Quote of the day, 14 February: Hermann Cohen

Some months ago I found myself by the side of a venerable priest, the perfume of whose sanctity has spread across the catholic world. I wish to talk about the virtues of the admirable Curé d’Ars.

In spite of the constant crowd of penitents and pilgrims who gather there I had the pleasure of being able to speak to him for a short while. I said, “Father, have you not said that it is good to ask the Lord for those graces with which he will reward those who receive them?”

“Yes,” he told me, “it’s very true: we are like the lepers who are cured but don’t say thanks.”

“But, Father, would it not be possible to found a work which will have for its aim to return unceasing thanks to God for the torrent of favors which he pours out on the world?”

“Yes,” he said, “you are right. Do that, God will bless you. It is a lack in works of devotion, a lack that ought to be filled.”

My brothers, this is the first time for me to speak in public about this thought which has not yet progressed from the state of being a simple project…

St. Thomas tells us there are three degrees of charity:

  • The first degree is that of the heart. We must stamp on our heart the memory of the great mercies the Lord has shown us, a remembrance which will monitor our feelings and removes from us any temptations to ingratitude.
  • The second degree leads us to praise and glorify God for the good things we have received.
  • And yet our praise is not the highest form of thanks. It is through the divine Eucharist and through it alone, that you can rightly pay your debt of gratitude to God. This is the third, the highest degree of thanksgiving…

Here then are my thoughts. I wish to see St. Clotilde’s distinguished by a special ardent spirit on fire with love for the holy Eucharist… Now, my people, we already have three forms of perpetual adoration… but there remains a vacuum to be filled.

The practice which I have thought through and which I will recommend to your devoted reflection, parallel to those that already exist, is a totally gratuitous and generous seal over all; for, while others ask for forgiveness or pray for grace, here by contrast we always and everywhere return thanks to God

The overall intention of adoration will be precisely the recognition and, if I may use the expression, the reimbursement to God for gifts for which we are indebted to him and this cancellation will work itself out by means of the treasures contained in the divine Eucharist, because, as the Council of Trent states, “the Eucharist contains, embraces and absorbs all God’s goodness.”

The Servant of God Hermann Cohen

Augustine of the Blessed Sacrament, O.C.D.
Sermon at the Church of Sainte-Clotilde, Paris
On the theme of Thanksgiving

Biographer Timothy Tierney, O.C.D. notes that this church is now the Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde. He adds the following details:

Cohen had shortly before met the Curé d’Ars and consulted him about founding a movement for Thanksgiving. This twin-spired church has a famous Cavaillé-Coll organ and César Franck was organist here for thirty-one years. It had only recenly been completed, having been begun in 1847 shortly before Cohen’s conversion. It was dedicated to St. Clotilde, mother of Clovis, and co-dedicated to St. Valère because it was built on the site of the demolished church of St. Valère. It was on the site of an ancient Carmelite foundation on the Rue de Grenelle. It was while playing the organ for Benediction in this church, while standing in for a friend, that Cohen had his initial conversion experience.

Tierney, T  2017,  A Life of Hermann Cohen: From Franz Liszt to John of the CrossBalboa Press,  Bloomington, IN

Featured image: Monstrance in the chapel of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Tonopah, Arizona. Photo by Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. (some rights reserved). Find more photos from Father Lawrence on Flickr.

4 thoughts on “Quote of the day, 14 February: Hermann Cohen

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  1. May God preserve these Graces in His Church until He returns! I relate totally to this passage. I have such an intense love for the Holy Eucharist that I returned one day this week, after a 3 month absence nursing an asthmatic chest in fear. I kept going the day we have Adoration and Confession the longest, but the English Govt makes us very prudent. But I could not stay away any longer despite the risk. I just HAD to receive Jesus Sacramentally. I love to see the Elevation, as much as to receive Him – I love to set eyes upon Him. The steward even let me ring the bell as formerly! Adoration was the highlight of my week. Even at £15 taxi fare. Yes I totally understand this passage. Had I been accepted for the Religious Life, I would also have been delighted had I been “of the Blessed Sacrament”.

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