The Catholic University of America


Jan. 28, 2014

Students Urged to Pursue Humility during St. Thomas Aquinas Mass


Rev. Thomas Petri, O.P., vice president and academic dean of pontifical faculty for the Dominican House of Studies, delivers the homily at the Mass of St. Thomas Aquinas.

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Speaking before a crowd of 1,000 in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Rev. Thomas Petri, O.P., vice president and academic dean of pontifical faculty for the Dominican House of Studies, urged students to remember that humility is a “most necessary” path to holiness.

Father Petri was the homilist for the Mass of St. Thomas Aquinas Jan. 28. During his homily, Father Petri, who earned his doctorate of sacred theology from the School of Theology and Religious Studies in 2010, talked about the legacy of St. Thomas Aquinas — his teaching skills, his prolific writings and his reputation as a great thinker.

While those successes are important, Father Petri said, St. Thomas is still admired today because of his unquenchable love of learning and his constant humility.

“Knowledge may be power, but the more St. Thomas knew about the world and about God, the more he knew about himself, and about our sinful human condition, the more he grew in humility,” Father Petri said.

“He was never a man who would beat up his opponents in debate simply to demonstrate his prowess. He never used his knowledge for personal gain. On the contrary, he embodied what is often said of our Holy Father St. Dominic: he was always talking about God or to God.”

Students today should learn from St. Thomas’ example and strive for humility, Father Petri said.

“If our learning and study swells up our pride such that we feel no need in asking, we can be sure it has all been for naught and we’ll never truly be happy or truly joyful,” he said. “The more a person of learning excels, the more he should know of his insufficiency, his poverty before the great truths of the universe, the great truth of God.”

The Mass, which takes place annually on the feast of University patron St. Thomas Aquinas and celebrates National Catholic Schools Week, was cosponsored by the Dominican House of Studies and the National Catholic Education Association. It was celebrated by Very Rev. John A. Langlois, O.P., president of pontifical faculty of the Dominican House of Studies.

Broadcast on EWTN, this year's Mass was held for the first time in the Great Upper Church and included students from nearby Archbishop Carroll High School and St. Anthony Catholic School and DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md.

Students pray at the Mass.

The Mass began with a procession of Catholic school students, dozens of University deans and professors in academic regalia, deacons, altar servers and concelebrating priests dressed in white vestments. University President John Garvey welcomed the participants and said the life of St. Thomas Aquinas should be an example for all people involved in the work of Catholic education.

Anthony Federico, a first-year seminarian, said the Mass was a great opportunity to honor the University’s patron saint.

“I think it’s valuable for us to have a Mass like this because we’re reminded of the great figures of thought that have come before us and how we’re standing on the shoulders of giants and St. Thomas was one of many,” Federico said.

Sophomore Jonathan Kirby, a music composition major, said the celebrant’s homily and the music of the Dominican choir were a great reminder of “a man who was a doctor of the Church, but who is also so influential to our lifestyle and what we represent at Catholic (University).”

>Read the complete text of Father Petri’s homily.




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