Saturday, January 28, 2012

Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor

Today’s saint was born in Italy and studied philosophy and theology with the most learned man of the time, St. Albert the Great. Though some called him a “dumb ox” because of his physical size and a shy, quiet personality, St. Albert declared that “the lowing of this dumb ox would be heard all over the world.” Indeed, because of his teaching and writing, St. Thomas Aquinas has often been called the greatest theologian of all time. When Pope Urban IV instituted the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, he asked Thomas to compose hymns and prayers which continue to be used for benediction, holy hours, and Eucharistic adoration: Pange Lingua, O Salutaris Hostia, Tantum Ergo, and Adoro Te Devote. In June 2010 Pope Benedict gave three of his Wednesday General Audiences on St. Thomas, from which we have the following reflection. May our love of the Eucharist increase in us and all Christians a greater dedication to peace.

In speaking of the sacraments, St Thomas reflects in a special way on the Mystery of the Eucharist, for which he had such great devotion, the early biographers claim, that he would lean his head against the Tabernacle, as if to feel the throbbing of Jesus' divine and human heart. In one of his works, commenting on Scripture, St Thomas helps us to understand the excellence of the sacrament of the Eucharist, when he writes: "Since this [the Eucharist] is the sacrament of Our Lord's Passion, it contains in itself the Jesus Christ who suffered for us. Thus, whatever is an effect of Our Lord's Passion is also an effect of this sacrament. For this sacrament is nothing other than the application of Our Lord's Passion to us". We clearly understand why St Thomas and other Saints celebrated Holy Mass shedding tears of compassion for the Lord who gave himself as a sacrifice for us, tears of joy and gratitude.

Dear brothers and sisters, at the school of the Saints, let us fall in love with this sacrament! Let us participate in Holy Mass with recollection, to obtain its spiritual fruits, let us nourish ourselves with this Body and Blood of Our Lord, to be ceaselessly fed by divine Grace! Let us willingly and frequently linger in the company of the Blessed Sacrament in heart-to-heart conversation!

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