One year from the seventh centenary of the canonization of Saint Thomas Aquinas, in Avignon in 1323, the 11th International Thomist Congress is currently being held in Rome, bringing together many pontifical academicians. The Pope met them Thursday, September 22 at the Vatican, warning them against an instrumentalization of the thought of the master and against any intellectualist reductionism that imprisons the greatness of it.
Marie Duhamel – Vatican City
Saint Thomas Aquinas wasa light for the thought of the Church“. But for the Pope, a master is not an intellectual like the others. It is thus advisable to approach its thought with prudence. In an improvised speech, the Holy Father explained how.
Because there is “a risk of instrumentalizing the master“-this has happened in the past especially on the question of Thomistic casuistry, the Pope invites above all to contemplation, to be oneself “received in this masterful thought“. Next, “timidly“, we can try an explanation of the thought of the master, before proposing an interpretation”with great caution“. The Pope demands that the master never be used to express one’s own thoughts. On the contrary, it is necessary “put the things I think in the light of the master, let the light of the master interpret that”.
Besides the risk of recovery for personal ends, the Pope also puts against the reductions of the thought of St. Thomas. “When I reduce the figure of the master to that of a thinker, I ruin thought; I take away his strength, I take away his life. And, and we have to defend him from all those “intellectualist reductionisms” that imprison the greatness of his masterful thought”, asks the Pope to the assembly of Thomists. To guard against this, Francis once again invites us to contemplate not only the intellectual thought of the master, but also his lived experience and what he has “wanted to tell us“.
A tireless seeker of the face of God
In the speech written by the Holy Father on the occasion of this meeting and hand-delivered to the participants, the Pope already gave as a spiritual program to the Thomist family of “to imitate the saint and to allow oneself to be enlightened and guided by the Doctor and the master»; a man whom God hasmade great by his search for holiness of life and his passion for sacred doctrine”.
“What is God?” This question that Thomas would have asked himself as a child has accompanied and motivated him throughout his life. This “search for the truth about God is moved and permeated by love”, but not only. Saint Thomas writes that “driven by an ardent will to believe, man loves the truth he believes, considers it in his intelligence and embraces it with the reasons he can find for it”. And the Pope agrees: “humbly pursuing, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the intellectus fidei is not optional for the believer, but is part of the very dynamism of his faith. It is necessary that the Word of God, already received in the heart, reach the intelligence in order to “renew our way of thinking” (cf. Rom 12,2), so that we can evaluate all things in the light of Wisdom eternal. The passionate search for God is therefore simultaneously prayer and contemplation, so that Saint Thomas is a model of theology which is born and grows in the atmosphere of adoration”.
For a living Thomism
Passionate about the Truth, Saint Thomas, the tireless seeker of the face of God, was able to coordinate “in an exemplary way” both “wingswhich are faith and reason. Saint Paul VI speaks of reconciliation between “the secularity of the world and the radicality of the Gospel, thus escaping the unnatural tendency to deny the world and its values, without however failing in the supreme and inflexible demands of the supernatural order”. As Saint Thomas did, the Christian is called to enter into a rational and sincere dialogue with the culture of his time.
Francis develops: if the “perennial noveltyof the Thomistic thought tradition has been recognised, it is still necessary to promote aliving thomist-Thomism should not be a museum object, but an ever-living source- according to a vital double movement of “systole and diastole”. “Systole, because it is first necessary to endeavor to study the work of Saint Thomas in its historical and cultural context, in order to identify the structuring principles and to grasp its originality. After, however, comes the diastole: turning in dialogue to the world of today, critically assimilating what is true and right in the culture of the time”.
Finally, the Holy Father draws the attention of academicians to the fruitfulness of the teaching of Saint Thomas on creation. For him, creation is the very first manifestation of God’s prodigious generosity, even of his gratuitous mercy. It reflects his goodness and beauty. “The universe of visible and invisible creatures is neither a monolithic block nor a pure formless diversity, but forms an order, a whole, in which all creatures are linked because they all come from God and go towards God, and because they act on each other, thus creating a dense network of relationships”. What each thing lacks to represent divine goodness will be made up for by other things, for God’s goodness cannot be adequately represented by a single creature. “Thereforecontinues François, we better understand the importance and meaning of every creature if we contemplate it in the whole of God’s plan”. The Pope concluded his speech with encouragement and a blessing.