Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

 Back in my undergraduate days at Saint Louis University, our philosophy club (being possessed of both zeal for philosophy and disregard for the opinion of others) decided to begin a marathon reading of the Summa Theologiae on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. We signed people up for slots throughout the day, and had them read each successive article.  The rules weren’t rigid. Readers were free to choose any language of their preference. Numerous editions were on hand for their perusal. The more cosmopolitan the affair, the better.

That was in the mid 90s. Somewhat surprisingly, students and faculty at SLU thought it was a pretty good idea, so they continued reading the next year. The Summathon became a tradition, working its way steadily along through the Prima Pars and onward. Languages multiplied, as did costumes. Kermit the Frog even made an appearance one year. The event displayed the collegiate tendency to have a little fun with the serious matters one respects the most.

Last year, the Summathon reached the end of St. Thomas’s magnum opus after 17 years. No word on whether this year they will start all over again, choose one of his many other works, or simply rest in a job well done. Regardless of the future of the Summathon, the truly impressive fact is that centuries after his death, philosophy and theology students still pick up their volumes of St. Thomas Aquinas in order to discover a vision of the world created and elevated by the God of infinite wonder. Given the combination of prodigious learning, acute intellect, and ardent faith which one finds in the Angelic Doctor, I believe that we will still find students opening the old tomes centuries hence.

January 28th, 2014