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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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More than sixty separate works, some of great length and some brief, came

from the fertile mind of the Angelic Doctor. 6 Most important and, one would

wish, most familiar of all his writings is the "Summa Theologica." This is

a complete scientific exposition of theology and at the same time a summary

of Christian philosophy. St. Thomas considered this work simply as a manual

of Christian Doctrine for the use of students. He thus announced its

division: "Since the chief aim of this sacred science is to give a

knowledge of God, not only as He is in Himself, but also as He is the

Beginning of all things and the End of all, especially of all rational

creatures - we shall treat first of God; secondly, of rational creatures'

advance towards God; thirdly, of Christ who as Man is the Way by which we

tend to God." These are the leading ideas of his "Summa," and upon them he

based the three Parts of this great work.


The "Summa contra Gentiles," whose full title is "Treatise on the truth of

the Catholic Faith against Unbelievers" (1258-1261), is the most profound

and doubtless the most powerful apologetically work ever written. It is St.

Thomas' "Summa philosophica," taking philosophy in the modern sense. The

long list of Commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures are exhaustive, of great

depth, and of permanent value. The "Perfection of the Spiritual Life" is

one of the classics in the field of ascetical and mystical theology, and

together with pertinent parts of the "Summa" forms a complete explanation

of the Christian higher life. 7 St. Thomas also wrote the admirable "Office

for the Feast of Corpus Christi" with its familiar prayers and hymns. 8



6. For a complete list of St. Thomas' writings: Cayre, "loc. cit.";

Maritain, "The Angelic Doctor," pp. 179-183'

Catholic Encyclopedia," XIV, 666 sqq.


7. Cf. Hugh Pope, O. P., "On Prayer and the Contemplative Life by St

Thomas" (Benziger Bros., 1914).


8. It contains the "Pangua lingu" with "Tantum ergo" among its verses,

"Sacris Solemnis" with the lines of "Panis angelicus," "Verbum supernum"

with its concluding verse, "O salutaris hostia." The antiphon of the Office

is the beautiful "O Sacrum Convivium." The Prayer said by the celebrant at

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, "Deus qui nobis sub Sacramento

mirabili, etc.," is also a part of this Office. The Eucharistic poem,

"Adoro te devote," is also probably by St. Thomas, who is rightly called

the Doctor of the Eucharist.



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