Returning to Jesus Christ: How the Gospel addresses a culture that has forgotten how to love

27/10/2014

From the post of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta and Archbishop-elect of Sydney, at the ABC Religion & Ethics website

GK Chesterton relates the story of "a large and heavy and quiet boy, and phenomenally silent" who one day surprised his tutor by suddenly asking "in an explosive manner": "What is God?" The schoolmaster was probably as much surprised by the animation displayed in this unobtrusive sluggard as by the precociousness of the inquiry, but the boy's family were well used to young Tommy's excitement about such questions.

The d'Aquino family had long known that their seventh son was unsuited to government or fighting. For Neapolitan nobility, the only other live option was for him to enter the Church and hopefully rise to great heights, even to Abbot of Monte Cassino. It was, therefore, a shock to the system when he declared he wanted to join one of the brand new orders of beggar-friars. So appalled were they by this "waste" that Chesterton records the family kidnapped him for an extended period and even introduced a temptress to his cell!

Eventually they relented; young Thomas took the white habit of the Dominicans, vowed a life of obedience (with poverty and chastity) and was quickly packed off to the University of Paris, far from his family's tentacles. Having chased the courtesan out of his room and his heart, he was free to embrace a life of philosophy, theology and ethics, on the "secret throne of contemplation, from which he never rose again."

In this vignette, we glimpse something of what drove the man who came to be considered the greatest of Catholic theologians: a deep and abiding concern with the question of God, of what we can know (or not know) and say about God, about God's existence, essence, action and inner life.

Continue reading full post at the ABC Religion & Ethics website

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