Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Implications of the Stigmata

I view the office hymns not only as devotional but as theological sources. This is not my own romantic idea but a theological method that St. Thomas Aquinas used in his works.

This is one of several reasons why the hymns we sing at Mass must not only be theologically sound, but theologically compelling. The hymns at Mass should not only not-weaken and not-threaten faith; singing hymns should be occasions for expressing faith and growing in faith.

I'm not exactly sure why this needs to be said, but it does.

In this hymn In caelesti collegio for the feast of St. Francis, October 4, the theological emphasis is on St. Francis' likeness to Christ as stamped on his very person, in the gift of the stigmata. Thus being conformed to Christ, he has a special grace of association with each group of saints. Francis belongs with the apostles, the martyrs, the confessors, and the virgins. Christ is the exemplar of all of these choirs of saints, and since Francis is conformed to Him, he belongs, with Him, with them.

St. Francis shines in glorious light
among the heav’nly college bright,
for by a grace of special kind
Christ’s marks are on St. Francis signed.

He lived with friends in poverty,
an apostolic company,
and bears the cross that signals peace,
the covenant that shall not cease.

A martyr by desire, he bears
the cross of Christ, whose sign he wears,
so in the heav’ns Christ makes him be
one with the martyr’s company.

He always bore the cross of Christ.
Through abstinence he sacrificed.
So with confessors now he reigns
and with them their reward he gains.

In gleaming robes as white as snow
he follows where Christ’s footsteps go,
and joys in chastity’s great prize
in angel choirs above the skies.

O Father, Son, and Spirit, by
The wounds of Francis purify
Your servants who these gifts implore
Forever and forevermore.
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