January 1 - 30, 2016
The plan backfired as Thomas immediately snatched a burning brand from the hearth, drove her from the room with it, and slammed the door behind her. He burnt the sign of the cross on the door with the red-hot brand, and fell to his knees in prayer. With tears of thanksgiving in his eyes, he prayed to be preserved in his chastity, purity, and intention to live the religious life.
According to the records of his canonization, Thomas immediately fell into a mystical sleep and had a vision. Two angels came to him from heaven and bound a cord around his waist, saying, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy.” The angels’ gift preserved Thomas from sexual temptation and bestowed upon him an enduring purity that ennobled all his thoughts and actions. In the records of his canonization, many witnesses remarked about Thomas’s unusual purity and chastity. Over his lifetime, his conduct revealed that he had indeed received a special grace of chastity and purity – a grace that he now shares with others through the communion of saints.
The family finally acquiesced to Thomas’ desires and shortly thereafter, the Dominicans sent their newly-recovered recruit off to Paris. Paris was an exciting place to be in 1245. Scholars were rediscovering Aristotle, asking if and how his philosophy could be reconciled with Christian revelation. Thomas was destined to produce one great answer to that question.
The Summa Theologica
Thomas' most significant work is his Summa Theologiae or 'Summary of Theology,' a three volume work that attempts to present all of Christian theology as systematically as possible. Thomas worked on it from 1266 through 1273. Among non-scholars, the Summa is perhaps most famous for its five arguments for the existence of God, which are known as the "five ways". Then, when he was nearly finished, Thomas underwent a revelation so intense that, as he himself explained, "The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me." He completely stopped writing and died three months later. Thomas was canonized in 1323. But this revelation wasn’t the only occasion in which St. Thomas experienced divine intersession.
Numerous stories abound of St. Thomas conversing with the saints. One such event concerns on his commentary on Isaias. An obscure passage had stopped him and for a long time Thomas fasted and prayed to obtain an understanding of it. One night Reginald, Thomas’s friend and companion, heard him speaking with someone in his room. When the conversation ended, Thomas called for him to light the candle and take the manuscript On Isaias. After dictating for an hour, he sent Reginald back to bed. But instead, Reginald fell upon his knees saying, "I will not rise from here until you have told me the name of him or of them with whom you have spoken for such a long time tonight." Thomas began to weep and (continued)