The Greatest Virtue

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Tomorrow is the anniversary of the canonization of St. Thomas Aquinas—July 18, 1323.

Aquinas is today considered one of the greatest minds not only in Catholic understanding of God and humanity, but also perhaps the most brilliant philosopher since Aristotle, the ancient Greek thinker.

Pope Francis quoted St. Thomas when the Pope declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy we are now celebrating. In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Francis reminded us that Aquinas identified mercy as the greatest of the virtues. Aquinas said that all the other virtues revolve around mercy. Not only that, Aquinas wrote, it is through mercy that “God’s omnipotence is manifested to the greatest degree.”

On the feast of St. Nicholas in 1273, Aquinas was celebrating Mass when he received a revelation that affected him so much that he completely stopped writing, leaving unfinished his great work, the Summa Theologiae (Summary of Theology). He is quoted: "I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings seem like straw."

He died three months later.

Our prayer today: St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us that we may persevere—as you did—in hope, humility and mercy toward our brothers and sisters in Christ.   


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