Below please read article by Sr. Maeliosa Byrne OP on St. Thomas Aquinas
ADORO TE DEVOTE LATENS DEITAS
The ‘Adoro Te’ of St Thomas Aquinas provides us with a prayer. It is a prayer that each of us can pray from the heart whether in the original Latin or in a translation e.g. by Gerard Manley Hopkins (Dominican Prayer Book p.38) or Fr Caswall (Parish Hymnal No 112)
In this wonderful hymn we see Thomas the great theologian, not expounding detailed answers to difficult questions but praying in the simplicity of his heart. Each line of the hymn is steeped in wisdom and truth expressed in words that are loving and personal. There are subtle ‘echoes’ of Scripture ‘..latens Deitas.’.[‘truly God of Israel you are a god who lies hidden’] ‘tibi se cor meum totum subjicit..’ [‘..you shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart..’]- and in the words ‘quia te contemplans totum deficit’ we get a hint of Thomas’ own humble words [‘all I have written is only straw’]
In a very Dominican “Credo” Thomas’ affirms his faith in the Word who is the Truth (vs2) and in vs 3 and 4 we are reminded of that familiar picture of Thomas gazing at the Crucifix. He prays the prayer of the repentant thief and reaffirms his faith in the Godhead hidden on the Cross. He cannot see the wounds of Christ, as his patron the apostle Thomas saw them, but he prays for a stronger faith and hope and that special love expressed in the words ‘te diligere’.
Thomas prays again in verse 5 (‘O memoriale.’) for the grace to “taste the sweetness of the Lord” and to live the mystery of the living and life-giving Bread of the Eucharist. In verse 6 Thomas prays to the ‘Divine Pelican’ – to the Saviour who shed his Blood for us – and proclaims the marvellous and consoling truth that one single drop can blot out the sins of the whole world: in Thomas’ words ‘una stilla salvum facere totum mundum quit ab omni scelere’.
Finally, in words reminiscent of Psalm 62 Thomas pours out his own deep longing for Jesus. To know his beloved hidden God in this life is not enough – he begs with a lover’s heart to see him face to face in glory. The Lord who asked Thomas what reward he would like for having written well of him must surely have granted the wish expressed in this prayer as in Thomas’ reply:”None other than Thyself, Lord”.
Maeliosa Byrne O.P