I’ve been dabbling a bit in Frederick Coppleston’s book on Aquinas, which is really interesting. I just want to get a bit more of a feel for Aquinas (and Coppleston), and then Augustine later in the fall, by way of contrast before (Lord willing) narrowing in on Anselm in the future. One of the things I find most gripping about Aquinas is the mystical experience he had while taking Mass on December 6th, 1273. According to tradition, Aquinas stopped all writing on this day, even though he was not yet 50 and in the middle of his Summa Theologica. When asked about it, he said, “everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.”
I don’t know fully what to do with this – whether its fully true, or how sympathetically to interpret it. But there is something in my own experience that helps me relate to it – times I have engaged in theological study without it feeding into my personal union with Christ, times I’ve divorced thinking from day to day life, times I have sought from intellectualism what I should only seek in Jesus. I’m convicted at how often in the past I’ve measured a day by how much I’m learning rather than how much I’m growing to be more like Jesus, or filled so much free time with reading and so little with prayer or service to others. This quote makes me long for Christ to consistently be the greatest pursuit of my life, and the Lord of my thinking and my study, so that studying apart from Christ seems like straw. Lord, let me taste more and more “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,” and in gaining Him lose all things.