Dedication of the Catena on Saint Matthew's Gospel


Catena in Mt. , dedicatio.

Sanctissimo ac reverendissimo patri domino Urbano, divina providentia Papae quarto, frater Thomas de Aquino, ordinis fratrum praedicatorum, cum devota reverentia, pedum osculo beatorum.

The Catena on Matthew:

To the most holy and reverend Father, Lord Urban IV, by divine providence Pope, Brother Thomas of Aquino, of the Order of the Preaching Brethren, with devout reverence: kisses for the blessed feet.

Fons sapientiae unigenitum Dei verbum praesidens in excelsis, per quod pater sapienter fecerat et suaviter disposuerat universa, in fine temporum carnem sumere voluit, ut sub tegumento naturae corporeae, splendorem eius humanus intuitus posset inspicere, quem in celsitudine maiestatis divinae attingere non valebat. Diffuderat siquidem radios suos, sapientiae videlicet suae indicia, super omnia opera quae creavit; quodam vero ampliori privilegio imaginem propriam hominum animabus impresserat, quam tamen diligentius expresserat in cordibus ipsum amantium secundum sui muneris largitatem.

The font of wisdom, the only-begotten Word of God presiding in the highest, through Whom the Father wisely makes and sweetly orders the universe,wished in the end times to take on flesh and so clothed Himself in human nature. Thus, human understanding could look upon the splendor of Him Whom in the loftiness of the divine majesty it could never hope to attain. Indeed he spread out His rays, that is, the tokens of His wisdom, upon all the works that He created. But, bestowing an even greater privilege, He impressed upon men's souls His very own image. And still more, because of His overflowing kindness, He tenderly perfected His image in the hearts of those who love Him.

Sed quid est hominis anima in tam immensa creatura, ut divinae sapientiae vestigia possit comprehendere ad perfectionem? Quinimmo et sapientiae lux infusa hominibus per peccati tenebras et occupationum temporalium caligines fuerat obumbrata; et intantum est quorumdam cor insipiens obscuratum, ut Dei gloriam in idola vana converterent, et quae non conveniunt facerent, in sensum reprobum incidentes. Divina vero sapientia, quae ad sui fruitionem hominem fecerat, eum sui inexpertem esse non sinens, totum se in humanam naturam contulit, eam modo sibi assumendo mirabili, ut errantem hominem ad se totaliter revocaret.

But what is man's soul in such an immense creation: can it perfectly comprehend the traces of the divine wisdom? Indeed the light of wisdom infused in men has been overshadowed by the darkness of sin and the bonds of worldly concerns. And so the hearts of many have become foolish and dark, and they turn from the glory of God to a hollow idol. Such people do what is indecent, falling into a depraved way of thinking. But the divine wisdom, which made man as His own joy, would not let him continue to be deprived of Himself. He thus joined Himself entirely to human nature, and by means of this marvelous union He would call man back entirely to Himself.

Huius igitur sapientiae claritatem nube mortalitatis velatam, primus apostolorum princeps fide conspicere meruit, et eam constanter absque errore et plenarie confiteri, dicens tu es Christus filius Dei vivi. O beata confessio, quam non caro et sanguis, sed pater caelestis revelat. Haec in terris fundat Ecclesiam, aditum praebet in caelum, peccata meretur solvere, et contra eam portae non praevalent Inferorum.

The brilliance of this Wisdom, clothed with the veil of mortality, was merited to be seen through faith by the first prince of the Apostles, who confessed it firmly, without error and fully, saying You are the Christ, the son of the living God. O blessed confession, revealed not by flesh and blood, but by the heavenly Father! It established the Church on earth, opened the way to heaven, merited the forgiveness of sins, and against it the gates of Hell would never prevail.

Huius igitur fidei ac confessionis heres legitime, sanctissime pater, pio studio mens vestra invigilat, ut tantae sapientiae lux fidelium corda perfundat et haereticorum confutet insanias, quae portae Inferorum merito designantur. Sane si, secundum Platonis sententiam, beata censetur respublica cuius rectores operam sapientiae dare contigerit, illi siquidem sapientiae quam imbecillitas intellectus humani erroribus plerumque commaculat, quanto magis sub vestro regimine beatus censeri potest populus Christianus, ubi tanta diligentia excellentissimae illi sapientiae curam impenditis, quam Dei sapientia carnalibus membris induta et verbis docuit et operibus demonstravit?

Of this faith and confession, you are the legitimate heir, most holy father. By a pious zeal your mind keeps constant watch so that the light of this wisdom may be poured out upon the hearts of the faithful and refute heretical ravings, designed, as they are, at the gates of Hell. If indeed, as Plato thought, a republic should be counted happy whose rulers happen to care about wisdom, and especially that wisdom that the imbecility of human intellect often pollutes with error, how much more happy will the Christian people be to the extent that they come under your rule, where with so much love you exercise care over that most excellent wisdom, which the Wisdom of God, clothed with flesh and bones, taught in speech and demonstrated in deeds?

Et huius siquidem diligentiae studio vestrae sanctitati complacuit mihi committere Matthaei Evangelium exponendum, quod iuxta propriam facultatem executus, sollicite ex diversis doctorum libris praedicti Evangelii expositionem continuam compilavi, pauca quidem certorum auctorum verbis, ut plurimum ex Glossis adiiciens, quae, ut ab eorum dictis possent discerni, sub Glossae titulo praenotavi. Sed et in sanctorum doctorum dictis hoc adhibui studium, ut singulorum auctorum nomina, nec non in quibus habeantur libri assumpta testimonia describantur, hoc excepto quod libros et expositionem supra loca quae exponebantur, non oportebat specialiter designari: puta, sicubi nomen inveniatur Hieronymi, de libro mentione non facta, datur intelligi quod hoc dicat super Matthaeum, et in aliis ratio similis observetur, nisi in his quae de commentario Chrysostomi super Matthaeum sumuntur, oportuit inscribi in titulo super Matthaeum, ut per hoc ab aliis quae sumuntur de ipsius homiliario distinguantur.

And since, by the zeal of this same love, it pleased Your Holiness that I put together a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, and having sought to do this as best I could, I have compiled a continuous commentary on the Gospel from various books of the doctors. With some brief passages of certain authors, taken from the most part from the Glosses, I have given the title "Gloss" in order to set them apart from the rest. But in the passages from the holy doctors themselves, I have taken pains to give both the author's name and the title of the book from which the passage is taken. But I omit the titles when the passages are taken from books or commentaries specifically on this Gospel. For example, where only the name of Jerome is given without mention of a book, it means that this is from his commentary on Matthew, and likewise with other authors. With the case of Chrysostom, however, when the passage is from his commentary on Matthew we will add "On Matthew" in order to distinguish it from his comments taken from his homilies.

In assumendis autem sanctorum testimoniis, plerumque oportuit aliqua rescindi de medio ad prolixitatem vitandam, nec non ad manifestiorem sensum vel, secundum congruentiam expositionis, litterae ordinem commutari; interdum etiam sensum posui, verba dimisi, praecipue in homiliario Chrysostomi, propter hoc quod est translatio vitiosa. Fuit autem mea intentio in hoc opere non solum sensum prosequi litteralem, sed etiam mysticum ponere; interdum etiam errores destruere, nec non confirmare Catholicam veritatem.

Now in selecting these testimonies of the saints, it has often been necessary to edit them both to avoid prolixity and to make the sense more manifest, and sometimes I have had to change the order of a line for the sake of making an overall coherent commentary. I have even sometimes had to assume the meaning and delete words, especially with the homilies of Chrysostom, on account of a defective translation. But it was my intention in this work not only to convey the literal sense but also the mystical, as well as to refute errors and confirm Catholic truth.

Quod quidem necessarium fuisse videtur, quia in Evangelio praecipue forma fidei Catholicae traditur et totius vitae regula Christianae. Prolixum igitur praesens opus non videatur alicui. Fieri enim non potuit ut haec omnia sine diminutione prosequerer, et tot sanctorum sententias explicarem, omnimoda brevitate servata.

Now all this seemed necessary since in the Gospel above all is handed down the form of the Catholic faith and the whole rule of Christian life. Thus the present work should in no way seem wordy to anyone. For it would have been impossible for me to have accomplished all this without editing and to have brought forward all these sayings of the saints without having been on constant watch to be brief.

Suscipiat itaque vestra sanctitas praesens opus, vestro discutiendum corrigendumque iudicio, vestrae sollicitudinis et obedientiae meae fructum, ut dum a vobis emanavit praeceptum et vobis reservetur finale iudicium, ad locum unde exeunt flumina revertantur.

And so, leaving it to your judgment to discern the good and correct the bad, I ask your holiness to accept this present work, the fruit of your solicitude and of my obedience. Thus since yours is the request and yours the final judgment, unto the place from whence the rivers come, they return

© Gregory Froelich
(gfroelich@gmail.com)



The Aquinas Translation Project
(http://www4.desales.edu/~philtheo/loughlin/ATP/index.html)