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Tony Grist

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Aquinas Sums Up [Jan. 20th, 2008|11:59 am]
Tony Grist
There's a story they tell about St Thomas Aquinas. I don't have a text to hand and I'm probably misremembering but it goes something like this. Late in life he had a direct experience of the Divine. These things are impossible to communicate. If they weren't we'd all be enlightened by word of mouth and the spiritual life would be a doddle- which it isn't.  Anyway that didn't stop the brothers from pestering him to tell them what it was that had happened to him. So he sat in his chair- he was a very large man- and he scowled and he ruminated and finally he nodded towards the massed volumes of the Summa Theologica- his life's work- one of the foundation stones of Western philosophy- and said, "Put it this way, if I'd known then what I know now I wouldn't have bothered." 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: margaretarts
2008-01-20 02:27 pm (UTC)
Beauty past telling. "I came to thee late, O Beauty so ancient and new, I came to love thee late." (Augustine)

What's a doddle?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-20 03:31 pm (UTC)
Glorious....

A doddle is something ridiculously easy. As in "that exam was a real doddle". :)
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[User Picture]From: margaretarts
2008-01-20 03:41 pm (UTC)

Thank you, I guess if I were from England, knowing what a doddle is would be a doddle.

See LJ wingfoldchatter (today's entry) for more glorious....
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-20 04:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

Is that your translation?
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[User Picture]From: margaretarts
2008-01-20 04:35 pm (UTC)
No, not my translation, I found it on a website. But it was in prose, and I just broke it into poetic lines.
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[User Picture]From: qos
2008-01-20 04:19 pm (UTC)
Wonderful story!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-20 04:23 pm (UTC)
I forget where I got it from- but I know I didn't make it up.
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From: msjann65
2008-01-20 04:35 pm (UTC)
A great story -- wonder if it's true? It's a bit in sync with the words of Jesus regarding the Law of Israel, in a way. Jesus simplified that which was complicated. I guess in his dotage, Aquinas also felt that he had overstated his case. At any rate, I will make a note of this tale in my regular journal and perhaps use the idea in some future writing.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-20 04:56 pm (UTC)
It feels true to me.

I'm reminded of what St Paul says in I Corinthians 13.

"Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
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From: msjann65
2008-01-20 07:08 pm (UTC)
Makes sense!
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[User Picture]From: margaretarts
2008-01-21 05:34 am (UTC)
Yes, it does make sense. In college I translated this chapter from Greek and was amazed to find that the literal translation is more like this: "For now we know in puzzle pieces, and we prophesy in puzzle pieces...." [but when we shall see the completed puzzle, we'll understand].
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-21 08:24 am (UTC)
I wonder what sort of puzzle Paul was envisaging. A mathematical puzzle perhaps? The Greeks didn't have jigsaw puzzles- or did they?
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[User Picture]From: margaretarts
2008-01-21 02:47 pm (UTC)
Yes, I was thinking of some form of "jigsaw" puzzle, not made with a jigsaw of course, but pieces fitting together somehow to make a complete picture. Any society able to make the Parthenon could have made puzzles for kids, eh?
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