JMC : Saint Thomas Aquinas / by Raïssa Maritain

V Vocation

ALL the gifts necessary for the ideal Dominican vocation Saint Thomas had received from God in abundance.

A docile soul, which is nothing else than a capacity to understand and to learn.

A tenacious memory -- he never forgot what he had once learned.

A powerful mind -- his intelligence penetrated to the bottom of the most hidden truth.

A firm and unbreakable will -- to become wise and holy it is necessary to have a strong desire to be so.

A pure heart, of which God is the only treasure; and this purity is necessary for a clear vision of the truth.

Humility, before which God is tender and merciful; and it is to the humble that he reveals his most beautiful secrets.

Love of the Blessed Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom.

The wisdom of holiness, which comes down from the Father of Light and the Lord of all knowledge.

Finally, love of the truth, eternally sweet, "for the manifestation of which," said Saint Thomas, "divine Wisdom clothed itself with our flesh and came into the world saying, 'For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth.' " The words of Jesus Himself, which we find in the Gospel of Saint John.

And a teacher worthy of Thomas was destined for him in the person of Albert the Great, or Albertus Magnus, the wisest and most celebrated man of his day.


Thomas continued his studies at Naples. "His progress seemed the fruit of a power more divine than human, and threw his masters into stupefaction. His renown flew from mouth to mouth in all the schools." The Angel of the Schools began to spread his wings.

Drawn towards the Order of Saint Dominic, Thomas received the habit of the Preachers in the spring of the year 1244. He was twenty years old.

But this did not accord at all with the ambitions of his family. The newly-founded Dominican order seemed, no doubt, a poor and shaky institution compared with the venerable and solid order of Saint Benedict.

The parents of Thomas had taken it into their heads that he would be the Abbot of Monte Cassino. And here he was passing their wishes by for another will, which he knew very well. "A young man of such good family! It was disappointing the high hopes that were raised at the beginning of his career, to go and hide himself in the habit of a mendicant Order!" The scandal was great! But Thomas quietly held to his decision to follow a vocation about which he had no misgivings. He was obeying God.

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