OST CATHOLICS don’t realize that Pange Lingua by Saint Thomas Aquinas imitates another “Pange Lingua” written by a Roman Catholic bishop who lived in the 6th century. The version from the 6th century is my favorite hymn—I just can’t think of any text more powerful. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen has sometimes been criticized for (often) avoiding mention of the sacred liturgy during his talks, but I cannot agree with such a view. Consider the famous statement of Archbishop Sheen:
Three things coöperated in our fall:
—A disobedient man: Adam
—A proud woman: Eve
—and a tree.
But God reverses this!
Redemption came through:
—An obedient man: Christ
—A humble woman: Mary
—and a tree (the Cross).
This actually comes from the Pange Lingua of Bishop Fortunatus, so it isn’t fair to assume Archbishop Sheen didn’t “sneak” the sacred liturgy into his talks. (A literal translation is on page 308 of the Brébeuf hymnal.)
Going Further Than Sheen
I feel we can go even further than Archbishop Sheen. Can we not say the following?
The fall of Adam had to do with:
—that which sustains man.
But now it’s reversed!
The Holy Eucharist has to do with:
—that which sustains us.
“Disobedience”—because God told Adam not to eat fruit the forbidden tree.
“Obedience”—because God the Father said (Lk 9:35): “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.” Our Blessed Lord said: “Do this in memory of me.”
I encourage everyone to read the “exposition” of the Blessed Sacrament, found in the Brébeuf hymnal. Here is a sample page:
One of the footnotes from the Brébeuf hymnal addresses people who erroneously insist that our Savior intended cannibalism: “Christ is not present in the Eucharist under a form in which cannibalism could be possible. His body is really and substantially present, but not in a natural way. It is an entirely supernatural mode of presence which you may not believe, but which at least excludes all notions of cannibalism.” (Radio address by Father Leslie Rumble, 1940)
The Holy Eucharist still looks like bread, and tastes like bread. But in the Pange Lingua, Saint Thomas Aquinas reminds us: Præstet fides supplementum sensuum defectui. (“Let faith provide her help where all the senses fail.”)
I am not a Theologian, but as far as I know Almighty God likes our “obedience” in trusting Him, even though the SANCTISSIMUM still looks like bread and tastes like bread. And even though the SANCTISSIMUM still looks like wine and tastes like wine.
Saint Pius X wrote as follows:
“Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven. There are others: innocence, but that is for little children; penance, but we fear it; generous endurance of trials of life, but when they come we weep and ask to be delivered. The surest, easiest, shortest way is the Eucharist.”
Some people have attacked the Brébeuf hymnal because it contains so many Communion hymns. But in my opinion, that’s a good thing!
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
* A very intelligent priest sent me this picture from the Salzburg Missal which seems to support my “take.” Do you see our Lady giving Holy Communion to the Communicant who’s kneeling? Do you see what Eve is giving?