Friday in the Office: Aquinas on Corpus Christi
In the Office of Matins for the Friday after Corpus Christi, lessons four through six are taken from the Sermons of St Thomas Aquinas (Lesser works, 57.). Here the Angelic Doctor describes the origin and necessity of the feast, as well as its appropriateness for the week after the Pentecost octave.
“It would serve well therefore to the edifying of the faithful to make memorial of the institution of this so health-giving and so wonderful a Sacrament, that we may worship the unspeakable way by which the Divine Presence in-dwelleth in this Sacrament, Which we see, and we may praise the power of God whereby in this Sacrament are wrought so many wonders, and also give God some of those thanks which we owe unto Him for this so health-giving gift of His loving-kindness.
It is true that on Holy Thursday, on which day we know it to have been that He ordained this Sacrament, at the solemn celebration of the Mass, the memory of the institution thereof is more particularly mentioned. But all the rest of the services on that day deal chiefly with Christ Suffering, to the worshipping of Whom the Church, at that season, gives all her mind.
But, that the congregation of Christ’s faithful people might celebrate with a whole Festal Office all to itself the institution of this so great Sacrament, Urban IV, Bishop of Rome, being touched with love toward this said Sacrament, made a godly ordinance that the memory of the said institution should be celebrated by all the faithful upon the Fifth Day of the week, next after the Eighth Day of Pentecost.
From one end of the year to the other, we use this Sacrament to our souls’ health, and we more particularly celebrate the institution thereof at that season when the Holy Ghost taught the hearts of the disciples to acknowledge the mysteries thereof. For then it was, as we read, that they continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread (Acts ii. 42).
And, moreover, to the end that on the aforesaid Thursday, and the seven days next following, the memory of this health-giving Institution might be the more honorably celebrated, and the Feast thereby be held in more excellent worship, the above-named Bishop of Rome, after the manner of the doles which in Cathedral Churches are given to those who come to the singling or saying of the Canonical Hours by night and day, has out of his Apostolic bounty granted spiritual rewards to all who are personally present in the Church at the Canonical Hours during all this Festival, thereby to stir up the faithful to come to the keeping of this great Feast in greater eagerness and numbers.”
June 4, 2021