Now that I’ve finally worked my way through the editor’s preface (Also in Latin! Ack!) of this book, I’m a lot more confident that it’s really by St. Albert and not just “some Scholastic guy”. If it is some Scholastic guy, he’s a guy who corrects the manuscript copy, with sewn-on medieval Post-It note equivalents, in Albert’s handwriting. So here’s more of my translation.
Of the form of donation in which the veiled Body of Christ is given.
“Come, eat my bread,” etc. as in the first sermon. “How can he give us his flesh to gnaw?” John 5:53. Special theme: “It is good to hide the mystery [sacramentum] of a king.” Tobias 12:7.
The second principle about the sacrament of the Lord’s body to be noted is the form of the donation. And about that, three things are to be considered:
I. That the Lord gives His body, veiled.
II. That He gives it veiled under the species of bread.
III. That He gives it under the species of wheat bread.
The first thing to be considered about the form of donation of the Lord’s Body is that it is given veiled, not bare, according to the well-known passage, Revelation 2:17 — “I will give the hidden manna“, as if celestial food were veiled. But because from this human perception is deterred and amazed, with another it is seen and with another it is ordered to believe, a fourfold reason for this veil from the wisdom of God can be assigned:
the vileness of the evil,
the faith of the good,
the instruction of morals,
the weakness of all.
Of the first two, here it can be told; of the others, in their turn.
The first reason why the Lord gives His Body veiled, is the vileness of the crooked, which he drives out; so it is veiled, like an injured eye, so that it is covered from the sun and whatever other light. And in this, most benignly, the mercy of the Savior spends time with them. Indeed, if the crooked saw the Body bare, and this being gnawed by the faithful, they would be scandalized from this same aspect, and triply destroyed badly, clearly: in the heart, through horror; in the tongue, through detraction; in the soul, through spiritual death.
Of the first destruction, John 6:56, where the Lord says, “My flesh is real food, and my blood real drink.” It goes on (John 6:67): “After this, many of the disciples left and went back“, as if shrinking back from the words of eating flesh. Ambrose: “By chance you might say, ‘What kind of flesh is true, what kind of blood is true? What likeness do I see? I don’t see truth in blood.’ Pay attention. When Christ’s disciples heard that he would give his flesh for chewing, and would give his blood for drinking, they slipped away. Peter alone said, ‘You have the words of eternal life, and how would I go back?’ Not many would say this; therefore, it was veiled for a certain horror of gore, but the grace of redemption remains; for that reason, you receive the sacrament in a certain likeness, but you obtain the grace and power of its real nature.”*
* De sacram. lib. VI. c. 1. Migne, S. l. tom. 16. col. 454. (cf. Decr. Grat.
P. III. Dist. II. c. 69).
Of the second of them,* where the Lord says, “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. The Jews quarrelled, saying to each other: How can he give us his flesh to chew?‘” (John 6:52-53) This kind of quarrel, murmur, and detraction is from the naked chewing of the Body of Christ, and therefore it should be veiled. Psalm 54:13 — “If he who have hated me had spoken evil against me, I would perhaps have hidden myself from him. Truly, you, a man of one mind with me, my guide and my familiar friend, who took sweetmeats at the same time as me.“
Of the third, Numbers 4:19 — “Aaron and his sons will go in; they shall appoint work“, that is, they will wrap up the mysteries. “Do not let others out of any curiosity see the things that are in the sanctuary before they are hidden; otherwise, they will die.” 1 Kings 6:19 (1 Samuel 6:19) — “The Lord struck down many, because they had seen the Ark of the Lord“, because of course it was not permitted them to see it exposed. The Ark is a figure of the Lord’s Body, which is veiled for the evil, that they will not spiritually die if they see it bared; for this reason of their blindness, they think it is a fantasy. Ecclesiasticus 3:22-23 — “Do not be curious about many of His works; for it is not necessary for you to see with your eyes those things that are hidden.”
The second reason that the Lord gives His Body veiled, is the faith of the good. And this reason can be divided into three which they examine — here veiled, as is known: the true existence of faith, the first remedy of infidelity, the service of faith.
First, it examines the true existence of faith, that the Body of Christ is veiled. Hebrews 11:1 — “Faith is…the evidence of things that are not seen.” Augustine said exactly this: “Faith is to believe what you do not see”, that is, you have believed in the Word of God about hidden things, that it is true, although you do not see them with your eyes. For of the things which we see, we have knowledge more than we have faith. 1 Peter 1:8 — “He is Christ, in whom now you believe that do not see.“
* John 6:52.
** Tract. 40 in Joan. c. 8. Migne, s. l. tom. 35. col. 1690.
The second considers the first remedy for infidelity, so that the Body of Christ is veiled, to that extent it would be a fit method of penalty for the guilt of infidelity. From whence, as the First Parents’ unbelief began from listening to the devil’s words that were urging a food that held, in a way, veiled Death, and in that they had empty delight of their senses, so it fits that the faith would have begun being saved by listening to the words of the Savior, urging a food holding hidden true life, and in which our senses would be lovingly deceived, before hearing, so that it is known that faith is from that same hearing, and not from seeing or the other senses; but hearing, through Christ’s word.
This is figured beautifully in Genesis 26 in Jacob’s blessing, where Isaac’s senses are deceived, supposing he felt Esau while he felt a likeness of him, which was Jacob veiled. From which we will have understood that in this figure of the Lord’s Body are four persons: that is, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Esau.
Isaac and Rebecca, who are a male and a female, represent the two natures in us (that is, body and soul). The male, who was more in the habit of being conspicuous and exerted more on the outside, represented the exterior of a man (that is, our body with its senses); the woman who rules the family living at home is the type of the interior of a man (that is, the faithful soul), which manages its salvation and the care of others. The good and handsome Jacob who lives in a tent [tabernacle] and whom Rebecca (that is, the faithful soul) loves, represents the true Body of Christ. Esau, whom Isaac (that is, the body) loves and who enjoys his food, is the type of the substance of bread with its accidents: that is, color, flavor, and the rest.
So therefore, Isaac, (as it were, the outer man) that is the priest, has to bless Esau (that is, the bread); Esau (that is, the substance of the bread) withdraws, but the likeness of Esau — robes with his smell, hairy hides, tasty food — (that is, the accidents of the bread and its likeness — that is, color, flavor, odor) the strength remains around Jacob (that is, the Body of Christ). From whence Isaac (that is, our body) was deceived in all his senses.
First, Isaac’s foggy sight (that is, the weakness of our body) was deceived there, because it supposes it has Esau (that is, bread) before its eyes, and has his very same robes (that is, the species of bread), but under them hides the veiled Jacob (that is, the Body of Christ). Second, Isaac’s taste is deceived there (that is, our body’s), because he supposes he tastes and eats Esau’s food (that is, the bread), and tastes a likeness of the same. Third, Isaac’s sense of smell is deceived there (that is, our body’s), because he supposes he smells Esau (that is, bread) who really is not there; but he smells the smell of his clothes (that is, the form of bread) which Jacob is wearing (that is, the body of Christ is veiled). Fourth, Isaac’s sense of touch is deceived (that is, our body’s), because he supposes that he touches Esau (that is, bread), and feels hair in the likeness of Esau’s (that is, the likeness or species of bread), who is Jacob veiled (that is, the Body of Christ).
Isaac was wise, but he was deceived in his judgment of recognizing Esau. So our outer man is deceived in our senses’ judgment of the bread of the altar, except in hearing. Hence he says, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are Esau’s.” The hands that I touch are Esau’s; nothing more false. The voice that I hear saying “I AM” is the voice of Jacob; nothing more true. Likewise, the Sacrament that I touch is the substance of bread; nothing more false. The voice of Christ saying “This is My Body”; nothing more true.
First, therefore, it is considered the remedy for faithlessness that the Body of Christ is given veiled, so that because the senses of the First Parents delighted vainly in food of perdition, our bodies’ senses are deceived by the food of blessing, in the image of Isaac; yet even so, Rebecca, (that is, the faithful soul) was not deceived in her faith. She believed, in fact, Jacob to be holy in the real blessing, (that is, the Body of Christ) veiled in the likeness of Esau (that is, the substance of bread).
[Second point not in book, unless it’s Rebecca.]
Third, it weighs the merit of faith that the Body of Christ is veiled, because, as Gregory says: “Faith does not have merit when human reason provides experience” sufficient to supply it.
* In Evang. hom. 26, n. 1. Migne, S. l. tom. 76. col. 1197.
Therefore, the Lord wills to give His Body veiled, because to believe His Word more than our senses in this has great merit. John 20:29 — “Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe.” The merit of their faith or the fruit of their merit is threefold: the full wealth of spiritual goods, a sufficiency of temporal ones, an overflowing of eternal ones.
Thus Rebecca prays (that is, the faithful soul), “May this curse be upon me, my son“, that is, this threefold blessing: “God give you the dew of heaven” (that’s the first) “and of the fat of the land” (that’s the second), “abundance of grain, wine, and oil” (that’s the third).
Of the first, John 7:38 — “‘Whoever believes in me…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said of the Spirit, which those who believed in Him would receive.” Hosea 14:6 — “I will be as the dew, and Israel spring up like the lily.“
Of the second, Hebrews 11:33 — “The saints through faith conquered kingdoms… obtained promises….” — that is, temporal goods. Isaiah 1:19 — “If you be willing and listen to me, you will eat the good things of the land.” Matthew 6:33 — “First, seek the Kingdom of God” (believing rightly) “and His justice” (living justly) “and all these things shall be added to you.“
Of the third, 1 Peter 1:9 — “Believing in Christ, whom you have not seen, you shall rejoice in untellable and glorified joy, receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.” Proverbs 1:33 — “Whoever listens to me shall rest without terror, and enjoy abundance without fear of evil things.” Amen.