28 January, Thursday – Being in Community

Jan 28 – Memorial for St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was the son of the Count of Aquino. He was born in the family castle in Lombardy near Naples, Italy. He was educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino, and at the University of Naples. He secretly joined the mendicant Dominican friars in 1244. His family kidnapped and imprisoned him for a year to keep him out of sight and deprogram him, but they failed to sway him, and he rejoined his order in 1245.

He studied in Paris, France, from 1245 to 1248 under St. Albert the Great, then accompanied Albertus to Cologne, Germany. He was ordained in 1250, then returned to Paris to teach. He taught theology at the University of Paris. He wrote defenses of the mendicant orders, commentaries on Aristotle and Lombard’s Sentences, and some bible-related works, usually by dictating to secretaries. He won his doctorate, and taught at several Italian cities. He was recalled by the king and the University of Paris in 1269, then recalled to Naples in 1272 where he was appointed regent of studies while working on the Summa Theologica.

On 6 December 1273, he experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it and his other writing were so much straw in the wind compared to the reality of the divine glory. He died four months later while en route to the Council of Lyons, overweight and with his health broken by overwork.

His works have been seminal to the thinking of the Church ever since. They systematized her great thoughts and teaching, and combined Greek wisdom and scholarship methods with the truth of Christianity. Pope Leo VIII commanded that his teachings be studied by all theology students. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1567.

  • Patron Saint Index

Heb 10:19-25
Mk 4:21-25

Do not stay away from the meetings of the community…

I know someone who is struggling to find a community where she can belong so that she can pour out her woes and share all that has happened over the past few years in her life. She seems to have hit rock bottom and, despite meeting with various priests and attending one or two healing sessions, she seems ‘trapped’ in her own fears and anxieties.

Two years ago, at one of our then-regular Friday Growth sessions, our spiritual director spoke about grace and passed the mike around in one section of the congregation to allow us to specify one moment in the past where we felt blessed by God’s grace. As I was mulling it over, it dawned on me that I was blessed to be a part of the CSC community. That in spite of the challenges, issues and personalities within our own ministry, we seemed to be progressing and that some sense of renewal was happening.

Then, it gave me the impetus to make it a point to always be there for practice, for meetings and to support as many of the iconic retreats as possible. I also shared with my discipleship group that I am certainly more comfortable now bringing in my talents and skills which I use at work to help with establishing some processes and SOPs so that worship leaders can focus on the music and songs, rather than the more operational issues – what I termed ‘five cent, ten cent’ matters.

I discerned that were it not for this community who had welcomed me with open arms, I would probably be sitting at a bar somewhere downing alcohol and munching on something delicious and fried. And while the community was going through a period of transition, as long as I felt that I had something worthwhile to contribute, and as long as it continued to be life-giving to me, I must not shortchange God by not giving back.

The microphone never came to our section. But after Mass, we walked over to a wake opposite the centre, where we celebrated the life of uncle Andrew, father of one of our ministry heads. The small team that prepared the prayers had asked me to bring my violin along and that night, I played to my heart’s content for him and for our loving Father.

Brothers and sisters, if you are part of a praying community, look past the strife and the issues. They are but unnecessary distractions. Focus on Jesus, and on the talents that God has given you in order to serve that community.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for gracing us with such abundant talents and for putting us in our communities where we learn to walk closer to you each and every day.

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