BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 18: THAT A MAN SHOULD NOT
BE A CURIOUS SEARCHER INTO THIS SACRAMENT,
BUT A HUMBLE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST, SUBMITTING HIS SENSE TO HOLY FAITH
The Voice of the Beloved.
THOU must beware of curious and useless scrutiny into this most
profound Sacrament, if thou wouldst not sink into the depth of doubt.
He that is a searcher of majesty shall be overwhelmed by glory.
God is able to effect more than man is able to understand.
A pious and humble inquiry after truth is permitted, as of one, always
prepared to be instructed, who studieth to walk in the sound doctrine
of the Fathers.
2. Blessed is that simplicity which leaveth the difficult paths of
questionings, and goeth on in the plain and sure path of God's
Many have lost devotion, whilst they would search into lofty matters.
It is faith and an upright life that are required of thee; not the
loftiness of intellect, nor diving deep into the mysteries of God.
If thou dost neither understand nor comprehend those things which are
beneath thee, how mayst thou comprehend such as are above thee?
Submit thyself to God, and humble thy sense to faith, and the light of
knowledge shall be given thee, according as shall be advantageous and
necessary for thee.
3. Some are grievously tempted concerning faith and the Sacrament; but
this is not to be imputed to them; but rather to the enemy.
Be not too anxious, nor stop to dispute with thy thoughts, nor answer
doubts which the devil suggests; but believe the words of God, believe
His Saints and Prophets, and the wicked enemy will fly from thee.
It is often very profitable that the servant of God should suffer such
For the devil tempteth not unbelievers and sinners, whom he already
surely possesseth ; but the faithful and devout he tempteth and
molesteth in many ways.
4. Go forward, therefore, with a simple and undoubting faith, and with
lowly reverence approach the Sacrament; and whatsoever thou art not
able to understand, securely commit to God the omnipotent.
God doth not deceive thee; but he is deceived who trusteth too much to
God walketh with the simple, revealeth Himself to the humble, and
giveth understanding to little ones; He discloseth His meaning to pure
minds, and hideth His grace from the curious and proud.
Human reason is weak, and may be deceived; but true faith cannot be
5. All reason and natural investigation ought to follow faith, and not
precede or infringe upon it.
For faith and love are here most especially predominant, and operate by
occult ways in the most holy and super excelling Sacrament.
God, the eternal and immense, and of power infinite, doth things great
and inscrutable in heaven and in earth; and there is no searching out
His wonderful works.
If the works of God were such, that they could easily be comprehended
by human reason, they could neither be called wonderful nor
Faith must triumph over our
senses and reason, by our firmly believing in the Real Presence, and
humbly receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament
of the Altar.
I. TAKING it for granted that God can do more than man can
comprehend; that human reason may be deceived, but that faith cannot;
and that we are bound to believe Jesus Christ when He says to His
Apostles: "This is My Body, which
shall be delivered for you: this is My Blood, which shall be shed for
we must necessarily believe without hesitation the real presence of the
Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament; without
wishing to fathom the depth of this mystery, which is wholly
incomprehensible to reason, and impenetrable to human understanding,
our faith supplying the defects of our senses; and contenting ourselves
with thinking that as God was able to accomplish it, and has declared
to us that He has done so, we must endeavor only to believe, honor, and
receive Jesus Christ in the adorable Eucharist.
II. What a happiness, thus to sacrifice in this mystery of faith, as
indeed in all other mysteries, the light of human reason to the truth
of God's word, and the affection of our hearts to the infinite love
evinced by our Redeemer in the institution and use of the Most Holy
Sacrament: in which, as St. Bernard says, He is all love for us; in
which, according to the Council of Trent, He replenishes our hearts
with all the riches of love; but of a love infinitely liberal, which
induces Him to give Himself entirely to us, and to be even prodigal of
Himself; for it is, says the sacred text, in this Sacrament which He
instituted at the close of His life, that He gives us the most tender
and sensible marks of His love for us, by uniting Himself intimately to
us, and us intimately to Himself, to take possession from henceforth of
our hearts, and to give us a pledge of possessing Him for all eternity.
III. Such being the admirable designs of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy
Sacrament, it is for us to endeavor to correspond with them by worthy
and frequent use of it. A sincere and reverential faith, a Christian
life of detachment from the world, a profound humility, a simple
docility of belief, and an effectual obedience in refusing nothing
required of us by Jesus Christ, when He descends into our souls in the
Holy Eucharist, a dedication of our whole selves to the honor of His
annihilated greatness, and in gratitude for the ardor of His love, is
the whole He requires of us, and all we have to do to dispose ourselves
in a proper manner to receive and to profit by this Holy Sacrament. But
let us always remember that He does not demand from us as a disposition
for Communion, that which is the effect of Communion, and that,
provided we approach Him with a real desire of being converted, evinced
by a good confession, and by a firm hope that Jesus Christ will confirm
us by His presence in His grace and love, we may with confidence
frequently receive the Holy Communion, that we may obtain courage to
conquer ourselves, fidelity in our exercises of piety, and perseverance
in the grace and love of God, which are the real effects of frequent
and worthy Communion.
To Jesus Christ, that He may
in His bounty enable us to practice this book.
ALLOW me, O my Savior, to offer Thee, with the most profound
reverence, these helps to the practice of this book of Thine imitation,
which Thou hast inspired me to add to it, to teach and induce all
Christians to apply themselves to know Thee, to love Thee, and to
follow Thee, to unite themselves to the holy dispositions of Thy Heart
in all Thy Mysteries, to practice the maxims of Thy Gospel, and to
imitate Thy virtues: for it is in this, as Thou tell est us, that all
the happiness and all the merits of a Christian life consist.
I beseech thee, O Holy Virgin, Mother of my God and Savior! to obtain
this grace for me, and for all who shall read these helps to the
practice of this book of the "Following of thy Son," and procure for
us, by thy powerful intercession, a good life, a holy death, and a
happy eternity. Amen.
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