Friday, August 5, 2011
O res mirabilis!
It is interesting to me that in the painting above, seven of Christ’s disciples have haloes and five do not. I wonder why the artist painted them that way.
When I was a teenager, some of us who thought we were smart/cute/funny/all of the foregoing used to sing this highly irreverent jingle to the tune of the then-current Pepsi-Cola commercial:
Christianity hits the spot
Twelve apostles, that’s a lot
The Holy Ghost and the Virgin too
Christianity’s the thing for you.
Lightning did not strike us dead on the spot, evidence of God’s great love for and great patience with not-so-smart/cute/funny teenagers.
According to the book of Exodus in the Old Testament, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years and were fed miraculously with something they called “manna” (because they didn’t know what it was) that fell from heaven each day. They gathered up enough each morning to feed themselves for one day. If they tried to gather more than a day’s worth, it bred worms and stank. On the day before each Sabbath, on which they did not work because God had said, “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy,” they gathered enough manna for two days and it did not breed worms and stink. This is how the Israelites survived for forty years until they came to the Promised Land, which in actuality was only an eleven-days journey from Egypt. I guess GPS had not been invented yet.
According to the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth said, “I am that bread which came down from heaven” and also “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” and also “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
It’s all in the sixth chapter of The Gospel According To Saint John, which goes on to say that then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" and that Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
As people used to say back in the sixties, “Heavy, man.”
John also says that from this time many of Christ’s disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Panis Angelicus, a hymn written by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), has been set to music many times, perhaps most famously in 1872 by César Franck for voice, harp, cello, and organ.
Here are four renditions, one by Andrea Bocelli (3:58), one by Charlotte Church (4:00), one by Luciano Pavarotti (3:42), and one by Mirusia Louwerse (5:00).
Here is the Latin text of Panis Angelicus, with doxology:
fit panis hominum;
Dat panis coelicus
O res mirabilis!
Pauper, servus et humilis.
Te trina Deitas
Sic nos tu visita,
sicut te colimus;
Per tuas semitas
duc nos quo tendimus,
Ad lucem quam inhabitas.
and here is an English translation:
The angelic bread
becomes the bread of men;
The heavenly bread
ends all prefigurations:
The Lord is eaten
by a poor and humble servant.
We beg of you:
just as we worship you.
By your ways,
lead us where we are heading,
to the light in which you dwell.