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The Radiance That Never Ceases


“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.“ ~ Saint Thomas Aquinas

We are afforded the opportunity to contemplate the priceless spiritual gift of wisdom in today’s 1st Reading (Wisdom 7:7-10, 15-16), an appropriate albeit temporary hiatus from the 1st and 2nd Book of Samuel from which we have been reading for nearly two weeks and will return to once again tomorrow and for the remainder of the month. Appropriate in that today marks the Feast Day of the sapient scholar Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Catholic Church. In his seminal work Summa Theologiae, Aquinas plumbs the depths of this cherished virtue of wisdom in granular detail. More on that in a moment.

“Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.” The Book of Wisdom’s author Solomon opens today’s passage with these sage words, reminding us that God freely dispenses this precious gift of wisdom to all those who thirst for it, those who persistently pray for it. If only we were to ask. Perhaps therein lies the conundrum, the tragedy really; it takes wisdom to pray for wisdom

Solomon goes on to speak of his respect for this most coveted of spiritual gifts. “I preferred her to scepters and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her. Neither did I liken her to any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her.“

He then speaks of his fervent pursuit of and desire for wisdom, saying “I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her more then light, because her radiance never ceases,” poetic and powerful words that speak to his knowledge and understanding of this great gift, a gift that comes from God alone.

He concludes with a very simple and humble prayer, one which perhaps we would all be well served to add to our daily petitions. He prays “May God grant that I speak with judgment and have thoughts worthy of what I have received, for he is the guide even of wisdom and the corrector of the wise.”

As previously mentioned, St Thomas Aquinas had much to say on the topic of wisdom, and I draw once again from his Summa Theologiae to delve more deeply into his thoughts.

When asked if wisdom is merely speculative, he was quick to speak of its critical practicality as well. He referenced Colossians 4:5 wherein Saint Paul urges the people of Colossae to “walk with wisdom towards them that are without." This of course pertains to an action, therefore Aquinas claims wisdom is not merely speculative, but also practical. He went on to explain that “the higher a virtue is, the greater the number of things to which it extends. Wherefore from the very fact that wisdom as a gift is more excellent than wisdom as an intellectual virtue, since it attains to God more intimately by a kind of union of the soul with Him, it is able to direct us not only in contemplation but also in action.”

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There were some who claimed that Saint Thomas Aquinas was in fact wisdom personified. the following is a list of only but a few of his many quotes; I’ll let you be the judge:

Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.”

“How can we live in harmony? First we need to know we are all madly in love with the same God.”

“Man cannot live without joy; therefore when he is deprived of true spiritual joys, it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures.“

“To love is to will the good of another”

May we all ardently seek to grow in wisdom, arguably the greatest of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. With that in mind, I leave you with the following prayer:

O God, who made Saint Thomas Aquinas outstanding in his zeal for holiness and his study of sacred doctrine, grant us, we pray, that we may come to understand what he taught and imitate what he accomplished.” ~ Amen

Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us....


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