In , he accompanied Albert to Cologne, Germany.
From there, Thomas returned to Paris where he became known as a great teacher and theologian. He spent some time in Rome as a papal advisor, returned to Paris to teach for a period and then returned to Naples to found a house of studies In , on the way to a church council at Lyons, France, he took sick and died at the age of His works show him to be a brilliant lecturer, a clear thinker and an Aristotelian.
In an age which was uncomfortable with the notion that the universe could be known apart from revelation, he pioneered the use of the Greek philosophy that featured the power of reason to demonstrate that God and his universe could be understood by reason guided by faith. His large girth and slow, deliberate style earned him the nickname "The Dumb Ox!
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His proofs for the existence of God, apart from faith and revelation, utilizing the power of reason are considered flawed by some 20th century historians of philosophy Bertrand Russell, for example because, he argues, Thomas proved what he already believed to be true. Therefore, according to Russell, his work should be viewed as an artful, concise argument, but not a decisive proof. In spite of this reservation, Russell acknowledges Thomas's contributions to the intellectual movement called Scholasticism, which succeeded in liberating scholarship from the provincial shackles that uninformed religious censorship often created for it.
Thomas also continued in the spirit of Albert the Great to lay a foundation of legitimacy for the Christian study of natural phenomena that allowed Christian Europe to proceed to the initial stages of the scientific revolution. A statue of St. Thomas Aquinas faces the entrance to the first floor of the Academic Building. See photo, left It was sculpted by Sr. Despite preaching every day, he found time to write homilies, disputations and lectures, and continued to work diligently on his great literary work, the "Summa Theologica".
Aquinas was characterized as a humble , simple, peace-loving man, given to contemplation , and a lover of poetry. He always maintained self-control and won over his opponents by his personality and great learning.
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There were various reports by friars and monks of minor miracles concerning Aquinas ranging from levitation to voices from Heaven. He refused to participate in mortification of the flesh , which as a Dominican Friar he was supposed to observe.
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He also refused out of hand such prestigious positions as Archbishop of Naples and Abbot of Monte Cassino although he was persuaded back to the University of Naples in The Dominican Order prudently moved him to Italy while the investigations proceeded in Paris. In , en route to attend the Second Council of Lyons to attempt to settle the differences between the Greek and Latin churches, Aquinas fell ill and eventually died at the nearby Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova.
In , three years after Aquinas' death, the Bishop of Paris and the Bishop of Oxford issued another, more detailed, edict which condemned a series of Thomas's theses as heretical , on the grounds of the orthodox Augustinian theology which considered human reason inadequate to understand the will of God. As a result of this condemnation, Aquinas was excommunicated posthumously a landmark in the history of medieval philosophy and theology , and it took many years for his reputation to recover from this censure.
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In , he was named a Doctor of the Church. In , Pope Leo XIII stated that Aquinas' theology was a definitive exposition of Catholic doctrine, and directed clergy to take the teachings of Aquinas as the basis of their theological positions. Today, he is considered by many Catholics to be the Catholic church's greatest theologian and philosopher. Aquinas was a Christian theologian , but he was also an Aristotelian and an Empiricist , and he substantially influenced these two streams of Western thought. He believed that truth becomes known through both natural revelation certain truths are available to all people through their human nature and through correct human reasoning and supernatural revelation faith-based knowledge revealed through scripture , and he was careful to separate these two elements, which he saw as complementary rather than contradictory in nature.
Thus, although one may deduce the existence of God and His attributes through reason , certain specifics such as the Trinity and the Incarnation may be known only through special revelation and may not otherwise be deduced.
His two great works are the "Summa Contra Gentiles" often published in English under the title "On the Truth of the Catholic Faith" , written between and , and the "Summa Theologica" "Compendium of Theology" , written between and He stopped work on it after celebrating Mass on December 6, All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me. We can look to Thomas Aquinas as a towering example of Catholicism in the sense of broadness, universality, and inclusiveness.
We should be determined anew to exercise the divine gift of reason in us, our power to know, learn, and understand. At the same time we should thank God for the gift of his revelation, especially in Jesus Christ. Reflection We can look to Thomas Aquinas as a towering example of Catholicism in the sense of broadness, universality, and inclusiveness.