Brandon Vogt

Flannery O’Connor and the Summa

Flannery O’Connor, the great twentieth-century novelist, was known to have read St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica for at least 15 minutes each night. That helps explain how her macabre stories became so drenched in Thomistic virtue and Catholic sensibility. In one of her personal letters, she revealed, albeit tongue in cheek, how deeply St. Thomas had penetrated her thought:

“I couldn’t make any judgment on the Summa, except to say this: I read it every night before I go to bed. If my mother were to come in during the process and say, “Turn off that light. It’s late,” I with lifted finger and broad, bland, beatific expression, would reply, “On the contrary, I answer that the light, being eternal and limitless, cannot be turned off. Shut your eyes,” or some such thing. In any case I feel I can personally guarantee that St. Thomas loved God because for the life of me I cannot help loving St. Thomas.”
Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being


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  • Love her, and am not surprised she loved St Thomas. Check out the shorter Summa. It’s awesome

  • Claire

    The Habit of Being is one of my favorite books, possibly my very favorite. She’s well-known now as a Catholic writer but I don’t think she gets enough credit for having been a great apologist.


    I think I’ve read everything Flannery has written. The Habit of Being, was my favorite for getting to know her as a person.

  • sonofbosco

    And I cannot help but to love Flannery

  • My husband and I love Flannery O’Connor. Sometimes I read her stories out loud to my friends while they are drinking their coffee. I love to watch their faces as I read, because they get so caught up in the intrigue. Love to watch them laugh, then look perplexed, then sigh. Fantastic! Her stories continue to speak long after they’ve been read.

© 2019 Brandon Vogt