BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
The Voice of Christ.
COME to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will
refresh you, saith the Lord.
The Bread that I will give is My Flesh, for the life of the world.
Take ye and eat; this is My Body, which shall be delivered for you;
this do for the commemoration of Me.
He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood abideth in Me, and I in
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
CHAPTER 1: WITH HOW GREAT REVERENCE
CHRIST OUGHT TO BE RECEIVED
The Voice of the Disciple.
THESE are Thy words, O Christ, the eternal truth, though not all
uttered at one time, nor written in one place.
Since, therefore, they are Thine, and true, they ought all to be
thankfully and faithfully received by me.
They are Thine, and Thou hast spoken them; and they are also mine,
because Thou hast delivered them for my salvation.
I willingly receive them from Thy mouth, that they may be the more
inseparably engrafted in my heart.
Words of so great tenderness, so full of sweetness and love, encourage
me; but my own sins terrify me, and an unclean conscience driveth me
back from receiving so great mysteries.
The sweetness of Thy words beckoneth me onwards; but the multitude of
my offenses weigheth me down.
2. Thou commandest me to approach to Thee with confidence, if I would
have part with Thee; and to receive the food of immortality, if I
desire to obtain life and glory everlasting.
Come, sayest Thou to me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I
will refresh you.
O sweet and loving word in the ear of a sinner, that Thou, O Lord my
God, dost invite the poor and needy to the Communion of Thy most holy
But who am I, O Lord, that I should presume to approach unto Thee?
Behold, the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; and Thou sayest:
Come ye all to Me.
3. What meaneth this most loving condescension and so friendly
How shall I dare to approach, who am conscious to myself of no good on
which I can presume?
How shall I introduce Thee into my house, who have too often offended
Thy most benign countenance?
The Angels and the Archangels stand in reverential awe; the Saints and
the just are afraid; and Thou sayest: Come ye all to Me.
Unless Thou, O Lord, didst say this, who could believe it to be true?
And unless Thou didst command it, who would venture to approach?
4. Behold, Noe, a just man, labored a hundred years in building the
ark, that with a few he might be saved: and how, then, shall I be able
in the space of one hour to prepare myself to receive with reverence
the Maker of the world?
Moses, Thy great servant and Thy special friend, made an Ark of
incorruptible wood, which also he covered with most pure gold, that he
might deposit therein the tables of the law, and I, a corrupted
creature, shall I presume so easily to receive Thee, the Maker of the
law and the Giver of life?
Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, employed seven years in
building a magnificent temple for the praise of Thy Name, and for eight
days he celebrated the feast of the dedication thereof; he offered a
thousand peacemaking victims, and brought in a solemn manner the Ark of
the Covenant into the place prepared for it, with sound of trumpet and
rejoicing; and I, unhappy, and the vilest of men, how shall I introduce
Thee into my house, who can hardly spend one half-hour devoutly? And
would that I had ever even once spent one half-hour as I ought!
5. O my God, how much did they endeavor to do to please Thee! Alas, how
little is it that I do! How short a time do I spend when I prepare
myself to communicate!
Seldom am I wholly collected; very seldom free from all distraction.
And yet surely in the life-giving presence of Thy Deity, no unbecoming
thought should occur, nor anything created occupy my mind; for it is
not an Angel, but the Lord of the Angels Whom I am about to entertain.
6. There is, moreover, a very great difference between the Ark of the
Covenant with its relics, and Thy most pure Body, with its unspeakable
virtues; between those sacrifices of the Law, which were figures of
things to come, and the true Sacrifice of Thy Body, which is the
accomplishment of all ancient sacrifices.
7. Why, then, am I not more inflamed in seeking Thine adorable
Why do I not prepare myself with greater solicitude to receive Thy
sacred gifts, seeing that those ancient holy Patriarchs and Prophets,
yea, kings also and princes, with the whole people, manifested so great
affection of devotion towards Thy Divine worship?
8. The most devout King David danced with all his might before the Ark
of God, as he called to mind the benefits in times past bestowed upon
his fathers: he made musical instruments of various kinds; he composed
psalms, and appointed them to be sung with joy, and he himself like
wise often sung them upon his harp, inspired with the grace of the Holy
Ghost; he taught the people of Israel to praise God with their whole
heart, and with one harmonious voice to bless and praise Him every day.
If so great devotion was then displayed, and such a memorial of the
praise of God made in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, how
great a reverence and devotion now ought I and all Christian people to
have in presence of this Sacrament, and in receiving the most precious
Body of Christ!
9. Many run to sundry places to visit the relics of the Saints, and
wonder to hear of their remarkable deeds; they behold the spacious
buildings of their churches, and kiss their sacred bones, enveloped in
silk and gold:
And behold, Thou art here present to me on the altar, my God, the Saint
of Saints, the Creator of men, and the Lord of Angels.
Oftentimes in seeing those things men are moved with curiosity and the
novelty of sights, and carry home but little fruit of amendment; and
the more so when persons run lightly hither and thither without real
But here, in the Sacrament of the altar, Thou art wholly present, my
God, the man Christ Jesus; where also is derived in full copiousness,
the fruit of eternal salvation, as often as Thou art worthily and
To this, indeed, we are not drawn by any levity, curiosity, or
sensuality, but by a firm faith, a devout hope, and a sincere charity.
10. O God, unseen Creator of the world, how wonderfully dost Thou deal
with us! how sweetly and graciously dost Thou order all things for
Thine elect, to whom Thou offerest Thyself to be received in this
For this exceedeth all understanding; this in a particular manner
draweth the heart of the devout, and enkindleth their love.
For they, Thy faithful ones, who dispose their whole life to amendment,
frequently receive from this Most August Sacrament a great grace of
devotion and love of virtue.
11. Oh, the wonderful and hidden grace of the Sacrament, which only the
faithful of Christ know, but which,
unbelievers, and such as are slaves to sin, cannot experience!
In this Sacrament is conferred spiritual grace; virtue lost is again
restored in the soul; and beauty disfigured by sin returneth again.
So great sometimes is this grace, that from the fullness of the
devotion conferred, not only the mind, but the frail body also feeleth
an increase of strength bestowed on it.
12. Still must we lament and deplore exceedingly our tepidity and
negligence, that we are not drawn with greater affection to receive
Christ, in Whom consisteth all the hope and merit of those that are to
For He is our sanctification and our redemption; He is the consolation
of pilgrims, and the eternal fruition of the Saints.
Greatly to be lamented, therefore is it, that many take so little heed
of this saving majesty, which rejoiceth Heaven, and preserveth the
Oh, blindness and hardness of the heart of man, that doth not more
regard so unspeakable a gift, or even from a daily use of it falleth
into a disregard of it!
13. For if this Most Holy Sacrament were celebrated in one place only,
and consecrated by only one priest in the world, with how great a
desire, thinkest thou, would men be affected towards that place, and to
such a priest of God, that they might see the divine mysteries
But now that there are many priests, and Christ is offered up in many
places, that the grace and love of God to man may appear so much the
greater, by how much the more bounteously is this sacred Communion
distributed throughout the entire world.
Thanks be to Thee, O good Jesus, eternal Shepherd, Who hast vouchsafed
to feed us poor exiles with Thy precious Body and Blood, and to invite
us to the receiving of these mysteries, even by an address from Thine
own mouth, saying: Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and
I will refresh you.
WHO can conceive or explain the excellence of the all Divine
gift which Jesus Christ bestows upon us in giving us His blessed Body
and Blood in the Holy Eucharist, in which we receive God with all His
perfections, the plenitude of His Divinity, all the virtues and grace
of His humanity, and all the merits of a Man-God? We may say, with St.
Augustine, that God, though all-powerful, cannot bestow upon us
anything greater than Himself, Whom He here gives us; though most rich
and liberal, yet He cannot dispense to us anything more from the
treasures of His bounty than this one gift of His Body and Blood, His
whole self: and though the uncreated and incarnate Wisdom of the
Father, yet He cannot invent a more efficacious means of gaining our
hearts than to enter into them by the Holy Communion, and thus unite
and transform us into Himself.
But what should delight our minds and hearts is, that in the sacred
Host which we receive, and even in its smallest part (that we may lose
nothing of so precious a gift) He has included all the riches of His
bounty, wisdom and love, to communicate them all to us, and by
communicating them to us, to enable us to live in a supernatural and
Divine life by feeding and nourishing us with God; for it is to this
end that He assumes a new life upon our altars, to impart it to us in
the Holy Communion, by which, says the Council of Trent, He infuses
into our souls all the riches of His love. Yes, my Savior, after having
bestowed upon us all the goods of nature and of grace, Thou addest
still more to Thy gifts-----Thy whole Self in the
Blessed Eucharist. After having been liberal of Thy gifts in our
regard, which, although most precious, are still much less than
Thyself, in this adorable Sacrament Thou art prodigal even of Thy very
Self. Who then can refuse and withhold his heart from God, Who comes
thus to take possession of it, as belonging to Him upon so many titles?
WHAT return can I make Thee, O Lord, for all Thy gifts and favors? What
can I give Thee in exchange for Thyself, Whom Thou didst bestow upon my
soul, to become to me the principle of a truly Christian life, and the
pledge of my salvation? As often as I have the honor of receiving Thee,
my most amiable Savior, I may say that Thou art all mine, and yet,
alas! after having received Thee so frequently, I cannot as yet say
that I am all Thine. Come, O Jesus, and take full possession of my
ungrateful and unfaithful heart, which is so little devoted to Thee,
and so much given to the world and to itself. Conquer its perversity, O
Lord, and oblige it to love Thee, that it may hate itself, and,
recalling its affections, devote them entirely to Thee. It is Thine, O
God, as the work of Thy hands and the price of Thy Blood; it is Thy
purchased inheritance, of which Thou comest to take possession. Permit
it not to depart from Thee to become the slave of its passions, but,
being come to me, establish Thy reign entirely and forever over me.
Suffer me not, O Jesus, when I receive Thee, Who art my all, both now
and forever, to be so unhappy, like many Christians, as to be Thine
only in appearance and exteriorly, only in desires and wishes, or to be
but half Thine, so as to wish to reconcile God and the world, vanity
and devotion; which Thou declarest in the Gospel is impossible and
incompatible with salvation. Suffer me not to be so miserable as to
belong to Thee only for a time, by almost immediately after Communion
falling again into voluntary habitual faults, which Thy presence should
correct, or at least diminish; for the fruit of a good Communion is
strength, courage, and constancy to resist and conquer ourselves.
Receive, O Jesus, my most humble thanks for the institution of this
adorable Sacrament in which Thy love triumphs over all Thine other
attributes, to feed and nourish me with Thine Own Body and Blood. In
gratitude for so great a favor, for so wonderful and Divine a benefit,
I beseech Thee to accept of the sincere, perfect, and irrevocable
offering which I now make of my whole self to Thee for time and