St. Thomas Aquinas – II

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Although St. Thomas lived 800 years ago, his books are the most important of all theology. In his short life, he wrote over 60 different works, such as the great Summa Theologica.
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Historians now know something of how his writings were composed: A group of 3 or 4 secretaries (usually monks), would take down what he said in a kind of short-hand. Sometimes Thomas would write down his thoughts first, and then proceed to read this aloud, as the secretaries wrote. When one secretary tired, another took over. It seems however that later on, and in the case of his major works, he never wrote anything down beforehand, but that they came straight from his remarkable memory.
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There is related a story that shows how he operated: Thomas had been invited to a large dinner in honor of King Louis XI; they seated Thomas right next to the king; but during all of the festivities, Thomas’ mind was elsewhere; he was pondering a theology question, a challenge posed by a heretical group called the Manichees. Suddenly, during the gaiety of the dinner, he struck his hand on the table, saying: ‘Yes! that will settle it with the Manichees!’ He immediately called for his secretary to write it down – as if he were still back in the monastery.
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On another occasion, when he was trying to write his commentary on Isaiah, Thomas became puzzled for days over a certain text. One night, he stayed up late to pray extra, and his secretary overheard him speaking with other persons in his cell. Then Thomas called for his secretary: “Reginald, my son, bring a light and the commentary on Isaiah; I want you to write.’ As Reginald wrote, the ideas were so clear from Thomas, that it was as if he were reading from a book. He pressured St. Thomas to tell him, who were the voices in his room? Thomas finally replied that St. Peter and Paul had been sent to him, “and they told me what I desired to know.”
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Research seems to show that the entire Summa Theologica was composed mentally and dictated from memory. It is said that when St. Thomas dictated it was “as if a great torrent of truth were pouring into him from God, as his memory simply gave out its treasures. “When perplexed by a difficulty he would kneel and pray; and then his thought would be clear again.
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One of his secretaries, named Evan, told how Thomas would sometimes sit down to rest from the work of dictating; falling asleep, he would continue to dictate – in his sleep – and Evan would continue to write….

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