February 05, 2021

Members of the University community and the Domincan House of Studies gathered (virtually) to pray at the start of the spring semester at the annual Mass in honor of University patron St. Thomas Aquinas on Feb. 4. The Mass was broadcast on EWTN and CatholicTV livestreams with limited in person attendance in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

This year’s celebrant and homilist was Very Rev. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., assistant professor of moral theology and prior of the Dominican House of Studies. Father Guilbeau delivered a homily that reflected on St. Thomas Aquinas’ fascination with truth. 

“Man is capable of many things, but what fascinated Aquinas about man is that he is capable especially of truth,” Father Guilbeau said. “For Aquinas, man’s capacity for truth has special implications for understanding both the life of nature and the life of grace. As grace builds on nature, Aquinas understood that man can be consecrated in truth because he is first capable of truth.”

Father Guilbeau said, “God has made every man and woman in his image. This means that God has made each of us to know, and he wants to elevate each of us to know him.” This truth has implications for education, he explained. “Every school, every university responds to this truth, either by embracing it or neglecting it. As a community of teachers and students, a school is most itself when it marvels at the human capacity for truth, and at this capacity’s ability to be consecrated by God.”

At the end of Mass, University President John Garvey reflected on St. Catherine of Siena’s life during the Black Death and how “she steered her own boat, by her own compass, amid all this commotion. The virtue she typifies, the needle on her compass, was singleness of heart, or as we say more often, purity of heart.”

“Hard times should not dictate the course of our lives,” said Garvey. “Our compass should be God’s will. And we should be cautious about assuming that serving God requires us to withdraw from the world and commune only with him. That is his will for some of us. But purity of heart may ask the rest of us to follow the example of St. Catherine of Siena, who never strayed from her devotion to Our Lord, even while attending the great and small needs of her neighbor.”