BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 12: WITH HOW GREAT DILIGENCE HE WHO IS TO COMMUNICATE
OUGHT TO PREPARE HIMSELF FOR CHRIST
The Voice of the Beloved.
I AM the Lover of purity and the Giver of all sanctity.
I seek a pure heart, and there is the place of My rest.
Make ready for Me a large upper room furnished, and I will eat the Pasch with thee, together with My disciples.
If thou wilt have Me to come to thee and remain with thee, purge out the old leaven, and make clean the habitation of thy heart. Shut out the whole world and all the tumult of vices; sit as a sparrow solitary on the housetop, and think of thine excesses in the bitterness of thy soul.
For every lover prepareth a place the best and most beautiful for her dearly beloved; since hereby is known the affection of the person entertaining the beloved.
2. Know, nevertheless, that thou canst not satisfy for this preparation, by the merit of any action of thine, even shouldst thou prepare thyself thus for a whole year together, so as to think of nothing else.
But it is of My mere goodness and grace that thou art suffered to come to My table; as if a beggar should be invited to the banquet of a rich man, and he had nothing else to return him for his benefits but to humble himself and give him thanks.
Do, therefore, what lieth in thee, and do it diligently; not out of custom nor from necessity; but with fear, reverence, and affection, receive the Body of thy beloved Lord God, Who vouchsafeth to come to thee.
I am He Who hath invited thee; I have commanded it to be done; I will supply what is wanting to thee; come and receive Me.
3. When I bestow the grace of devotion, give thanks to thy God, not that thou art worthy, but because I have had compassion on thee.
If thou hast not devotion, but rather findest thyself dry, persist in prayer, sigh and knock; nor desist until thou deservest to receive some crumb or drop of saving grace.
Thou hast need of Me, not I of thee. Neither dost thou come to sanctify Me but I come to sanctify and improve thee.
Thou comest that thou mayst be sanctified by Me and united to Me; that thou mayst receive new grace, and be incited anew to amendment.
Neglect not this grace, but prepare thy heart with all diligence, and bring in thither to thee thy Beloved.
4. But thou oughtest not only to prepare thyself for devotion before Communion, but also carefully to keep thyself therein after the reception of the Sacrament. Neither is watchfulness less required after, than a devout preparation before; for strict guardianship afterwards is the best preparation for again obtaining a greater grace.
For a person is rendered much indisposed for this, if he personally turn himself too eagerly after exterior consolation.
Beware of much talk; remain in secret and enjoy thy God; for thou hast Him Whom all the world cannot take from thee.
I am He to Whom thou oughtest to give thy whole self; so that henceforth thou mayst live not in thyself, but in Me, and free from all solicitude.
That it is necessary to nourish ourselves with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
As the Blessed Eucharist is a Sacrament in which we find a heaven upon earth, and God Himself in us, as it is the greatest prodigy of God's love for man; so to profit. by it we must endeavor to approach it with a lively faith, a firm hope, and an ardent love of Jesus Christ, trusting that He will supply our deficiency in these three virtues, and increase them within us in proportion as we communicate frequently, and as far as we are able, worthily. Hence those who would stay away from the Holy Communion because they do not sensibly experience the holy impression of these virtues, nor an ardent desire to receive Jesus Christ, should not on this account deprive themselves of it; because it is necessary to enable them to practice the virtues of Christianity, and the duties of their state of life; they should, therefore, receive their blessed Savior on account of the need they have of Him.
The holy Martyrs of the primitive Church, before they appeared at the tribunals of their judges, there to confess their faith, were accustomed to receive the Holy Communion; for they did not think themselves, says St. Cyprian, in a fit state without it, or as having sufficient strength to undergo the torments of Martyrdom. In like manner should Christians, in order to fight against their passions, and to resist the temptations of the devil, clothe and nourish themselves with the virtue of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ; without which they must be in danger of falling and of being lost.
O JESUS, the Bread of Angels! The Divine and necessary nourishment of my soul! what should I be without Thee? How truly might I exclaim with the Psalmist: "I am smitten like grass and my heart is withered because I forgot to eat my bread?" Thou hast said in the Gospel that if Thou shouldst suffer the people, who had followed Thee into the desert, to return fasting to their homes, they would faint in the way. This evil would surely befall me, my Savior, were I not to be nourished with Thy Body and Blood. Weak as I am of myself, and becoming still weaker from the neglect of that Divine food which is my strength and my spiritual life, I should soon grow feeble and unequal to contend with my passions.
How, O Jesus, wilt Thou be the God of my heart, and my portion for eternity, if Thou dost not now take possession of it in the Holy Communion, and commence within it that holy alliance, which Thou desirest to perfect in heaven? Come then, my Savior, come to me often, that I may never be separated from Thee. Amen.