Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master

Mild Spoilers Ahead

Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master is a pithy book written by Bishop Robert Barron which focuses not only on Thomas' uncanny ability to write about the nature of God, but also on his deep faith and spirituality.

I am a great fan of Bishop Barron's writing and I was greatly looking forward to this book.  I was not disappointed!  It is not very long (about 180 pages) and I finished it in one sitting, but it is truly packed with information and food for thought.

The first part of the book goes through a bit of Thomas' life--his family background, his attempts to join an order, his capture by his brothers, and his journey to Paris.

Then a bit of Thomas' spirituality is discussed.  I found it amazing that Thomas woke up every day and celebrated one Mass and assisted at another before going to dictate his ideas to scribes.  It is legendary that Thomas would dictate up to four different ideas at a time to scribes without losing his train of thought.

The third part goes through a few of Thomas Aquinas' ideas and suppositions, discusses the objections raised to them, and does a great job of making his ideas clear.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the explanation that, while Thomas Aquinas explored God's nature deeply, he understood that if he "completely understood" who God was, he wasn't talking about God anymore.  As the saying goes, "if you see the Buddha on the road, kill him."  Thomas Aquinas recognized that it would be pretentious for a human being to assume he can "figure out" God, and resigned himself to take reason as far as it would go, and then fill in the blanks with faith.

Bishop Barron's writing style is delightful as always, and in addition to this book, he also has done a couple videos and podcasts on Thomas I would recommend:

Word on Fire Show 037: St. Thomas Aquinas, The Theologian
Word on Fire Show 021: How and Why to read Thomas Aquinas 
Bishop Barron on Thomas Aquinas
Bishop Barron on Thomas Aquinas and the Argument from Motion
Bishop Barron on Thomas Aquinas' Writing

Have you read Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master?  What is your opinion on it?

Are you going to read Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master?  What do you already know about Thomas Aquinas?


  1. This sounds like a great book! I'll have to look for it. I've seen a few of Bishop Barron's videos, but I haven't read any of his writing yet.

    I know the basics of St. Thomas Aquinas' life - he is actually my brother's Confirmation saint - but I'd like to learn more. I greatly admire him for composing "Pange Lingua Gloriosi," which I love so much that I memorized it in Latin:).

    - Ellen Gianna

    1. Oh both his videos and writings are fantastic!

      That's a good choice for a Confirmation saint. Wow, impressive! That is one of my favorite hymns as well.