Before you read this reflection look up to the Latin text that surrounds this church. It’s the first two stanzas of a hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas. The text begins in the sanctuary on the left side of the high altar, continues along the south side of the church, and concludes at the spot where the text began – the left side of the high altar. The text and the translation follow.
Lauda Sion Salvatorem,
Lauda ducem et pastorem,
In hymnis et canticis.
Quantum potes, tantum laude,
Quia maior omni laude,
Nec laudare suffices.
Laudis thema specialis,
Panis vivus et vitalis
Quem in sacrae mensa cenae,
Turbae fractrum duodenae
Datum non ambigitur.
Zion, praise the Savior,
praise the Shepherd and King
with Hymns and canticles.
As much as you can, as much as you
dare to raise up the greatest praise
it is insufficient.
Today we lift up the unique theme,
the living, and life-giving bread.
There is no ambiguity
about the meaning of the sacred
meal that was shared by the band of
Whenever we’re in this church, the memory of the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist is ever-present in these words of St. Thomas Aquinas. They remind us to reflect on the miracle of the sacred meal, the bread and the wine – the body and blood – the Eucharist. There isn’t any ambiguity about what we believe. Our Lord is always with us, continually offering himself to us as food for everlasting life.
Jesus calls us to gather around the sacred table just as he gathered the Twelve. He says to us what he said to them: “Take it, this is my body.” He’s telling us that he’s giving us his all – every fiber of his being. He telling us, “This is my blood of the covenant.” He’s inviting us into a new relationship – a covenant relationship with God.
When we eat the sacred bread of Christ’s body, and drink the wine of the covenant, his blood shed as a sacrificial offering for the redemption of the world, we’re invited into a deeply intimate relationship with God and one another. St. Paul teaches us, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
Before you leave this church today I encourage you to look around. Every window speaks of the Eucharist. There are representations of the Passover, the Last Supper, the multiplication of the loaves and fish, the washing of the disciples’ feet. Most importantly, our Eucharistic Lord is present on the altar for our adoration, our prayer and our praise.
Before you leave the church today spend some quiet time in adoration. Lift your own hymn of praise to the Lord who sustains you with his body and blood, and who unites you into an intimate relationship with the Father, and our brothers and sisters in faith. Pray Jesus’ Last Supper prayer: “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17:21) Thank Jesus for the greatest gift he could have ever given us, his body and blood in the Eucharist.