Sunday, June 10, 2007

Body and Blood of Christ

St. Thomas Aquinas is, for me, inextricably linked with today's celebration. The Angelic Doctor is best remembered for his astounding intellectual achievements, but in my mind his crowning work was the office that he composed for today's Solemnity celebrating the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. One can get a sense of the playful seriousness of Thomas' learning in English translation, but the mastery of the Latin is no less profound.

Aquinas is the sort of figure, not unlike Origen or Augustine in my reckoning, whose genius means that he suffers as much at the hands of his well-intended friends as at the hands of his worst enemies (in this they perhaps demonstrate their sanctity by conformity to Jesus Christ). Aquinas, whose scholarship is fresh, broad, unpolemic, willing to grant every opinion the greatest measure of the benefit of doubt, typically is presented as the master of stale doctrinaire 'final words' brooking little dissent. Scholastics tend to bear a reputation as having a tin ear for the genuine concerns of modernity. This caricature is in many places unfair, to be sure, but is begins with a general truth.

I've often said the same of Pope Benedict XVI/Cardinal Ratzinger. His reputation (which more exposure continues to erode) as the papal Rottweiler was just as enthusiastically embraced by his supposed champions as it was reviled by his avowed enemies. Official Vatican documents from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are going to tend towards a stiff, bureaucratic tone, unfortunately, and this tone often did make Ratzinger sound uncaring and even pointed in his criticism. Would that more people would read the many books he has written in his capacity as a simple theologian! Nay--even his encyclical, in which he actually names Julian the Apostate as a sympathetic critic of the danger always lurking when Christian practice diverges from Christian belief.

Well, I have strayed off topic. Through the intercession of St. Thomas Aquinas, may we experience in the Blessed Sacrament the reality of Christ's saving presence!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Can ye say nay?"

- Sir Thomas Wyatt



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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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