Monday, January 28, 2013

Chill Out and Cheer Up with St. Thomas

"Blessed be the Lord; for love of him St. Thomas Aquinas spent long hours in prayer, study and writing." (Lauds, Jan. 28th)

the following is a re-run of a popular post from last year.

St. Thomas Aquinas is a favorite in our family, so we will certainly be praying the full office in his honor, using the common for doctors of the Church.   My husband's degree is in Thomistic  philosophy, and we've sent three of our brood to the wonderful Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. (Would have sent more of them, but their admissions standards includes high mathematics SAT scores, and some of our kids, unfortunately, take after me in that department.)
 I'm not  a  scholar, but whenever I dip into the Summa, I am  impressed and delighted at  St. Thomas' method of setting out a question, stating objections, and then giving  his reasoned conclusion. I love GK Chesterton's biography of St.Thomas, which you can get for only $2 on Kindle. What stands out in St. Thomas' life, even more than his intellect, is his purity, and I don't mean just in the chastity sense, but pure as in single-hearted. He had no interest in his academic reputation or importance or  career. All he cared about was Truth.

St. Thomas reasoned and wrote about thousands of topics. These ranged from  sublime to  practical. Book II of the Summa deals with the moral and spiritual life.  One section, "Of the remedies for sorrow or pain"(Part I Q.38), contains much of the same advice that we still see today when we open those magazines whose covers promise " Simple Ways to Lift Your Mood". St. Thomas recommends that we:
1. Vent a bit:"tears and groans assuage sorrow... a hurtful thing hurts yet more if we keep it shut up."
2. Indulge yourself in some way:"sorrow is driven out by pleasure"
3. Take a hot bath and get a good night's sleep: "sorrow,by its nature, is contrary to the vital movement of the body; and consequently whatever restores the bodily nature to its due state of vital movement, is opposed to sorrow and assuages it."
5. Talk to a friend:"when a man's friends condole with him, he sees that he is loved by them and this affords him pleasure."
Last and not usually mentioned in today's articles:
6. Contemplate the Truth: "And therefore, in the midst of tribulations, men men rejoiced in the contemplation of divine things and of future the powers of the soul there is an overflow from the higher to the lower powers; and accordingly,the pleasure of contemplation overflows so as to mitigate even that pain which is in the senses."
All in all, great advice to help you forget your troubles and get us through the dreary days of winter. Now I think I'll take a bath, have some hot chocolate, and go get a good night's sleep. I'll save contemplating the truth for the next hour of the liturgy.


  1. Oh Daria, thank you for this post.
    It is very timely, as my husband has been grieving the recent loss of a parent, and I feel so helpless to help his sorrow. These points by St Thomas Aquinas are so perfect. Thank you again.

    1. I think the very first comment you ever made on this blog was last year when I first ran this post. Thanks for sticking around.
      I'm sorry for you husband's loss. Will keep him in my prayers today. Probably the best you can do for him is prayer+being there. God bless you.

    2. Isn't that amazing? (about my first post)
      Thank you for your kind words, Daria, and most of all for your prayers.

  2. Thank you for this post. I love how St. Thomas could clearly articulate the opposing view. A friend of mine took a philosophy course where the teacher assigned them to read the proofs of God part of the Summa. One student then wrote about how much an atheist St. Thomas was, to which the teacher replied, "Did you read the entire assignment?" The student, of course, had only read the first few pages.