Jul 30 2007
The following is an excerpt from St Thomas Aquinas:
Consider that it is the property of wisdom to contemplate the highest cause, and to judge and arrange everything according to it. The highest cause, however, may be understood in two ways, either in some determinant kind or absolutely. That wisdom which contemplates the highest cause in some determinant kind will be wisdom in that particular kind, for example, in medicine, architecture, or the like. That wisdom which contemplates the highest cause absolutely, will be absolute wisdom. Now the absolutely highest cause is God: therefore the true absolute wisdom is that which considers God and divine things.
This being granted, it will be evident that among all the studies, to which men can apply themselves, the study of wisdom is the most perfect, the most sublime, the most useful, and the most pleasing.
It is the most perfect, not only because the object is the most perfect, but also because the more a man devotes himself to the study of wisdom, the more does he partake even now of the perfection of the true happiness, which consists solely in the contemplation of God: hence the Wise Man calls him already blessed who is engaged in this study. “Blessed the man who shall abide in wisdom (Eccl 14:22).
It is the most sublime, because by it man is raised to a most special likeness of God, since this is the same study, so to say, in which God is occupied from all eternity with infinite delight: and all things which he does and ordains, he does and ordains according to wisdom: “Thou hast made all things in wisdom” (Ps 103:24). And as likeness is a cause of love, so the study of wisdom helps wonderfully to beget a mutual friendship between God and Man; for this reason it is written of wisdom, that it is an infinite treasure for men, and that those who use it, have part in the friendship of God: “For it is an infinite treasure for men, whilst they that use it become the friends of God” (Wis 7:14).
It is the most useful, because wisdom brings with it every good: “now all good things came to me together with her” (Wis 7:11). And the love of wisdom leads to the everlasting kingdom: “Therefore the desire of wisdom bringeth to the everlasting kingdom” (Wis 6:21).
It is most pleasing, because conversing with wisdom has nothing of bitterness, and to live together with it causes no irksomeness, but joy and gladness: “For her conversation has no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness” (Wis 8:16).
Consider that the study of Christ is the very study of wisdom: Since Jesus Christ is like a most precious and living book and life, “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). And therefore, if we wish to study wisdom, we have only to try and read and understand according to our abilities, this divine book which is Christ.
Let us see then how all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. God has diffused the riches of his wisdom over all his works: “And he poured her out upon all his works” (Eccl 1:10). But these riches thus spread around, cannot be called treasures, because we do not give that name to riches scattered around, but only to riches collected together. Therefore the treasures of the wisdom and the knowledge of God are the riches of his wisdom and knowledge collected together in that most pure and infinite act by which God comprehends himself, and in himself every other thing. In as much as he comprehends himself, the divine act unites all the riches of wisdom, which is the cognition of divine things; in as much as he comprehends creatures, he unites all the riches of knowledge, which is the cognition of created things. Now the Word of God is the most perfect image, the adequate expression, and so to say, the subsistent and consubstantial definition of the same act; and for this reason also all the same treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge are contained in the Word. See then how in Christ the Word of God all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge are united.
It is added, however, that these treasures are hidden. But they are not in themselves hidden, nor for the blessed in heaven, who contemplate the Word face to face; but they are hidden for us wayfarers. The Word of God is, as we have said, similar to a book in which all the divine wisdom is mostly clearly described; but for us there are two things that keep this book obscure to us, the imperfection of our intellect, which is dimmed with a thick mist, and the veil of human flesh, with which the Word is invested. Still, we too with the divine aid may read some portion of that book, provided we apply ourselves to the earnest study of it. The darkness with which our mind is naturally obscured is in a great measure dissipated by the light of faith, which is just like a lamp that is lit in the midst of darkness; and the veil of humanity which covers the book is not so thick as to not let something come out from it: the more so as the characters of this divine book send forth rays of the most vivid light. Nay more, whilst that veil is on the one hand an impediment to us, on the other it is of assistance to us in the study of this book; because we would not be able to bear the splendors of the rays of the divinity, if they were not tempered and accommodated to the weakness of our vision by the veil of humanity. –St Thomas Aquinas
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