Partial Translation of St. Albert’s 36 Sermons

It turns out that there is a partial translation available of a partial version of St. Albert’s 36 Sermons.

But there’s a reason I’d never seen it before!

First of all, the gentleman who translated it, Fr. Rawes, was really not interested in doing a full translation, but rather was writing up a meditation book for the priests of his new confraternity (that’s like a club for praying together), the Society of Servants of the Holy Ghost.

So he translates the major headings, but then goes off in his own direction. Also, many of the major headings are altered somewhat to sound more modern (which is to say, Victorian), and there is no clear line drawn between his own work and that of the original author. His preface says he didn’t see this as being a problem, as the treatise was readily available and priests all could read Latin easily, right?

Second, he was translating the version attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas as a treatise, which leaves out a bit of stuff; and he really did think he was doing an Aquinas work.

The book has been available on archive.org since 2008, and has been reprinted by Aeterna Press. Apparently they also have no suspicion that it’s a St. Albert the Great-related book instead of a St. Thomas Aquinas-related book.

So anyway, here is a link:

The Bread of Life: or, St. Thomas Aquinas on the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar.

Arranged as Meditations, with Prayers and Thanksgivings for Holy Communion,

By Father Rawes, D.D.

London: Burns and Oates, 1879.

So now what?

Well, I intend to finish the translation, because it should be done fully, authentically, contemporaneously, and under the correct title and author!

Also, Fr. Rawes was not providing references other than the Scriptural kind. The Latin editions do include references to patristic and ecclesiastical writers, but sometimes they are incorrect or outdated. Also, sometimes they have missed something entirely. (Like the reference to Valerius Maximus that I located this morning!)

Still, Rawes’ meditations are undoubtedly cool. The original is a deeply prayerful book, and includes a lot of examples and neat thoughts that don’t appear in the Aquinas-attributed version. So it’s not surprising that Rawes would want to “fill in” what was left hanging. It makes me happy to think that I’m not the only fan of the book, but it makes me sad to think that he never read the real one. (At least up to the point of publication in 1879.) I have discovered a colleague!

Here’s the Catholic Encyclopedia on Fr. Henry Augustus Rawes, DD, STD. He was an Anglican convert who spent all his fortune on his parish. He was a member of the English Congregation of Oblates of St. Charles. Besides the Society of Servants of the Holy Ghost, he also founded a confraternity for devotees of St. John the Evangelist. He wrote a tonload of books and hymns, and he passed away in 1885 in great holiness.

Fr. Rawes, pray for us!

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