Happy (Belated) Feast Day to Thomas Aquinas!

I am writing this DM on January 28 which is the Feast Day of Thomas Aquinas.  It won’t appear until Monday, however, so it will be two days late.

Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas, “Doctor Communis”, between Plato and Aristotle, Benozzo Gozzoli,1471. Louvre, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.

It was my privilege to lecture at the Weber conference center of the Dominican sisters in Adrian, Michigan a few days ago on Thomas Aquinas and my book,The Tao of Thomas Aquinas which in turn is drawn from my major work, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality.  In that book I offer translations from many of his Biblical commentaries and other works such as his Commentary on Dennis the Areopagite’s Divine Names book that have never been translated before

Each chapter title in the Tao book is a sentence taken from Aquinas and at the end of the book I created a poem simply made of these title chapters.  A poem by Aquinas (gathered by myself).  I offer that poem here.

Conclusion: The Tao of Fierce Wisdom by Thomas Aquinas  

The experience of God 
must not be restricted  
to the few  
or to the old. 
“’They shall get drunk  
on the beauty  
of thy house,’ 
i.e. the Universe.” 

Image of the Resurrection by Indigenous Artist, Ullrich Javier Lemus, which can by found in Matthew Fox‘s book, Stations of the Cosmic Christ.

Revelation comes  
in two volumes:  
Nature  
and the Bible. 

The greatness of the human person 
consists in this: 
that we are 
capable of the universe. 

A mistake about nature  
results in  
a mistake about God. 

Sheer Joy is God’s  
and this demands  
companionship.   

Joy is the human’s  
noblest act.   

Matthew Fox was recently a guest on the podcast, What If Project, where he spoke his book on Thomas Aquinas and the two resurrections. Podcast episode here.

Religion is  
supreme thankfulness  
or gratitude. 

The first and primary meaning of salvation  
is this:  
To preserve all things in the good. 

The same Spirit who hovered over the waters  
at the beginning of creation  
hovers over the mind  of the artist  
at work. 

We ought to cherish the body 
and celebrate the wonderful communion  
of body and soul. 

To be continued.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 191f.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Mosaic of St Thomas Aquinas writing the sequence hymn of Corpus Christi, located on the facade of the church of St Joachim in Rome. Photo by Lawrence OP, on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

What touches you deeply from Aquinas’ poem? 

Recommended Reading

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

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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17 thoughts on “Happy (Belated) Feast Day to Thomas Aquinas!”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you share the beautiful poem you created from phrases you used for your chapter headings in your book: The Tao of Fierce Wisdom by Thomas Aquinas. These are the phrases that spoke most deeply to me: The experience of God must not be restricted to the few or to the old.
    Revelation comes in two volumes: Nature and the Bible.
    A mistake about nature results in a mistake about God.
    The same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the beginning of creation
    hovers over the mind of the artist at work.
    We ought to cherish the body and celebrate the wonderful communion of body and soul.
    The above shows me that spirituality is about our experience of God, and God’s revelation comes to us in both nature and the Bible, and a therefore a mistake about nature, results in a mistake about God. Finally, since I am an artist I like that the poem says “The same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the beginning of creation
    hovers over the mind of the artist at work.”

  2. Avatar

    Excerpt – “The experience of God must not be restricted to the few or to the old.”
    ————————————-
    One of the problems is that the Godly, the priestly, and the ascetic are believed to be ‘the owners and gatekeepers’ of the 2nd half of life. They guard and police the rules, they write the books, they interpret the God endowed rules of Jesus and the prophets, the mystics, the Saints, that allow others into the 2nd half club, do they not? The 2nd half of life belongs to everyone and here we have the ‘wisdom class’ acting as the ‘almighty barrier’ between ourselves and God realization, Christ consciousness, soul consciousness. Tell me it isn’t so. Have they not set themselves up as the ‘experts’ and are viewed as being up on a pedestal, seen higher up on the podium looking down upon us poor souls? Is it any wonder that people leave ‘the church’, as they are not buying into the ‘mess, despair, deceit and divisiveness’ that the so-called ‘deliverers of faith’ now find themselves in?

    Did Jesus not show us that the barrier between the human and the divine does not exist?
    Did Jesus not show us then that no institution religious or otherwise, no ruling class, could separate us from the love of God. — BB.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Bill, I recognize the abuses of the “gatekeepers” but at the same time, in “the 2nd half of life” (See: Angeles Arrien’s The Second Half of Life) that we are to be “elders” of our spiritual communities…

  3. Avatar

    Having read Matthew’s collated poem I am even more saddened that Thomas Aquinas’ vision was condemned by a Church which chose to join forces with the Prince of Lies and ultimately reeked hellish havoc on its followers. The Church put Aquinas on its ‘Index’ and published Malleus Maleficarum, a manual for the merciless torture and murder of witches.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, You write today: “The Church put Aquinas on its ‘Index’ and published Malleus Maleficarum, a manual for the merciless torture and murder of witches.” You are right and both were written by Dominican priests. There are good and bad in everything…

      1. Phila Hoopes

        Gwen and Rick,
        Matthew asked me to respond:

        Yes, the Malleus Maleficarum stands as a testimony to dualism and misogyny and sadism in the Church and it was written, Alas! by two Dominicans; and while Aquinas’ work was not placed on the Index, he was condemned by three bishops after he died and decades before he was canonized a saint and doctor of the church.

        Appreciation,
        Phila Hoopes
        Blog Coordinator

  4. Avatar

    “Joy is the human’s noblest act.”

    This is what touches most deeply about Thomas’ rather shallow poem.

    I say that simply because I disagree. Joy is a wonderful state of mind but, I believe, it must be – and indeed is – the spur to Service through sacrifice; and that, I consider, a far nobler act.

    Thank you for the chance to say so.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Paul, You are welcome for the opportunity to say so. But I beg to differ, and do not see it as shallow. Meditate on these words by St. Thomas More once wrote concerning the scriptures but I think if applies to Aquinas as well: “The Scriptures are, [or Aquinas’ poem] is so marvelously made that a mouse can wade in them, and elephant can also drown there.”

  5. Avatar

    Revelations come in to volumes, the Bible and Nature; is the line within today’s poem that speaks the most to me. I have personally experienced this to be true. The spiritual practice of Lectio Divina applied to the Bible, can be applied to Nature in a slightly different practice in what I call Visio Divina. Both are revelatory spiritual practices of listening and seeing with the heart… the inspiritedness within, through engaging in relationship with conscious presence to the essence of spirit. Whether this communion unfolds and evolves from the living word or the aliveness within nature… what emerges is revelation that transforms.

    Mystics trust what is heard and seen from within their own heart-to-heart direct connection of communion with the sacred and their soul sense of self recognizes eternal, universal, cosmic truths, defined as revelations; which is really about consciously awakening to and remembering what one has for but a moment in time and space forgotten. Often this is why during these sacred moments of revelation, our soul sense of self, incarnate within our humanity also simultaneously feels validated, in the sense of confirming what one has vaguely intuited, suddenly coming into focus, yet with a greater measure of substance. Its kind of like suddenly all the dots connect and a ray of light touches you!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Today you write: “The spiritual practice of Lectio Divina applied to the Bible, can be applied to Nature in a slightly different practice in what I call Visio Divina. Both are revelatory spiritual practices of listening and seeing with the heart…” I am a practitioner of Lectio Divina, and you have mentioned your “Visio Divina” before. I think I do this when I am looking at art as well. I fell in love with the title of a book that expresses what I am saying. Its titled, Pilgrimage to the Museum: Man’s* Search for God Through Art and Time…
      *Sorry about the “Man’s”–it should be the Human Search…

  6. Avatar

    Thank-you so much for your daily meditations, I look forward to them every morning, and also for your many books, they are gems. I am currently reading Original Blessing and Away to God Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey. In today’s meditation two connections leapt to mind: “Christ wears two shoes in the world. Both are necessary to understand the Lord, and at no stage can creation be seen as a separation of things from God.” John Scotus Ereigene 810-877 AD and “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” CS Lewis 1898-1963.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Vivian, Thank you for your quotations, I especially like this: “Christ wears two shoes in the world. Both are necessary to understand the Lord, and at no stage can creation be seen as a separation of things from God” John Scotus Ereigene 810-877 AD. This goes good with Aquinas’ quote: “Revelation comes in two volumes: Nature and the Bible.”

  7. Avatar

    “They shall get drunk on the Beauty of Thy house… “ These mystical words/prayer of Aquinas remind me of the rewards/fulfillment of our daily contemplative spiritual journey — Living in the Presence of Divine Love~Wisdom~Peace~Joy~Healing~Transformation~Freedom~Beauty~Creativity~Compassion~Loving Diverse Oneness in our hearts~souls, among/with others, in Sacred Mother Nature/Earth, and within our sacred multidimensional-multiverse Cosmos….
    ????

  8. Avatar

    I love and take comfort in these words by Aquinas:

    “The same Spirit who hovered over the waters
    at the beginning of creation
    hovers over the mind of the artist
    at work.”

    Sometimes while I am writing a play or after I have finished it, I am amazed at the words I have written. “Where did that come from?” I ask. “How did I write that?” l know that it did not come from me. It is from divine inspiration. God wrote it with me. There is no doubt about that.

    1. Avatar

      Creation of art/text/action as the act of Spirit teaching the human who creates — at the same time, within the same act, in the same artwork or poetry or textual discourse — intellectual/intuitive insight being born within the act of creation, like a zen work of wisdom-art at the cusp of a sacred moment unfolding. The discovery that the words you just wrote have a much deeper and surprising wisdom you weren’t aware of — at all — while you created. The Spirit can teach so subtly, so quietly with a silent roar.
      Humbling, beautiful and eerie, all at the same time.

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