Adoro Te Devote





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Published on Sep 23, 2009

One year ago, this morning,my mother passed away. The beautiful hymn Adoro te Devote soon came to mind as I reflected. How peaceful it must be for her, having joined my father in their eternal home, to now know and see God in a way we can not.

Even so, for us who remain here on earth, we find God and see His face in hidden ways. Through the poor, through suffering, through joy, through the eyes of a child. For Catholics, Orthodox, and numerous Protestant denominations we also find God hidden in the Eucharist.

We believe this hymn may have been written by St Thomas Aquinas, and through this hymn we explore a mystery in which the hidden God manifests Himself to us.

Adóro te devóte, latens Déitas,
quae sub his figúris vere látitas:
tibi se cor meum totum súbicit,
quia te contémplans totum déficit.

O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee,
Who truly art within the forms before me;
To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee,
As failing quite in contemplating Thee.

The Latin term "figura" indictaes that the forms of bread and wine conceal what is contained in them, but at the same time containing that which they conceal. This hidden presence, this veil which shields us from the blinding light of God is lifted when we return home and experience the beatific vision.

"Adoro" - we come devoutly to adore God. In an act more effective than any spoken words, we kneel before the Eucharist in silence. In this silence the light penetrates the darkness, and we come to know God. And because of the intimate joining of both the human and divine natures of Jesus, though his suffering and immolation on the cross, we can not fall into the sin of idolatry in our adoration of the Eucharist. In the words of St Augustine - "We do not sin by adoring it, but rather we sin if we do not adore it"

Contemplation - Unlike participation in Communion in today's understanding, the conditions in the earlier Church made reception of the Eucharist a very rare event. A resulting emphasis on contemplation emerged and can be identified with in the language of this hymn. While the Orthodox and Catholic views place the emphasis differently, celebration and contemplation of the Eucharist are not mutually exclusive of the other

"Te contémplans totum déficit" - It is not only Jesus Christ that we contemplate, but the entire mystery of God. When we look in contemplation at the Eucharist, God looks back, and surely everything else fails. How can we pay attention to any earthly thing, when God is looking directly into our souls. When we contemplate the Eucharist, we begin a transformation, we take on the thoughts of Christ. We are nourished in much the same manner that fresh leaves are nourished by the light of the sun in springtime. And when we die we will no longer fail in our contemplation. The hidden God becomes known to us, and we will be able to endure the intensity of His light on our souls.

Spend an hour with the Eucharist, or spend an hour in a way that is in harmony with your faith. Give God a small part of your day, and let Him decide how best to spend it.

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