This evening I went to our local Catholic church, The Church of the Holy Spirit & St Edward, for the beautiful Mass of the Last Supper. We didn’t sing the hymn ‘Godhead Here in Hiding’, but it was that which kept coming back to me during the service:
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.
On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.
O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.
Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen.
(St Thomas Aquinas, tr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ)
The opening words stanza seems to fit so well the stripped altar, the Body and Blood of our dearest Lord veiled from sight on the Altar of Repose. This is the night he gave to his disciples the treasure of the Mass, prayed for them and for us, and went out into the night of Gethsemane. Truly, his mercy is everlasting…