"Wisdom is able to direct us not only in contemplation but also in action."

— Thomas Aquinas

Welcome to Matthew Fox's second plunge into the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274), the prolific Catholic theologian who also was an astute thinker, philosopher, scientist, mystic, and prophet. In his 1992 book Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, he creatively liberated this theologian from the prison house of scholasticism and reductionism. Fox's use of the interview form revealed Aquinas's blend of science, mysticism, and art.

The author of this sleek and short paperback hopes that it will be "a handbook of spirituality" that can be used as a resource for youth entering a world of hard times "when waging battles for a sustainable future." On these pages, Fox has put together wisdom nuggets from Aquinas's writings on such subjects as the experience of God, joy as the human's noblest act, Divine creativity, playfulness as a virtue, truth and justice as objects of the heart, and the healing powers of compassion and conscience.

Fox salutes Aquinas's ecumenicity where he has some kind words for pagan virtues. Like a devout Sufi, the Catholic theologian affirms a universe drunk with beauty and overflowing with goodness.

Here's a sampler of nuggets from Aquinas that Fox comments on:

  • Sheer Joy is God's
    and this demands
  • Religion is
    supreme thankfulness
    or gratitude.
  • The first and primary
    meaning of salvation is this:
    To preserve things
    in the good.
  • The same spirit
    who hovered over the waters
    at the beginning of creation
    hovers over the mind of the artist at work.
  • It is a great thing'
    to do miracles,
    but it is a greater thing to live virtuously.