St. Thomas on the prayerless soul

The prayerless soul makes no progress whatever.

Attr. St. Thomas Aquinas

After a little poking around, I found this:

Some of the Angelic Doctor’s neat sayings caught in familiar conversation have been preserved. “The poverty of a discontented religious is a useless expense.” “The prayerless soul makes no progress whatever.” “A religious without prayer resembles a soldier fighting without weapons.” “Idleness is the devil’s hook, on which any bait is tempting.” “I cannot understand how anyone conscious of mortal sin can laugh or be merry.” When asked how to detect a spiritual-minded man, he gave this reply: “He who is constantly chattering about frivolous things, who fears being despised, who is weary of life, whatever marvels he may work, I do not look on him as a perfect man, since all he does is without foundation, and he who cannot suffer is ready for a fall”. To his sister Theodora, inquiring how to become a saint, he replied with a single word, “Velle,” or “Resolve”.

The source is a 1911 biography of St. Thomas, but that’s good enough for me to regard this as probably an authentic tradition.

And this is the reason I almost always ask people in Confession if they’re praying daily….

One thought on “St. Thomas on the prayerless soul

  1. Cornelius a Lapide in his “Commentaria in Acta Apostolorum” (1627) made mention of this apothegm of St. Thomas: “[…] anima, inquiebat S. Thomas, sine oratione non proficit”.

    “Non proficit” can mean not only ‘makes no progress’ but also ‘is useless, is of no use, does not benefit, does not profit’.


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