Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Morning Prayer With St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, is well known for his voluminous writings, his mind-bending theological and philosophical insights, and the unparalleled beauty of his Eucharistic hymns. And yet, above all else, Aquinas was a man of prayer  - after a mystical experience he had near the end of his life, he declared that all his writings were like "straw" in comparison to this supernatural revelation.

I have to admit, that any attempt I have ever made to pick up St. Thomas' Summa has been met with frustration and bewilderment. I am indebted to those authors who have been able to make Aquinas' teachings accessible. Some of my favorites are:
  • Dr. Peter Kreeft's book Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas is organized into 359 topical discussions from the teachings of the Angelic Doctor. What I appreciate most about Dr. Kreeft's book is that I can pick it up, as needed, and explore a particular topic in the work of St. Thomas. The topics covered are wide-ranging from "Evidence in Our Experience for Original Sin" to "Christ on Other Planets" and more - showing the amazing breath and depth of Aquinas' teachings.
  • Dr. Taylor Marshall's book Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages: A Layman's Quick Guide to Thomism, which  provides a short, easily digested summary of Aquinas. Dr. Marshall covers his major theological and philosophical teachings and provides ample easy-to-understand examples throughout (such as using lasagna to explain the teaching on form and matter - boy did that appeal to this Italian girl!)
  • Raissa Maritain's book: Saint Thomas Aquinas For Children and the Childlike  is a beautiful biography of this great Saint, written for children, but definitely appreciated by all.  My children and I did this as a read-aloud and learned so much about St. Thomas's life - one fact that really stuck with us was that he had memorized the entire Scriptures by the age of 5.   

Having said that, I am grateful that some of the most profound of Aquinas' writings are his heartfelt prayers - and those, coming from his heart, can be understood by the heart of everyone who shares his love of the Lord Jesus.

This is, by far, one of my favorites and one that I say as soon as I open my eyes each morning.

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
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  1. I struggle with being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the Summa - thanks for these suggestions to get started! I love Peter Kreeft, so I may start there. Tweeted it :-)

  2. I think this prayer is wonderful to say in the morning! Also, I was thinking about sinking into some Thomas Aquinas writing, but was being overwhelmed by the Summa, so thank you as well for sharing these suggestions!

  3. I still remember my 1st presentation for my Masters was on Summa-Faith and Reason. Trying to keep that to 20 min., be clear and relatable was a challenge! PS. Love that prayer!

    1. LOL - can't imagine trying to keep anything to do with the Summa to less than 20 minutes!

  4. Great post. Thank you. Here is a handy synopsis of the Summa: one of my favorite books - My Way of Life (Pocket Edition of St. Thomas, The Summa Simplified for Everyone) by Walter Farrell, O.P. S.T.M. and Martin J. Healy, S.T.D. Easy to understand and only $8.50 (plus postage) it is a spiritual steal.

    1. That sounds great Michael - thanks so much for letting me know - I will check it out! God bless you!

  5. Wonderful prayer, indeed. Thank you.

    God bless.