Maundy Thursday: "Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died…"

What’s this? Is it an unlikely concordat I spy? Aquinas? Luther?


Consanguinity, more like it: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” Amen and Amen. It is, indeed, or — as the Dumb Ox puts it below, immortally rendered into English by Hopkins — “there’s nothing true.”


Oh, St. Thomas, you were right: all of your theology was straw (can’t be helped — most theology is, eh?). But your poetry? The purest gospel, at least this bit here. Each of the following four excerpts pertains to this Holy Thursday, but make no mistake, it is the third which is the unquestionable pièce de résistance. Yes, hat-tip to the papists on this one.

A blessed Maundy Thursday to you. Pax Christi vobiscum.


“For if you ask:  what is the Gospel? You can give no better answer than these words of the New Testament, namely, that Christ gave his body and poured out his blood for us for the forgiveness of sins.  This alone is to be preached to Christians, instilled into their hearts, and at all times faithfully commended to their memories.” — Blessed Dr. Martin Luther, The Misuse of the Mass (1521)


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“Why is the Sacrament of the Altar the Gospel for Luther? First of all simply because the Words of Institution contain the whole Gospel. To attack them is to attack the Gospel itself.” — Hermann Sasse, We Confess: The Sacraments

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“No offering that we could bring could possibly reconcile us to Thee, our God.  All that we can plead is the work of Thy Son, His perfect obedience in all that He did and all that He suffered, His Body nailed to the Cross for us, His Blood poured out for the forgiveness of our sins. As by the mystery of the sacramental union Thou hast made His true Body and Blood present for us in this Bread and in this Cup, for us Christians to eat and to drink, so, we beseech Thee, let it be present in Thy sight also as the price of our redemption.  Let it remind Thee that Thou hast forgiven mankind in the reconciliation which Thou hast wrought in Thy Son.  Before Thee we appeal to no virtue, no righteousness of our own, but only to the alien righteousness of Thy Suffering Servant and Son, our true Paschal Lamb, which was offered for us and has taken away the sins of the world, Who by His death has destroyed death, and by His rising to life again has restored to us everlasting life.” — Fr. A.C. Piepkorn
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Adoro te devote
~ St. Thomas Aquinas
    trans. Gerard Manley Hopkins

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.


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