Monday, June 17, 2019

St. Hilary: On the Trinity, Book VIII: 14-16

The words in which we speak of the things of God must be used in no mere human and worldly sense, nor must the perverseness of an alien and impious interpretation be extorted from the soundness of heavenly words by any violent and headstrong preaching. Let us read what is written, let us understand what we read, and then fulfil the demands of a perfect faith. For as to what we say concerning the reality of Christ's nature within us, unless we have been taught by Him, our words are foolish and impious. For He says Himself, My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.  As to the verity of the flesh and blood there is no room left for doubt. For now both from the declaration of the Lord Himself and our own faith, it is verily flesh and verily blood. And these when eaten and drunk, bring it to pass that both we are in Christ and Christ in us. Is not this true? Yet they who affirm that Christ Jesus is not truly God are welcome to find it false. He therefore Himself is in us through the flesh and we in Him, while together with Him our own selves are in God.

Now how it is that we are in Him through the sacrament of the flesh and blood bestowed upon us, He Himself testifies, saying, And the world will no longer see Me, but you shall see Me; because I live you shall live also; because I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. If He wished to indicate a mere unity of will, why did He set forth a kind of gradation and sequence in the completion of the unity, unless it were that, since He was in the Father through the nature of Deity, and we on the contrary in Him through His birth in the body, He would have us believe that He is in us through the mystery of the sacraments? And thus there might be taught a perfect unity through a Mediator, while, we abiding in Him, He abode in the Father, and as abiding in the Father abode also in us; and so we might arrive at unity with the Father, since in Him Who dwells naturally in the Father by birth, we also dwell naturally, while He Himself abides naturally in us also.

Again, how natural this unity is in us He has Himself testified on this wise — He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.  For no man shall dwell in Him, save him in whom He dwells Himself, for the only flesh which He has taken to Himself is the flesh of those who have taken His. Now He had already taught before the sacrament of this perfect unity, saying, As the living Father sent Me, and I live through the Father, so he that eats My flesh shall himself also live through Me. So then He lives through the Father, and as He lives through the Father in like manner we live through His flesh.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: On the Mysteries. IV: On the Body and Blood of Christ

Even of itself the teaching of the Blessed Paul is sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, of which having been deemed worthy, you have become of the same body and blood with Christ. For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, Take, drink, this is My Blood. Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?

He once in Cana of Galilee, turned the water into wine, akin to blood, and is it incredible that He should have turned wine into blood? When called to a bodily marriage, He miraculously wrought that wonderful work; and on the children of the bride-chamber, shall He not much rather be acknowledged to have bestowed the fruition of His Body and Blood?

Wherefore with full assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to you His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that you by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, may be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are distributed through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, we become partakers of the divine nature.

Christ on a certain occasion discoursing with the Jews said, Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you have no life in you.  They not having heard His saying in a spiritual sense were offended, and went back, supposing that He was inviting them to eat flesh.

In the Old Testament also there was show-bread; but this, as it belonged to the Old Testament, has come to an end; but in the New Testament there is Bread of heaven, and a Cup of salvation, sanctifying soul and body; for as the Bread corresponds to our body, so is the Word appropriate to our soul.

Consider therefore the Bread and the Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to you, yet let faith establish you. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that the Body and Blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to you.

St. Augustine: Homily 26 on John: John 6:55-58

For my flesh, says He, is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. For while by meat and drink men seek to attain to this, neither to hunger nor thirst, there is nothing that truly affords this, except this meat and drink, which does render them by whom it is taken immortal and incorruptible; that is, the very fellowship of the saints, where will be peace and unity, full and perfect. Therefore, indeed, it is, even as men of God understood this before us, that our Lord Jesus Christ has pointed our minds to His body and blood in those things, which from being many are reduced to some one thing. For a unity is formed by many grains forming together; and another unity is effected by the clustering together of many berries.

In a word, He now explains how that which He speaks of comes to pass, and what it is to eat His body and to drink His blood. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. This it is, therefore, for a man to eat that meat and to drink that drink, to dwell in Christ, and to have Christ dwelling in him. Consequently, he that dwells not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwells not, doubtless neither eats His flesh [spiritually] nor drinks His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth], but rather does he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to come to the sacraments of Christ, which no man takes worthily except he that is pure: of such it is said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

As the living Father has sent me, says He, and I live by the Father; so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. He says not: As I eat the Father, and live by the Father; so he that eats me, the same shall live by me. For the Son, who was begotten equal, does not become better by participation of the Father; just as we are made better by participation of the Son, through the unity of His body and blood, which thing that eating and drinking signifies. We live then by Him, by eating Him; that is, by receiving Himself as the eternal life, which we did not have from ourselves. Himself, however, lives by the Father, being sent by Him, because He emptied Himself, being made obedient even unto the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8 For if we take this declaration, I live by the Father, according to that which He says in another place, The Father is greater than I; just as we, too, live by Him who is greater than we; this results from His being sent. The sending is in fact the emptying of Himself, and His taking upon Him the form of a servant: and this is rightly understood, while also the Son's equality of nature with the Father is preserved. For the Father is greater than the Son as man, but He has the Son as God equal — while the same is both God and man, Son of God and Son of man, one Christ Jesus. To this effect, if these words are rightly understood, He spoke thus: As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eats me, even he shall live by me: just as if He were to say, My emptying of myself (in that He sent me) effected that I should live by the Father; that is, should refer my life to Him as the greater; but that any should live by me is effected by that participation in which he eats me. Therefore, I being humbled, do live by the Father, man being raised up, lives by me. But if it was said, I live by the Father, so as to mean, that He is of the Father, not the Father of Him, it was said without detriment to His equality. And yet further, by saying, And he that eats me, even he shall live by me, He did not signify that His own equality was the same as our equality, but He thereby showed the grace of the Mediator.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

CORPUS CHRISTI: Sermon of St. Peter Damian: The Body which was born of the Virgin is the instrument of our salvation

The body of Christ, which we receive from the holy altar, is the same that the blessed Virgin brought into the world, fondled on her lap, bound up in swaddling clothes and dutifully fed, as mothers do. Not a doubt of it: it is the selfsame body; that and no other, And the blood which we likewise drink to accomplish the mystery of our redemption is blood from that body. So do we believe as Catholics and such, in consequence, is the Church's teaching.

It follows that no human language will be found adequate to praise her from whom, as we know, the Mediator between God and men took flesh. No praise that human lips can frame is enough for her, who from her spotless body drew the Food of our souls—him who said of himself: I myself am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever. It was through eating that we lost the joys of paradise and it is through eating that we recovered them. Eve ate the apple and imposed on us all an eternal fast, a perpetual hunger; Mary produced a Food, and now the door is open to heaven's banqueting-hall.

At this point I would beg of you, dear brethren, to consider care. fully God's plan for our redemption. Listen to what your hearts tell you, and you will realize with what yearning his mercy went out to us.

The Devil tempted man, man sinned, and the whole human stock was poisoned at the root. But God, in his fatherly affection and his mercy, would not allow his creature to be destroyed entirely, for he had made him in his own image and likeness.  A priest would have to be found—one who could remove the stains of sin from others and know that there was nothing in his own person that needed washing away. He would have to be free from the signs of leprosy himself if he was to cleanse the wounds of other people's guilt. As none such could be found among men, men's own Creator took flesh of the blessed Virgin, determined as he was that men should not perish. The sinless God became man; he was conceived sinless in the Virgin's womb and sinless he lived in the world. There then, brethren, was the priest we needed. He had no sins of his own, and therefore he was fit and able to offer sacrifice and cleanse other people from theirs.

Yet it was impossible that the flesh of brute beasts should sanctify the souls of men; an animal devoid of reason was not the proper victim to efface the sins of reasoning creatures. That was why the psalmist made the Son say to the Father: No sacrifice, no offering was thy demand. Thou hast not found any pleasure in burnt-sacrifices, in sacrifices for sin. See then, I said, I am coming. The victim would have to be endowed with reason if it was to atone for the sins of rational beings. But a sinful man is just as unfit to be a sacrifice as he is to offer one. So what was our Priest to do? As nothing could be found to buy us with, our Redeemer himself became our purchase-price and offered himself to the Father for us, a sacrifice breathing out fragrance.

Thus, he became both Priest and Offering, both Purchaser and Price. Well might Paul be inspired to say: Such was the high-priest that suited our need, holy and guiltless and undefiled, not reckoned among us sinners, lifted high above all the heavens; one who has no need to do as other priests did, offering a twofold sacrifice, first for his own sins, then for the people. What he has done he has done once and for all; and the offering was himself

Saturday, June 15, 2019

SS. Corporis et Sanguinis Christi

Ad I & II Vesperas: St. Thomas Aquinas

W&H: This, the best known of Aquinas's Corpus Christi hymns, was and is appointed to be sung at First Vespers; but it is also the processional hymn on Holy Thursday, when, following celebration of the Eucharist, the consecrated hosts are borne to the Altar of Repose to be distributed on Good Friday. The final two stanzas are familiar to many as the second hymn in Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Pange, lingua, gloriósi (1)
córporis mystérium, (2)
sanguinísque pretiósi,
quem in mundi prétium
fructus ventris generósi (3)
Rex effúdit géntium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus
ex intácta Vírgine,
et in mundo conversátus,
sparso verbi sémine,
sui moras incolátus
miro clausit órdine. (4)

In suprémæ nocte cenæ
recúmbens cum frátribus, (5)
observáta lege plene (6)
cibis in legálibus, (7)
cibum turbæ duodénæ
se dat suis mánibus.

Verbum caro panem verum
verbo carnem éfficit, (8)
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et, si sensus déficit,
ad firmándum cor sincérum (9)
sola fides súfficit.

Tantum ergo sacraméntum
venerémur cérnui,
et antíquum documéntum
novo cedat rítui;
præstet fides suppleméntum
sénsuum deféctui.

Genitóri Genitóque
laus et iubilátio,
salus, honor, virtus quoque
sit et benedíctio;
procedénti ab utróque
compar sit laudátio. Amen.

W&H: 1. Pange, lingua, gloriosi: echoes the opening words of the celebrated hymn of Fortunatus .
2. mysterium: The Greek word, Eph 5:32, is rendered in the Latin Vulgate as sacramentum.
3.  fructus ventris generosi: So Elizabeth at Lk 1:42: "Benedictus fructus ventris cui" (Blessed is the fruit of your womb). The word generosi may bear the double sense of "highborn" (following the genealogy at Mt and "noble" in the moral sense.
4.  miro clausit ordine: That is, the ''wondrous ordering" of Last Supper, Passion, and Crucifixion.
5.  recumbens: The ancients typically ate meals lying on their sides on couches.
6.  observata legeplene cibis in legalibus: Jesus observed the Law fully by celebrating the Passover at the prescribed time, and by consuming the paschal lamb (cibis in legalibus).
7.  cibus: The play in cibis/cibus reminds us that Christ is become the paschal Iamb.
8.  verbo carnem efficit: Referring to the biblical formula of the consecration (Mt
9. adfirmandum: That is, to strengthen hearts in belief in the Real Presence. 5-3   documentum: An "example serving as precedent" (so OLD) of the Passover.

Sing, O tongue,  the mystery of the glorious body and precious blood,  which, the fruit of a noble womb, the King of nations shed as the price of the world. Given to us, born for us from the Virgin Mary, dwelling in the world, having sprinkled the seed of the word, living among us a short while, in a wondrous order he finished his course. In the night of the last supper, reclining with his brothers, observing the law completely, with the food the law decreed, with his own hands he gave himself as food to the twelvefold band. Word made flesh he makes true bread flesh by his word, even if senses fail to see, faith alone is sufficient to strengthen sincere hearts.  Therefore on bended knee we worship such a great sacrament, and the ancient scripture gives place to a new rite. To the Father and to the Son be praise and exultation, salvation, honor, power and blessing. To the one who proceeds from both equal praise.  Amen.

Ad Officium lectionis: St. Thomas Aquinas

Sacris sollémniis iuncta sint gáudia, (1)
et ex præcórdiis sonent præcónia;
recédant vétera, nova sint ómnia, (2)
corda, voces et ópera.

Noctis recólitur cena novíssima, (3)
qua Christus créditur agnum et ázyma (4)
dedísse frátribus iuxta legítima (5)
priscis indúlta pátribus.

Dedit fragílibus córporis férculum,
dedit et trístibus sánguinis póculum,
dicens: «Accípite quod trado vásculum;
omnes ex eo bíbite».

Sic sacrifícium istud instítuit,
cuius offícium commítti vóluit
solis presbýteris, quibus sic cóngruit,
ut sumant et dent céteris.

Panis angélicus fit panis hóminum; (6)
dat panis cælicus figúris términum. (7)
O res mirábilis: mandúcat Dóminum
servus pauper et húmilis.

Te, trina Déitas únaque, póscimus; (8)
sic nos tu vísitas sicut te cólimus:
per tuas sémitas duc nos quo téndimus
ad lucem quam inhábitas. Amen.

Joseph Connelly, Hymns of the Roman Liturgy
1. solemniis; from solemnium, a non-classical, Christian word.
2. vetera. The rites of the old Law, but also habits of sin, the leaven of malice and wickedness, 1 Cor. 5, 3. Nova; the new Law and habits informed by grace. novissima, last. But the last is also the newest, novissima, and the idea of newness is not far from St Thomas's mind. Nova sint omnia he had just written.
4. creditur. This fact is implied, but not stated, in the Scriptures; cf. Lk. 22, 8.
5. fratribus; cf. Pange, linqua: our Lord’s name for his apostles and the Church’s echo in Orate, fratres.
6. angelicus and caelicus: Et panem caeli dedit eis. Panem angelorum manducavit homo, Ps. 77, 24—Angelorum esca nutrivisti popglum tuum; et paratum panem de caelo praestitisti illis sine labore, omne delectamentum in se habentem, Wisdom 16, 20. These texts are about the manna which was 'heavenly' because of its origin and 'angelic' because of its ministers. They are then applied to the Eucharist, the living bread from heaven, John 6, 51, and the bread of angels in that the angels feast spiritually on Christ by their direct vision of Him in heaven; cf. ST. 3, 80, 2. They figure prominently in this Office by quotation, as in the versicle at Vespers and the second antiphon at Lauds, and by allusion, as in this hymn.
7.figuris, types; but in Adoro te Devote (possibly not by St. Thomas) figuris means appearances. Terminum, because all types, the manna, the unleavened bread, the paschal lamb etc., gave way to the reality at this Supper when Christ made all things new.
8. trina deitas, St Thomas did not share the scruples of Raban and Hincmar about this phrase.

On this holy solemnity may our joy be enjoined and from our inmost hearts praise resound. May the old recede and may all things become new, hearts, voices, deeds. That night at the last supper is recalled, when, it is believed, Christ gave to his brothers the lamb and unleavened bread in accordance with the law given to their fathers in former times. He gave to those weak apostles the food of his body, he gave to the sad the drink of blood, saying “receive this chalice which give, all of yo7u drink from it.” Thus he instituted this sacrifice, which he desired to be work of priests alone, so it is  right that they receive themselves first and then administer to others.  The bread of angels becomes the bread of men, the heavenly bread which puts an end to types. O how wondrous is this! The poor and lowly servant feeds on his Lord. We beseech you, O triune Deity, that you visit us, as we worship you; direct us on your paths by which we tend to the light in which you dwell. Amen. 

Ad Laudes matutinas: St. Thomas Aquinas

Verbum supérnum pródiens (1)
nec Patris linquens déxteram,
ad opus suum éxiens
venit ad vitæ vésperam.

In mortem a discípulo (2)
suis tradéndus æmulis,
prius in vitæ férculo
se trádidit discípulis.

Quibus sub bina spécie
carnem dedit et sánguinem,
ut dúplicis substántiæ (3)
totum cibáret hóminem.

Se nascens dedit sócium,
convéscens in edúlium,
se móriens in prétium,
se regnans dat in præmium. (4)

O salutáris hóstia,
quæ cæli pandis óstium, (5)
bella premunt hostília:
da robur, fer auxílium.

Uni trinóque Dómino
sit sempitérna glória,
qui vitam sine término
nobis donet in pátria. Amen.

W&H: 1. Verbum supernum prodiens: Aquinas here exploits the exordium of a pre-Carolingian hymn, Verbum supernum prodiens / a patre olim exiens (on which, see Walpole, 302—4). In that hymn reference is to the procession of Son from the Father, and not to the descent of the Son in the Incarnation, as here.
2. discipulo . . . tradendus . . . se tradidit discipulis: Contrast between betrayal by Judas and Jesus's self-giving is accentuated by the repetition of the verb in tradendus . . . se tradidit; self-giving precedes (prius) betrayal.
 3. ut. totum cibaret hominem: The theme of self-giving continues ("feeding them with his whole human person, consisting of the double substance"). This is the correct sense of totum hominem, not "the whole of mankind."
4. in praemium: The reward is the conferment of the Eucharist.
5.  hostia, quae caeli pandis ostium: Note the play hostia . . . ostium. In the tradition of the Latin Fathers, emphasis is laid on the Redemption as the expiation of sins through Christ's sacrificial death.

The heavenly Word coming forth, yet not leaving the Father’s right hand, going out to his work, he came to his life’s evening tide.  When he was about to be handed to death at the hands of his enemies, he first handed over himself as the bread of life to his disciples. He gave his flesh and blood under two species that he might feed them the whole man in double substance. Being born he gave himself as our companion, at the meal he gave himself to be eaten;  dying he gave himself to pay the price, ruling he gives himself as man’s prize. O saving Victim, who opens the gate of heaven, hostile wars oppress us, grant us strength, grant us help. Eternal glory be to the triune Lord: may he grant to us life without end in our fatherland. Amen.

Friday, June 14, 2019


After Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, comes Trinity Sunday, and the weeks that follow; and in like manner, after our soul's anxious travail; after the birth of the Spirit; after trial and temptation; after sorrow and pain; after daily dyings to the world; after daily risings unto holiness; at length comes that rest which remaineth unto the people of God. [Heb. 4, 9] After the fever of life; after wearinesses and sicknesses; fightings and despondings; languor and fretfulness; struggling and failing, struggling and succeeding; after all the changes and chances of this troubled unhealthy state, at length comes death, at length the White Throne of God, at length the Beatific Vision. After restlessness comes rest, peace, joy; our eternal portion, if we be worthy; the sight of the Blessed Three, the Holy One; the Three that bear witness in heaven; in light unapproachable; in glory without spot or blemish; in power without variableness, or shadow of turning. [Jas. I, 17] The Father God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God; the Father Lord, the son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord; the Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate; the Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; and such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost; and yet there are not three Gods, nor three Lords, nor three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated; but one God, one Lord, one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.

BVM on Saturday: St. Peter Damian: Our Lord committed his Church to St. Peter, his Mother to St. John

It is not surprising that our Redeemer should have chosen the blessed John to expound in his stead the mystery of his divinity, for he also deputed John to replace him as Mary's son: he was to have the great and ever-virgin mother in his keeping on his Lord's behalf—Woman, this is thy son, came the words, and to the disciple, This is thy mother.2 Christ is the Mediator between God and men3 because he unites the natures of them both, the divine nature and the human, in the person of the one Emmanuel. Thus, it was highly fitting that the blessed John should give his faithful service to each of those natures, on the one hand committing the mysteries of the divine nature to writing, and on the other devoting his constant attention to the welfare of the blessed mother.

The Lord entrusted the keys of the Church to Peter and he chose to give the custody of Mary to John. Now these two are both mothers: Mary is a mother and the Church is a mother. Mary is Christ's Mother, the Church is the mother of Christ's people. Mary gave Christ his flesh; and out of his flesh, the flesh of his side, Christ brought the Church to birth. He came forth from Mary when he was born in the flesh; he brought forth the Church when he died in the flesh. He chose to be born of the one, he deigned to die for the other. Of the one he was born in his own person, once and for all; of the other his members are born day after day. From the one he drew the means of dying for the other and the ground of their common salvation. Great and favored in her motherhood was the blessed Virgin Mary, for her body supplied the flesh of Christ, from which again the Church flowed forth on a tide of blood and water; so that in this respect the Church may be regarded as proceeding from Mary as well. And both Mary and the Church are chaste and pure; both are protected by the girdle of perpetual maidenhood.

Of these two mothers, then, these two perpetual virgins, the Lord chose to commit one to Peter and the other to John, because he wanted us to consider carefully the services rendered by both those members of the court of heaven and estimate their value, and so to see that for excellence and worth and merit each was the other's equal. The Lord said to Peter: I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. But the blessed Virgin, brethren: was not she a heaven too, if for nine whole months the Godhead in all its fullness rested in her womb? From her clean, chaste body came the flesh that clothed the Word of God, through whom all things came into being. 2 There he lay, cramped in the narrow confines of her womb, who in his boundless power defines the limits of all human laws. His dwelling a scant space in a virgin body, the heavens were still at his command and he held undiminished sway over the things of earth. So it is not too much to give the name of heaven to the object of our veneration, the Virgin Mary and therefore, when the Lord appointed the blessed John as his mother's guardian, he gave him too, in a way, the keys of the kingdom.