The Life of Virtue – Adoration

The Life of Virtue – Adoration

For St. Thomas, adoration is primarily an interior act whereby the human being recognises his nothingness before God, comes to appreciate something of God’s greatness and is thus moved to worship him. As it requires the human being to recognise the awesome stature of God before he can adore Him, adoration first requires a certain amount of humility and right knowledge so that our natural righteous inclination to worship does not lead us to bow down to false gods and commit idolatry.

Adoration is primarily an interior disposition of the will but because human beings are composite creatures, made up of matter and spirit, it is proper to our nature that our adoration of the one true God should be expressed through our physicality. So our worship becomes also an exterior act, taking on various bodily postures in the Sacred Liturgy and in private devotion. The founding of the Dominican Order took place in part to combat the Albigensian heresy that denied the goodness of the material world and so it should not surprise us that the early Dominicans emphasised the holiness of the body in their prayer. Indeed, our Holy Father St. Dominic is known to have prayed even in his private prayer in a bodily manner, something that was recorded in the classic Dominican text The Nine Ways of Prayer of Saint Dominic.

The Church has always affirmed the goodness of the material world, especially the human body, against those who claimed that material things were created by an evil god. This point came to be of particular significance in the controversies surrounding the Church’s understanding of the person of Christ. Against those who argued that Our Lord’s body, as a material thing, was not worthy of our adoration, the Church in her wisdom made clear that Christ is one person, although he has two natures, divine and human. There is only one Christ not two and so his human body is an inalienable part of the person of Jesus Christ. It is therefore right and proper that we should adore Christ in his whole person, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Let us give thanks that in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar we are given the opportunity to do so, and encourage others to practice the virtue of adoration by worshipping Christ present in the Holy Eucharist.

Daniel Mary Jeffries OP

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