07 March 2012
Aquinas on How to Obtain the Treasure of Knowledge
Thanks to Canon Matthew Talarico of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, I am able to make one more post on this feast day to celebrate the holiness and wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas. This letter was intended for a brother religious but is well-suited for the layman.
Advice on How to Obtain the Treasure of Knowledge
A Letter of Saint Thomas Aquinas to Brother John
Since you asked me, my dearest in Christ, Brother John, how you should study in order to acquire the treasure of knowledge, I offer you this advice on the matter:
1. You should choose to enter by the small rivers, and not go right away into the sea,
because you should move from easy things to more difficult things.
2. I command you to be slow to speak, and slow to go to the conversation room.
3. Embrace purity of conscience.
4. Do not give up spending time in prayer.
5. Love spending much time in your cell, if you want to be led into the wine cellar.
6. Show yourself amiable to all.
7. Do not be curious at all what others are doing.
8. Do not be very familiar with anyone, because familiarity breeds contempt, and provides matter for distracting you from study.
9. Do not get involved at all in the discussions and affairs of people in the world.
10. Avoid conversations about all, any, and every matter.
11. Do not fail to imitate the example of good and holy men.
12. Do not consider who the person is you are listening to, but whatever good he says commit to memory.
13. Whatever you are doing and hearing, try to understand. Resolve doubts, and put whatever you can in the storeroom of your mind, like someone wanting to fill a container.
14. Do not spend time on things beyond your grasp.
Following such a path, you will bring forth flowers and produce useful fruit for the vineyard of the Lord of Power and Might, as long as you live. If you follow this, you can reach what you desire.