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Fr. Paul: “St. Thomas Should
Always be our Inspiration”

Posted: March 12, 2018

by Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P.
Head Chaplain
Thomas Aquinas College
Homily from St. Thomas Day 2018
March 7, 2018
Audio / CC


Our Mass today is for St. Thomas, but we also have today the feast of the dedication of this chapel. On this day in 2009, Cardinal Mahony prayed in the words of the Consecration prayer, “The Church is exalted, a city set on a mountain, a beacon to the whole world.” The Church is light for the world, and this chapel, in particular — sharing in the work of salvation for all the world. Here the Sacrifice of Cavalry is offered, which daily atones for the sins of mankind. As St. Padre Pio has said, “Without the Mass, the world would cease to exist” — our Mass here in this chapel, daily sanctifying souls, constantly beseeching the divine favor for our poor planet, darkened by sin and ignorance.

So we also have today the Feast of St. Thomas on the old liturgical calendar, marking the day in 1274 when he died at the Cistercian Monastery of Fossanova, just south of Rome. And in him the Church has had, through the centuries, one of its greatest beacons of divine truth. Pope Leo XIII called him the Common Doctor of the Church. Leo considered him a theologian of such wisdom that it seemed St. Thomas bore within himself the thought of all the Church fathers, so wonderfully has he enlightened mankind over the centuries with the truth of the Catholic faith.

And for this reason we have the gospel for today that St. Thomas lived so fully: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket. It is set on lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.”

So this very church, and our holy patron, and our gospel give us the direction our lives have to go as followers of Christ, out into the world with the saving doctrine of Christ, not allowing it to become weakened and useless. As Our Lord says, “If salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything, to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Any change to the saving doctrine would make it no longer the teaching God gave to man, but man’s teaching to man. It would no longer have the salt of divine wisdom, and as a result no longer have the power to initiate man into the supernatural knowledge and life of God, which is now becoming especially concerned with the challenges to the Church’s ancient practice of prohibiting communion to divorced and remarried couples, and challenges to her teaching that homosexual behavior is always a grave offense against the Creator. Some bishops even propose that the Pope’s Encyclical Amoris laetitia has brought about a development of Catholic doctrine permitting certain people entangled in a state of mortal sin to receive the Eucharist without change of life — a very false understanding of how Church teaching develops.

Any development always upholds the teaching of Christ with the greatest respect and fidelity, never altering what Christ has given us. As the great British apologist Frank Sheed once put it, the Church, in its expanding doctrine, is like a man brought into a dark room. Although at first he will see only general shapes, as his eyes adjust he will gradually see larger objects, then smaller ones ,and even the finer details. But there has been no change in what is there. Nothing has been taken out, nothing added. And so it is with the development of sacred teaching. We gain refinement of understanding, but teaching that was present in the past continues to be present, never morphing into some new kind of knowledge.

As we know, the enemy never rests, and this deposit of faith is under attack, not only from our secular world, but even from misguided members of the Church. And along with St. Thomas, our attitude must never be one of sitting back and being passive.

As one author reminds us, “If we want to follow in the Master’s footsteps, we can’t stand idly by as if everything were irredeemably lost and nothing can be done about it.” All of us can and ought to sow the seed of good doctrine at every opportunity in the circle of our family, or friends, and among colleagues at work, letting them see for themselves the attractiveness of truth being ready to unmask falsehood. And in this St. Thomas should always be our inspiration, that we might follow him as witnesses to the truth of our faith, as having great fidelity to the Church’s doctrine, being in every way the salt and light of the Gospel for the world.

St. Thomas, pray for us, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Streaming & downloadable audio / CC


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Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P. -- St. Thomas Day 2018
Thomas Cavanaugh (’18) -- quote 1

“The things we discover in the classroom, we recognize as true not because someone told us that they are true, but because we have reasoned to them for ourselves.”

– Thomas Cavanaugh (’18)

Larkspur, California

“Few schools anywhere can match Thomas Aquinas College’s extraordinary blend of deep Catholic faith and rich academic formation.”

– The Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput

Archbishop of Philadelphia