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St. Thomas Aquinas

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/06/04 at 12:00 AM

 

  •  Holy Mother Church celebrates the feast day of one of her most beloved and important saints: St. Thomas Aquinas, who, even though he died in 1274, continues to influence the Church with his philosophy and theology.
  • Originally, St. Thomas’ feast day fell on March 7th – the day he died. But in the reform of the liturgical calendar, his feast day was moved to January 28th, which is the day his relics were transferred to Toulouse in 1369, where they remain to this day.
  • When we think of St. Thomas Aquinas, most of us think of his scholarly accomplishments and the important theological works that he produced. For this reason St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of universities and students.
  • But in addition to his keen intellect and his patronage of scholarly pursuits, St. Thomas is also a great patron for those struggling with sins of the flesh.
  • When St. Thomas decided to become a Dominican, his family strenuously opposed him, for they wanted him to become a politically powerful churchman, something that would not be possible in a religious order as new as the Dominicans were in St. Thomas’ day.
  • Wishing to be free from family opposition, St. Thomas asked to be sent away to Paris, but his two brothers, both knights, captured Thomas en route to Paris and took him prisoner.
  • When Thomas steadfastly refused to give up the idea of being a Dominican, his brothers sent a woman of ill repute into his room to tempt him to break his vow of chastity, and hopefully thereby dissuade him from following his vocation.
  • When this woman entered his room, St. Thomas picked up a burning stick from the fireplace and chased her out. Then, falling on his knees, he prayed to be delivered from these trials.
  • Immediately, St. Thomas was enveloped in a mystical experience in which angels girded him with a cord of chastity, saying as they did so: “On God’s behalf we gird thee with the girdle of chastity, a girdle that no attack will ever destroy.”
  • From that time forward St. Thomas never again experienced the temptations of the flesh, and it is for this reason that he is a powerful intercessor for those struggling with the temptations of the flesh.
  • Last Sunday I spoke at length about marriage and the marital act, and how a disordered view of the marital act has not only distorted our society’s understanding of marriage, but has also led to the acceptance and proliferation of abortion and same sex unions.
  • This week I want to focus on the solution to these terrible problems in our society: chastity.
  • As a priest and confessor, it seems to me that of all of God’s wonderful gifts to humanity, thegift of our sexuality is the one that is most often misunderstood and misused – so much sothat our society is drowning in a sea of licentiousness and lust.
  • Truly, chastity has become a forgotten and even discarded virtue in our world today, eventhough it is one of the most beautiful and helpful of the virtues.
  • We see this very clearly in the movies, television shows, and music being produced today –so much of which extols and encourages lustful acts as healthy, normal, and even virtuous.
  • But as Catholics we know that there is nothing healthy or virtuous about any sinful behavior!Sin always wounds us! Yet we must do more than simply believe the truth.
  • No, my brothers and sisters, in response to the terrible sexual vices we see being promoted inall segments of the arts and entertainment of our culture, we must live the truth of human sexuality by learning to be pure and chaste, and we must encourage others to do the same!
  • And good St. Thomas Aquinas can and will help us in this difficult battle!
  • There was a message from Our Lady of Fatima that more souls go to hell for the sin of lust than any other. However, this does not mean that it’s the worst sin, only the most popular.But nevertheless, lust – in whatever form it comes – must be avoided at all costs.
  • Because they are pleasurable, sins of the flesh easily become habits that enslave us to sin.
  • As we habitually give ourselves to these sins over time, our understanding of human natureand human sexuality becomes distorted, and then we begin to treat other people as objectsrather than treat them with the dignity proper to all human beings.
  • This is why we need chastity. Chastity is the virtue that helps us fight lust and moderates ourdesire for sexual pleasure, which is so alluring and so easily corrupted.
  • Chastity is the successful integration of sexuality within a person so that we don’t misuse thisprecious gift. It is an enduring orderliness among all of one’s sexual instincts, emotions, thoughts, and desires. Thus, chastity subdues our impure inclinations and desires which allow the vice of lust to get a foothold within us.
  • In short, chastity, like all of the virtues, is a reflection of Who God Is: He is PURE LOVE! To say that something is pure is to say that it’s “authentic, simple, wholly itself, true.”
  • Having a chaste love or a pure love means loving with authenticity, wholly, and with truth, i.e., according to God’s will. Thus, chastity reveals to us the true nature of conjugal love.
  • Because our sexuality is the part of our humanity most easily corrupted, chastity can be very difficult to attain – and thus we need help! And that’s where St. Thomas comes into play.
  • If you pick up a bulletin today after Mass, you’ll notice in my weekly letter that I wrote about the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, which is a supernatural fellowship of men and women bound to one another in love and dedicated to pursuing and promoting chastity together under the powerful patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • Obviously, the Blessed Virgin Mary is a powerful intercessor, and as the all-pure one, she is the perfect intercessor for those striving for chastity.
  • As for St. Thomas, throughout his life his behavior and demeanor proved that he had received a special grace of chastity and purity from our Lord – a grace that he is now ready and willing to share with others through the communion of saints.
  • By becoming a member of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, one places himself into the hands of St. Thomas and our Lady, and enjoys their intercession in fighting the sin of lust.
  • But there are certain responsibilities for the Confraternity members, namely: to guard one’s own purity, to seek the truth, to pray the Rosary daily, to wear a chastity cord or the medal of the Confraternity, and to pray prayers for chastity on a daily basis.
  • The Confraternity is open to all confirmed Catholics who are in full communion with the Catholic Church. To become a member, one has to be enrolled.
  • Therefore, I am planning an enrollment ceremony for all of you who are interested in becoming members on Thursday, March 7th – the original feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas.
  • In the next several weeks I will be providing information about the Angelic Warfare Confraternity and the enrollment ceremony in the bulletin and on the parish website.
  • If you are a baptized and confirmed Catholic, regardless of whether you struggle with chastity or not, I encourage you to think about becoming a member of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, for there are many graces for those who are members.
  • So please take a bulletin home and learn more about the Confraternity.
  • May we all strive for purity and chastity: for our own sake, and the sake of our society at large.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

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