Feast day: January 28th
He was rich, but had chosen simplicity. Preferring to be an unknown Dominican rather than the position of abbot proposed, and promised, to him. He was thought a dumb ox of a man, but had woven divine revelation and human wisdom together in a marvelous mountain of scholarship that would illumine the Church into eternity. He was now well known, and well-worn, but his eyes had always flickered with a joy, a love, a childlike gleam of gentleness and Godly goodness. His poetry and hymnody were unmatched, his logic impeccable, his memory astonishing. He wrote hymns and prayers that matched those of greatest popes and saints in history, only falling short of the psalms which were the hymns and prayers composed by God Himself. He would dictate multiple books at the same time, quoting scripture verbatim for one, then the next, as the poor previous scribe tried to catch up.
But today he did not consider his humble robe – it had long been all he ever wore – it was simply the garb that he wore below his vestments as he prepared for Mass. This morning his mind was not wresting truth from the swaths of human scholarship, debate, or philosophy – rather his mind was calm, with a deep, pious, loving, tranquility that came from years of placing his heart again and again before God. He did not draw scripture from his memory, but from the missal before him on the altar, trusting that the Church had chosen the passage with which God wished to speak to Him today.
His eyes glanced along the lines offering the host and chalice for sacrifice, and then into the long-prayed Canon of the Mass. Prayed, in various forms, with touches throughout the centuries from saints and scholars, but always leading up to the great words of Jesus: “hoc est enim Corpus Meum…”, “this is My Body…” had said those words countless times, thousands of priests had repeated them after Christ bestowed His greatest gift upon His Church. And today, as like every day those many years, the great saintly, scholarly, simple, man, saw the host, and adored His God, and genuflected before His King, and loved Him.
His eyes were renewed in their joy. His simplicity was filled with divinity. His scholarship once again returned to its source. And His substantial body simply lifted off the floor, entirely caught up in Divine Love. His words were answered by Christ’s, “you have written well of me Thomas” – oh, what a joy to hear His Lord speak His name! – “what would you have from me?” He paused, not to think through His response, but because the yearning He had plumbed throughout his whole life now flashed into four simple words back to God. “Nothing, except You Lord.” Not wisdom, not friends, not peace, not words, not family, not gifts, or life, or fitness, or praise, or victory for the Gospel… no, all those things could come or go, the only truly necessary thing was the gift that he already held in His hands.
Nothing, except You Lord.
The robe, the words, the friends, the works … all, he ever said after, we’re straw. Of course, he still offered his energy for the Church, but He was ever after a man utterly, and simply, content to be filled with God.
We are too, every time we receive the Eucharist. Do we surrender all our worries and words and works and weariness to Christ, as He receives us? Let us take his words to do so:
O God, who to us in this wonderful Sacrament, bequeathed a memorial of Your Passion: grant, we beseech, that we, in worshipping the Holy Mysteries of Your Body and Blood, may within ourselves continually perceive the fruit of Your redemption. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen
– Fr. Dominic has prayed before the crucifix that spoke to Thomas, celebrated Mass upon his tomb, and spent an afternoon in the cell in the abbey where he died. But I am closer to him at every Mass when the whole host of heaven surrounds the sacrifice of Christ than I ever was visiting those sites. And, I am closer to His heart when I come before the Blessed Sacrament, when my mind and heart and body are caught up in Our Lord, Who so completely remained in him.