Friday, July 7, 2023
Dear Sister and Brothers in Christ,
Welcome to Week 4 On the Road to Emmaus. Last week we set off on our walk through the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As you’d expect, we started at the very beginning. A very good place to start. We discovered that our first act of worship on Sunday begins with the opening of the church door and walking into the church. Why? Because we never worship God alone. Rather, it is as the Body of Christ, the Assembly, that we act with Jesus as our Head.
My challenge was also focused on those first moments of worship. As you may recall, I suggested that we try to arrive15 minutes early for Mass and use that time for silent prayer. I hope you found the exercise worthwhile.
This week I’d like to stay with that same, initial moment of worship but also to give you some kindling with which you can fuel your time of silent prayer. Hence, my challenge for this week is this: Arrive at church 15 minutes before Holy Mass and pray the Prayer before Mass composed by Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Who was Saint Thomas Aquinas? Thomas Aquinas was a 13th century Italian friar and priest with the recently founded Dominican Order. He is also one of the most influential theologians and philosophers of all time. Indeed, Thomas’ philosophy is still the normative philosophy for the Church. His works are so sublime that he is given the title of the Doctor Angelicus or Angelic Doctor.
And at the center of his life and work? The Holy Eucharist. Indeed, during times of great intellectual struggle, Thomas would lay his head on the tabernacle and pray for inspiration. As for Saint Thomas’ prayer before Mass? Here is the text.
Prayer before Holy Mass by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Almighty and ever-living God, I draw near to the sacrament of Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I come sick to the physician of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind to the light of eternal brightness, poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
So I ask You, most generous Lord: graciously heal my infirmity, wash me clean, illumine my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.
May I receive the Bread of angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with such reverence and humility, such contrition and devotion, such purity and faith, and such resolve and determination as may secure my soul's salvation. Grant as I may receive not only the visible, sign of the Lord's Body and Blood, but also all the reality and the power of the sacrament.
Grant, most kind God, that I may receive the Body of Your only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, which He received from the Virgin Mary, and may receive it in such a way that I become a living part of His Mystical Body and counted among His members.
Loving Father, as on my earthly pilgrimage I now receive Your beloved Son under the veil of a sacrament, may I one day see Him face to face in glory, who lives and reigns with You forever and ever. Amen.
In order to help you, below is a short film featuring Deacon Jim Kasprzak and his wife, Karen, as they attempt this week's challenge prior to attending Sunday Mass at Saint Thomas Aquinas church in East Lansing. How did they get on? Watch and find out. Until next week, may God bless you all. Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
Assuring you of my prayers, I am sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing