We are told that late in life, Saint Thomas Aquinas was one day in prayer before the crucifix, in tears. Suddenly, Christ spoke to Thomas, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward will you receive from me for your labor?” His response was simply:
Like Saint Paul Saint Thomas Aquinas will find his only joy and worth in gaining Christ and being found in him, realizing that life without him would be intolerable. As Saint Paul will put it, “I have suffered the loss of all things, that I may gain Christ - indeed, I regard them all as rubbish…” So driven is Paul by his love and conviction that he can express it only by using this most vulgar term for filth in Greek sku’balon, because it connotes total worthlessness and revulsion.
Vision of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Stefano di Giovanni, 1423, tempera on walnut, 9.8 x 11.3 in., Vatican Pinacoteca.