Everything is straw

1 min read
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas is seen in a stained-glass window at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Guelph, Ontario. St. Aquinas says the fear of the Lord is the fear of abandonment. (CNS photo/Gene Plaisted, The Crosiers)

Question: It is said that St. Thomas Aquinas received a revelation that all of his brilliant writings were straw, and he then ceased writing. Does this mean that Catholics should take their doctrines with a dose of salt? 

Art Osten, Fox River Grove, Illinois

Answer: Yes, this story of St. Thomas Aquinas is widely known and shared. It should not be taken to mean that all theological reflection is a waste of time. Rather the story illustrates in a hyperbolic way that God is so much more than our little minds can ever know or describe.

Humility is always required when we consider the things of God. St. Thomas surely knew this and said it often. His teachings are an important guide for the Church, and our doctrines are both necessary and good. They should never be set aside even if God is so much more than our words and “straw” minds can know.

Msgr. Charles Pope

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. at blog.adw.org. Send questions to msgrpope@osv.com.