Thomas Aquinas is a thinker pretty much without peer. His orthodox interpretation of Augustine in the Summa Theologica has been called “the greatest single achievement of Christian civilization.” But it was also incredibly rebellious: during Thomas’s life in the 13th century, Catholics were actually banned from commenting on Augustine’s works under penalty of excommunication.
Rather than wading in over my head, today I’ll tell you a nice story about Thomas Aquinas and some birds.
They say a grand duke was visiting the future saint in Paris and wanted to buy him a gift, so the two went for a walk along the Left Bank of the Seine to pick something out. Before long, they came upon a sort of sidewalk pet shop selling caged birds, and Thomas said, “You can buy me all these birds.” The duke happily obliged and asked what he should do with them — maybe send them back to the convent? “No,” Thomas told him. “Open the cages.”