Sunday, July 30, 2006


Down the centuries, St. Thomas Aquinas has enriched every Catholic with the treasure of his wisdom and devotion. The lovely lyrics of his Eucharistic hymn, Tantum Ergo, which we sing at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, are a constant inspiration. "Humbly let us voice our adoration for so great as sacrament. Let all former rites surrender to the Lord's New Testament. Faith replaces what our senses fail to see. Glory, honor and adoration, let us sing out with one accord. Praised be God, the Almighty Father. Praised be Jesus Christ, His Son, Our Lord. Praised be God the Holy Spirit, Triune Godhead be adored! Amen!"

Let us now examine a few of the Eucharistic Doctrines expressed in the Lauda Sion.

Transubstantiation! That word that brought such dread to the so-called Reformers! Yet! This is at the heart of our Catholic faith. At the Consecration of the Mass, bread become the Body of Christ and wine becomes His Precious Blood. Jesus was abundantly clear in the sixth chapter of John. The man who does not believe this, cannot be His disciple! Like Peter, we too must say: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”

Like Saint Paul, Saint Thomas is abundantly clear. To receive the Holy Eucharist worthily, one must be in the state of sanctifying grace, that is, free from mortal sin. If one is in the state of mortal sin, one must go to sacramental Confession before the reception of Holy Communion. One cannot simply make an Act of Contrition and then receive Communion. Because this is of divine precept, this has been the constant faith of the Church from the beginning and it will be so until the end of time.

Let us return to our analysis of the Lauda Sion. The Angelic Doctor recalls the Church doctrine that Jesus is truly present in every particle of the Sacred Host. "If the sacrament is broken, have no doubt. Remember there is as much in a fragment as in an unbroken host."

This doctrine of the Church is extremely important. Every visible particle contains the Real Presence of Jesus. This principle holds true no matter how small the particle. Priests and deacons should purify the sacred vessels after the Communion of the Mass. They must be careful to consume every visible fragment. Obviously, everyone must take every reasonable precaution when handling the Blessed Sacrament. Recall how Our Lord prepared the Apostles for this when He broke the seven loaves to feed four thousand." Our Lord then wanted to know how many fragments they had collected from what remained (see Mark 8:20). Jesus entrusts Himself to us in the Eucharist. Lovingly aware of His Divine Presence, we must be vigilant that every "fragment be collected."

The Lauda Sion continues: "Behold, the bread of angels is become the pilgrim's food; truly it is bread for sons and is not to be cast to dogs. It was prefigured in type when Isaac was brought for an offering, when a lamb was appointed for the Pasch and when manna was given to the Jews of old."

The Second Vatican Council teaches us that we are a "pilgrim people" on our journey to eternal life. The Eucharist is the Bread of Angels that sustains us along the way. How could we find our way to God without the spiritual nourishment of the Holy Eucharist? How could we resist the temptations of the world, the flesh and the Devil without the indispensable graces that we receive in Holy Communion? "Without me," Our Blessed Lord said, "you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

With these thoughts of Saint Thomas to encourage us, we should make every effort to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion as often as possible. Without frequent reception of the Eucharist, we literally deprive ourselves of “the Bread of Life. Let us renew our commitment to the two great Sacraments that accompany us through life: The Holy Eucharist and Holy Confession.

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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