Monthly Archives: January 2015

Reading on St Thomas Aquinas

In the last year of Aquinas’ life it was remarked by those closest to him that he was becoming more and more abstracted, more and more absorbed in contemplation….At Compline, during the singing of the Media vita, his face was now bathed in tears.  And, during Mass, he would appear completely overwhelmed at times by the mystery he was celebrating.  On Passion Sunday 1273, with a large group of people present at the Mass, it was noticed that tears were flowing from his eyes, and, so profound was his ecstasy, at one point he had to be shaken so that he might return to himself and continue with the celebration.  On 6 December, several months later, finding himself once again rapt in prayer during Mass, something happened, an event of grace so truly overwhelming it was to mark a change in him forever.

…two aspects of this extraordinary event, a ‘physical’ as well as a ‘mystical’ aspect….’The physical basis for the event could have been…an acute breakdown of his physical and emotional powers due to overwork’.  That a profound mystical experience can, on occasion, be accompanied by a complete physical collapse is noted…‘a man may die of a broken heart because God works in him so vehemently that it is more than he can bear’.  And again: ‘many a man has died of this, giving himself up so utterly to these wondrously great works that his nature could not endure it and collapsed under the strain’.

After Mass that morning, 6 December 1273, Thomas…‘hung up his instruments of writing’.  He never complete the Summa.  Asked by his bewildered assistant, Brother Reginald, ‘Father, are you going to give up this great work?’  Thomas replied: ‘I can’t go on…Everything seems so much straw in comparison with what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.

St Thomas—the ‘bonus theologus’-leaves us with a final, unexpected word.  And the word is silence.  This does not mean, of course, that he had no more to say.  It means simply that what he had glimpsed, in his ecstasy, was utterly beyond the reach of human thought and human speech.  Years earlier, in a treatise on the Trinity, he had written: ’God is honored by silence, not because we may say or know nothing about him, but because we know that we are unable to comprehend him.

…It (St Aquinas final days) is a silence, first and last, of attention to the Word of God, the silence of the grace of listening, the silence of a mind continually amazed at the radiant fullness of truth revealed in Christ.  It is a silence of willing obedience to the will of the father, and to the least movement of the workings of the Spirit.  It is a silence of love, of Trinitarian communion, a silence of day-to-day intimacy and friendship, a silence which denotes the very opposite of a mere intellectual monologue.  It is a silence which, though contemplative of the fact that God is beyond all human thought, all human words, is never for a moment disdainful of the humble words we use when we try to speak of God.  It is the silence of a mind utterly at rest in the contemplation of truth, and yet ever restless in its search for a deeper understanding.  It is a silence which breathes with that freedom of spirit which comes from the contemplation of eternal things, and yet remains committed always to the immediate task of the hour.  It is the silence of a man, living for years in the midst of the ordinary squabbles and conflicts of academe, who was yet able to be somehow at ease, and to live a quite extraordinary interior life.  It is the silence of a mystic on campus.

Paul Murray ‘Aquinas at Prayer The Bible, Mysticism, and Poetry’



Honoring the Blessed Mother

Mary pierced

Mary pierced

“From day to day, from moment to moment, she increased so much this twofold plenitude that she attained an immense and inconceivable degree of grace. So much so, that the Almighty made her the sole custodian of his treasures and the sole dispenser of his graces. She can now ennoble, exalt and enrich all she chooses. She can lead them along the narrow path to heaven and guide them through the narrow gate to life. She can give a royal throne, sceptre and crown to whom she wishes. Jesus is always and everywhere the fruit and Son of Mary and Mary is everywhere the genuine tree that bears that Fruit of life, the true Mother who bears that Son.”

–St. Louis Marie de Montfort


Examination of Conscience

This quote is harsh, yet essential.  It applies to myself, to all pursuing the contemplative path.  It must not be applied to others, rather within myself the purging must center.

The pursuit of the good is not true charity when we pursue it with an unholy intention, or even when we pursue it for its own sake.  Divine charity does undoubtedly will the good but only for God’s sake.  What discouragements, what jealousies, what pettiness do we not witness among those who are more attached to the good than to the will of God!  Their efforts in well-doing often miscarry and they are disappointed and depressed.  They observe others participating in their enterprises and they grow jealous.  In order to succeed in their undertakings, they do not scruple to discredit or to oppose their collaborators in the same grand work, the work of redemption of immortal souls.  They just love themselves and prefer the human good to the divine.  They pretend to be going towards Jesus Christ, but they make an easy and often devious detour which brings them back to themselves.  They do not know how wide a difference there is between the man devoted to good and the man of God.  How many workers, brilliant in outward show, remain barren in results, because the love of self, rather than the love of God, has had the chief influence in forming and inspiring them?  –Abbot Vital Lehodey ‘The Way That Leads To God’.



Simple Enough

God’s Creation

For a man regards some deeds as well done and some as evil,
and our Lord does not regard them so,
for everything which exists in nature is of God’s creation,
so that everything which is done has the property of being God’s doing

I am that

I am that.
I am that which is highest.
I am that which is lowest.
I am that which is All.

I it am

I it am.
The greatness and goodness of the Father,
I it am;
The wisdom and kindness of the Mother,
I it am.

– Julian of Norwich



Day by day,
Stone by stone
Build your secret slowly


Divine Intervention

When this house of sensuality was now at rest—that is, was mortified—its passions being quenched and its desires put to rest and lulled to sleep by means of this blessed night of the purgation of sense, the soul went forth, to set out upon the road and way of the spirit, which is that of progressives and proficients, and which, by another name, is called the way of illumination or of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself feeds and refreshes the soul, without meditation, or the soul’s active help.  –St John of the Cross ‘Dark Night of the Soul’.

St John of the Cross Adoring

St John of the Cross Adoring