Thomas Aquinas: A Sacred Activist for Our Time with Father Matthew Fox, Ph.D.

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Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican friar, philosopher, Catholic priest, Doctor of the Church, and a premodern citizen in the 13th century. Here scholar, theologian, and teacher. Father Matthew Fox explores the writings and wisdom of this electrifying saint and speaks of Aquinas’ timeless wisdom to a postmodern world. Fox encourages all spiritual warriors and activists to grow our vision and our courage. He speaks of some of the positive things that the coronavirus has brought to us as we shelter in place, “I think there are tremendous lessons to learn: we need a new economics, new politics, a new attitude to our religion and spirituality, to art, and media, if we're going to survive on this planet. I'm hoping that this crisis we're in now will wake us up to the fact that all of us are going to have to sacrifice and shift our lifestyles to be more in tune with what Mother Earth requires. It's that simple.” Fox also shares the philosophy of Aquinas, who often wrote about the profound virtue of joy, “Why does the universe exist at all? [Aquinas’] answer is for the sake of joy, for the Divine and for our own. When we're joyful, we want to celebrate and share it with others. And that's his thesis, that divinity itself wanted to share the joy of divinity and that's why the rest of us exist, to share it with one another… And in these difficult and hard times of the coronavirus we have to hang on to the goodness of creation, the joy of existence in order to see us through and not yield to despair or to self pity, neither of which helps”. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Father Matthew Fox is a priest and was a member of the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church for thirty-four years. For speaking out on women’s rights, gay rights, and Native American rights, he was silenced for a year and later expelled from the Dominican Order under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He then joined the Episcopal Church to work with young people to create postmodern forms of ritual and worship known as the “Cosmic Mass” that incorporates dance, DJ, VJ, rap, and other postmodern art forms. He is the co-founder of the Order of the Sacred Earth and, since Mother’s day 2019, has offered free daily meditations. He holds a doctorate in History and Theology of Spirituality and is founder of the University of Creation Spirituality. 

Matthew Fox is the author of more than thirty-five books including: 

  • Original Blessing (Tarcher 2000)
  • Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times (Nameste Publishing 2012)
  • Letters to Pope Francis (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2013)
  • Occupy Spirituality (co-author Adam Bucko) (North Atlantic Press 2013)
  • Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth (HarperOne 1991)
  • The Coming of the Cosmic Christ (HarperOne 1988)
  • Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times (New World Library 2014)
  • Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (HarperSanFrancisco 2015)
  • A Way to God: Thomas Merton's Creation Spirituality Journey (New World Library 2016)
  • Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action (coauthors Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Listug) (Monkfish 2018)
  • Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality (Ixia 2020)
  • The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times (iUniverse 2020) 

To learn more about the work of Matthew Fox go to

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • What did the church fathers think of Aquinas
  • Why Aquinas preferred the philosophy of Aristotle over Plato
  • How, in the Middle Ages, the monastic system was based on the feudal system
  • How the Muslims in the late 12th century were leaders in the study of science
  • What are the parallels between what was happening in Western society 800 years ago and today
  • Why joy is a natural part of spirituality and how Aquinas emphasized the Beatitudes
  • Why Aquinas says that Divinity reveals itself to us through nature and creation
  • How the Black Plague of the Middle Ages caused whole cultures to be pessimistic for hundreds of years
  • Why Aquinas was convinced of the goodness of creation
  • What is the positive opportunity that this time of retreat during the coronavirus pandemic has to teach us
  • How contemplation needs to be coupled with action
  • How doing “circle dancing” together can bring new and unforeseen allies to social movements
  • Aquinas’ starting point is that matter, spirit, body, and soul work together as partners
  • How art is indigenous to humans and we are all artists
  • How Aquinas blesses every religious tradition in every culture long before our present interfaith movement
  • How Aquinas was big on the virtue of magnanimity
  • What does Aquinas have to say about the correct use of anger

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 4/30/2020   Program Number: 3703

Music Playlist

From Album: Secret Story
Artist: Pat Metheny

Opening Essay: Track 02: Facing West
Music Break 1: Track 03: Cathedral in a Suitcase
Music Break 2: Track 04: Finding and Believing
Music Break 3: Track 02: Facing West (reprise)

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