This weekend marks the feast of our parish patron, St. Thomas Aquinas. This month marks the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death. Both my mom and Thomas were Italian. My mom loved to cook. Thomas loved to eat. If they weren’t born seven centuries apart, they might have been friends.
Thomas was a great teacher. In fact, Thomas’s teachings on the Sacraments are still considered foundational texts. But, Thomas didn’t merely teach about the Sacraments. He participated in them to the fullest. Word is that he could hardly get through a Mass without being moved to tears, so inspired was he by the celebration of the paschal mystery. Thomas knew that learning about faith helped him to experience it more fully in the liturgy. And, he knew that praying the liturgy helped him to seek further knowledge. Thomas demonstrated that liturgy and catechesis work together, showing us that liturgy without catechesis is empty ritual; and, that catechesis without liturgy is empty knowledge—information without transformation.
It would be like my mother teaching me how to cook something without allowing me to eat it; or, like serving me her delectable Italian meals without telling me what I was eating. My mom didn’t know Thomas. But she knew about the connection between liturgy and catechesis. She herself attended Mass daily and took advantage of adult education and Bible studies. A single mother, she made sure her children participated in both the Sunday liturgy AND catechism classes. Unfortunately today, too many parents choose one without the other.
Both Thomas and Mom knew that the ultimate goal of both liturgy and catechesis is a relationship with the living God through the person of Jesus. Thomas’s teachings helped foster this relationship for the Church. My mother’s persistence helped foster this relationship for her children. Perhaps Thomas and Mom are now enjoying that relationship together at the heavenly banquet. Bon appetite! Amen.