Be Real.

The Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest & Doctor of the Church.*

Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:

• Hebrews 9: 15, 24-28.
• Psalm 98: 1-6.
• Mark 3: 22-30.

…or, from the proper:

• Wisdom 7: 7-10, 15-16.
• Psalm 119: 9-14.
• Matthew 23: 8-12.

…or, any lessons from the common of Doctors of the Church or the common of Pastors for One Pastor.

The Third Class Feast of Saint Peter Nolasco, Confessor; and, the Commemoration of the Apparition of Saint Agnus, Virgin & Martyr.**

Lessons from the common "Justus ut palma…" of a Confessor not a Bishop, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:

• I Corinthians 4: 9-14.
• Psalm 36: 30-31.
• Luke 12: 32-34.

10:25 AM 1/28/2019 — As we have seen, there were those—mostly the simple at heart—who were genuinely amazed at both our Lord’s miracles and his preaching; but, there were also those—mostly the so-called learned or those in authority—who refused to believe in spite of what was taking place right in front of them. Today’s Gospel lesson is a case in point. The Scribes have witnessed a miracle, and their immediate reaction is to try to attribute it to something sinister: “…it is through the prince of the devils that he casts the devils out” (Mark 3: 22 Knox). It’s not dissimilar to last Wednesday’s Gospel lesson in which our Blessed Lord heals a man with a withered hand and is criticized for doing so on the sabbath. How can they criticize Him without first acknowledging that He has, in fact, done the deed, tacitly acquiescing to His divinity?
     There are two kinds of people in this world: those who conform themselves to the truth, and those for whom the truth is inconvenient and who will engage in any manner of sophistry to avoid doing so. As Ordinary Time progresses we’ll see it happen time and time again: “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” “Are not Joseph and Mary his parents?” “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
     Growth in the interior life is not possible without some degree of self-knowledge, and self-knowledge requires humility. Even a hint of rationalization or excuse stifles it. I think this is what our Lord meant when He exhorted us to be like little children—not childish but childlike. A child sees things as they are and reports them truthfully because he hasn’t yet learned how to be clever; hence, the cliché, “Out of the mouths of babes.”
     Providentially, today’s saint can be described as the patron saint of reality. By wresting the theology of the Church away from Plato—which had begun to take hold in the very time of Saint Paul—and grounding it firmly in the realism of Aristotle, Saint Thomas Aquinas saved the Church from becoming too ethereal, paved the way for understanding the reality of Transubstantiation, and laid the groundwork for all sound theology. By contrast, those churches which remained in the other-worldly dualism of Plato—particularly the Orthodox and Anglican Churches—descended into a kind of separation from reality in favor of style and poetry, giving way to defective theories regarding marriage, the Eucharist, and all the sacraments.
     For Saint Thomas, an egg is an egg. It’s not defined by its potentiality,—either as a chicken or breakfast—nor by how it’s perceived by anyone, or even if it’s perceived at all; nor can one ignore the reality of the egg and decide instead to concentrate on the scramble. Its reality is defined by its existence, not by its relationship to anyone or anything; and, if it were the only thing in the universe with no one to perceive it or eat it or scramble it or relate to it in any other way, it would still be an egg. This is what is called in philosophy realism. We do not bend or manipulate or “interpret” the universe around us to serve our own moral, social or political agendas; we conform ourselves to what is as created by God, and adjust accordingly. In time, the Church would give a name to this principle: Natural Law.
     “Be real!” used to be a favorite phrase of young people … back when I was young. I once had a college professor who was constantly berating me for speculating too much, and I asked him why. He said, “Because I want you to be clear and here.” The Scribes in today’s Gospel lesson were neither: they didn’t want our Lord to be God in spite of what they had seen; so, rather than change and conform themselves to the reality before them, they chose instead to deny reality and pretend that it wasn’t what it clearly was. Let us pray that we will always be clear and here with regard to our relationship to our Blessed Lord and the state of our souls.

* Aquinas (1225-1274) was educated at the Abbey of Monte Cassino and the University of Naples. In 1244 he joined the Dominicans, and taught at the University of Paris. Regarded as one of the greatest philosophers and theologians of all time, he is known as the "Angelic Doctor."

** Peter Nolasco founded the Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the Redemption of Captives. When funds for the work were exhausted, its members were bound by their rule to take the places of the prisoners with the infidels. St. Peter died in 1256.
  This commemoration of St. Agnus commemorates the apparition of the Saint to her parents who came to pray at her tomb eight days after her martyrdom. There is no Mass available for the commemoration, but an additional Collect, Secret and Postcommunion are added to those of the feast.