Love has brought us here.  Evolution has brought us here.  The Universe has brought us here. 

The paradox of Julian’s assurance: “All Shall Be Well” by Ordinary Time

And where is here?  The universe, our home.  The universe is a demanding place.  This is not a cheap date, our existence.  It costs us to be here.  There is suffering, there is war, there is loss, there is regret, there is death. 

But above all, there is love.  There is goodness and joy and forgiveness and starting over and redemption.  And surely there is beauty.

Aquinas says, “All things are connected in a common bond of friendship with all nature” and all things share a common “friendship” with God.    

We are, like other beings in the universe, “merely one part of the entire integrity of the universe arising from” a kinship of all beings that make up one beautiful whole which we call the cosmos.

Big Cat Support Dogs: While Labrador retrievers support captive cheetahs in zoos, Anatolian Shepherd dogs save cheetahs from being shot or trapped in the wild. CBS News.

Aquinas elaborates on how omnipresent goodness and therefore love (for love is a response to goodness) is found in the universe.  Divine good exists in every particular creature, but never totally perfect.

This means every galaxy and every planet, every star and every animal, bird, fish and forest and every human holds the divine good within it.  No wonder Teilhard can say, “The world is Love”!  Love is triggered by goodness after all.

Aquinas says that one indissoluble connection consists in all things….All are joined together in a common bond of friendship with all nature..  In no way is it possible for something to exist by itself, for then it would have altogether fallen out of the universe [of the whole]. 

“Why beavers matter as the planet heats up.” Vox explores how beavers create ecosystem resilience against climate change, combating drought and protecting forests from wildfire.

Furthermore, nothing among creatures is so weak that it does not share in some divine gifts.  From the sharing it…has a friendship of shared nature with the other creatures.

It appears that the universe is divinized insofar as all beings in the entire cosmos “share in some divine gifts.” 

The universe is “a single order” wherein God causes “a kind of harmony in the universe that is a proportioned concord. “Harmony is nothing other than a concordant consonance” and this harmonious combination or concordant consonance possesses power and strength.  “Confusion destroys order.”

God contains all things and hugs them in an embrace insofar as all things are under the divine providence…The Godhead is both a place and foundation and chain connecting all things.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 90-93, 381.

And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp.  8-15.

Banner Image: The pair of galaxies known as Arp-Madore 608-333 subtly reshape one another through a mutual gravitational interaction. Photo by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Queries for Contemplation

Does recognizing the harmonious and concordant consonance of the entire universe give you power and strength?  Do you recognize providence in the bigger picture of the universe at work “containing and hugging all things in an embrace”?

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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6 thoughts on “Aquinas on Love in the Universe, the World as Love”

  1. Avatar

    Some Previous Comments Pertaining to Today’s Queries for Contemplation —

    “I want to be inspired and see and experience the awe and wonder of God’s creation.” Is this our willingness to be open and receptive to that which we have not experienced in any meaningful depth in the past?

    How do we discern and appreciate the truth and beauty of God’s created existence? Ecstasy knows no bounds and lives in the present moment. All of time, evolution, and existence ‘lives fully’ in the present and interrelational moment. — BB 04 16 24.

    First and foremost, we are ‘receptors’ of love, beauty, truth and a measure of suffering. What follows from that, what manifests from that, provides us with ‘the amount of clay’ (inspiration) in which we can form something new and creative that day. — BB 08 11 23.

    A ‘radical faith’ hears, embraces and holds near and dear to the heart, ‘Do not worry. I will be with you until the end of time.’ And ‘so be it’ is our full and ‘radical acceptance’ of Jesus’ promise to us, as it is. ‘So be it’ knows that Jesus is always our trusting partner. ‘So be it’ becomes our ‘radical’ 24/7 acceptance, obedience and devotion to communion with our loving Partner. — BB 04 11 24.

    Sifting through and embracing what we consider to be the good and the bad, and find that God & Life, the ‘one truth’, emerges out of the messiness of our lives. — BB 04 13 24.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    What I found rather liberating in today’s message were Aquinas’s words, “Divine good exists in every particular creature, but never totally PERFECT… LOVE triggers this imperfect goodness, from within.”

    Religion often demands and expects that which is therefore UNNATURAL; that being PERFECTION. The church for centuries has instilled a deep fear of our goodness being imperfect, and then called it original sin, labeling all sinners, invoking shame and guilt.

    Aquinas states however, that Divine Love appears to be the response of God to the inherent nature of our imperfect goodness. Time again, we hear within the gospel message, Jeshua teaching and demonstrating this truth of the triggering and transforming power of God’s Divine Love, to free humanity from the bondages of guilt, shame and fear of our imperfect goodness; through forgiveness, compassion and mercy, that we may learn to relate and respond the same way towards our own and others imperfect goodness, as God does.

    Perhaps this is what is really meant by repentance, that being the turning away from the fearfilled unnatural expectations and demands of perfection that we’ve attached to goodness, punishing ourselves and others with guilt and shame; turning instead towards accepting our imperfections with forgiveness, compassion, mercy and love.

  3. Avatar

    Yes! Yes! Beautiful DM that reminds us what the mystics and Indigenous peoples throughout human history up to the present time have been Living and teaching us — Our Loving interconnectedness and interdependence to Our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth, Her living creatures/abundance, and Our Sacred evolving multidimensional-multiverse COSMOS… This LOVING~WISDOM~CREATIVE SPIRIT (GOD) Is Always PRESENT With-In and Among Us Flowing in LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS….
    As Humanity and Our Consciousness, We’re an important and integral part of this Evolving Creation and COSMOS (‘Image and Likeness of Our SOURCE~CREATOR’)! However, due to the many sins of our egocentricity, many of Us continue to disconnect ourselves from Our LIVING SOURCE~CREATOR~COSMOS causing untold and continual destruction and suffering to Our Humanity and Our Sacred Mother Earth to the point of risking the end of Our human species. Hopefully, God Willing, enough of Us human beings will continue to evolve Spiritually and compassionately With-In Our DIVINE SPIRIT of LOVE~LIGHT~LIFE In LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS….

  4. Avatar

    I have no doubt as to the truth of this DM for myself and other privileged people and that taking the long view reveals the pattern of love. But I am a pragmatic person and wonder what the starving Palestinians, especially the children, would think of it. And how all the suffering people of the world would respond. I pray for them all, especially to know that they are not forgotten, not alone, and not rejected, but wrapped in the love of God and all those praying for them.

  5. Avatar
    Martina Nicholson

    I love today’s meditation, and that Aquinas says “Love is a response to goodness! ” And since God’s goodness permeates the universe in its very existence, love too, is permeating creation. Still, we see the choice, failure to love, failure to trust, and all the kinds of suffering from scarcity, trauma and cruelty. We are taught that Christ is the bread of life, and the food for the soul’s journey, and we still forget and get hungry again. We need help to stay the course, not to fall into cynicism, fear and despair. How patient God is with our foibles! in today’s Gospel, Jesus says He is the bread of life. He says he will not lose anything God has given him, but raise it on the last day. How hard that is to believe, to trust and hold onto! We need courage and faith to keep holding on to that.

  6. Avatar

    Aquinas dissected old texts of “official Church theology,” i.e.,early Christian Neoplatonic Mystical theology, analyzed them carefully, and then reassembled them into a framework that (more or less) reflected official contemporary Church doctrine. It was an encyclopedia of the Church’s preferred interpretations of Mysticism’s insights, stitched back together into a new, intellectual/”rational,” Church-authorized framework.

    Intellectualized theology carried some of the beauty and facets of Mysticism, but lost the ESSENTIAL NON-DUALISM and the overall INTUITED MEANING/DIRECT KNOWING/TOTALITY of the authentic Mystical Path and Revelation.. It tried to intellectually analyze/compartmentalize/control every written word, every Teaching of the Mystical Revelation and its Path. And it added some absolute boundaries to keep every-thing confined to their Church-ordained place.

    But intellectual concepts are not big enough for G*D’S Non-Duality.

    G*D’S BEING/ESSENCE is NOT a “THAT-THING” or any other OBJECT/SUBJECT of theological conceit.

    Nor is G*D “absolutely unknowable”- (another “concept about God”).
    Remember–the Bible and (authentic) Mysticism offer Paths to “TEACH DIRECTLY FROM/IN” G*D/THE ONE/LOGOS/CHRIST.


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