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.
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.
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?
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