A Bottle of Wine Led Me to Saint Thomas Aquinas

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St. Thomas Aquinas via soul-candy.info

 

In honor of The Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas today, I would like to share my Saint Name Project with you that I wrote last March for my Confirmation.  It gives a brief history of Thomas Aquinas’ life, ministry and accomplishments within the Catholic Church, and the reasons why I chose him as my saint, which ties to my fondness of wine.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

I have chosen Saint Thomas Aquinas as my Confirmation Saint Name.  Before I give my motivations for favoring him, I would like to present a little history of his life, which will provide more understanding of his path to sainthood.

Saint Thomas Aquinas’ mother, Theodora, and father, Landulph, count of Aquino, gave birth to their son  on January 28, 1225 in Roccasecca, Italy.   His family came from royal descendants, but their class rank was likely considered at the lower end.  At age five, Thomas was sent to Monte Cassino to begin his education, then was moved to Naples, where he became acquainted with the studies of Aristotle, which would later provide an enormous impact on his teachings of theology and philosophy.  At age nineteen, against his family’s direction, he chose to assemble with the Dominican monks and receive his habit.  His family felt violated, so they decided to kidnap him and hold him captive in their castles back home at Monte San Giovanni and Roccasecca for a year.  During that time his family attempted to dissuade him from being a Dominican monk, even to go so far as to entice him with a prostitute, but Thomas would not relent, and the incident only gave him more strength to remain a virgin.  His family finally subsided, and in 1245, he was released and returned to the Dominicans.  Over the next several years, he studied in Naples, Italy, then Cologne, Germany, where he became ordained as a priest in 1250, and later ended up in Paris, France where he was taught by St. Albert the Great, the Patron Saint of Scientists, and earned his doctorate in theology.

 During this era, one big controversy was how theology (faith) and philosophy (reason) were or were not correlated.  Previous philosophers thought the two were completely separate from each other, and Thomas wanted to prove that one was needed for the other to work accordingly, so after completing his education, he felt compelled to begin a preaching voyage to teach his learnings and to document his research on their interdependence.  Thus became his writings of almost 60 known works, and among them the Summa Theologica and the Summa contra Gentiles are his most acclaimed and controversial.  In his writings, he distinguishes Theology and Philosophy as two different sciences of God, and to achieve revelation (theology) one must be advised by reason to restrain from lapse of judgement, and one needs reason to analyze and define their faith.  He also wanted to show evidence that everything originates from God.  Amid much of  Thomas’ discoveries, I believe his greatest achievement, and most argumentative today, is in the Summa contra Gentiles, in which he proves the existence of God in five ways: 1)Movement needs someone or something to make the unmoved move, and that is God. 2) Effect needs a cause, and the cause is God. 3)Being is temporary and the permanent being is God. 4)Humans are defective, God is perfect. 5)Knowledge is given to humans by God, who knows everything.

 Among his time, Thomas was offered a bishop ship, but he declined any higher clerical positions for he only wanted to teach and write.  Then one day while celebrating the Feast of St. Nicolas in 1273, Thomas claimed he was told by God that he did not need to write anymore because what he had written was well enough.  Shortly thereafter, on March 7, 1274 he passed away.  His canonization took place in 1323, and in 1567 he was given the title as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V.  His feast day was originally the day of his death, March 7, but it always fell in the time of lent, so it was moved to his birth date January 28 in 1969.  In the late 19th century, during the time of Pope Leo XIII, Thomas’ theology became the essence of Catholic indoctrination, both inside the church and in Catholic educational institutions, therefore, he was announced as the patron of Catholic education and students.

 Now for a few reasons why I chose St. Thomas Aquinas as my saint.  I’ll be honest here, as I should be since this is a project for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  The main reason I know of him and why I chose him was because I came across a bottle of wine named Aquinas while dining out with my husband.  We thoroughly enjoyed it, so I read the back of the bottle.  I wanted to find out what this Aquinas was about because I had never heard of the name.

To my delight, I discovered that “Aquinas wines are named for St. Thomas Aquinas, the seminal 13th century Italian priest, theologian and philosopher who dedicated his life to reconciling reason and faith.  Just as he challenged the assumptions of his world, we are challenging the assumptions within ours.”

I was intrigued by their statement, and I wanted to discover more about this saint.  Upon more research, I realized that I felt exactly the same about his belief that God and Science go hand in hand.  Science can’t exist without God, who created it, and God uses Science to prove to us human beings that He exists.  It was like a lightning bolt and it made so much sense to me.

I also was impressed by Thomas’ loyalty to God by remaining celibate, even given the temptations by his own family.   He was incredibly humble.  He knew what his calling from God was supposed to be, which was to write and teach, so he declined any position that was of higher rank than a priest.  He was a man who went against the odds to seek answers, and he was able to brilliantly prove a correlation that everyone else thought was completely unrelated.  He was a man of honor.  He was a man of God.

Bibliography

“St. Thomas Aquinas – Saints & Angels.” Catholic Online. Catholic Online, 2015. Web. 24. Mar. 2015

“St. Thomas Aquinas.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.

“About.” Aquinas. Don Sebastiani & Sons, 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.

Mission Impossible: The Eucharist

This is sort of a continuation from my most recent blog post As an Adult, what gives me that childlike Christmas Morning Joy?  The short answer is the Eucharist.

The Gospel reading for January 15th was Mark 2:1-12.  To summarize, four men carry a paralytic man on a mat through the crowds that Jesus attracted through his preaching.  These men were so determined for Jesus’ healing powers to restore this man that they broke a hole through the roof where Jesus was teaching and lowered the man down right next to Jesus.  Jesus was so moved by their faith that he instantly healed the paralytic man and forgave his sins.

Talk about determination to get to Jesus.  

After reflecting on this Gospel reading, my own light-hearted, modern-day version of this story came to me and how far I would go to be with Jesus.

I call it Mission Impossible: The Eucharist.  

It’s Christmas Eve and I arrive alone at St. Gabriel’s in McKinney to attend midnight mass.  The most beautiful vigil celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth.

The church is packed.  So packed that the greeters won’t allow any more people to enter because they are over capacity, according to the fire code.

I’m bummed and frustrated because I really wanted to receive communion.  To consume Jesus at the moment that he came into this world would be the greatest Christmas gift from God and now I will not be able to encounter him until tomorrow.  

Ugh!  I am quite agitated with the “Chr-easters” (people who attend mass only at Christmas and Easter) that are taking up all of the seats!  I forget that I used to be one of them.

Suddenly, I am wearing a cat-womanish outfit, equipped with Mission Impossible like climbing gear, sticky gloves, and a laser cutter.  

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

I begin to climb up the walls of the church using the sticky gloves.  I reach the roof and peer down through the glass windows.  Ahhh!  I notice Communion is already under way!  Luckily, the lines are long.  I have time, but I better hurry or I will miss it.

I accurately discern the exact area where I need to be to drop directly next to our pastor giving communion at the main altar station, which is also straight in front of the crucifix.  

With my laser cutter, I cut a perfectly shaped circular hole.  Somehow, I know how to prepare all of my climbing gear and I begin to lower myself down into the sanctuary.  Down, down, down like a spider descending from its web.

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Mission Impossible. Courtesy of tvtropes.org

Everyone in mass stands in awe.  They are so dumbfounded by what I’m doing, they are motionless.  Then, instantly, they all disappear.  It’s only the priest.  

I land right in front of him and I kneel a most reverent kneel.  I stand up.  He holds up the Eucharist and says “Body of Christ”.  I say, “Amen.”  All of a sudden, he is promptly holding the chalice and says “Blood of Christ” and I say, “Amen.

I. am. complete. I. am. one. I. am. Jesus.

 

I hope this made you smile or chuckle.

Benedicamus Domino,

Kara

As an Adult, what gives me that childlike Christmas Morning Joy?

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In light of this recent Christmas season, I wanted to reflect on a recent blog post that caught my attention about the “Crazy, Twirly, Fist-Pumping Christmas Joy” that children experience every Christmas morning, “and why, when we reach adulthood, we lose that sense of giddiness.”  

So, I started to think if it was true.  Now that I’m an adult, have I lost that I-can’t-wait-to-jump-out-of-bed feeling?  Does anything give me that childlike anticipation and joy?

In my old secular life, I would have said, No, but in this Renewed-Catholic-Everything-is-Filled-with-Life Life…100% YES!

So what is it that does it for me?  

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The Eucharist.  

Otherwise known as Holy Communion, the Blessed Sacrament, Transubstantiation or the Real Presence.

It is Jesus Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity consecrated into a material substance, bread and wine.  It is His greatest gift that He left for us; Himself as our food to fuel our bodies with His love and passion.

Mother Teresa said, 

Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. 

It’s so simple, yet so hard to comprehend and trust.

For a while I had to abstain from receiving the Eucharist because my civil marriage to Matt was not valid in the Catholic Church, but once Matt and I convalidated our marriage this past November, and I was able to receive Jesus Christ’s body and blood again, Oh what a miraculous state of consciousness I experienced!

This time receiving communion was infinitely different from the countless other times I consumed it because this time, I believed. I truly, wholeheartedly, with my entire body, mind, and soul believed that Jesus Christ is and always will be present in the Eucharist.

My absence from Holy Communion had made my heart grow fonder and wiser.

This moment, something that I had intellectually and spiritually prepared for, nurtured, and safeguarded for so many months had finally arrived and I was as eager and elated as a child on Christmas morning.

Body of Christ. Amen.   Blood of Christ. Amen.  I believe.  This is Jesus.  He is in me and I in Him.  We are one.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

All at once, I was awake!  And more aware of my surroundings and the life that filled it than ever before! All of my harboring struggles, sins, and sorrows lifted up and out of me. I gave them to God and I was so overjoyed with emotion that tears began to quietly flow.  

I’m not sure if anyone witnessed my reaction, but I didn’t care.  I felt zoetic, on fire, and a perfect love envelop me!  I felt His inconceivable mercy…once again.

And I feel this elation, yearning, peace, and fondness each time I attend Mass and receive the Blessed Sacrament.

C.S. Lewis beautifully illustrates how I adore the Eucharist:

We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

And finally, Saint Maximilian Kolbe had it right when he said,

If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.

 

Here are a couple of videos that brilliantly explain and portray the Real Presence in the Eucharist:

Sophia Sketchpad: The Eucharist

https://youtu.be/QcB7Uem00n4

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

http://youtu.be/bJjW3LXuHzo

 

Benedicamus Domino,

Kara