"One day in the thirteenth century a Dominican friar named Br. Dominic of Caserta, a sacristan, concealed himself in his priory chapel in Naples. While there, he stealthily observed St. Thomas Aquinas in prayer before the crucifix, in tears. No doubt, the saint’s reverence must have moved him deeply, but, nonetheless, he must have been quite surprised when, suddenly, the voice of Christ from the crucifix called out, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward will you receive from me for your labor?”
One can certainly imagine Br. Dominic waiting with bated breath for an answer from the man often regarded as the greatest theologian of the Middle Ages. A saintly man, certainly he would not ask for wealth or power for himself. Perhaps inspiration for excellent argumentation with which to confute the heretics? Favorable reception of his work within the Church (the subject of great controversy, even after his death)? How about simply an increase in virtue? Doubtless, when Jesus speaks audibly from the cross, he really means it. So what does Friar Thomas ask?
His response wasted no words: Domine, non nisi Te, that is 'Lord, nothing except you.'"
- From a Domincan Friar
The feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas is observed today in the Extraordinary Form, the anniversary of his death. The Great Doctor's words echo the words we hear from the Gospel of the Second Sunday of Lent in the Transfiguration of our Lord, "And they lifting up their eyes saw no one, but only Jesus."
Only Jesus. This is the obejctive of the Lenten season, of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and penance: that at the end of our purification, the desire of our hearts is "only Jesus." In union with the 10th Station of the Cross where our Lord is stripped of His garments before being crucified, we unite our plea to be stripped of every vice, sin, and self-desire so that all that remains of us is Him.
May the beloved St. Thomas Aquinas obtain for us the same desire he longed for: to have nothing except Thee, O Lord.