BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 16: THAT WE OUGHT TO LAY OPEN OUR NECESSITIES TO CHRIST,
AND CRAVE HIS GRACE
The Voice of the Disciple.
O MOST sweet and most loving Lord, Whom I now desire with all devotion to receive, Thou knowest my infirmity and the necessity which I endure; under how great evils and vices I lie prostrate; how often I am oppressed, tempted, troubled, and defiled.
To Thee do I come for remedy, to Thee do I pray for consolation and relief; I speak to Him Who knoweth all things, to Whom my whole interior is manifest, and Who alone can perfectly console and assist me.
Thou knowest what good things I stand most in need of, and how poor I am in virtues.
2. Behold, I stand before Thee poor and naked, begging grace and imploring mercy.
Feed Thy hungry beggar, inflame my coldness with the fire of Thy love, enlighten my blindness with the brightness of Thy presence.
Turn for me all earthly things into bitterness, all things grievous and adverse into patience, and all low and created things into contempt and oblivion.
Raise up my heart to Thee into Heaven, and suffer me not to wander upon earth.
Mayst Thou alone be delightful to me henceforth and forevermore.
For thou only art my meat and drink, my love and my joy, my sweetness and my whole good.
3. Oh, that with Thy presence Thou wouldst totally inflame, consume, and transform me into Thyself, that I may be made one spirit with Thee by the grace of internal union, and by the melting of ardent love!
Suffer me not to go from Thee hungry and dry; but deal with me in Thy mercy, as Thou hast often dealt so wonderfully with Thy Saints.
What marvel if I should be wholly set on fire by Thee, and should die to myself, since Thou art a fire always burning and never failing, a love purifying hearts and enlightening the understanding!
For this and the next chapter.
I. THE Son of God, after having taught us by His Word, shown us by His example, and merited for us by His grace, the necessary and essential virtues for Christian salvation, would institute the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist, to come Himself and imprint them in our hearts. Of these Christian virtues, humility is the first, of which He gives us a splendid example in the Most Holy Sacrament; for He is there concealed, annihilated, and unknown to sense. During His mortal life, the perfections of His Divinity only were concealed, and, as it were, annihilated in His humanity; but in the Blessed Sacrament His humanity also lies hid, and nothing appears of a Man-God but what is seen by the eyes of faith. Here we learn how we ought to live in this world, in imitation of the humility and annihilation of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament; first, to love a concealed and abject life; secondly, to fly from praise, esteem, and honor, and to welcome contempt as due to such sinners as ourselves; thirdly, to endeavor to be good and virtuous, without wishing to display our virtue or to perform our actions for the sake of being seen and esteemed by men, but solely to please God; fourthly, to be persuaded that man cannot honor God in any way so effectually as by abasing and humbling himself before Him; fifthly, to yield to hasty persons for the sake of peace; sixthly, never to act from human respect, but from a reverential fear of God; seventhly, never to speak well of ourselves nor ill of others.
II. The Son of God gives us in the Holy Eucharist an example of perfect obedience and of patience equal to all the outrages which He there receives, by the exact, continual, and miraculous obedience which He pays to the priest, immediately descending upon the altar when the words of consecration are pronounced, and remaining there until man receives Him into his breast! O great God of independence and sovereignty of what a subject of confusion for us, that although Thou art God, Thou dost nevertheless obey man without delay, while man refuses or defers to obey Thee.
I will henceforth, O my Savior, in honor and imitation of Thy perfect obedience in the Most Holy Sacrament, promptly, generously, and constantly obey whatever Thou shalt ordain by Thine inspirations, by my superiors, and by the knowledge of my duties.
III. Jesus Christ teaches and inspires us with patience by His practice of it in the Holy Eucharist, in which He is an object of contempt to some, of neglect to others, and of indifference to many, who are but little devoted to God, much to the world, and wholly to themselves; in which He beholds Himself exposed to the unworthy or fruitless Communions of so many, whose lives are either decidedly criminal from being spent in the habit and occasion of mortal sin, or, at least, are of no avail to salvation. Nevertheless He suffers all these outrages with invincible patience, and He suffers them thus, to teach and to induce us to suffer contradictions and injuries in like manner.
IV. O my Jesus, the Victim of our salvation and of our sins! Why should we daily renew by our irreverence, dissipation, and indevotion, those outrages Thou didst receive when dying on the Cross, and renew them even in that state in which Thou art pleased to continue that all-atoning sacrifice? Pardon, O Jesus, pardon the insensibility, coldness, and indevotion with which we have approached the Holy Communion; forgive us for not having always followed the injunction which Thou givest us in the Gospel, of being reconciled to all mankind, before we present ourselves at the foot of Thy altar. Pardon also our impatience and the sallies of passion, which our Communions have not corrected in us, because we have not profited by them! Suffer not our tongues, which become the resting-places of Thy sacred Body, and which are so often purpled with Thy Blood, to be employed as the instruments of our anger and maledictions. O Lord, Who during Thy mortal life, didst heal the most incurable diseases, arrest, I beseech Thee, the impetuosity of my tongue. Yes, my Savior, that I may reap advantage from my Communions, I will never speak when my heart is moved, but sacrifice my utterance to Thee, Who, for my sake, didst sacrifice even the last drop of Thy sacred Blood.
To obtain the fruit of a good Communion.
GIVE, O Jesus, to all who app-roach Thee in the Holy Communion, a constant courage to conquer themselves, an exact fidelity in corresponding with Thy graces, a restraint upon their tongue, a recollection of mind, and the plenitude of Thy love in their hearts. For Thy honor and glory, O Divine Savior, subject us to Thy dominion, and immolate us to Thy greatness. Suffer not our hearts, which are the conquest of Thy grace, evermore to be separated from Thee.
Be Thou the ruler of our passions, and the God of our souls; and grant that when we communicate, and after Communion, we may establish within us the reign of Thy sovereignty by our submission, the reign of Thy bounty by our confidence, and the reign of Thy grace by our fidelity. Amen.