BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 10: THAT THE HOLY COMMUNION IS NOT LIGHTLY TO BE FORBORNE
The Voice of the Beloved.
THOU oughtest often to have re course to the fountain of grace and of Divine mercy, to the fountain of goodness and all purity; that thou mayst be healed of thy passions and vices, and mayst deserve to be made stronger and more vigilant against all the temptations and deceits of the devil.
The enemy, knowing the very great fruit and remedy contained in the Holy Communion, striveth by every method and occasion, as far as he is able, to withdraw and hinder faithful and devout persons from it.
2. For when some are disposed to prepare themselves for the Sacred Communion, they suffer the worst assaults and illusions of Satan.
The wicked spirit himself, as it is written in Job, cometh amongst the sons of God, to trouble them with his accustomed malice, or to make them over fearful and perplexed; that so he may diminish their devotion, or by his assault take away their faith, if perhaps they may altogether forbear Communion, or approach with tepidity.
But not the least regard must be had to his wiles and suggestions, be they ever so, shameful and abominable; but all such imaginations are to be turned back upon his own head.
The wretch must be contemned arid scorned; nor is Holy Communion to be omitted on account of any assaults and commotions which he may awaken.
3. Oftentimes also a person is hindered by too great solicitude for having devotion, and a certain anxiety about making Confession.
Follow herein the counsel of the wise, and lay aside all anxiety and scruple; for it impedeth the grace of God, and destroyeth the devotion of the mind.
Abandon not the Holy Communion for every trifling perturbation and heaviness; but go quickly to Confession, and willingly forgive others all their offenses.
And if thou hast offended anyone humbly crave pardon, and God will readily forgive thee.
4. What doth it avail thee to delay for a longer time thy Confession, or to put off the Holy Communion?
Purge thyself as soon as possible, spit out the poison quickly, make haste to take the remedy, and thou wilt find it better for thee than if thou hadst deferred it for a longer time.
If today thou lettest it alone for this cause, tomorrow, perhaps, some greater will fall out; and so thou mayst a long time be hindered from Communion, and become more unfit. As quickly as thou canst, shake off present heaviness and sloth; for it is to no purpose to continue long in uneasiness, to pass a long time in unquietness, and for these daily impediments to withdraw thyself from the Divine mysteries.
Yea, rather it is very hurtful to delay Communion long; for this usually bringeth a heavy slothfulness.
Alas, some tepid and lax persons readily take occasion to delay going to their Confession, and desire that their Sacred Communion should be, therefore, deferred, lest they be obliged to give themselves to greater watchfulness.
5. Ah, how little charity and what slender devotion have they who so easily put off Holy Communion!
How happy is he, and how acceptable to God, who so liveth, and keepeth his conscience in such purity, as to be prepared and well disposed to communicate every day, were it permitted to him, and he might pass without observation!
If sometimes a person abstaineth out of humility, or from some legitimate preventing cause, he is to be commended for reverence.
But if sloth creep in upon him, he must bestir himself, and do what lieth in him; and the Lord will quicken his desire according to his good will which He chiefly regardeth.
6. And when, indeed, he is lawfully hindered, he should yet always have a good will and a pious intention of communicating, and so he will not be without the fruit of the Sacrament.
For every devout person may every day and every hour, without any prohibition, approach to a spiritual Communion with Christ with much profit.
And yet on certain days, and at appointed times, he ought to receive sacramentally, with an affectionate reverence, the Body of his Redeemer; and rather aim at the praise and honor of God than seek his own consolation.
For as often as he communicateth mystically and is invisibly refreshed, so often doth he devoutly celebrate the mystery of Christ's Incarnation and Passion, and is inflamed with His love.
7. But he who prepareth not himself otherwise than when a festival draweth near, or when custom compelleth, shall oftentimes be unprepared.
Blessed is he who offereth himself up as a holocaust to the Lord as often he celebrateth or communicateth.
Be neither too slow nor too quick in celebrating; but observe the good common medium of those with whom thou livest.
Thou oughtest not to beget weariness or tedium in others; but keep the common way, according to the institution of Superiors, and rather accommodate thyself to the utility of others than follow thine own devotion and affection.
I. THE ardent desire which Jesus Christ evinces to come and take possession of our hearts, that He may reign there as God, should convince us that we afford Him real pleasure by worthy and frequent Communion; and that, by staying away from the Holy Table, apparently from respect, but in reality from sloth, as is the case with many Christians, we deprive Jesus Christ of the satisfaction He would have in remaining with us, testified in these words: "My delight is to be with the children of men." To abstain through our own fault from the Holy Communion, is to oppose the designs of His wisdom; it is to interrupt the connecting links of our predestination. because it is to deprive ourselves of one of the most effectual means of securing the salvation of our souls, a worthy and frequent participation of the Holy Communion (for these two should never be separated), and it is to expose ourselves to the danger of losing those graces upon which depends our eternity.
II. Now the most essential dispositions for good and frequent Communion, are first, a fixed resolution never to commit any willful sin; secondly, to be determined, after Confession, to amend our faults and to lead a truly Christian life; thirdly, to trust and hope that the real presence of Jesus Christ in our souls, and the efficacy of His grace, will preserve us in this twofold resolution. Hence habitual sinners who communicate but seldom, on account of their unworthiness, must renounce their bad habits, and prove themselves beforehand, that they may not receive to their own condemnation. Worldly souls who excuse themselves from frequent Communion, under the specious pretext of their attachment to the world, must wean themselves from the vanities, amusements, and engagements of a worldly life, that they may be properly disposed to communicate frequently and worthily; and pious persons who would approach but seldom for fear of an unworthy Communion, must not absent themselves through false humility, but, as the Author says, humble themselves and approach.
TRULY, Lord, I do not deserve to be admitted at Thy Holy Table, as a child in his Father's house, because I have rendered myself unworthy of this honor by my sins and infidelities; but as Thou invitest all to come to Thee who labor and are heavy laden with the weight of their miseries, promising to refresh and to comfort them, I will pay more regard to Thy mercy than to my own unworthiness.
Thou sayst in the Gospel, O Jesus, that those who are sick stand in need of a physician; I will therefore frequently approach Thee, for I have great need of the abundance of Thy graces, and of the multitude of Thy mercies, to keep me in Thy love, to preserve me from sin, and to defend me against he enemies of my salvation.
I feel no devotion when I go to Communion; but it is not necessary sensibly to experience Thy consolations and graces, but only to be faithful to them: and frequent Communion is the means of inspiring me with this fidelity, since the fruit of a good Communion is not always spiritual sweetness, but strength to conquer ourselves, and fidelity in the discharge of our duties.
I am indeed subject to many faults, weak, slothful, and inconstant in Thy service; but who is so able to correct me of my weaknesses, and to alleviate my miseries, as Thou, my Jesus, Who art the God of mercy and the Bread of the strong?
I beseech Thee, therefore, O my most amiable Savior, to grant me the dispositions necessary for frequent and worthy Communion. Come, my Jesus, come often into my heart, Thou Who art the life of my soul, for I desire to live only for and by Thee. Amen.