Prayers of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Prayers of Saint Thomas Aquinas

For a visit to the Blessed Sacrament

O Jesus, Who lovest me so much, Thou art truly here a hidden God, hear me I beseech Thee.

Let Thy good pleasure be my pleasure, my passion, my love!  Grant me the grace to seek, find and accomplish it!  Shew me Thy ways, point out to me Thy paths.  Thou hast Thy designs upon me, let me know them, and help me to follow them to the final salvation of my soul.  Indifferent to all transient things, and desirous of seeing only Thee, may I love all that is Thine;  but Thee, my God, above all.

Render bitter to me every joy that is not Thee, impossible every desire outside of Thee, delightful every work done for Thee, insupportable every repose that is not in Thee.  That at all times, O my good Jesus, my soul tends towards Thee: that my life be but an act of love!

Make me realize that every work that does not honour Thee is lifeless.  Let my piety be less a habit than a continuous outpouring of the heart.

O Jesus, my delight and my life, keep me free from affectation in humility, from dissipation in my joys, from depression in my sorrows, from harshness in my austerity.

Grant me to speak without evasion, to fear without despair, to hope without presumption, to be pure and without stain, to correct without anger, to love without dissimulation, to edify without ostentation, to obey without hesitation, to suffer without complaint.

O Jesus, supreme Goodness, I implore Thee grant me a heart smitten by Thee, that no spectacle, no noise can distract:  a heart faithful and brave that will never falter or sink:  an indomitable heart always ready to battle after each tempest:  a free heart, never a slave, never seduced:  an upright heart that will never indulge in crooked ways.

And my soul, O Lord, my soul!  Make it thirst to know Thee, ardent in seeking Thee, and successful in finding Thee, Thee, supreme Wisdom!  Let its conversations not displease Thee too much: confident and calm make it await Thy replies, and on Thy words rely.

May penance make me feel the thorns of Thy crown: may grace pour out Thy gifts on me during my journey as an exile:  may glory fill me with Thy joys in the Fatherland!

Act of spiritual communion

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art truly present in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.  I adore Thee;  I am sorry that I have offended Thee.  I love Thee.  Come to my poor soul.  Unite Thyself to me.  I thank Thee my Jesus.  O never, never leave me.

Act of reparation to the five Sacred Wounds of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament

I adore Thee profoundly in the Holy Sacrament, O my Jesus;  I acknowledge Thee here present as true God and true man; and I intend by this act of adoration to make amends for my coldness and the coldness of so many Christians, who pass before Thy churches, nay sometimes before Thy tabernacle where Thou deignest to dwell at all hours in a loving impatience to communicate Thyself to Thy faithful, and yet never so much as salute Thee, and by their indifference, show themselves to be like the Jews in the desert, sick of this heavenly manna, and I offer Thee the most Precious Blood, which Thou didst shed from Thy Sacred wounds, in reparation for such hateful coldness, within which Sacred wounds I would repeat a thousand and a thousand times:

Versicle:  Blessed and praised every moment,

Response:  Be the most holy and most divine Sacrament!

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

I adore Thee profoundly, O my Jesus; I acknowledge Thee here present in the most holy Sacrament, and I intend by this act of adoration to make amends for my ingratitude and the ingratitude of so many Christians.

“Memorare” to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Remember, O most pious and tender Virgin Mary, that it has never been heard of in any age that those, who implored thy powerful protection, were ever abandoned by thee.  I, therefore, O sacred Virgin, animated with the most lively confidence, cast myself at thy sacred feet, most earnestly beseeching thee to adopt me for ever as thy child, to take care of my eternal salvation, and to watch over me now and at the hour of my death.  Only, do not, Mother of the Word Incarnate!  despise my prayer, but graciously hear and obtain the granting of my petitions.  Amen.

When used for a Novena to the B. V. M., say, after the Memorare, the Hail holy Queen once, followed by the Hail, Mary nine times.

Versicle:  Queen of the most Holy Rosary, pray for us.

Response: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we Thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body; and by the glorious inter­cession of the blessed Mary ever Virgin, may be freed from present sorrow, and come to possess eternal joy.  Through Christ our Lord.

Response:  Amen!

Prayer said daily by Saint Thomas Aquinas for detachment

Give me, O Lord God, an ever watchful heart, which no subtle speculation may lure from Thee.  Give me a noble heart, which no unworthy affection can draw downwards to the earth.  Give me an upright heart, which no insincere intention can warp.  Give me a firm heart, which no tribulation can crush or quell.

Give me a free heart, which no perverted or impetuous affection can claim for its own.  Amen!

Petitions of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Bestow on me, O Lord, my God, understanding to know Thee, diligence to seek Thee, wisdom to find Thee, a life and conversation which may please Thee, perseverance in waiting patiently for Thee, and a hope which may embrace Thee at the last.  Grant me to be pierced with compunction by Thy sorrows through true repentance, to improve all Thy gifts and benefits during this my pilgrimage through Thy grace, and so at length to enter into Thy full and consummate joy in Thy glory.

Who livest and reignest, God, for ever and ever.  Amen!

Prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas for purity

O good Jesus, I know that every perfect gift and, above all others, that of chastity depends on the powerful action of Thy divine Providence; I know that without Thee a creature can do nothing.  This is why I beseech Thee to defend, by Thy grace, the purity of my soul and of my body.  And if I have ever received any impression whatsoever of a sentiment capable of soiling this ineffable virtue, do Thou, O supreme Master of my faculties, blot it out from my soul that with a clean heart I may advance in Thy love and in Thy service, offering myself chaste all the days of my life on the most pure altar of Thy divinity.  It is the Cross that I adore.  The Cross of the Lord is with me.  The Cross is my refuge. Amen!

Prayer of Saint Thomas for light and guidance

O ineffable Creator, Who, out of the abundance of Thy Wisdom, hast constituted the three Angelic Hierarchies, and set them in admirable order over the highest Heaven; Thou, Who hast, most graciously proportioned the parts of the universe; Thou who art called the true Fount of Light and Wisdom and the First Beginning of all, deign to let the Beam of Thy Splendour shine upon the darkness of my intellect to dispel the twofold gloom of sin and ignorance, in which I was born.

Make my tongue to speak wise things, O Thou, Who makest eloquent the tongues of babes; and do Thou pour out upon my lips the grace of Thy Benediction.

Give me keenness of comprehension, ability to retain, method and ease in acquiring, precision in interpreting, plenteous grace in speaking.  Inspire my going in;  guide my steps when I walk;  and my going out do Thou make perfect.  Thou Who art at once God and Man, and Who reignest for ever and ever.  Amen.

Maxims of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Be not anxious to plunge at once into the deep sea of wisdom: approach by the rivers that lead thereto.  For by simple things you arrive at the abstruse.

Be slow to speak.  Cherish the purity of your heart.  Pray always.  Love to be alone if you would reach intimacy with God.  Be courteous with all;  not quick to take offence.  Do not gad about;  but be sedulous in following in the footsteps of the Saints.  Retain the good that you hear, no matter whence it comes.  Be not too familiar with anyone; familiarity is the mother of contempt, and a fertile source of distraction from study.  Understand well what you learn: sift your doubts: enrich your mind and your memory.  Be not solicitous to know things that are above you.

Thus will you attain what you desire; and thus will you in your lifetime bring forth good fruit in the Vineyard of the Lord of hosts.

Prayer to Saint Thomas Aquinas

O blessed Thomas, Patron of schools, obtain for us from God an invincible faith, burning charity, a chaste life, and true knowledge: through Christ our Lord.  Amen!

VARIOUS PRAYERS OF ST. THOMAS

For the Theological Virtues

O God, all powerful, Who knowest all things, Who hadst neither beginning nor end, Who dost give, preserve, and reward all virtues;  deign to make me steadfast on the solid foundation of faith, to protect me with the impregnable shield of hope, and to adorn me with the wedding garment of charity.

For the Cardinal Virtues

Give me justice, to submit to Thee;  prudence, to avoid the snares of the enemy;  temperance, to keep the just medium;  fortitude, to bear adversities with patience.

For the practice of humility, modesty and charity

Grant me to impart willingly to others what ever I possess that is good, and to ask humbly of others that I may partake of the good of which I am destitute; to confess truly my faults; to bear with equanimity the pains and evils which I suffer.  Grant that I may never envy the good of my neighbour, and that I may always return thanks for Thy graces.

Let me always observe discipline in my clothing, movements, and gestures.  Let my tongue be restrained from vain words, my feet from going astray, my eyes from seeking after vain objects, my ears from listening to much news; may I humbly incline my countenance, and raise my spirit to heaven.

Grant me to despise all transitory things, and to desire Thee alone; to subdue my flesh and purify my conscience; to honour Thy Saints, and to praise Thee worthily; to advance in virtue, and to end good actions by a happy death.

Plant in me, O Lord, all virtues: that I may be devoted to divine things, provident in human affairs, and troublesome to no one in bodily cares.

Grant me, O Lord, fervour in contrition, sincerity in confession, and completeness in satisfaction.

Deign to direct my soul to a good life: that what I do may be pleasing to Thee, meritorious for myself, and edifying to my neighbour.

Grant that I may never desire to do what is foolish, and that I may never be discouraged by what is distasteful; that I may never begin my works before the proper time, nor abandon them before they are completed.  Amen!

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): Feast: March 7

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

 

Feast: March 7

Thomas the Apostle challenged the story that the Lord was risen, and his unbelief brought forth a glowing testimony of the reality of the Resurrection.

Twelve centuries later, his namesake, Thomas of Aquino, questioned—without doubting—the great truths of faith, and demonstrated for all time the rela­tionship of faith and reason.  As the first Thomas found by experiment (“Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side”) that the Man who stood in the midst of them was none other than Jesus Christ, so Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, proved for all time that there is no quarrel between reason and revelation.

Thomas, son of the count of Aquino, was first trained at the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino, and here, even in childhood, his great mind was wrestling with theological problems.  His passion for truth is expressed in his constant question, “Master, tell me—what is God?”

Better to train the boy’s mind, his father sent him at an early age to the University of Naples.  Here he studied under Peter of Ireland and, undisturbed by the noise and wickedness of the great university city, proceeded rapidly on his quest for God.

Meeting the Dominicans, he was strongly attracted by their apostolic life and petitioned to be received as one of them.  While recognizing the gifts of the young student, the friars refused him admittance to the Order until he was eighteen.  Acting deliberately, without a backward glance at the power and wealth he was leaving, Thomas, at eighteen, joyfully put on the habit of the new Order.

Like many a gifted young man, Thomas was bitterly opposed by his family when he attempted to become a religious.  Both threats and persuasion failing, he was kidnapped by his brothers and locked in a tower for more than a year.  His sisters were sent in to influence him, and he proceeded to convert them to his own way of thinking.  A woman was sent in to tempt him; he drove her from the room with a burning brand from the fire; afterwards, angels came to gird him with the cincture of perpetual chastity.  The captivity having failed to break the determination, his brothers relaxed their guard, and Thomas, with the help of his sisters, escaped from the tower and hurried back to his convent.

Given the finest education that his time could offer, Thomas studied first in Cologne (Germany), and later at Paris, under Master Albert the Great.  This outstanding Dominican teacher and saint became his lifelong friend and loyal defender.  They taught together at Cologne and became a mutual influence for good in one of the most beautiful friendships in Dominican history.

For the rest of his life, Thomas was to teach and preach with scarcely a day of rest.  He traveled continually, which makes all the more remarkable the amount of writing he did.  Death found him in a familiar place – on the road – where he was bound for the Council of Lyons in obedience to the pope’s command.  He died at the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova, in a borrowed bed – obscurity hardly fitting the intellectual light of the Order, but perfectly suited to the humble friar that Thomas had always been.

Overheard in a colloquy with the Master he served so well, with heart and mind and pen, Thomas was heard to ask as his reward, “Thyself, O Lord, none but Thyself!”

From the book, Saint Dominic’s family,

By sister Mary-Jean Dorcy O.P.

Dominican sister of the Holy Cross

Dubuque (Iowa), The Priory Press, 1964

Also see the article Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith  on this website

Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith

Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith


A Sermon given in the Dominican Monastery of Avrillé (France)

“Thomas Aquinas was a light placed by Me over the Mystical Body of the Church in order to disperse the darkness of error.” 1

1. Saint Thomas, celestial patron of Catholic studies

On the feast of Saint Dominic, on August 4, 1880, and after having consulted the Sacred Congregation of Rites, Pope Leo III published the Brief, Cum hoc sit, designating St. Thomas the patron of universities, academies, Catholic colleges and schools. The feast was fixed on the 13th of November.2

The motives justifying the patronage of Saint Thomas for Catholic studies

This decision of the Pope, designating Saint Thomas patron of Catholic studies came immediately after his encyclical Aeterni Patris, dealing with the restoration of Catholic philosophy according to the principles of Saint Thomas Aquinas, written one year before, on August 4, 1879.  This patronage should have been its crowning point, and Leo XIII assigned three reasons for it.    Let us quote the Pope:

  1. The doctrine of Saint Thomas is so vast that it embraces, like an ocean, the entire wisdom of Antiquity.  Everything said in the past that was true, everything that was wisely discussed by the pagan philosophers and by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church as well as those superior individuals who existed before him; not only did he completely understand it, but he developed, completed and classified it with such an insight, with such methodical precision and with such a precise terminology, that he seems to have only left to his followers the ability to imitate him, while at the same time taking away their possibility of equaling him!”
  2. “There is yet a more important matter to consider: it is that his doctrine being formed and armed with principles containing a vast breadth of application corresponds to the necessities not only of one historical period but rather of all times and periods of history and is therefore very well suited to conquer the continually re-emerging errors.  Sustaining itself by its own strength, it remains invincible and causes a profound fear to its adversaries.  The perfect agreement between faith and reason [in the works of St. Thomas] must not be neglected, especially in regards to the judgment of Catholics.”
  3. “Finally, the Angelic Doctor, though great because of his doctrine, is no less great because of his virtue and holiness.  Consequently virtue is the best preparation for the work of the mind and the acquisition of knowledge; those who neglect virtue falsely imagine having acquired a solid and fruitful knowledge because ‘Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins’ (Wisdom 1:4).”

Furthermore, Pope Pius XI dedicated a very beautiful encyclical; Studiorum Ducem3, in order to demonstrate the link between ecclesiastical studies and holiness as exemplified by Saint Thomas.

Saint Thomas enjoyed a wisdom proportioned to his sanctity; furthermore he enjoyed a superior degree of sanctity which was especially true from the moment when the Angels bound his loins with the cincture of chastity.  The enlightenment of the intellect is, indeed, the special fruit of chastity while the result of impurity is to darken the mind.  Saint Thomas was so free from the fires of concupiscence that he was able to enjoy an understanding of divine things similar to that of the Angels who do not have a body.  That is why he is called the Angelic Doctor.

Saint Thomas is the fruit of the Dominican Order

At the same time, St. Thomas must not be separated from the religious order to which he belonged.  It was the soil of the Order of Preachers where he was allowed to show his true worth.  The necessary balance between the practice of the vows of religion, monastic observances, the choral singing of the divine office, and the contemplative study ordered to preaching for the salvation of souls: it is this entire wonderful ensemble that permitted him to develop his Angelic doctrine.  But, since a religious acts only out of obedience, Saint Thomas’ superiors must also be mentioned:

“Must we not acknowledge that they directed him as perfectly as possible in his scientific vocation?   For he was a superior intellect, a genius who during his period of development was not inhibited by his own brethren.   This is a

phenomenon rare enough throughout history even in Religious Orders to deserve to be mentioned and held up as an example.” 4

The Masters General under whose direction he lived his religious life5, and the great saint, Albert-the-Great (1206-1280) who directed him at Cologne are a few superiors of Saint Thomas who must be honored.

We can certainly claim that Saint Thomas is the most beautiful flower, the most beautiful fruit of the Order of Saint Dominic:  the Order whose mission in the Church is to spread the light of truth and combat error in order to save souls.

2. Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith

Therefore, it is clear from all that has been said how important Saint Thomas is in the contemporary battle for the Faith.  Let us quote Archbishop Lefebvre:

“We do not have the right to contradict the spirit of the Church which has always relied on Saint Thomas throughout its history.  God, Himself, raised up this admirable Doctor and the Church and the Popes have confirmed it, always proclaiming the power of Saint Thomas in rejecting error and heresy.  Since our contemporary age is one replete with heresy, error and paganism, we do not have the right to neglect papal directives. […]  It is very unfortunate that in today’s Roman Universities every possible and imaginable theory is floated without any correction from the authorities.  This is unfortunately due to the infiltration of ecumenism into philosophy as well as the idea of the equality of every theory.  Thomism is considered like everything else – relative – it was a system that was good during a certain period of time but, now we need something else more suited to the needs of the time.  (Archbishop Lefebvre)”6

Study

Saint Thomas is the remedy for the malicious illness of our time – which is Modernism

None other than Saint Pius X, in his encyclical Pascendi, written on the 8th of September, 1907, declares that the primary remediation for Modernism is the study of the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas:

“Concerning the question of studies, We wish and order that Scholastic philosophy form the basis for the Sacred Studies. […] And when we prescribe Scholastic philosophy, We want to make it clear the We especially mean the philosophy left us by the Angelic Doctor. This is of paramount importance.”

Saint Pius X will again clarify his thought in his Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici of June 29, 1914, concerning the study of the doctrine of Saint Thomas Aquinas:

“It happened that since We said that the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas especially had to be followed without indicating that it had to be exclusively followed, a number of teachers convinced themselves that they were obeying Our desire, or at the very least, that it was not contradictory if they were to adopt indiscriminately what other scholastics taught about philosophy, even though it was directly in opposition to the principles of Saint Thomas.   But in doing this they were greatly deceived.  When we gave Our seminarians Saint Thomas as the sole leader of Scholastic Philosophy, it goes without saying, that we were talking especially about his principles upon which, as on its foundation, this philosophy rests. […] It is certainly not difficult to understand that if the doctrine of some author or some saint was ever recommended by Us or by Our predecessors with particular enthusiasm, […] it is not difficult to understand that they were recommended in so far as they were in agreement with the principles of Thomas Aquinas or at least they did not oppose his principles in the very least.”

Again, it is Saint Pius X who gives the reason for this:

We wanted to state to all those dedicated to teaching philosophy and sacred theology to be alerted that if they alienated themselves from Thomas Aquinas, in the slightest degree, especially in matters of metaphysics they would experience a tragic loss.”
 

Furthermore, the Church had taken precise measures concerning this matter.  The 1917 Code of Canon Law obliges seminary professors, as well as their students, to “adhere both in philosophy and theology to the method, doctrine and principles of Saint Thomas.” (C. 1366 # 2).  The Dominican Constitution even required professors, the Master of novices and the brothers during their course of study to take an oath to maintain that doctrine.   The doctrine of Saint Thomas is the Church’s doctrine, and the Church is suspicious of anyone straying from it.

The shipwreck of the Conciliar Church

Alienated from the Tradition of the Church, the intellect has no point of reference; it just wanders around (or it loses its way).  This is precisely the spectacle given by the Conciliar Church.

The new Code of Canon Law issued in 1983, does not even explicitly mention Saint Thomas when it comes to philosophical studies in the seminaries!   It only says:

“The philosophical formation ought to always relate to Tradition while at the same time keeping aware of on going philosophical research” (C. 251).

One cannot be more vague.

Let us also quote the incredible declaration of Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI:

“I had difficulty in understanding Saint Thomas Aquinas whose crystalline logic appeared much too enclosed on itself, too impersonal and too stereotyped.”7

At any other time in history, he would not have been ordained a priest.  And in our times, he became the Pope!

One must read the text of Saint Thomas

Following the thought of Saint Pius X we readily see that he insists on reading the text of Saint Thomas itself:

“It is absolutely necessary to return to the ancient custom which, should have never been abandoned, that there be courses taught on the Summa Theologica itself, for the obvious reason that this highly reasoned book renders the Solemn Decrees of the teaching Church and its Acts that naturally follow more easily intelligible.  Because in the wake of the most blessed saintly Doctor, the Church has never held a Council in which he himself were not present with all the richness of his doctrine.  It daily becomes clearer and the experience of so many centuries has made it known, how true the affirmation of Our predecessor John XXII8is right on: [Thomas] enlightened the Church more clearly than all the Doctors, and, in his books, man profits more in one year than if he spent his entire life span studying all the others.”

In addition to the necessity of reading the text of St. Thomas itself, two cogent things should be retained:

  • The Second Vatican Council is the only council which did not rely on the doctrine of the Angelic Doctor; hence the disaster that flows from this omission.
  • Saint Pius X links the study of St. Thomas, in our times, to none other than the Acts of the Holy See.  This is something that was sadly lacking to the Thomists in our times.  Leaning on the principles of the Angelic Doctor, the Popes – up to Pius XII included – assiduously studied modern errors and condemned them.  These lessons were too often ignored and the lack of knowledge of the pontifical texts is an important cause for the lack of reaction against these errors in the Church:  hence their triumph on the occasion of Vatican II.

That is why Archbishop Lefebvre, in order “to transmit in its entire doctrinal purity, as well as in all his missionary charity, just as Our Lord transmitted it to His Apostles as also the Roman Church transmitted it up until the middle of the XXth century,”9 inserted in the first year course on spirituality for the seminarians, courses on the Acts of the Magisterium concerning modern errors which he himself gave in the beginning10.

Preaching

The study of the doctrine of St. Thomas, in itself, ought to be the principal inspiration for preaching for priests.  It is very important to nourish the souls with this doctrine in order to sustain their contemplation and love of God.

Saint Thomas himself, as a true son of Saint Dominic, had consecrated himself to the salvation of souls.  Furthermore, it is Thomas himself who developed the logo for the Order of Preachers: “Contemplari, et contemplate aliis tradere,”:  to contemplate and transmit to others that which you have contemplated.

It would be a grave error and detriment for the faithful to think that Saint Thomas is only reserved for priestsIt would also be wrong to think that, for the faithful, it is only necessary to give moral exhortations or, what is worse, considerations that appeal only to feelings.

Let us quote again the Archbishop:

Let us not think that Saint Thomas is too much for the faithful and that he is distant from their faith, for this is not true and damaging to the faithful.  The philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas are truth.  Therefore let us not say that the truth explained in all its simplicity, and clarity, in addition to its profound logic, cannot be understood by the faithful.  That would be condescension on our part.  This would amount to abandoning and despairing of communicating to the faithful – a profound tragedy.  It goes without saying that one must know how to express and expose these admirable principles.”11

Father Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. tells of having known a little lay sister, who was a contemplative, and who did not possess any human culture to speak of but who had been interiorly enlightened by interior trials:

“She had discovered among the saints two great friends: Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great.  In spite of the fact that she lacked any philosophical or theological culture, she, nevertheless, loved to read how these saints prayed and furthermore, addressed them saying: “They are great Doctors of the Church and they enlighten the souls of those who entreat them for help.”  As a matter of fact, Father Garrigou-Lagrange continues to explain that it was St. Thomas who showed her where the obscure tunnel she was crossing would lead her!  And Saint Thomas enlightened many souls, as he had done to the little lay sister, if these poor souls appealed to him.”12

It was well known at Econe, that Msgr. Lefebvre came for a spiritual conference with a single volume of Saint Thomas, and he gave a commentary on an article of the Summa.  These formed the most pleasing lectures experienced by the Seminarians, and especially by the brothers!

It was not something rare, at the Monastery of Avrille, to be surprised to find our (now deceased) brother Marie-Joseph O.P. plunged into one of these same volumes.  He was particularly in love with the treatise on charity.

Conclusion

Let us ask of Our Lord what the Church makes us specially ask for in the Collect and the Postcommunion for the feast of Saint Thomas:

Da nobis et quae docuit, intellectu conspicere:

give us the grace to contemplate what he taught – that is, to nourish ourselves with his doctrine,

et quae egit imitatione complere; ut actus exterius piae operationis excrescent:

give us the grace to resemble him, in order that there may be an increase in our good works,

knowing that the first work of spiritual mercy consists in teaching souls the truth:

Docere ignorantes.


MEDITATION FOR CHRISTMAS TIME (with Saint Thomas Aquinas)

MEDITATION FOR CHRISTMAS TIME

with Saint Thomas Aquinas


The Circumstances of Christ’s Birth

1. Christ willed to be born at Bethlehem because of two reasons:

First, because “ He was made … of the seed of David according to the flesh, to whom also a special promise was made concerning Christ. ”  (Rom. I, 3.)  Hence, He willed to be born at Bethlehem, where David was born, in order that by the very birthplace, the promise made to David might be fulfilled.  The Evangelist points this out by saying, “ Because He was of the house and of the family of David. ”

Secondly, because as Gregory says, “ Bethlehem is interpreted ‘the house of bread’.”  It is Christ Himself, Who said, “ I am the living Bread which came down from heaven ” (Jn 41, 51).

As David was born in Bethlehem, so also did He select Jerusalem to set up His throne and to build there the Temple of God, so that, Jerusalem was at the time a royal and priestly city.  Now, Christ’s priesthood and kingdom were consummated principally in His Passion.  Therefore, it was becoming, that He should choose Bethlehem for His birthplace and Jerusalem for the scene of His Passion.

Likewise, also, He silenced the vain boasting of men who take pride in being born in great cities, where also they desire especially to receive honor.  Christ, on the contrary, willed to be born in a mean city, and to suffer reproach in a great city.

2. Christ was born at a suitable time.

— “When the fullness of time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” (Gal. IV, 4.)  There is this difference between Christ and other men; that, whereas they are born subject to the restrictions of time, Christ as Lord and Maker of all time, chose a time in which to be born, just as He chose a mother and a birthplace.  And hence, since “What is of God is well ordered,” and becomingly arranged, it follows that Christ was born at a most fitting time.

— Christ came to bring us back from a state of bondage to a state of liberty, and therefore, as He took our mortal nature in order to restore us life, so as Bede says, “He deigned to take flesh at such a time that, shortly after His birth, He would be enrolled in Caesar’s census and thus submit Himself to bondage for the sake of our liberty.”

— Moreover, at that time, when the whole word lived under one ruler, peace abounded on the earth.  Therefore, it was a fitting time for the birth of Christ, for “He is our peace, Who hath made both one,” as it is written. (Eph. II, 14.)

Again it was fitting that Christ should be born while the world was governed by one ruler, because “He came to gather His own, Children of God, together into one” (John XI, 52), so “that there might be one fold and one Shepherd.” (John X, 16.)

Christ wished to be born during the reign of a foreigner, that the prophecy of Jacob might be fulfilled (Gen. XLIX, 10), “This sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, not a ruler from his thigh, till He come that is to be sent.”  Because as Chrysostom says, “as long as the Jewish people were governed by Jewish kings, however wicked, prophets were sent for their healing.  But now, that the Law of God is under the power of a wicked king, Christ is born; because a grave and hopeless disease demanded a more skillful physician.”

Christ wished to be born when the light of day begins to increase in length, so as to show that He came in order that man might come nearer to the Divine Light, according to Luke I, 79: “To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

— In like manner, He chose to be born in the rough winter season, that He might begin from then to suffer in body for us. (3 a. q. 35 a. V and VIII.)

(From: Saint Thomas Meditations for every day, by Fr E.C. McEnery O.P., Columbus [Ohio], Long’s College book company, 1951)