St. Thomas Aquinas got his name from the town he was born 8 km north of Aquino, Italy in 1225. He was also called the “Dumb Ox” for his quiet demeanor and being a large framed man. He knew and was inspired by John of St. Julian, a member of the Dominicans, started by St. Dominic around 1216. Thomas would eventually become a Dominican at age 19. The other influential person was Peter of Ireland, an academic who taught Thomas. One other Saint of this time was Albert the Great whom Thomas met in Paris. Albert was the leading academic and expert in science, history, astronomy, music and scripture.
Thomas was a theologian and philosopher and wrote a seminal document called the Summa Theologica which is widely available as an ebook and book today. Thomas is a Doctor of the Catholic Church. Those that study Thomas’s teachings are know as Thomists. Two modern day Thomists are; Ralph McInerny (d2000) who taught philosophy and medieval studies at Notre Dame, and Dr. Taylor Marshall, a theology professor and avid blogger, who created the New Thomas Institute, an on-line series of courses on Thomas in 2013.
Also known as the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas felt each angel in heaven was a separate species, not just an angel species. On earth every Human belongs to the human species, in heaven there are numerous different species or forms of angels according to Thomas. Humans rationalize and ponder, angels never think through their forms, they have pure formal knowledge. Thomas takes the angels debate further than the ancient Greeks. He philosophically describes the fallen angels and their wickedness. Thomas expands St. Augustine’s thought on Satan and evil angels. The fallen angels wanted to be called God, to be be worshiped like God. Although originally created as good angels, they inherently choose to become evil.
Thomas stopped writing his Summa Theologica in 1273 after a mystic appearance by Jesus Christ at Mass and kept the vision to himself till death, four months later on March 7, 2074.
Today, Thomas Aquinas teachings continue to flourish in the Catholic Church. And probably will for another 800 years.
Dr. Taylor Marshall, an avid blogger, wrote Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages (taylormarshall.com), whith topics like “How to think like Thomas Aquinas” and “the difference between philosophy and theology”. On the later topic, per Dr. Marshall; philosophy pertains to reason alone and the love of wisdom, while theology pertains to divine revelation and the study of God. With email sign up, the ebook is free.
A First Glance at St. Thomas Aquinas, A Handbook for Thomists, by Ralph McInerny has topics like “Aristotle and the Beatific Vision” and “The Meaning of life” and “Does God Exist” according to Thomas.
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”
— Thomas Aquinas
(Patron saint of universities and students; Feast Day is January 28th)