Sensuum Defectui

by Pat on January 25, 2012

in events,faith,music,reflection

It’s no secret to anyone who’s talked to me for at least 37 seconds that I love the music of Matt Maher. I think he’s a rare musical talent and an even more unique gift of Catholic music to Christians everywhere.  So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I get REALLY excited when Mr. Maher’s music, Eucharistic Adoration and catechist appreciation all come together.

Last night I was blessed to speak at a Catechist Appreciation & Training at St. Wenceslaus in New Prague, MN.  One of the ways that I love to affirm the countless (and too often, thankless) hours that our catechists spend echoing the faith is to call their minds to a time when their catechesis will be absolutely critical, even if it’s 30 years down the road.  And that’s where Matt Maher comes in…

One of Maher’s most stirring songs is called “Adoration,” from his album Overflow.  It’s an adaptation and translation of the timeless hymn “Pange Lingua,” written by good ol’ St. Thomas Aquinas (my birthday saint!).  The last two stanzas of Pange Lingua make up the classic “Tantum Ergo,” most often sung at Eucharistic Adoration.  Check out Maher’s version:

For me, the most poignant line of the entire song goes (forgive me), “Praestet fides supplementum, sensuum defectui.”  Or, “Faith for all defects supplying, where the feeble senses fail.”  And here’s where our catechesis comes in.

For every child, teen and adult that we catechize – in classrooms and living rooms, Sunday morning lessons and late night arguments – there will come a day down the road where something will happen to that person that will nearly break them in half.  It might be something wrong that they do, or it may simply be a circumstance that happens around them.  Someone will get a diagnosis.  Someone will die at a young age.  Someone will lose a job.  Someone will make a terrible mistake and have to live with the consequences.  Something will happen.

It’s at that very moment that, no matter where that person’s faith journey has led them, they will NEED the catechesis they’ve received.  In those moments, our emotions – our “feeble senses” – will not always be able to reassure us of God’s existence, much less his presence and love.  In those moments, we may indeed feel alone and forgotten.  So it’s in those very moments that we have to know that God is with us, even if we don’t feel it.  It’s in those moments that we’ll suddenly remember the Agony in the Garden, and how alone Jesus felt – and we’ll start praying the rosary.
We’ll remember a catechist drilling the Act of Contrition into our heads – and we’ll head back to confession, to the one place that we can hear and know that we’re forgiven.  We’ll want to get as close to our God as humanly (or divinely)possible, so we’ll get back to Mass to receive him – body & blood, soul & divinity.

The prayers that we memorize and the traditions that we teach aren’t our own, and they’re not simply knowledge for the sake of knowledge.  They are the Truth of Jesus that transcends emotion, especially when our emotions fail us.

I pray we all embrace the role of catechist and give thanks for the catechists to nurtured our faith along the way…

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