BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 2: THAT TRUTH SPEAKETH WITHIN US
WITHOUT NOISE OF WORDS
SPEAK, Lord, for Thy servant heareth. I am Thy servant; give me
understanding, that I may know Thy testimonies.
Incline my heart to the words of Thy mouth; let Thy speech distill as the dew.
Heretofore the children of Israel said to Moses: "Speak thou to us, and we will hear; let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die."
It is not thus, O Lord, it is not thus I pray, but rather, with the Prophet Samuel, I humbly and earnestly entreat: "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."
Let not Moses, nor any of the Prophets, speak to me; but speak Thou rather, O Lord God, the Inspirer and Enlightener of all of the Prophets; for Thou alone, without them, canst perfectly instruct me; but they, without Thee, will avail me nothing.
2. They may indeed sound forth words, but they give not the spirit.
Most beautifully do they speak; but if Thou be silent, they inflame not the heart.
They give the letter, but Thou disclosest the sense.
They publish the mysteries, but Thou unlockest the meaning of the things signified.
They declare the Commandments, but Thou enablest us to fulfill them.
They show the way, but Thou givest strength to walk in it.
What they can do is only from without, but Thou instructest and enlightenest the heart.
They water outwardly, but Thou givest the increase.
They cry aloud in words, but Thou impartest understanding to the hearing.
3. Let not, then, Moses speak to me, but Thou, O Lord my God, the eternal Truth, lest I die and prove fruitless, if I be admonished only outwardly, and not inflamed within.
Lest it be to my condemnation that the word be heard and not fulfilled, known and not loved, believed and not observed.
Speak, then, O Lord, for Thy servant heareth; for Thou hast the words of eternal life. Speak to me, that it may be some comfort to my soul, and the amendment of my whole life; and also to Thy praise, and glory, and everlasting honor.
GOD speaks to the understanding by the light of His Spirit, and to the heart by His holy inspirations. All that the Prophets deliver in the Word of God, all the truths which preachers announce to us, cannot enlighten the understanding, nor touch the heart, if God Himself speak not to us by the motions of His grace. We should, therefore, entreat the Lord to speak to our interior, while we exteriorly attend to or read Divine truths, for fear that hearing the word of God and not keeping it, knowing His doctrines and not following them, conscious of His will and not doing it, we should become more and more culpable in His sight.
SPEAK to me, O Lord, speak in such a manner to my soul that I may hear and obey Thee. Make known to me Thy designs for my salvation, and enable me to execute them. Teach me and all Christians, O Jesus, what Thou art to us, and what we ought to be to Thee. Instruct us in the sacred maxims of Thy Gospel, and induce us to practice them. For what will it avail us to believe Thy heavenly doctrines, if we endeavor not to follow them, and to live, as well as to believe, as becometh Christians? O eternal Word of the Father, by which He spoke, and all things were made, speak to my soul; say to it: "I am thy salvation." Work in me to will and to do, and consummate my salvation. Amen.