In yesterday’s meditation, we asked the question whether this New Year 2024 can be marked by a deeper appreciation for the grace of our existence and that of the universe and Earth that birthed us. 

“Forest Love.” Photo by Nick Night on Unsplash

As Thomas Aquinas put it, “the greatness of the human person consists in this: that we are capable of the universe.”  Can grace grow our souls in this perilous time that we find ourselves in?

Some theologians say that nature is the opposite of grace, and therefore we must conquer nature.  Aquinas is not one of these—in fact he says that the opposite of grace is not nature—it is human sin.  Bad choices or what he calls “misdirected love” interfere with grace.  His brother Dominican, Meister Eckhart, says “nature is grace.”

Nature is not the enemy.  We are.  Enemies to ourselves and one another and the future.

What else does Aquinas say about grace?   “Grace is nothing else than a beginning of glory in us.”Glory is an important word in Scriptures, it names the presence of the Cosmic Christ or Buddha Nature or Image of God, that which is godlike in us.  Our divinity.

Aquinas tells us that “Grace is a habit, a settled quality infused into the soul whereby the Holy Spirit is said to dwell in human beings.”  So grace names not only the Christ in us but the Holy Spirit in us too.  

Protestors meditate on a railway track to blockade fossil fuel transport as part of the BreakFree global wave of actions in 2016 . Photo by Alex Garland for Backbone Campaign on Flickr.

Aquinas says, “Grace is called the ‘seed’ of God (1 Jn 3:19).”  So the seed of God is planted in us also, or as Meister Eckhart said, “just as a pear seed grows into a pear tree, so a seed of God grows into God.”

Furthermore, says Aquinas, Grace is a radiance of the soul, a real quality such as beauty is to a body…. Grace dwells in the substance of our souls, rendering them like God and partakers of the divine nature.

Glory, Radiance, Holy Spirit dwelling within, a seed of God, a radiance, beauty, God likeness, that which renders us partakers of divinity: Good News and a Good Way to start a New Year?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, p. 156.

And Fox, Meditations with Meister Eckhart, pp. 28f.

And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 9-16, 21-24.

Banner Image: In filtered sunlight, a sprout arises from the forest floor. Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Which of these observations of grace from Aquinas stand out to you as most meaningful and useful for reimagining a New Year?

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

Meditations with Meister Eckhart: A Centering Book

A centering book by Matthew Fox. This book of simple but rich meditations exemplifies the deep yet playful creation-centered spirituality of Meister Eckhart, Meister Eckhart was a 13th-century Dominican preacher who was a mystic, prophet, feminist, activist, defender of the poor, and advocate of creation-centered spirituality, who was condemned shortly after he died.
“These quiet presentations of spirituality are remarkable for their immediacy and clarity.” –Publishers Weekly.  

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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8 thoughts on “More Reflections on Grace”

  1. Avatar

    Receive the gracious gift already given to all, from the Great Mystery thyself. The Great Spirit offered as a helper, comforter, consoler, wise counselor, strengthener and stands with. She will teach you all things, bringing all things to your remembrance. You need no other, that will cause you to remember the TRUTH. The Great Spirit has been breathed, seeded into the depths of your eternal soul; that She may abide with you, in you, for you, moving through you forever.

    All shall be taught of the Great Mystery, from the Great Spirit, whom reveals and shows you all things to come into being. These things at first will not be understood; but rather shall be slowly remembered, brought forth into your memories in intuited, creative, imaginative ways; unfolding, evolving and emerging, like an awakening within a Sacred Dream.

    Respond with hope, faith and trust; to that which has been graciously given. Be receptive in mind, open in heart and surrendering in soul to this gracious gift… of BEING in sacred relationship with… LIVING in the steadfast spiritual reality of holy communion with… and the glorious union of companionship with the essence and presence of the Great Mystery of the Great Spirit within the creation of the all and the everything.

    Jesus Christ, Buddha, and White Buffalo Calf Woman, exemplified the radiant light of this spiritual reality and truth; inviting and encouraging us to walk in the beauty and goodness of this Original Blessing of GRACE!

  2. Avatar

    The one universal truth that all matter experiences in relationship to, is Life. This is the way evolution follows to towards our death. If A equals B, then B must equal A.
    Therefore if Life equals death then death equals Life.

    1. Avatar

      Death is the seed of the Soul in the human life. The divinizing. As they say, die before you die so that when you do die, you never die.

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  4. Avatar

    We are knocking on the door. Witness the door open in the next twenty years as more of us get closer to Christ’s Consciousness which is the ultimate in Universal Consciousness.

  5. Avatar

    Where is all this incredible mysticism hidden? Where did Aquinas find it?
    Mystics and mystical poetry of Neoplatonic theology.

    Why there? Because the Gospel of John proclaimed precisely this specific mystical Revelation/theology, in turn because Moses’s Divine Revelation and the Genesis Creation narrative had clearly implied it. This was recognized by early Christian theologians and by Aquinas.

    “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him.” (Gospel of John’s prologue).

    The Neoplatonic/Mystical Life-journey/Revelation (template) is written into those words. God reveals Her/Him-Self in Creation and even more focused/completely in Jesus and His Life/Teachings/Mystical Mode of Being/Relating.

    Reading theology is often about as exciting as watching paint dry, but Aquinas did explore some awesome aspects of mysticism. And you can read texts of Meister Eckhart, who taught from direct personal Mystical experience. His mysticism is still sometimes wrapped in theology, but other times it’s more clearly spelled out or implied. You can taste the original mysticism more easily.

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