By Tom Quiner
My history teacher, Mrs. Askegaard, said,
“OK, let’s have St. Thomas Aquinas next.”
We were studying some of the great figures from the 12th and 13th centuries. When the teacher said “St. Thomas Aquinas,” I was stopped in my tracks.
I thought she was playing with me. My name is Tom Quiner. She knew I was taking Latin. She knew I was no saint. I thought she was playing with my name, pronouncing it in a Latin sort of way to be funny, and perhaps poking a little fun at my unsaintly orneriness.
I started to stand up, thinking I had been called upon to give my report on Francis Bacon.
Then someone else stood up, and I realized it wasn’t my turn after all. The class tittered at the similarities of my name with the great saint, and at my embarrassing, premature rising to my feet to give my report.
St. Thomas Aquinas.
That’s where the similarity ends. Aquinas was simply the valedictorian of Christianity. When I went off to college, I took a philosophy course. I tried reading his five proofs of God’s existence, but had a tough time understanding the archaic translation.
Some eight years ago, I wrote a play called “The Guy Agnostico Show.” I played a talk show host by the same name who debated famous people from history on God’s existence. St. Thomas was one of my adversaries.
But I fell in love with his mind and great heart, so much so, that I adopted him as my patron saint.
The Catholic Church just celebrated his feast day on January 28th. St. Thomas is known for this great quote:
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
The great G.K. Chesterton had this to say about St. Thomas:
“The difficulty of dealing with St. Thomas Aquinas in this brief article is the difficulty of selecting that aspect of a many-sided mind which will best suggest its size or scale.
Because of the massive body which carried his massive brain, he was called “The Ox”; but any attempt to boil down such a brain into tabloid literature passes all possible jokes about an ox in a teacup.
He was one of the two or three giants; one of the two or three greatest men who ever lived; and I should never be surprised if he turned out, quite apart from sanctity, to be the greatest of all. Another way of putting the problem is to say that proportion alters according to what other men we are at the moment classing him with or pitting him against.
We do not get the scale until we come to the few men in history who can be his rivals.”
Like Chesterton, St. Thomas didn’t revile those who disagreed with him. He embraced them, even as he calmly made his case through the power of sheer reason:
“We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.”
Does God exist? Aquinas begins his proof of God with a simple idea:
“There must be a first mover existing above all – and this we call God.”
The Saint of the Day, St. Thomas Aquinas, is a giant of the ages whose intellect continues to influence modern thinkers.