I heard a priest say in his homily: “I do not recommend that you read Thomas Aquinas.” He had praised the great patron of theology, education, and scholar, but then implied that Saint Thomas was “too difficult.”
“Thomas Aquinas is too hard,” is a common myth and it derives from decades of teachers who were not enthusiastic and skilled in making Catholic Theology via Thomas Aquinas accessible to the ordinary person.
So here are 10 Reasons to Study Thomas Aquinas for 2016. Below you also find resources to help you:
- Thomas Aquinas keeps things simple. “What? I thought he was complicated?” No, Thomas Aquinas writes in a simple bullet point style. Literally “bullet points.” He calls them objections and responses but they are numbered just like you would in MS Word. Once you learn how the numbering system works, you’re rocking. (If you’re a member of NSTI, we have a 10 minute class that teaches the system step by step. You can watch it here: “How to Unlock and Read the Summa”.
- Thomas Aquinas was a mystic. Thomas would place his head on the tabernacle to gain knowledge. He was visited by angels. He was visited by Saint Peter and Saint Paul. He had a vision toward the end of his life that left him wordless.
- Thomas Aquinas built theology on nature in a way you can understand. Like Christ his Master, Thomas uses nature and our experience through it (plus divine revelation) to present theology. Christ was the master of the parable (describing spiritual realities with natural occurrences: farming, fishing, taxes, losing items). Thomas believes grace perfects and elevates nature and he is constantly using analogies to clarify profound topics.
- Thomas is systematic. There is nothing worse than reading contemporary soft theology because it is so often literary and formless. Thomas tells you straight up at the beginning of each topic: “First I’m going to show you x. Then I’m going to do y. And then I’m going to z. Now let’s go.” It’s a linear approach to Catholic Theology.
- Thomas Aquinas is a biblical scholar. Today people would call Thomas a “philosopher.” He’d likely be offended by that. He would have identified himself as a biblical scholar or as a biblical preacher. Pick up his commentaries on the Gospels or, my personal favorite, his commentary on the Epistle of Hebrews.
- Thomas Aquinas is a preacher. This relates to the above point. Thomas Aquinas’s goal was to communicate profound truths to the people. For him, it was not an academic exercise for university faculty. Thomas wanted to refute heretics, strengthen the faithful, make saints, and get people to Heaven.
- Thomas Aquinas is Marian. Thomas loved the Blessed Virgin because he so deeply loved Christ. He left behind an entire series of sermons just on the Hail Mary. I know you’ve heard the bit about Thomas Aquinas denying the Immaculate Conception (to see how he didn’t always deny it, watch my video on Youtube: Did Aquinas deny the Immaculate Conception). Thomas also said that the Blessed Virgin Mary “was so full of grace that it overflows on to all mankind.” He was one of the original popularizes of the title “Mediatrix” for Our Lady.
- Thomas Aquinas was Eucharistic. Thomas Aquinas centered everything on Christ. Christ was the beginning and end of everything for him. He would say Mass daily, and then to show his thanksgiving for the Eucharist and the priesthood, he would serve another Mass (as an altar server) for another priest. He wrote the great hymns for Corpus Christi (eg, Pange Lingua, the opening music of the NSTI video classes).
- Thomas Aquinas will make you into an Evangelist and Apostle. Thomas wrote so that other people could explain the Catholic Faith. His works (eg Summa contra Gentiles and even his Summa theologiae) are written to equip others to share the Catholic Faith with those who disagree with them. If you want to draw your family and friends into the Catholic Church, Thomas is the best to help you.
- Thomas Aquinas will make you fall deeply in love with God. My eyes want to feel with tears on this point. He will open to you the riches of God’s grace, love, and compassion. You will come to see Christ in all his glory and splendor. The sacraments will come alive. You will thirst for the Eucharist. You will love the Church. You cannot love what you do not know and Thomas is the best teacher in what you should know.
Resources to get started on Thomas Aquinas:
- A have a free book Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages. You can download it for free at my website: taylormarshall.com. I wrote it to make the world a more Thomistic place. Spread the information and let others know about it. It’s helped tens of thousands of people get started with Saint Thomas Aquinas. You can also get it in paperback. (I’ll be giving away a few print copies tonight at our live Catholic Webinar on Thomas Aquinas.)
- I’m teaching a free live Catholic Webinar on Thomas Aquinas and Natural Law. This will explain what natural law is how you can use it convince non-Catholics about morality and Catholic teaching. If you’ve ever wanted to master the basics on Natural Law (through the lens of Thomas Aquinas), then this is the Catholic webinar for you. Click here to sign up or learn more.
PS: Since today is the feast of Thomas Aquinas I’ll be giving away some Thomas Aquinas books in the webinar – including a 5 Volume hardback copy of his Summa Theologiae to one of our attendees. Click here to sign up or learn more.
One attendee will win this 5 volume Summa theologiae hardback set: