Praying With Thomas Aquinas by Mary Mercy Houle, Michael Monshau and Patrick F. Norris (St Mary's Press, 2000, 123 pp). Available from AD Books.
Based on St Thomas' Summa Theologicae, this beautiful guide to prayer takes the reader through 15 meditations. Each of them concentrates on a particular teaching of St Thomas, helping the reader gain a greater understanding of God and the possibility of a more inspired prayer life.
Each meditation presents its theme, provides the corresponding quote from Aquinas and presents an in-depth reflection together with a quote from scripture. Some of the themes include: The Trinity, God's Unconditional Love, Happiness, Friendship with God, The Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Virtue and Petitionary Prayer. The reflections given help readers explore each theme, through examining their own life, their relations with others and Sacred Scripture.
What emerges strongly through reading this book is how joyous is the philosophy of St Thomas, how optimistic and how uplifting - such was his great love for God and the goodness in His creation all around him, especially in the human person.
Praying with Thomas Aquinas uses the two foundations that influenced Thomas' life and work: firstly, that we came from God and are returning to him; and secondly, the Dominican aspiration of contemplation and then sharing with others the fruits of our contemplation. The teachings of this Dominican priest whose wisdom is continuously being re-discovered cannot help but encourage a deeper prayer life.
Catherine Sheehan is a Melbourne Catholic writer