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St. Thomas Aquinas studied (and prayed) continually. It has been said that study became prayer for him.

According to Catholicism, is study a form of prayer?

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  • Could you clarify more what the nature is of “study”? Do you mean contemplation of spiritual things? Do you mean browsing Christianity stack exchange under the Catholicism tag? do you mean doing your physics 200 homework?
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 21, 2023 at 21:46
  • @LukeHill All of the above.
    – Geremia
    Oct 21, 2023 at 21:49
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    @Germia then I must be a saint if it is because college is kicking my butt!
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 21, 2023 at 22:12
  • Nope, they are two different things. We can study prayerfully or reverently, and we can glorify God through study, but the act of study and the act of prayer are two different things.
    – zippy2006
    Oct 27, 2023 at 21:27

3 Answers 3

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St. Thomas contrasts prayer (oratio) and study (lectio) in Summa Theologica II-II q. 188 a. 6 co.; they both fall under the genus of "works of the contemplative life":

among the works of the contemplative life, prayer is better than study.
in operibus contemplativae, potior est oratio quam lectio.

In ibid. a. 5 co., St. Thomas says "the study of letters (studium litterarum) helps" "the contemplative life"

  1. In one way by helping directly to contemplate, namely by enlightening the intellect. For the contemplative life of which we are now speaking is directed chiefly to the consideration of divine things, as stated above (q. 180 a. 4), to which consideration man is directed by study […]
  2. In another way the study of letters is a help to the contemplative life indirectly, by removing the obstacles to contemplation, namely the errors which in the contemplation of divine things frequently beset those who are ignorant of the scriptures.
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The Catechism of the Catholic Church says a lot about prayer, interesting to read. Part IV of the CCC is entirely about prayer. But I would like to quote a line from the CCC 2559 that is a quote itself from

"Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God" (St. John Damascene)

I don't see why study would be excluded from this by definition.

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According to Catholicism, can study be prayer?

The short answer is yes.

Especially if we pray to the Holy Spirit just before we study and thus sanctifying the very act of studying.

Pray and sanctify all things in Christ through prayer and thus make all your actions noble, holy and prayer.

The same can be true in the intimate marital relationships between spouses which as the world ways expresses it as sex.

Sex and religion are often thought to be opposed to each other and many think that the Catholic Church believes sex is “dirty,” “tainted” or even “sinful.”

On the contrary, the Church has always stressed the holiness of the conjugal act. St. John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio, “By virtue of the mystery of the death and Resurrection of Christ, of which the spouses are made part in a new way by marriage, conjugal love is purified and made holy.”

It is because of this holiness that the Church seeks to guard and protect this beautiful act between husband and wife and encourages couples to unite together according to God’s plan for marriage.

One way to do this, which may seem odd or strange, is to pray as a couple before making love. This is not without precedent, as Sarah and Tobias, in the Bible’s Book of Tobit, prayed together on their wedding night and were protected from a demon that was killing Sarah’s previous husbands. The prayer sanctified their act and brought them closer together than they could possibly imagine.

Many couples are starting to begin this custom, including this Catholic couple, who write about the surprising spiritual benefits to this practice.

While this may not be for every couple, it may be a way for some to draw closer to God, while also uniting with their spouse, body and soul.

Below is the full prayer that Tobias prayed for himself and Sarah on their wedding night.

Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors;blessed be your name forever and ever!Let the heavens and all your creation bless you forever. You made Adam, and you made his wife Eveto be his helper and support;and from these two the human race has come.You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;let us make him a helper like himself.’Now, not with lust,but with fidelity I take this kinswoman as my wife.Send down your mercy on me and on her,and grant that we may grow old together.Bless us with children.Amen, amen! (Tobit 8:5-7)

Pray without ceasing no matter what we do!

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