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From No Uncertain Sound, Sermons that Shaped the Pulpit Tradition, Edited, with an Introduction, by Ray C. Petry, Professor of Church History, Duke University, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1948; pp. 224-229.



THE authenticated prayers and more meditational portions of Thomas’ Summas prove him a deeply humble and edifying soul as well as the famous intellect so often pictured. Unfortunately, his sermons, for which contemporary tribute was not lacking, have reached us only in skeletal forms. No good purpose could be served by omitting them altogether; but little justification exists for the reproduction of more than a few sections here. MPGThom.Aq.Op.Par. 29:208-09, 274-75, 326; Lat.Serm. XXVI, CXXVIII, LXVII. The translation is that of Thom.Aq.Hom.Ash. according to separately paged divisions: Epiph. and Ante-Lenten Section (II), Hom. VII, 13-14; Trinity (V), Pt. II, Hom. XXXVIII, 70-71; Festival (VI), Hom. XIX, 43-44.



THE MYSTICAL SHIP — No. 1 (Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany — From the Gospel)

And when He was entered into a ship His disciples followed Him — Matt. 8:23

FOUR1 things are to be considered in this Gospel. Firstly, the entering of Christ and His disciples into a ship. Secondly, the great tempest in the sea Thirdly, the prayer of His disciples — Lord save us, we perish. Fourthly, the obedience of the storm to the command of Christ — There was a great calm.

Morally, we are taught also four things. Firstly, to enter into holiness of life. Secondly, that temptations rage after we have entered. Thirdly, in our temptation to cry unto the Lord. Fourthly, to look for a calm according to His will.

I.  On the first head it is to be noted, (1) That he enters into a ship who follows a holy life — Matt. 9:1, He entered into a ship . . . and came into His own city, just as by holiness of life man passes over and comes to his heavenly city. In the following Homily it will be explained why a holy life is likened unto a ship. (2) The disturbance of the sea by the tempest represents the temptations which rise up against the sea — Ecclus. 2:1, Son, when you cometh to the Service of God stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation. (3) The cry of the disciples in the tempest is the prayer of the saints in tribulations and temptations — Ps. 120:1; D. 119:1, In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me. (4) The calm of the tempest is the cessation of temptation — Tob. 3:22, After a storm Thou makest a calm. Of these four — Ps. 69:2, 3, 29; D. 68:3, 4, 30, I am come into deep waters in the ship of holiness, behold the first; The floods overflow me, behold the second; I am weary of my crying, behold the third; Thy salvation, O God, set me up on high above my temptations, behold the fourth.

II.  On the second head it is to be noted that the tempest in the sea arose from the winds. Holy Scripture speaks of four winds when temptation arises, and trouble to the saints. Firstly, from the infestation of demons: this is a cold wind — Ecclus. 42:22, The cold north wind bloweth, and the water congealeth into crystal. Secondly, from 226 the perverseness of heretics: this is a blasting wind — Gen. 41:6, 7, Seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them, and devoured the seven rank and full ears. Thirdly, from the cruelty of tyrants: this is a vehement wind — Job 1:19, Behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness. Fourthly, from the malignity of false Christians: this is a burning wind — Eccles. 11:4. He that observeth the wind shall not sow. Of these four, Dan. 7:2 — The four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea.

III.  On the third head it is to be noted that in the prayer of the Apostles there were three things which moved the Lord to help them. Firstly, because they besought Him instantly, they awoke Him. Secondly, they asked humbly, Lord. Thirdly, because they prayed for a useful thing, Save us. Of (1), Rom. 12:12, Continuing instant in prayer; of (2), Luke 18:13, 14, The prayer of the humble publican penetrated Heaven itself; of (3), John 16:24, Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. Of these three, Matt. 7:7 — Ask, and it shall be given you; see, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Ask humbly, and ye shall receive; seek what is profitable, and ye shall find; knock continually, and the Kingdom of Heaven shall be opened unto you. Unto which Kingdom may we be brought.


THE HEAVENLY CITY (Nineteenth Sunday After Trinity — From the Gospel)

And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city. And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee — Matt. 9:1, 2

ALLEGORICALLY this city, His own city, is a heavenly city. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O City of God, Ps. 87:3; D. 86:3. To this city he comes who enters into a ship, i.e., a holy life; and Jesus, passing beyond the sea of this life, entered into a ship, and passed over. Morally, this ship signifies holiness of life for three reasons. 227 Firstly, because of its material. Secondly, because of its form. Thirdly, by reason of its end. Everybody ought to hasten to this city for three reasons. Firstly, because of its security. Secondly, because of its pleasantness. Thirdly, because of its abundance.

I.  On the first head it is to be noted, that the security of the heavenly city flows from three causes. (1) Because it is the most solid city, being strengthened by the firmest columns: Blessed be the Lord; for He hath shewed me His marvellous kindness in a strong city, Ps. 31:21; D. 30:22. (2) Because there is no wicked there who disturbs its security and peace: Oh, Lord, when Thou awakest Thou shalt despise their image, Ps. 73:20; D. 72:20. (3) Because it is established for eternity: As we have heard, so have we seen in the City of the Lord of Hosts, in the City of our God; God will establish it for ever, Ps. 48:8; D. 47:9. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, Heb. 11:10.

II.  On the second head it is to be noted, that the pleasantness of the city arises from three causes. (1) Because it is decorated with the fairest walls: She hath sent forth her maidens, Prov. 9:3; i.e., the elected, infirm, and despised preachers, that they might call by their word and example faithful people to her citadel, and might gather together to the walls of charity, to the heavenly high places of the celestial country. (2) Because it is illumined by perpetual light: There shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light, Rev. 22:5. (3) Because there will be a wonderful climate without heat and without cold, which will ever be sustained: Neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat, for the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall feed them and shall lead them unto living fountains of water, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, Rev. 7:16, 17. We went through fire and through water; but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place, Ps. 66:12; D. 65:12.

III.  On the third head it is to be noted, that there will be an abundance of all good things in this city, that is of all joys: Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem, a quiet [rich, Vulg.] habitation, Isa. 33:20. The joys shall flow together from three sources. (1) From the fairness of the Divine vision: Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty, Isa. 33:17. (2) From the fairness and goodness of the angelic society, for angels are its citizens: Ye are come unto Mount Zion, unto the City 228 of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, &c., Heb. 12:22, 23. (3) From the continuation of eternal solemnity: Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities, Isa. 33:20. They who are in that city celebrate a perpetual feast, they do nought but rest, see, love, praise, sing, which harmonize with the festival. S. Augustine, in his book on the City of God, says, If it is asked, What is the occupation of this city? We say, that there we shall take rest, and shall see, and shall love, and shall praise, and shall sing. For what else shall be our end unless we come to that kingdom, of which there will be no end. To which kingdom may Almighty God bring us, &c.


THE ANGELIC WORK AND CONDITION (Saint Michael and All Angels)

Their Angels do always behold the face of My Father, which is in heaven — Matt. 18:10

IN these words three particulars are to be noted concerning the Holy Angels — Firstly their benignity — Their Angels. Secondly, their joyousness — the face of My Father. Thirdly, their eternity — always.

I.  On the first head is to be noted the Benignity of the Holy Angels. This is manifest from their being spoken of as our and their; for from the first moment that a soul is created an angel is given to it, and surely it is a great thing that so noble a creature should be devoted to the service of sinful man, who is too so often ungrateful. The Angels are said to minister to us with a threefold service — by purifying, enlightening, and by perfecting us. S. Dionysius says that these three operations are common to all the hierarchies. For firstly we are purified from evils, then we are illuminated in the understanding, and we are perfected in the affections. We are purified by the removal of depravity and unlikeness; we are enlightened by the reception of Divine light; we are perfected by the enkindling Divine 229 love. S. Dionysius describes each of these operations. Of the first, It behoves the purified to be made pure, and to be freed from every effusion of unlikeness. Of the second, it behoves the enlightened to be filled with Divine light, and to be led back by the most chaste eyes of the mind to the quietest contemplation of virtue. Of the third, it behoves the renewed to be partakers of the sacraments of Divine knowledge. Because the Holy Angels do such things for us they are called our angels, and so show their benignity.

II.  On the second head is to be noted the joyousness of the Holy Angels, who behold the face of My Father, which face of God possess four attributes. It is — 

Firstly, an admirable face, on account of the infinity of its majesty. Thou, my Lord, art very admirable (Esth. 15:17, D.).

Secondly, a delightful face, on account of the multitude of graces. Thy love is full of graces.

Thirdly, it is loveable for the brightness of its ineffable beauty. S. Augustine says, that so great is the joyousness of the Divine countenance that no one can ever look upon it without love.

Fourthly, it is desirable, on account of the eternity of glory. Which things the Angels desire to look into (I Pet. 1:12).

III.  On the third head the eternity of the Holy Angels is to be noted. Always — that is (1) without intermission, (2) without end, and (3) ever joyous. Therefore the Holy Angels, although they are admitted to the exterior offices, never recede from the contemplation of the higher mysteries. Eternity is the possession of life, wholly and for ever.



1  The fourth head is omitted.


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