NOTHING BUT THYSELF: Remembering St. Thomas Aquinas as Patron of Catholic Teachers
“WONDER is the desire of knowledge.” St. Thomas Aquinas, an Italian philosopher, one of the medieval saints and a very intellectual man who immersed his life into books and teaching, proposes that wonder is necessary for one to attain knowledge for it serves as the head start for that desire to know. St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of Catholic teachers stands as one of the primary figures that Catholic teachers of today should look up to. The question is, who would think that a man who is considered to be one of the most brilliant philosophers and theologians the Catholic Church has ever had is chosen to be the patron saint of catholic teachers? How would they relate to a man like St. Thomas Aquinas whose philosophy exerted enormous influence on subsequent Christian theology and the foremost classical proponent of natural theology? What was in him that the church saw him worthy to be the perfect example for catholic teachers to emulate?
St. Thomas Aquinas lived a very privileged life. He was born to a wealthy family around 1225 in Roccasecca, Italy. He had five sisters and he was the youngest of four sons. Like any other child, he had these anxieties as well. When he was still a little kid, his baby sister was killed by lightning while they were taking a nap in the same room. He was always haunted by these memories and he eases himself through praying and by sitting in the church. This is pretty much the reason why he is also considered to be the patron saint against thunderstorms and sudden death.
When he was a young boy, even if his parents were against it, he went to study at a monastery called the Monte Cassino where the abbot was a family relative of theirs. Then, he was sent to the University of Naples where he met the Order of Preachers also known as the Dominicans and joined their community at the age of 19. His family was so against it that they tried any means necessary for him to change his mind but this just made St. Thomas more committed to his chosen vocation. They could not accept that he joined a community so committed to poverty.
St. Thomas Aquinas continued to pursue his studies with the Dominicans in Naples, Paris and Cologne. He was ordained in Cologne, Germany in 1250, and went on to teach
theology at the University of Paris. Under the guidance of St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas earned his doctorate in theology. His humility sometimes led his classmates to misperceive him as dumb. After reading Thomas’s thesis and thinking it brilliant, his professor, St. Albert the Great, proclaimed in Thomas’s defense, “We call this young man a dumb ox, but his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the world!” After completing his education, St. Thomas Aquinas devoted himself to a life of traveling, writing, teaching, public speaking and preaching especially about the catholic faith and proving the existence of God.
He passed away at the age of 50 due to a serious illness. At the point of his death, he submitted all his work to the judgment of the Church. After his canonization he was given the title, doctor of the church and up until now his theology serves as one of the basis of Christian doctrine.
Teachers of today should imitate St. Thomas Aquinas because he remained humble and kind despite of his brilliance. He never criticized people, only their ideas. He was committed to remain loyal to the church and until the end rendered his service to her. As he said, “Wonder is the desire of knowledge.” and it is the role of teachers to empower this wonder into their students that they may strive to find the truth. Catholic teachers should be committed in inspiring their students to stay in the church thus serve as a good example as to how a good Christian ought to be. A teacher holds one of the most crucial parts of a child’s growth for they inspire hope, ignite their imagination, instill a love of learning and strengthen their love for God and His Church.