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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Thomas was born near Aquino, Italy. He studied with the Benedictines at Monte Cassino but at 19 he joined the newly-founded Dominicans and continued his studies in Italy and France. Thomas was a brilliant scholar who wrote on theology and scripture. He is the author of the famous Summa Theologiae which became the official source for all the seminarians for centuries. He also gave us the beautiful Latin hymns still in use today: Pange Lingua, Tantum Ergo, and Adoro Te Devote. This last was said to have been written at the request of Pope Urban IV for the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1264. I will copy some of the verses from the translation done by the Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, if room at the end.

The Gospel is the parable of the Sower who went out to sow his seed. The seed falls on different kinds of ground. Jesus explains the parable later to his Apostles by saying that it is the word that is sown. Some hear the word but only those who are rich soil hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. I remember a holy priest in Chile saying that those who find themselves rich soil are those who also recognized themselves in the other kinds of soil - on the path, on rocky ground, no roots, among thorns - I found that rather consoling and have never forgotten it.

From Adoro Te Devote
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

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