By Sarah Delaney
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians can come to an understanding of God and his plan through reason that is enlightened by faith, Pope Benedict XVI said as he explained the works of St. Thomas Aquinas.
At the weekly general audience June 23 at the Paul VI audience hall, the pope said the 13th-century saint and doctor of the Church showed in his writings how the intellect and faith come together to bring Christians closer to the mystery of God.
The pope, continuing his weekly lessons on the teachings of theologians from the Middle Ages, praised St. Thomas’ monumental unfinished work, the “Summa Theologica.” He said that in it St. Thomas posed questions that are relevant today. Through methods of inquiry inspired by ancient Greek philosophers, the pope said, he was able to “arrive at precise and lucid conclusions about the truth of faith that are accessible to all of us.”
Pope Benedict said St. Thomas had taught that man’s free will and thought must be “illuminated by prayer, enlightened from above.”
He said that, according to St. Thomas, moral nature lies in the “free will of man to perform acts of good, integrating reason, will and passion,” but to which must be added “the grace of God through the virtue and gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
To those who doubt faith because it cannot be explained through the senses, St. Thomas answered that human intelligence cannot know everything, and that faith and acknowledgment of the mystery of God were necessary, Pope Benedict explained.
In writing about the apostles, the pope said, St. Thomas said that man cannot live and learn without the experience of others. The saint taught that wise, noble and rich people listened to the apostles even though they were poor and simple because their words had been inspired by Jesus Christ, the pope said.
St. Thomas taught that “the soul unites with God and becomes a sprout of eternal life,” the pope said.
He said St. Thomas placed great importance on the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
“Brothers and sisters,” said the pope, “let us love this sacrament, nourishing ourselves with the body and blood of the Lord, to be everlastingly fed by divine grace.”
The Eucharist shows the “the great mystery of incarnation” and the faith that God appeared to man, in the body of Jesus Christ, “as one of us,” the pope said.
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Editor’s Note: The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100623_en.html
The text of the pope’s audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100623_sp.html.
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