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Monday, January 28, 2008

Thomas Talk

It's no ordinary Monday! Today is celebrated the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Thomas was the dominant thinker of the middle ages. He combined the science and philosophy of Aristotle with the truths of Christianity, holding that Aristotle got "it" right." However, one catch - without Christ in the equation he did not capture the whole truth.

Saint Thomas identified the Eternal Law or the Divine Reason of God that governs and orders the entirety of creation. He would say that the Eternal Law is "imprinted" on all things including all men. He also identified Natural Law which is that part of the Eternal Law that is presented to humans in the forms of logic and reason. Thomas is famously known for the Summa Theologica. Unfortunately, it was never a work he personally completed after his own human reason paled in comparison to a supernatural revelation of God that took place in his life just months prior to his death. Refusing to continue on with the writing project, students completed the Summa Theologica for Saint Thomas.

Nevertheless, Saint Thomas Aquinas views of serving the poor come from a philosophical perspective. He believed that private property is necessary for human life and is an extension of Natural Law. He acknowledges that under Natural Law all property is communal, but also contended that the addition of private property was an extension, and not a contradiction of Natural Law.

He believes that possession of private property is necessary because: (1) men will more resolutely and attentively take care of things if they possess them instead of the goods being held in common by all or many others; (2) possession advances order rather than chaos and confusion as responsibility can be determined; and (3) private possession promotes a more peaceful state.

However, in regards to serving the poor, He also said that while the ownership of goods should be private, the use of person’s goods must be in common (so that the poor and needy can have their share) or must be in service of the common good.

Joyous feast day to all Saint Thomas Aquinas parishes, colleges and organizations!

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