Thursday, May 22, 2008

In Festo Sanctissimi Corporis Christi


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Sermo sancti Thomæ Aquinátis (ex II Nocturno)
The Lesson is taken from a Sermon by St. Thomas Aquinas

Opusc. 57: Imménsa divínæ largitátis benefícia, exhíbita pópulo christiáno, inæstimábilem ei cónferunt dignitátem. Neque enim est, aut fuit aliquándo tam grandis nátio, quæ hábeat deos appropinquántes sibi, sicut adest nobis Deus noster. Unigénitus síquidem Dei Fílius, suæ divinitátis volens nos esse partícipes, natúram nostram assúmpsit, ut hómines deos fáceret factus homo. Et hoc ínsuper, quod de nostro assúmpsit, totum nobis cóntulit ad salútem. Corpus namque suum pro nostra reconcilatióne in ara crucis hóstiam óbtulit Deo Patri, sánguinem suum fudit in prétium simul et lavácrum ; ut redémpti a miserábili servitúte, a peccátis ómnibus mundarémur. Ut autem tanti benefícii jugis in nobis manéret memória, corpus suum in cibum, et sánguinem suum in potum, sub spécie panis et vini suméndum fidélibus derelíquit.

Among the immeasurable benefits, which the goodness of God hath bestowed on the Christian people, is a dignity beyond all price. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is unto us? The only-begotten Son of God was pleased to make us partakers of his divine nature ; that is, he took our nature upon him, being himself made man that he might, as it were, make men into gods. And this body, which he took from us, he gave wholly unto our salvation. For, on the Altar of the Cross, he offered up his body to God the Father, as a sacrifice for our reconciliation, and thereon he shed his own blood for our redemption ; that is, his blood is the price whereby he redeemeth us from wretchedness and bondage, and the washing whereby he cleanseth us from all sin. And for a noble and abiding Memórial of this his so great work of goodness, he hath left unto his faithful ones the same his very Body for Meat, and the same his very Blood for Drink, with which we are fed under the forms of Bread and Wine.

O pretiósum et admirándum convívium, salutíferum et omni suavitáte replétum ! Quid enim hoc convívio pretiósius esse potest? in quo non carnes vitulórum et hircórum, ut olim in lege, sed nobis Christus suméndus propónitur verus Deus. Quid hoc Sacraménto mirabílius? In ipso namque panis et vinum in Christi corpus et sánguinem substantiáliter convertúntur ; ideóque Christus, Deus et homo perféctus, sub módici panis et vini spécie continétur. Manducátur ítaque a fidélibus, sed mínime lacerátur ; quinímmo, divíso Sacraménto, sub quálibet divisiónis partícula ínteger persevérat. Accidéntia autem sine subjécto in eódem subsístunt, ut fides locum hábeat, dum visíbile invisibíliter súmitur aliéna spécie occultátum ; et sensus a deceptióne reddántur immúnes, qui de accidéntibus júdicant sibi notis.

O how precious a thing then, how marvellous, how health-giving, yielding royal dainties, is the Supper of the Lord. Than this Supper can anything be more precious? Therein there is put before us for meat, not as of old time, the flesh of bulls and of goats, but Christ himself, our very God. Than this Sacrament can anything be more marvellous? Therein it is that Bread and Wine become unto us the very Body and and Blood of Christ ; that is to say, perfect God and perfect Man, Christ himself, is there under the veils of a little bread and wine. His faithful ones eat him, but he is not mangled ; nay, when the veil which shroudeth him in the Sacrament is broken, in each broken fragment thereof remaineth the whole Christ himself, perfect God and perfect Man. All that the senses can reach in this Sacrament, all these abide of bread and wine, but the Thing is not bread and wine. And thus room is left for faith. For Christ, who hath a Form that can be seen, is herein taken and received not only unseen, but seeming to be bread and wine, and the senses, which judge by the wonted look, are warranted against error.

Nullum étiam sacraméntum est isto salúbrius, quo purgántur peccáta, virtútes augéntur, et mens ómnium spirituálium charísmatum abundántia impinguátur. Offértur in Ecclésia pro vivis et mórtuis, ut ómnibus prosit, quod est pro salúte ómnium institútum. Suavitátem dénique hujus Sacraménti nullus exprímere súfficit, per quod spirituális dulcédo in suo fonte gustátur ; et recólitur memória illíus, quam in sua passióne Christus monstrávit, excellentíssimæ caritátis. Unde, ut árctius hujus caritátis imménsitas fidélium córdibus infigerétur, in última cœna, quando Pascha cum discípulis celebráto, transitúrus erat de hoc mundo ad Patrem, hoc Sacraméntum instítuit, tamquam passiónis suæ memoriále perénne, figurárum véterum impletívum, miraculórum ab ipso factórum máximum ; et de sua contristátis abséntia solátium singuláre relíquit.

Than this Sacrament can anything be more health-giving? Thereby are sins purged away, strength is renewed, and the soul fed upon the fatness of spiritual gifts. This Supper is offered up in the Church, both for the quick and the dead ; it was ordained to the health of all, all get the good of it. Than this Sacrament can anything yield more of royal dainties? The glorious sweetness thereof is of a truth such that no man can fully tell it. Therein ghostly comfort is sucked from its very well-head. Therein a Memorial is made of that exceeding great love which Christ shewed in time of his sufferings. It was in order that the boundless goodness of that his great love might be driven home into the hearts of his faithful ones, that when he had celebrated the Passover with his disciples, and the Last Supper was ended, then, knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end, and instituted this Sacrament. For this Sacrament is the everlasting forth-shewing of his death until he come again ; this Sacrament is the embodied fulfilment of all the ancient types and figures ; this Sacrament is is the greatest wonder which ever he wrought, and the one mighty joy of them that now have sorrow, till he shall come again ; and thereby their heart shall rejoice, and their joy no man take from them.


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