So I have been going through G.K. Chesterton’s “St. Thomas Aquinas” again since it is the next book we are looking at as part of our local Chesterton society.
The first chapter “On Two Friars” is superb with the comparisons between St. Aquinas (sometimes St. Dominic) and St. Francis.
I have repeated the following quote quite a lot over the last two decades and it is nice to see I usually quoted it correctly.
“It is an old story that, while we may need somebody like Dominic to convert the heathen to Christianity, we are in even greater need of somebody like Francis, to convert the Christians to Christianity.”
Still, the image I have in mind of the comparisons between Francis and Aquinas is of St. Laurel and Hardy. This kind of works on some levels.
I also enjoyed this point:
“St. Francis is called humane because he tried to convert Saracens and failed; St. Dominic is called bigoted and besotted because he tried to convert Albigensians and succeeded.”
Along with this analysis:
“St. Thomas takes the view that the souls of all the ordinary hard-working and simple-minded people are quite as important as the souls of thinkers and truth-seekers; and he asks how all these people are possibly to find time for the amount of reasoning that is needed to find truth. The whole tone of the passage shows both a respect for scientific enquiry and a strong sympathy with the average man. His argument for Revelation is not an argument against Reason; but it is an argument for Revelation. The conclusion he draws from it is that men must receive the highest moral truths in a miraculous manner; or most men would not receive them at all. His arguments are rational and natural; but his own deduction is all for the supernatural; and, as is common in the case of his argument, it is not easy to find any deduction except his own deduction. And when we come to that, we find it is something as simple as St. Francis himself could desire; the message from heaven; the story that is told out of the sky; the fairytale that is really true.”