From Orvieto: Aquinas and Teilhard

I am now in Orvieto, Italy, where I am on pilgrimage, one might say, to a place that was dear to Thomas Aquinas. I am leading a week-long workshop on him, along with three Art As Meditation instructors. I felt this 800th anniversary of his birth (and 750th anniversary of his death) deserved special attention.

A panoramic view of Orvieto and the surrounding landscape, Italy. Photo by Sergey Ashmarin. Wikimedia Commons.

As in our workshop on Meister Eckhart several years ago in Erfurt, Germany, where Eckhart was a novice and later a Prior for eight years, we are trying to enter into a deeper connection to our ancestors and mentors.

Last week, we meditated on Teilhard de Chardin, inspired by the movie about him. Here, I can connect his work to that of Thomas Aquinas. Both were obviously lovers of the God of Creation, and therefore of scientists who reveal more about Nature. As Aquinas put it, “Revelation comes in two volumes: Nature and the Bible.”

The beauty of the night sky, as viewed through the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile. Video by SpaceRip.

And if we fail to listen to science? “A mistake about Creation results in a mistake about God.” Thus theology needs science. I have been blessed to work with many scientists in my life, including Brian Swimme, Thomas Berry, Rupert Sheldrake, Joel Primak, Nancy Abrams, Ralph Abrams, Ilia Delio, Fritjof Capra and more.   

I ask myself: How would Thomas Aquinas respond to today’s science? How ecstatic, intoxicated, drunk, over the top, beside himself, thrilled, excited, committed, unstoppable, delirious, joyful, turned on would Aquinas be with today’s scientific news about evolution, the noosphere, Webb Telescope and all? 

The Mystic Wheel of Ezekiel’s vision, painted by Fra Angelico (1395-1455), circa 1452. WikiArt.

He would be like Teilhard—“evolution—that magic word” living  in a world of magic. He could not help himself. He would be head over heels in love—like Teilhard was—with the world and the cosmos as we are getting to know it. He would announce anew the holiness the sacredness of Creation.

Thus, the joy of being here in Orvieto, where Aquinas wrote and taught and even wrote poetry. The Dominicans were very strong here in the past. Even Fra Angelico has some paintings in the churches here.

A fine place—filled with morphic resonance and deep memories of precious generations eager to connect the mystical and the scientific. People after the soul of Teilhard and Aquinas.

See Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 9-16, 33-40.

And Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 57-188.

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

Banner Image: Leaping for joy in the sunrise. Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you experience what Aquinas calls “drunkenness” and “intoxication” and “ecstasy” at creation? What difference does that make at this time in history? Regarding ecology for example?

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

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

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3 thoughts on “From Orvieto: Aquinas and Teilhard”

  1. Avatar

    “It Just Was, and It Just Is – No Explanation Given, No Explanation Required”

    One evening I was alone and awake around 10 pm and considered writing some poetry and then something miraculous in my experience happened. My being was totally enveloped in ‘God love’. It was very intimate and hard to describe in words. I was in the arms and total embrace of a lover that I had never known to that depth before. There was calmness of mind and heart, joy, peace, love and a great ecstasy running throughout my entire being. It was fathoms beyond my deepest intimacy beforehand. I could not say that it was of nature, or of spiritual – it just was, and it just is, no explanation given, no explanation required. To touch and taste that depth of intimacy continues to be longed for, as one’s state of being is given a new and lasting undercurrent. — BB 06 10 24.

    And God has an ecstasy of mind, heart, body, and soul awaiting us in the here and now, that transcends what we believe love to be from any other definition or experience. The best of God for us to experience is in the here and now or yet to come for some. The coming of God’s complete love will shower down upon us, impregnate our very being with ‘New Life’ and create within us a state of deep intimacy beyond our imagination. — BB 06 09 24.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    “Consider the Divine art of the Creator, and you will receive revelations of who God is.” It is these words in today’s DM that have caught my attention.

    So how does one read the second bible that Aquinas speaks of, that being the artistry of the divine within all of creation? Through engagement of relationship with, which involves being present to as well as entering into a dialogue with. This sacred meeting with the divine art of the Creator, be it a waterfall, a sunrise, the stars, the rain, any animal, a human; can be experienced in the following way.

    1. Ask the question, “Who are you?” As you gaze upon the divine art of the Creator before you… listen as you hear… “I am One whom…..”
    2. Ask the question, “What gift do you share of yourself with me?”
    3. Ask the question, “What do you want me to remember?
    4. Ask the question, “Is there anything else you would like to say to me

    Trust the revelations that come!

    “Knock upon the door and the door will be open to you. Seek and you shall find. Ask and it will be given to you”

    This is the pathway of the mystic!

  3. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew for your loving DM from beautiful Italy of the importance of Being in Love with-in Our Living Source~Creator and Our Personal God’s ongoing Beautiful Co-Creation like the mystics, like yourself, with “drunkenness”, “intoxication”, and “ecstasy” in the Sarcred Process of the Eternal Present Moment in LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS…

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