St. Thomas Aquinas on Lent

Today, March 7, is the actual day the great Doctor of the Church died. After the Second Vatican Council, the celebration of his feast day was moved to January 28, because March is usually in Lent and his feast could not be celebrated appropriately.


We do not have the text of St. Thomas' homilies; however, we do have some outlines. Here is one that helps us in our Lenten journey. Thomas, and most preachers in the Middle Ages, always used Scripture passages to back up what they were saying. Reading and thinking about just one sentence below can lead us to many insights. He is preaching on Luke 18:35: "A certain blind man sat by the wayside."

In the moral sense: the blind man is understood as a sinner - "They shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord." Zephaniah 1:17  As the blind does not see bodily, so the sinner does  not see spiritually.

1 - There are 7 causes that hinder the blind, which represent the 7 deadly, or capital, sins which produce spiritual blindness.
       - A swollen face is like pride: St. Augustine said, "My face is swollen so greatly, that it does not allow me to see."
       - A darkness in the air is like envy: the envious are spoken of as blind, "Their own malice blinded them." Wisdom 2:21
       - A derangement of the eyes is like anger: "My eye is consumed with grief." Psalm 31:9
       - Dust or anything that falls into the eye is like avarice: St. Augustine said, dust is like temporal things, "I wandered after temporal things and I was blinded."
       - No one can see who closes his eyes, this is a weakening from slothfulness: which is not opening one's intellectual eyes to behold  spiritual good. Boethius says, "The wicked accustom their eyes to darkness, they turn away from the light of truth."
       - Too much fluids around the eyes is like gluttony: "Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine." Proverbs 23:29 Too much alcohol deadens the spiritual and bodily eyes.
       - Little spots before the eyes is like lust: St. Augustine wrote, "Small cloudy spots ... and they darkened my heart that the sincerity of love could not be distinguished from the darkness of lust."


2 - There are 7 things that produce mental illumination. Spiritual sight consists also of 7 graces.
       - Faith - "Receive your sight: your faith has saved you." Luke 18:42
       - Humility - "For judgment I came into the world, that those who see might not see." John 9:39
       - Trials - "Gall of the fish is good for anointing the eyes." Tobit 6:9
       - Love of neighbor - "Eye ointment that you may see." Revelation 10:18
       - Abundant tears - "He went his way and washed and saw." John 9:7
       - Fervent prayer - "They cried out, 'Have mercy on us, Son of David' ... Jesus had compassion on them, touched their eyes, and immediately their eyes received sight." John 9:10
       - Reverent hearing or reading of Holy Scripture: "On that day shall the deaf hear the words of the Book, and the eyes of the blind shall see."  Isaiah 29:18




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