Sunday, September 29, 2013

Panis Angelicus

At our evening recreation period last night, I noticed Postulant Mary had brought with her several books.  “What are you doing?” I asked.  She replied that she was translating the song, “Panis Angelicus”.  She knew the words:  bread…angels…I commented that now she needs to know how the words relate to each other.  That’s called grammar.  She said that could wait.  We laughed.

I began thinking…panis angelicus…bread of angels…What a really strange phrase that is!  It comes from the wisdom literature of the Old Testament and refers to the miraculous manna that fed the children of Israel during their forty year long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. The manna would mysteriously appear after the evaporation of the morning dew each morning on the desert sand, ready for the people to gather and eat.  I suppose that the Old Testament writer assumed that this bread was also good fare for angels as well as for men.  After all, it came from heaven, just like the dew.  But my rational mind objects:  angels are pure spirits, without bodies and so without need of physical food.  Ah!  But they do feed, nevertheless!  And their food is God Himself.  Forever they gaze upon the Divine Beauty, the Infinite Good, and draw their life and being from that never ending Source.

In the New Dispensation, the Holy Eucharist is our Panis Angelicus our Bread from Heaven come down to give us strength for our journey through the desert of life to the Promise Land of Heaven.  And we too are able to gaze upon Him daily, just as the angels do, although our look must penetrate the veil of faith.  If it were not Sunday, today we would be celebrating the feast of the Archangels, so we ask their intercession as we share their table.  Wednesday we will remember our Guardian Angels too.  Friday will be the Solemnity of our Father St. Francis who is called “Seraphic” because of his great love.  We are flying high this week!  Join us in our hymn of praise!

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