BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 52: THAT A MAN OUGHT NOT TO ESTEEM HIMSELF WORTHY OF CONSOLATION, BUT RATHER DESERVING OF CHASTISEMENT
LORD, I am not worthy of Thy consolation, nor of any spiritual visitation; and, therefore, justly dost Thou deal with me, when Thou leavest me poor and desolate.
For could I shed tears like a sea, yet should I not be worthy of Thy consolation.
Wherefore I deserve nothing else but to be scourged and punished, because I have grievously and often offended Thee, and in many things have very much sinned against Thee.
So that, according to just reason, I do not deserve the least consolation.
But Thou, O gracious and merciful God, Who willest not that Thy works perish, to show the riches of Thy goodness towards the vessels of mercy, vouchsafest beyond all desert to comfort Thy servant above human measure.
For Thy consolations are not like the discourses of men.
2. What have I done, O Lord, thai Thou shouldst impart to me any heavenly consolation?
I can remember nothing of good that I have ever done, that I was always prone to vice, and very slow towards amendment.
It is true, and I cannot deny it; if I should say otherwise, Thou wouldst stand against me, and there would be none to defend me.
What have I deserved for my sins but Hell and everlasting fire?
In truth I confess that I am worthy of all scorn and contempt; neither is it fitting that I should remain among Thy devout ones.
And although I hear this unwillingly, yet, for truth's sake, I will, against myself, condemn my sins, that so I may the easier deserve to obtain Thy mercy.
3. What shall I say, guilty as I am, and full of all confusion?
My mouth can utter nothing but only this one word: I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned; have mercy on me and pardon me.
Suffer me a little that I may mourn out my grief, before I go to the darksome land that is covered with the dismal shade of death.
What dost Thou especially require of a guilty and wretched sinner, but that he should be contrite and humble himself for his sins?
In true contrition and humility of heart is brought forth hope of forgiveness; the troubled conscience is reconciled; lost grace is recovered; man is secured from the wrath to come; and God and the penitent soul meet together with a holy kiss.
4. Humble contrition for sins is an acceptable sacrifice to Thee, O Lord, of far sweeter odor in Thy sight than the burning of frankincense.
This is also that pleasing ointment which Thou wouldst have to be poured upon Thy sacred feet: for Thou never hast despised a contrite and humble heart.
Here is a place of refuge from the face of the wrath of the enemy.
Here is amended and washed away whatever of defilement has been elsewhere contracted.
ALTHOUGH we should consider ourselves in all our sufferings as most unworthy of receiving consolation from God, and as deserving of the heaviest chastisements, having so often merited Hell, it is good, nevertheless, to bewail our exile, and to sigh, in the sense of our miseries, for the Father of mercy, and the God of all consolation; for a cry of lamentation from a soul penetrated with gratitude to God for His goodness, and with a deep sorrow for having offended Him, is capable of disarming His anger, and of inclining Him to mercy and pardon.
How is a soul, when loaded with the weight of its iniquities, consoled by the certainty of meeting with mercy from God, when it returns to Him with sincere sorrow for sin, and a firm and effectual resolution of renouncing it, and leading a better life for the future! Then God, Who is more desirous to pardon us than we are to crave His mercy, ceases to be our Judge and becomes our Father. Forgetting what we were, He remembers only what we now are, and treats us with as much bounty as though we had never offended Him.
GIVE me, O God, that sincere sorrow and contrition which may purge away all my offenses. I can commit sin of myself, but I cannot repent nor free myself from it without Thy grace and assistance. Yes, Father, I have sinned, and have offended Thy goodness; and this fills me with grief and confusion. Chastise me, but forgive me, and let my punishment be to hate myself that I may love Thee. I have sinned against Heaven and before Thee; I am not worthy to be numbered amongst Thy children; receive me as one of Thy servants. Then, happy shall I be, if, feeding upon the bread of tears, living in labor, in a reverential fear of Thee, and in an exact obedience to Thy will, I pass my life in mourning and sighing, in punishing myself and avenging Thee, endeavoring never to pardon in myself what Thou art so willing to forgive me! Take away my life from me, O my Savior, or keep me from sin, for I can no longer live to offend Thee. Grant that I may frequently recollect this my desire, and that the remembrance of it may ever withhold me from displeasing Thee. Amen.