and likeness of God in regards to the great capacity of the mind to know the truth and the will that desires the good.  Both the mind and the will are ordered to God, i.e., the true, the good, and the beautiful, all of which inspires much literature and poetry.  The human being is made for ecstasy, for the journey into God.  The soul can reason and reaches out for the good.  It is the energy that makes you a person, the real you that really contains the body.
  


       Christology.  Like all saints Thomas was deeply in love with Jesus Christ as shown in His writings, by his deep devotion to the Eucharist, and in his mystical experiences.  He saw in the Incarnation the supreme goodness of the nature of God in giving Himself away with His infinite love in the fullest possible manner.  He became one with creation, one with us.
 
God reaches outward and downward to us in love, while we tend outward to others and upward to God.  We can also see God’s supreme goodness in the tremendous variety in His creation.  Since God is being itself, Christ’s divine and human nature are not in competition.  This would not be the case if he were a finite supreme being.  He is truly human and truly divine.  Aquinas uses Philosophy in service to Theology.

Why is Thomas Aquinas a Pivotal Player?  Today he is more relevant than ever.  Thomas showed that Christians can think deeply about any aspect of the faith while blending faith and reason in discussions with non-believers.  

He exemplifies a truly Catholic mind, open to any influence and willing to embrace the truth wherever he found it.  He’s grounded in the Bible and Christian theological tradition while reading Jewish (Maimonides), pagan (Plato, Aristotle, & Cicero), and Muslim (Averroes, Avicenna, & Avicebron) authors with respect even when disagreeing. 

St. Thomas Aquinas is also a great philosopher who uses Philosophy to serve Theology…..to move people to Christ.  He showed that God is non-competitively transcendent, compatible with intellectual freedom and integrity.  God makes the world more beautiful and more radiant without consuming it.  Aquinas is without question, one of the top thinkers (both as a Philosopher and a Theologian) of all time among Plato, Aristotle, Kant, etc.  St. Thomas Aquinas is buried in Toulouse, France.

Appendix

For many quotes attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas go to

https://www.azquotes.com/author/490-Thomas_Aquinas - 25 top quotes of Thomas Aquinas