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Monday, January 07, 2013
St. Raymond of Peñafort
Since Raymond lived into his hundredth year, he had a chance to do many things. As a member of the Spanish nobility, he had the resources and the education to get a good start in life.
By the time he was 20, he was teaching philosophy. In his early 30s he earned a doctorate in both canon and civil law. At 41 he became a Dominican. Pope Gregory IX called him to Rome to work for him and to be his confessor. One of the things the pope asked him to do was to gather together all the decrees of popes and councils that had been made in 80 years since a similar collection by Gratian. Raymond compiled five books called the Decretals. They were looked upon as one of the best organized collections of Church law until the 1917 codification of canon law.
Earlier, Raymond had written for confessors a book of cases. It was called Summa de Casibus Poenitentiae. More than just a list of sins and penances, it discussed pertinent doctrines and laws of the Church that pertained to the problem or case brought to the confessor.
At the age of 60, Raymond was appointed archbishop of Tarragona, the capital of Aragon. He didn’t like the honor at all and ended up getting sick and resigning in two years.
He didn’t get to enjoy his peace long, however, because when he was 63 he was elected by his fellow Dominicans to be the head of the whole Order, the successor of St. Dominic. Raymond worked hard, visited on foot all the Dominicans, reorganized their constitutions and managed to put through a provision that a master general be allowed to resign. When the new constitutions were accepted, Raymond, then 65, resigned.
He still had 35 years to oppose heresy and work for the conversion of the Moors in Spain. He convinced St. Thomas Aquinas to write his work Against the Gentiles.
In his 100th year the Lord let Raymond retire.
Raymond was a lawyer, a canonist. Legalism can suck the life out of genuine religion if it becomes too great a preoccupation with the letter of the law to the neglect of the spirit and purpose of the law. The law can become an end in itself, so that the value the law was intended to promote is overlooked. But we must guard against going to the opposite extreme and seeing law as useless or something to be lightly regarded. Laws ideally state those things that are for the best interests of everyone and make sure the rights of all are safeguarded. From Raymond, we can learn a respect for law as a means of serving the common good.
“He who hates the law is without wisdom,/and is tossed about like a boat in a storm” (Sirach 33:2).
This a really interesting history and insight. I enjoyed reading it.
We need a guy like this today. He was a real leader. It really impressed me that he reached out to Muslams
I had missed that part, Barbara. I had to go back and find it. Interesting. He also inspired St. Thomas Aquinas to write his work against the Gentiles. I'm not familiar with that work. I wonder what is meant by it?
"Sister" Jane... The St. Thomas of Aquinas Society is currently putting all of his works together in one publication & w/b available to the public soon OR you may purchase this one work alone. This is an excellent work that would benefit all faiths to read.The internet has a good over-view of this if you're interested. It's good to see your comments along with "Sister" Baugh's!
Peace be with you both!
Is there a link or URL to the overview? I would like to see it and find out what the material consists of. I am also interested in the final offering to the public. Those are some works of historical value.
I just did a search for the St. Thomas of Aquinas Society. What a great find. Thank you so much for informing us. It looks like there is much of value to explore. Thanks again.
You are so welcome & I know you'll find satisfaction in its content as I & many others have over the years! The beautiful value in our faith is it can & should overshadow "organized religion" as we've come to know it in this century! St. Thomas understood this reasoning & knew our personal relationship with The Almighty & His Son outweighed all other values in our earthly lives. We only grow when we know!
Peace be with you & yours!
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