I have an exam tomorrow on the life of St. Thomas, his works, and his devotion. I chose to study particularly his time in Orvieto, concerning the Divine Office of Corpus Christi as well as the hymn Adoro Te Devote.
In reading the Papal Bull, Transitus, which implemented the Feast of Corpus Christi as a universal Feast of the Church, I was struck by the similarity the words took to the life of Saint Thomas:
(L)et hearts and prayers, mouths and lips bring forth hymns of saving joy; let faith sing, let hope dance, let charity exult, let devotion be well-pleased, let piety cry out for joy, and sincerity be glad. Let all come together with eager spirit and ready will, showing their zeal in praiseworthy manner as they celebrate the solemnity of so great a feast. And we pray that ardent love so enkindle the faithful of Christ to His service, that through these celebrations (and other such) they may advance ever more greatly in merit before Him who gave Himself as the price of their redemption, and now gives Himself to them as food; and finally, that He may bestow Himself upon them as their reward after this life.
Most probably know that after Saint Thomas saw a glympse of the Beatific Vision, he said that all he had written was but straw compared to that which he witnessed. I see his devotion to the Blessed a Sacrament as a stunning example for these days. At times, things seem a bit hopeless, many wonder what they should do or that whatever they do amounts to nothing but straw.
A better perspective is this: to realize that everything separated from Christ, every disregard for the Most Precious Gift given to us in the Blessed Sacrament, is lost, vanishes in the end. But it is in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, we can rest in faith and have our hope. Our charity is awakened; and in the end, nothing matters, except love, true love.
I will focus in my exam on the use of the word fallitur in the hymn Adoro Te Devote. It was debated whether Thomas actually wrote the hymn because of this word, in saying our senses fail, that they are deceived in seeing, touching, and tasting before the Holy Eucharist. The argument goes that, “our reason has its origin in the senses, therefore our faith ought not to be contrary to the senses, as it is when sense judges that to be bread which faith believes to be the substance of Christ’s Body.” (ST III, Q. 75, a. 5, obj. 3) Saint Thomas counters, saying, “There is no deception in this sacrament; for the accidents which are discerned by the senses are truly present. But the intellect, whose proper object is substance, is preserved by faith from deception. Faith is not contrary to the senses, but concerns things to which sense does not reach.” (ST III, Q. 75, a. 5, ad. 2) The senses are simply impotent in being able to grasp the Mystery of the Blessed Sacrament.
A life of despair abandons its purpose. A life without Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is truly nothing but straw. May our hope be oriented towards Christ, that He, ‘who gave Himself as the price of our redemption, and now gives Himself to us as food, may bestow Himself upon us as our reward after this life.’
One thought on “Saint Thomas and the Blessed Sacrament”
Your comments regarding hope reminded me of something in ‘This Tremendous Lover’ worth sharing: “the baptized, inasmuch as he is a member of Christ, communicates in the expiation of His Passion as if he himself has undergone it. The member of Christ, then, can call the infinite merits of Christ his own, and offer them to God for all his needs; and that special title to them aquired in baptism endures as long as he is not in mortal sin. What limit is there then to his hope?” If my phone allowed, I would want to highlight, underline and perhaps italicize that last part :). St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.