An era of the “3 C’s” of Coronavirus, Climate change, and Colonialism and Racism that form the “Crack in the liberty bell” is a time for an awakening to a deeper spirituality—not one that retreats into contemplation but that recognizes contemplation as integral to all dimensions of the journey that culminates in actions that create new structures of justice and compassion. 

Clergy demonstrate at the U.S. Supreme Court for LGBTQ Equality. Photo by Ted Eytan on Flickr.

Structures in education, politics, economics, religion that truly honor and protect the goodness all around and within us. 

This is one reason for turning in a time of crisis to our wise ancestors who offer medicine for our current spiritual crisis.  We have been discussing two such ancestors, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thomas Aquinas.

Image of Julian of Norwich created by Iconographer, Julie Lonneman.

The more I study what Aquinas is about, the more I see goodness as central to his entire worldview.  He says “God is sheer goodness” and all beings participate in the divine goodness. 

Meister Eckhart echoes this when he teaches that “Whenever we talk about God the Creator we are talking about goodness.” 

And Julian of Norwich, who as we have seen, lived through the horrible pandemic of the Black Death that came in waves throughout her lifetime, nevertheless, rooted her spirituality in goodness.  She insisted that “God is the goodness in all things.”

Last message of Koko, the gorilla who learned to communicate with humans through sign language.
Uploaded to Youtube by Terrence Daniels.

There are many lessons here for us as we live through another pandemic. They are all the more needed because we are also, alas!, still living inside a bubble called patriarchy, infused with pessimism and valuing domination more than co-operation and “winning” more than living and self-hatred and war more than love and compassion. 

In short, necrophilia over biophilia.

Let us counter that caustic patriarchal worldview by with more of Aquinas’ teachings on goodness:

A highly social, loving and protective wolf clan. Photo by Thomas Bonometti on Unsplash

Every being as being is good.  For all things, to be and to be good are the same.  Good and being are interchangeable.

Existence itself, therefore, has the essential note of goodness. 

All nature is good. 

All things are good because they flow from the fount of goodness.  We can praise God through all things!

There is nothing that does not share in goodness and beauty.  Each thing is good and beautiful by its proper form.  Everything images the divine goodness in its way. 

A Black Lives Matter protestor raises a quote from Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”. Photo by Joan Villalon on Unsplash

Goodness of itself is generous.  God is supremely good and therefore supremely generous.

The Holy Spirit is the love whereby God loves creatures and imparts to them the divine goodness. 

By dwelling on creatures, the mind is inflamed to love the divine goodness.  We love God and know God in the mirror of God’s creatures. 

We find it said of each creature, “God saw the light that it was good” (Gen 1:4); and in like manner of each one of the others.  But of all together it is said, “God saw all things then that God had made, and they were very good” (Gen 1:31).

From this understanding of goodness, I believe, the concept of the common good takes on even more depth, richness and urgency.

Is “Black Lives Matter” another way of talking about goodness? How Black Lives are Good? How the existence of each Black person and the Black community is good?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 95-98, 123-125.

Banner Image: A mother orca and her calf, near the Tacoma Queris Narrows Bridge, Washington State. Photo by Mike Charest on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Take just one of these statements from Aquinas on goodness and be with it, let it wash over you and speak to your heart.

Is racism an inability–or refusal–to see the goodness in others?

Recommended Reading

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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4 thoughts on “Aquinas on Goodness, continued”

  1. Avatar
    Anne Marie Raftery

    I love Koko’s urgent message to us on caring for Mother Earth; but are we listening?
    Nunc Coepi!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Anne, I believe that many of us are listening, but it is by uniting, even in our diversity, that we can make change happen. That is what the Via
      Transformativa is all about–transformation of ourselves, our communities and the world. And hopefully every day we begin again!

  2. Avatar
    enrique brieba

    I fully share Mathews meditations on a day by day, it help view life from all possibilities that have not been acknowledeged through msitaken clericalism in the church and seeking dominatioh rather than awareness to grow, seek God in ways that lkisten respond with everyone also as a source of unity and being together. I regret to have to make use of this communication to ask what ever happened to a request, for St.Tomas Tao which I paid for around January this year, received a receipt but still I do not get this npublication. ¡Where should I go to try to get it?

    Thank you

    enrique rieba

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