"It's All Straw"

The Feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas and it's good to remember one of the most essential but most often neglected facts regarding St. Thomas.  Toward the end of his life, he is noted as saying "All I have written is as straw. . ."  an astounding act of abject humility which can be variously interpreted--from everything is meaningless, to the much more profound, 'I didn't make a dent in the subject area."  I think what he was saying comes closer to the latter along with a sense of "And even if I did, it isn't what really matters anyway."  I think the mystical St. Thomas had come to the understanding that understanding is simply the prelude to love and when love is in the ascendant, understanding sets itself in the proper light of necessary antecedent.  That is, one in love doesn't really seek so much to understand as to love better.  When one had gone so far down the path of understanding, it would be more evident that understanding can only take one so far.

So, happy feast day to all.  May you contemplate the Angelic Doctor's words and come to understand them in a way that increases love.


  1. Steven, in 1979, Cullen Murphy (who would later go on to become the editor of The Atlantic Monthly) wrote an interesting piece for Harper's called "All the Pope's Men," about the handful of scholars who can actually decipher the surviving manuscripts in Aquinas's own hand. My Latin prof distributed copies of the article to us in grad school; if I could find mine, I'd scan it pop it over to you via email ASAP, but if you happen to be near a library with old copies of the magazine, it's worth a read.

  2. Dear Jeff,

    Thank you so much for helping me to celebrate the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas.




Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Structures--Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway

Another Queen of Night

Lewis Carroll and James Joyce