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Showing posts with label Theologian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Theologian. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Saint Katherine of Alexandria - Patron Saint of Philosophers

As a Roman Catholic Theologian, and a student of philosophy, Saint Katherine of Alexandria is my patroness.


I have this image of her, painted by the renaissance master Raphael tattooed on my right arm.


Her legend tells us that she was born in Alexandria, Egypt around the year 287 CE, and that she died as a martyr during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maxentius c. 305.


She was broken on the wheel; she was tied to it, impaled on its spikes, and crushed beneath it as it was rolled through the streets.


Katherine was only eighteen years old but gifted with a rare intellect. She was from a wealthy family and used her fortune to hold salons where she invited pagan philosophers to debate with her and other Christian scholars on matters concerning the central tenets of the faith and the doctrines of the Church.


Katherine is always depicted in the saffron and ochre robes of the philosopher, which had been the tradition throughout the ancient Near East and Hellenistic Civilization since at least the time of Socrates (mid-fourth century BCE). It is likely that these colors, and their association with philosophy come from the Buddhist missionaries travelling west from as early as the sixth century BCE.


Given First 11.25.2020

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Patron Saint of Philosophy, Angelic Doctor of the Church - A Reflection

When I finally made it to university, I went to a place named for this man, The University of Saint Thomas, in Saint Paul, Minnesota and I studied philosophy there.

It was a grand place, it felt like a university, with its tall stately buildings made from massive blacks of light tan stone, Minnesota sandstone quarried from the hills nearby, when I passed through the arches into the quad I felt like I had arrived.

I studied philosophy, theology and the classics during my time there. Saint Thomas prepared me for advanced studies elsewhere, I continued my theological work, though not as exhaustively as he, his Summa Theologica remains a unique achievement in the history of Western thought, more important for the mode of thinking he transmitted his ideas through, than for the conclusions that he made. His work bridged the gap between the ancient philosophers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle (and others), re-employing the tools of logic, and discursive reasoning that allowed Europeans to leave the Dark Ages, clearing the way for the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason that followed.

Saint Thomas died on March 7th, 1274. In 1969 the Church moved the day we celebrate his feast to January 28th, we celebrate his sainthood today. He was Italian by birth, and a member of the Dominican order, a scholastic, and he was famous in his day. He died while making a pilgrimage on the Appian Way, death took him at the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova, and the monks there knowing that he would be famous, and a saint of great renown, coveted the relics of his body.

They boiled his carcass down and polished his bones, preserving all of the water for distribution in the relic-trade, they refused for years to turn his body over to his Dominican brothers, parceling out his bones and the water bit by bit over time, keeping his skull until the very end.

The University of Saint Thomas has a vial of that water in its collection of sacred artifacts, as silly business, really, and beneath the dignity of the intellectual giant that Aquinas was known to be.

There is a prayer that Thomas wrote, it is carved into a column of the main entrance to the school grounds, and I read it every day or recited it aloud every day that I attended classes on the campus in Saint Paul.

It is a prayer that I carry with me still, as if it were written in my heart:

Grant, O Merciful God
That I may ardently desire,
Prudently examine,
Truthfully acknowledge,
And perfectly accomplish
What is pleasing to thee
For the praise and glory
Of thy name

Given First 2020.01.28

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Theology, List A

Theologians struggle to find words about God
This is what we do
Struggle to find words about God
An imperative
The work of a theologian should not be too easy
The product of theology should not be too cozy
It should challenge us
Confront us with insight into who we are
Theological work cannot be done in a vacuum
The work of theology is relational
In Essence
Adam did not become human until Eve came along
Before Eve, Adam was just a thing made from dirt
Through Eve, Adam became human

Human beings struggle to find words about relationships
As in theology, this is what we do
Struggle to find words about relationships
An imperative
The work of relationships is easy
The product of relationships may not be cozy
It should challenge us
Confront us with insight into who we truly are
Alone, we cannot work on relationships

There are no meaningful words about God
Given without a meaningful understanding of self
In the light of an-other
Give to others as you would have them give to you
Love one another
And be loved
By God, love God
In the other, love
In them,
As they are in you

As one