In Catholic circles, it has become trendy to ‘live liturgically’—we see more and more blogs, Instagram posts and products helping us to bring the Church calendar into our daily lives, integrating our habits and customs with the seasons and feasts of the Church. In many ways, this trend is beautiful– it helps us to live the faith in concrete, tangible ways (often bringing in the delicious and delightful!) for our families to enjoy.
In entering into these celebrations of the saints, we learn more about the people whose lives show us diverse ways into the heavenly banquet. Living liturgically should all the lives of the saints to confront us, as we should dig into their paths to holiness and ask ourselves questions about how we can relate to these men and women whom the Church has held up as our models.
In the month of January, we’ve seen many greats already—starting with the celebration of the Theotokos, we’ve also celebrated St Elizabeth Ann Seton, St John Neumann, St Sebastian and St Francis de Sales, among others. Finally, on the 28th of January, we arrive at the feast of one of the great Doctors of the Church—the Saint whom Popes have agreed for centuries that all Catholics should know and study. We would miss the point of his celebration if we only mark it with Italian food and a passing mention of his sanctity.
Rather, the celebration of this Saint should confront us with the question: What am I doing to further my understanding of my faith? What am I doing to teach this understanding to those around me?
This answer will look different for each person, depending on abilities, interest, and prior study—but every Catholic needs to be able to answer it—in order to “always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Saint Thomas gives us a great example of someone who did this; he dedicated his life to giving this defense. In doing so, he gave us an amazing resource for answering this question ourselves.
For this reason, for every Catholic, at some point in their lives, the answer to this question should be: studying the works of St Thomas Aquinas. Why? The simple answer is: Because it will help you to grow in knowledge and understanding of your faith in a way that no other study can.
As a Doctor of the Church, Thomas has been held up by countless Popes as a resource for truth; his writing is foundational to or cited in many Church documents, including the code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For modern Catholics, its almost impossible to understand the writings of Saint Pope John Paul II without some basic understanding of Saint Thomas. Saint Thomas’ understanding of the supernatural building upon the natural world undergirds John Paul II’s understanding—and the unity of faith and reason found in them both helps us all to a greater understanding of our faith.
The main problem: studying Saint Thomas can be intimidating. There is just so much there. However, there are many resources available for those who wish to take this step to deepen their faith through study. For women, in particular, one stands out—through recognizing the unique gifts of women, Endow has put together studies that help women to both deepen their understanding of the faith and to foster intentional community through that study. Their studies on Saint Thomas, in particular, help to introduce women to the basic concepts that are foundational to his work, and also approach the topics that John Paul II draws from in his works regarding women and the human person.
Endow recognizes in these studies, entitled Aquinas for Beginners, Parts 1 and Part 2, that many women need an introduction to the ideas of St. Thomas before diving into his work. These studies are set up for busy women to be able to digest. Endow groups are meant to be done with no homework—the study is read together, then discussed as women progress through it. In this way, this intimidating work is made digestible, and women are enriched through their study.
Liturgical living, when we allow it to challenge us in this way, bears rich fruit. Instead of simply being a fun activity, asking the questions posed by the lives of the Saints helps us to see where we need to grow as Catholics. The question of Saint Thomas is a pivotal one for all Catholics. For women in particular, the demands of family and work life can make it difficult to see how an intellectual life is possible. This, however, is one of the biggest lies we are faced with—because our lives shine as an example for so many, we need to cultivate our faith through reason even more. On this year’s feast of Saint Thomas, accept the challenge to grow your faith through seeking understanding in some way.
An Endow group is set up to be an approachable way to accept the challenge—learn more about starting or joining a study here!
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