A Reading from Wis 7:7-10, 15-16
I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne,
And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
Beyond health and comeliness I loved her,
And I chose to have her rather than the light,
because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.
Now God grant I speak suitably
and value these endowments at their worth:
For he is the guide of Wisdom
and the director of the wise.
For both we and our words are in his hand,
as well as all prudence and knowledge of crafts.
REFLECTION: "I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne."
Today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Dominican Priest, also known as the "Angelic Doctor".
So, what is a "Doctor of the Church"?
In the traditional designation “Doctor of the Church,” the term "doctor" refers, not to a physician (which is an historically recent meaning of that term), but to a teacher (the older meaning, derived from the Latin, as reflected in the title Ph.D., “Doctor of Philosophy”). Many of the outstanding Catholic teachers throughout Church history who have been named as “Doctors” (thirty-five of them) carry a special designation with reference to the content of their teaching or to their personal virtue.
St. Augustine, for example, is known as the “Doctor of Grace” because he was instrumental in developing the Church’s theology of grace. St. Albert, who wrote on nearly every subject—even the natural sciences—is known as the “Universal Doctor.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux is called the “Mellifluous Doctor” because of his eloquence, and St. Anthony of Padua is the “Evangelical Doctor” because of his burning desire to win souls for God. St. John of the Cross is called the “Mystical Doctor” because his work teaches about how to attain mystical union with God.
Why is St. Thomas Aquinas called the “Angelic Doctor” (Latin, Doctor Angelicus), the "Angelic Thomas" and the "Angel of the Schools."?
The “Angelic Thomas,” and the “Angel of the Schools.” According to Pope Benedict XVI, he was “called the Doctor Angelicus, perhaps because of his virtues, in particular the loftiness of his thought and purity of life.”
Because of this, St. Thomas and his teaching can be considered “angelic” in several regards:
As our guardian angels guide us to God, so St. Thomas’s theology leads us to God.
St. Thomas’s wisdom is like that of the angels, seeing the whole of God’s truth as one in a single, unified vision.
Piety and purity are characteristic especially of angels, and St. Thomas was known for his personal piety and purity of heart.
St. Thomas wrote more about the angels than any other Doctor.
We should note that St. Thomas is also called the “Common Doctor,” because his remarkable breadth and depth of learning made him the Doctor, not only of one specific field of theology, but of every field of theology.
St. Thomas Aquinas left us many writings, the best well knows is the "Summa Theologica". He also wrote wonderful hymns such as Pange Lingua and Tantum Ergo.
The Editio Leonina or Leonine Edition is the edition of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas originally sponsored by Pope Leo XIII in 1879. This is an ongoing work. So far this comprises 39 volumes of his works. These volumes are so extensive that it is said they will keep theologians and philosophy students busy until the Second Coming.
Next time we are able to visit Our Lord exposed in the monstrance, I invite you to read this beautiful hymn composed by the Angelic Doctor many centuries ago:
Adoro Te Devote I devoutly adore you, O hidden God, truly hidden beneath these appearances. My whole heart submits to you and in contemplating you it surrenders itself completely. Sight, touch, taste are all deceived in their judgement of you, but hearing suffices firmly to believe. I believe all that the Son of God has spoken: there is nothing truer than this word of Truth. On the Cross only the Divinity was hidden, but here the Humanity is also hidden. I believe and confess both and I ask for what the repentant thief asked. I do not see the wounds as Thomas did, but I confess that you are my God. Make me believe more and more in you, hope in you, and love you. O Memorial of our Lord's death! Living bread that gives life to man, grant my soul to live on you and always savor your sweetness. Lord Jesus, good Pelican, wash me clean with your blood, one drop of which can free the entire world of all its sins. Jesus, whom now I see hidden, I ask you to fulfill what I so desire: that on seeing you face to face, I may be happy in seeing your glory. Amen.