Monday, June 30, 2008

Prayers, Tears, and Truth

He lived in a kind of rapture and perpetual ecstasy. He prayed without ceasing, wept, fasted, yearned. Each of his syllogisms is as a concretion of his prayer and his tears; the kind of grace of lucid calm which his words bring to us springs doubtless from the fact that the least of his texts retains invisibly the impregnation of his longing and of the pure strength of the most vehement love. While he was living, did not the mere bodily sight of him procure, according to his contemporaries, a grace of spiritual consolation? The masterpiece of strict and rigorous intellectuality, of intrepid logic, is thus brimming over from a heart possessed by charity.
On his return to Naples after the death of Thomas, Reginald was to exclaim: "As long as he was living my Master prevented me from revealing the marvels that I witnessed. He owed his knowledge less to the effort of his mind than to the power of his prayer. Every time he wanted to study, discuss, teach, write or dictate, he first had recourse to the privacy of prayer, weeping before God in order to discover in the truth the divine secrets, and, though he had been in uncertainty before praying, as a result of his prayer he came back instructed." When doubtful points would arise, Bartolommeo di Capua likewise reports, he would go to the altar and would stay there weeping many tears and uttering great sobs, then return to his room and continue his writings.

--Jacques Maritain, St. Thomas Aquinas, 47

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