This Monday, the Church celebrates the feast of St Thomas Aquinas, one of the most brilliant minds in the whole history of Christianity.
This video by Bishop Robert Barron outlines the main contours of the saint's life and the main features that marked his theology.
Here are a number of his most memorable teachings that are still powerfully relevant in our day.
1. Grace builds on nature: for Thomas, the Christian life is a flourishing and a fulfilment of the natural order of humanity. Christ came to save us from sin so that we might have the fullness of life and of joy. So for Thomas, being a good Christian is not possible without being a good human being.
2. 'Nil nisi te Domine.....Nothing but you Lord'. One night Thomas was praying and he sensed the Lord was pleased with him. So much so that he offered Thomas what he desired most. Thomas' words were 'Nil nisi te, Domine...Nothing but you Lord'. For Aquinas, the highest good and highest joy is God himself. He is our beatitudo or blessedness which is what we desire most of all.
3. For Thomas, moral obligations are not an end in themselves. The moral law of what we ought or ought not to do is prescribed by our blessedness or happiness. For Thomas, the question of what makes humans happy was all important. By happy he does not mean feelings that come and go but a harmony of the soul that comes from the worship of God as our highest good. In contrast to today's individualism of what makes me feel good, Thomas reminds us that virtues like faith, hope, love, justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude (the virtues) are what makes the soul happy and alive with God's life.
4. Thomas was the composer of many beautiful Eucharistic hymns including the much loved Tantum Ergo whose words have been set to the music of composers including Mozart and Palestrina. More than anyone else, he wrote and taught on the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. With Thomas we adore the Lord Jesus present in the Eucharist.
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.
To the Everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
Forth from Each eternally,
Be salvation, honour, blessing,
Might, and endless majesty.