Sunday 16 June 2013

The Feast of Corpus Christi

PANGE lingua gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
quem in mundi pretium
fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit Gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus
ex inacta Virgine,
et in mundo conversatus,
sparso verbi semine,
sui moras incolatus
miro clausit ordine.

In suprema nocte coenae
recumbus cum fratribus
observata lege plene
cibis in legalibus,
cibum turbae duodenae
se dat suis manibus.

Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
veneremur cernui:
et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui:
praestet fides supplementum
sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
laus et jubilatio,
salus, honor, virtus quoque
sit et benedictio:
procedenti ab utroque
compar sit laudatio.
Amen. Alleluia.

SING, my tongue, the Saviour's glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world's redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.

Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wondrously His life of woe.

On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law's command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.

Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;-
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble sense fail.

To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honour, blessing,
might and endless majesty.
Amen. Alleluia.

Pange Lingua is a hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

It is also sung on Holy Thursday, during the procession from the church to the altar of repose where the Blessed Sacrament is kept until Good Friday.

The last two stanzas, called separately Tantum Ergo, are sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The hymn expresses the doctrine of transubstantiation, the Thomist expression for the transformation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

The other great Eucharistic hymn of St Thomas is Adoro Te also often sung at Benediction.

There are numerous good translations of this famous hymn but I think that of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit poet, is one of the more unusual. Here it is:

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.

On the cross Thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here Thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what Thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with Thy glory's sight. Amen.

For those who (still) think that the idea of bread turning into Christ's Body is un-Scriptural, here is the proof that it is entirely Scriptural: John 6:47-72.

Below it is reproduced in both English and Greek. Note carefully the words highlighted in bold.

“47 Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. 52 If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. 53 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 54 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. 56 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 57 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. 58 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. 59 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. 60 These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. 61 Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? 62 But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? 63 If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 64 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. 65 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him. 66 And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father. 67 After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. 68 Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? 69 And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 70 And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. 71 Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil? 72 Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve.”

Now for the Greek - transliterated into Roman script so that the connections are more obvious. Again note the words in bold.

"47 amhn amhn legw umin, o pisteuwn ecei zwhn aiwnion. 48 egw eimi o artoV thV zwhV. 49 oi patereV umwn efagon en th erhmw to manna kai apeqanon: 50 outoV estin o artoV o ek tou ouranou katabainwn ina tiV ex autou fagh kai mh apoqanh. 51 egw eimi o artoV o zwn o ek tou ouranou katabaV: ean tiV fagh ek toutou tou artou zhsei eiV ton aiwna: kai o artoV de on egw dwsw h sarx mou estin uper thV tou kosmou zwhV. 52 emaconto oun proV allhlouV oi ioudaioi legonteV, pwV dunatai outoV hmin dounai thn sarka [autou] fagein; 53 eipen oun autoiV o ihsouV, amhn amhn legw umin, ean mh faghte thn sarka tou uiou tou anqrwpou kai pihte autou to aima, ouk ecete zwhn en eautoiV. 54 o trwgwn mou thn sarka kai pinwn mou to aima ecei zwhn aiwnion, kagw anasthsw auton th escath hmera: 55 h gar sarx mou alhqhV estin brwsiV, kai to aima mou alhqhV estin posiV. 56 o trwgwn mou thn sarka kai pinwn mou to aima en emoi menei kagw en autw. 57 kaqwV apesteilen me o zwn pathr kagw zw dia ton patera, kai o trwgwn me kakeinoV zhsei di eme. 58 outoV estin o artoV o ex ouranou katabaV, ou kaqwV efagon oi patereV kai apeqanon: o trwgwn touton ton arton zhsei eiV ton aiwna. 59 tauta eipen en sunagwgh didaskwn en kafarnaoum. 60 polloi oun akousanteV ek twn maqhtwn autou eipan, sklhroV estin o logoV outoV: tiV dunatai autou akouein; 61 eidwV de o ihsouV en eautw oti gogguzousin peri toutou oi maqhtai autou eipen autoiV, touto umaV skandalizei; 62 ean oun qewrhte ton uion tou anqrwpou anabainonta opou hn to proteron; 63 to pneuma estin to zwopoioun, h sarx ouk wfelei ouden: ta rhmata a egw lelalhka umin pneuma estin kai zwh estin. 64 all eisin ex umwn tineV oi ou pisteuousin. hdei gar ex archV o ihsouV tineV eisin oi mh pisteuonteV kai tiV estin o paradwswn auton. 65 kai elegen, dia touto eirhka umin oti oudeiV dunatai elqein proV me ean mh h dedomenon autw ek tou patroV. 66 ek toutou polloi [ek] twn maqhtwn autou aphlqon eiV ta opisw kai ouketi met autou periepatoun. 67 eipen oun o ihsouV toiV dwdeka, mh kai umeiV qelete upagein; 68 apekriqh autw simwn petroV, kurie, proV tina apeleusomeqa; rhmata zwhV aiwniou eceiV, 69 kai hmeiV pepisteukamen kai egnwkamen oti su ei o agioV tou qeou. 70 apekriqh autoiV o ihsouV, ouk egw umaV touV dwdeka exelexamhn, kai ex umwn eiV diaboloV estin; 71 elegen de ton ioudan simwnoV iskariwtou: outoV gar emellen paradidonai auton, eiV ek twn dwdeka."

The numbering is slightly out of sync in the translation but the words are there. Note this: the word for "eat" changes halfway through the discourse.

It changes from phagein, meaning "to eat", to trogon, meaning literally "to munch" (the "w" is a transliteration of the Greek letter Omega which is a long "o"). The verbs are, moreover, inflected according to the context (e.g phage etc) but it is clear that a different verb is being used by our Lord to emphasize what He means.


Our Lord is emphasizing that we are literally to "eat His flesh" albeit His flesh is in the form of bread and His blood in the form of wine.

Note also that when He refers to the Fathers eating manna in the desert He reverts to phagein to show that such "eating" was different from eating His flesh, albeit a foretaste of what was to come. He then changes back to trogon when referring to eating His own flesh.

Then the Jews say that His words are a "hard saying" and "how can this man give us his flesh to eat" and even many of His disciples "walked with him no more". They clearly understood that He was talking about them literally eating His flesh and they could not accept what He was saying, just as Protestants and others cannot accept it today.

Did our Lord change His teaching then to make it more "acceptable" and "relevant" to the Jews? Not one jot did He change! Instead He asked the Twelve "will you also go away?".

The Twelve, however, stayed and confessed their faith, Simon saying “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life".

Marvellous confession of faith!

What could be clearer? The Catholic belief in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is the truly Scriptural one - not any other!

Hence St Paul says (1 Cor 11:23-17):

"Brethren, for I myself have received from the Lord (what I also delivered unto you) that the Lord Jesus, on the night that He was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said 'Take ye and eat, for this is my Body which shall be given up for you; do this in remembrance of me. For as oft as you shall eat this Bread and drink this Cup you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes. Therefore whoever eats this Bread of drinks this Cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord".

There can simply be no doubt whatever that it is the Catholic doctrine which is the Scriptural doctrine. To believe otherwise is to deceive oneself.

“He gave them the Bread of heaven, Alleluia!"

No comments: