A Beacon of Catholic Sense

There is a virginal purity of intellect that we must jealously cultivate: to detest heresy with the indignant vigour with which chaste souls detest impurity. St. Thomas Aquinas gives us a shining example of this virtue.

St. Thomas Aquinas was a great beacon which God placed in His Church, enlighten, comfort and encourage souls throughout the centuries so that they might more courageously resist the onslaughts of heresy.

With his brilliant intelligence and ardent piety he tackled all the problems which in his time were open to investigation by the human mind. He traversed the most arid, the most obscure and the most treacherous regions of knowledge with a simplicity, a clarity and an energy that were truly supernatural.

Source of Catholic intellectual life

Surpassing not only the human wisdom of the pagan philosophers, but the very wisdom of the Doctors of the Church who preceded him, he composed, among other works, the Summa Theologica, in which he catalogued all his victories over heresy, ignorance or sin.

His doctrine has always been so pure that Holy Church points to it as the indispensable source of all truly Catholic intellectual life.

If there was one intellectual who never bore the least taint of heresy, that intellectual was St. Thomas Aquinas. His Catholic sense was prodigious. First, he never clashed with the truths already defined by the Church in his time. Then, he resolved an endless series of questions on which the Holy Church had not yet pronounced herself, preparing and hastening, with his solution, the infallible pronouncement of the Bride of Jesus Christ.

Finally, the characteristic and constant note of his life was such a submission to Catholic doctrine that, even if the Church should later define some truth contrary to that which St. Thomas taught, he would immediately make himself the humblest, the most loving and fervent advocate of the thought he had opposed and the most unyielding opponent of the error he had taught as truth.

Admirable Catholic sense

Thus, St. Thomas fully realized the three degrees of Catholic sense.

There are Catholics who think differently from the Church and whose faith is so weak that it is only with difficulty that they submit to her determinations.

There are others who have no reluctance in admitting what the Church teaches, but who, when faced with a given problem, have difficulty reaching the true solution unless they are previously informed of Catholic thought.

Finally, the highest degree consists in accepting all that the Church teaches readily and with loving ease, in being so imbued with the spirit of the Church that one thinks as she does, even though for the moment one does not know her pronouncement on a question. Ultimately it means thinking about matters that the Church has not yet defined in such a way that, when she does define them, one is ready to modify one’s opinion – which, in fact, will seldom be necessary, because one will have been able to intuit the Church’s thought in the great majority of cases.

Thus, if there is one virtue in St. Thomas that we should admire and try to imitate, and which we should earnestly seek to obtain from God through the great Doctor, it is the virtue of Catholic sense.

To detest heresy, as chaste souls detest impurity

We all know how we should love purity, and the magnificent promise the Lord attaches to it in the Sermon of the Beatitudes. Everyone is aware of the ardent predilection with which the Heart of Jesus loves those who have never stained themselves with the sin of impurity.

To understand what purity means to Our Lord, it is enough to consider the love He bore Our Lady and St. John the Evangelist, the virginal Apostle.

St. Thomas with the “Summa contra Gentiles” – Monastery of St. Dominic, Lima (Peru)

But just as there is a purity of body and of heart which we must preserve intact, according to our state, there is also a virginal purity of intellect which we must cultivate jealously, and which certainly pleases Our Lord immeasurably.

It is the purity of the truly Catholic intelligence, the living and immaculate temple of the Holy Spirit, which has never felt attraction to or supported any heretical doctrine, which detests heresy with all the indignant vigour with which pure souls detest impurity, and which preserves itself from all adherence to any thought other than that of the Church, with the same care with which chaste souls know how to ward off all impure impressions.

Our Lord said that He is the vine, and we are the branches. The more united we are to the vine, the more sap will be transmitted to us. Now it can also be said that Holy Church is the vine and we are the branches, and that the more we are united to her the more sap we will receive. And since we will be all the more united to the Church if our thoughts are united to her, so much more intense will be our spiritual life, the more complete our Catholic sense is.

Unconditional obedience to the Throne of St. Peter

It is futile, however, to remain in generalities. In the age of confusion in which we live, it is not enough to speak of submission to the Church. It is necessary to be explicit, and to speak directly of papal infallibility. The virginal purity of our intelligence can only come from our loving and unconditional obedience to the Throne of St. Peter. If we are entirely with the Pope, we are entirely with the Church, with Jesus Christ and therefore with God.

On the feast of the great Doctor, may our Catholic sense find support in ever more vigorous graces, and may these graces find, in our will, an ever more enthusiastic cooperation; this should be the practical conclusion of our meditation. 

Taken from:
Meditation on the feast of St. Thomas.
In: Legionário. São Paulo. Year XIII.
N.391 (Mar. 10, 1940); p.2




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