Bishop Barron talks about the events shortly before St. Thomas Aquinas' death in a behind the scenes video from the filming of CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players, a documentary series that illumines a handful of saints, artists, mystics, and scholars who not only shaped the life of the Church but changed the course of civilization. (2:21)
"Nothing but yourself, Lord"
It is this focus on God’s glory that has given all the saints such remarkable energy and courage. St. Thomas Aquinas was given perhaps the greatest intellect the world has ever known. A member of the first generation of Dominican friars, he lived in the 1200s and died in his late 40's.
He was so far above his peers in philosophical and theological knowledge and understanding that he was given the title “Angelic Doctor.” During his short life, he produced an entire library of works defending and explaining the Catholic Faith – a library which remains to this day the pillar of Catholic theology.
His mind was so remarkable that he could write five books at the same time. He would sit at a table with five secretaries and dictate a paragraph to one of them. While one secretary wrote down that paragraph, he would dictate another paragraph of another book to another secretary – keeping all five scribbling for hours.
Soon before he died, he was praying in a chapel, kneeling beneath a large wooden crucifix. The sacristan heard a strange noise and peeked into the chapel. He saw our Lord appear to the saint and say to him: “You have written well of me Thomas; what reward would you have?” To which the Angelic Doctor replied, “Nothing but yourself, Lord.”
He was recalled to Naples for his study and teaching, and on the feast of St. Nicholas one year, during Mass, he received a revelation that affected him so greatly that he left his great work, the Summa Theologiae, unfinished. “The end of my labors has come,” he said. “All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.”
That was the secret to his incredible output, to the total development of his natural and supernatural potential: he was doing everything not for his own glory, but just for Christ.
"Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain." (Phil 1:20)