19 October 2011

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SECOND


When St Thomas was dying at Fossanova, he wanted to receive our Lord's body, and when it was brought to him, he knelt down and hailed and adored it, saying at length these wonderful words, 'I receive thee, the price of my soul's redemption, I receive thee, Viaticum, the journey money of my pilgrimage, for whose love I have studied, watched, laboured, preached and taught . . .' Thus he tells us the secret of that lifelong service, at the beginning of which he had said, 'For my own part, I envisage as the main duty of my life the working out of my debt to God in such a way that I express him. in my every word and attitude'. That secret, the motive of his life, was -- love, 'pro cuius amore, for whose love'. He did not carry out this overwhelming work of service, those thirty years of incredible labour without a moment's infidelity, for any other reason than his love of this most hidden friend, for this sacrament before which we have less resources than for any other reality, because our conviction of its truth depends upon faith alone. And when the dying saint, who had never spoken an idle word, explained the reason for all that he had done, it was that he had loved.

Finally, a witness records that one evening during the last months of St Thomas's life, he followed him in order to observe him. 'He came into the back of the chapel of St Nicholas where St Thomas was deep in prayer. He then saw that he had been raised from the ground.... Suddenly, from the direction towards which our master had turned, a voice from the crucifix was heard: "Thomas, you have written well of me, what reward would you receive from me for your labours?" He answered, "Lord, nothing but thyself." These words are the last words; the service of the truth, of God, has been consummated. Thomas had been a faithful servant; he had written well, worked well. What was his reward to be?

The good servant's reward, the servant who has been unreservedly true and served from love alone, is his master's intimate friendship, the sharing of his joy (Euge, serve bone at fidelis ... intra in gaudium Domini tui). For the only reward of love is love, and if a man will remain poor and chaste and faithful in his service, because he is the Bridegroom's friend (Jn 3:24), then his reward will be the Bridegroom's joy.

— Congar, "St. Thomas, Servant of the Truth"
[just read the essay already]