Used by permission. Copyright 2010 Curtis Powell 703
507-7795 All rights reserved.
BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 2: THAT THE GREAT GOODNESS
AND LOVE OF GOD
ARE SHOWN TO MAN IN THIS SACRAMENT
The Voice of the Disciple.
CONFIDING, O Lord, in Thy goodness, and in Thy great mercy, I
come sick to my Savior, hungry and thirsty to the Fountain of life,
needy to the King of Heaven, a servant to my Lord, a creature to my
Creator, and one in desolation to my loving Comforter.
But whence is this to me, that Thou shouldst come to me? Who am I, that
Thou shouldst give to me Thyself?
How dare a sinner appear before Thee? And how dost Thou vouchsafe to
come to a sinner?
Thou knowest Thy servant, and dost know that he has nothing of good in
himself, that Thou shouldst bestow this favor upon him.
I confess, therefore, my unworthiness; I acknowledge Thy bounty;
I praise Thy goodness; and I give Thee thanks for Thine exceeding love.
For it is for Thine Own sake Thou dost this, not on account of my merits-----that
Thy goodness may be the more manifest to me, that Thy love may be more
abundantly imparted, and Thy humility more perfectly commended.
Since, therefore, this pleaseth Thee, and Thou hast ordained it thus,
Thy merciful condescension pleaseth me also; and, oh! that my iniquity
may be no obstacle!
2. O most sweet and most benign Jesus, how great reverence and
thanksgiving, with perpetual praise, are due to Thee for the receiving
of Thy sacred Body, whose dignity no man can be found able to unfold!
But on what shall I think in this Communion, when I approach to my
Lord, Whom I can never duly venerate, and yet desire to receive with
What can I think on better or more salutary than to humble myself
entirely before Thee and extol Thine infinite goodness above me?
I praise Thee, O my God, and I extol Thee forever; I despise myself,
and cast myself down into the depth of my own vileness.
3. Behold, Thou art the Saint of Saints, and I am the scum of sinners.
Behold, Thou bowest Thyself down to me, who am not worthy to look up to
Behold, Thou comest to me; Thou wishest to be with me; Thou invitest me
to Thy banquet; Thou desirest to give me heavenly food, even the Bread
of Angels, to eat; no other, indeed, than Thyself, the living Bread,
Who didst come down from Heaven, and givest life to the world.
4. Behold, whence love proceedeth; what a condescension shineth forth!
How great thanksgiving and praise are due to Thee for these!
Oh! how salutary and profitable was Thy design when Thou didst
institute it! How sweet and delightful this banquet, wherein Thou hast
given Thyself for our food!
Oh, how admirable is Thy work, O Lord! How mighty is Thy power! How
infallible Thy truth!
For Thou hast spoken, and all things were made, and that which Thou
commandest has been done.
5. A wonderful thing it is, and worthy of faith, and transcending all
human intelligence, that Thou, O Lord
my God, true God and man, art contained entire under a small form of
bread and wine, art eaten by the receiver, and without being consumed.
Thou, the Lord of all things, Who standest in need of no one, art
pleased by this Sacrament to dwell in us.
Preserve my heart and my body immaculate, that, with a joyful and pure
conscience, I may often be able to celebrate Thy sacred mysteries, and,
receive for my eternal salvation what Thou hast principally ordained
and instituted for Thy honor and perpetual remembrance.
6. Rejoice, O my soul, and give thanks unto God for so noble a gift,
and so singular a solace left to thee in this valley of tears.
For as often as thou repeatest this mystery and receivest the Body of
Christ, so often dost thou perform the work of thy redemption, and art
made partaker of all the merits of Christ.
For the charity of Christ is never diminished, and the greatness of His
propitiation is never exhausted.
Therefore oughtest thou to dispose thyself for this by an
ever-recurring renovation of spirit, and weigh with attentive
consideration the great mystery of salvation.
And as often as thou celebratest or hearest Mass, it ought to seem to
thee as great, new, and delightful, as if Christ that very day first
descending into the Virgin's womb was made man; or, hanging on the
Cross, suffered and died for man's salvation.
I. WHEN thou approachest the Holy Communion, consider the
greatness and majesty of God, Whom thou art going to receive, and the
baseness and unworthiness of thyself, a vile and sinful creature, who
art about to receive Him. Humble thyself in His presence, and say to
Him: Who am I, Lord, that I should dare to approach Thee; and Who art
Thou, that Thou shouldst debase Thyself so low as to come to me! When I
consider, on the one hand, the excellence of Thy sanctity and purity,
and, on the other, the corruption and disorders of my soul, I am forced
to acknowledge that I am most unworthy to receive Thee, and that I
cannot, without rashness, permit Thee to enter into my heart. But,
knowing the excess of Thy goodness, and the need which I have of Thee
for my sanctification and salvation, I will approach to Thee, my
Savior! with a holy confidence; for Thou hast said that those who are
well stand not in need of a physician, but only those who are sick; to
Thee, Who comest to seek and to save those who are gone astray, and are
in danger of perishing; to Thee, Who art the "Word made flesh for love
of man;" to Thee Whose desire is that we be converted and live. I am
indeed a grievous sinner, but I will no longer remain such. I feel
neither consolation nor delight in Thy holy presence, but sensible of
my many miseries, I come to lay them all at Thy sacred feet; here I
II. Whence comes this honor and this happiness, that my God should so
far conceal His sovereign majesty as to become the food and nourishment
of my soul? Ah! it is the profound humility of a Man-God, Who would
carry His abjection not only so far as not to appear as God, but not
even as man, and thus eclipse all the splendors of His majesty, to
evince the excess of His bounty and the charms of His love for us. O my
Savior, whilst Thou concealest Thy Divine perfections from our sight,
that we may not be dazzled by their glory, Thou dost disclose to us the
depth of Thy humility, that we may be induced to copy it in our
conduct. O my soul, canst thou desire to be known by others, when thou
beholdest thy God concealed and hidden in the Holy Eucharist! How shall
such a miserable worm of the earth as I am dare to exalt myself, when I
reflect that my God annihilates Himself in this mystery, to impress
upon me the character of His humility?
III. Say not, Christian soul, that thou dost not dare to approach
frequently to a God so great and awful. Thou art indeed unworthy, and
thou wilt not cease to be so, if thou dost not endeavor to attend
diligently to thy correction; but, says St. Augustine, this Bread of
Angels is not a poison; it is a nourishment given for thy use, and
necessary for thy salvation. Receive it, therefore, and frequently
nourish thy soul with it, but let not habit deprive thee of all relish
for this heavenly food, as it generally does for all worldly dainties.
The holy dispositions in which thou shouldst receive the God of
holiness ought to increase with the frequency of thine approach to the
holy table. It is not for thee to know this increase; but there is
always advancement when thou dost strive with greater earnestness to
become more holy by means of recollection and humility.
PRAYER BEFORE COMMUNION.
I BELIEVE, O Lord, that Thou art my God and the sovereign Judge
Who will decide my eternal doom. With what respect, therefore, ought I
to approach Thee. Alas! Who am I, that I should dare even so much as to
lift up my eyes towards Thee? How then shall I dare to receive Thee
into my heart, which is so miserable, so corrupt, and so unworthy of
Thee? Supply, O Lord, my great unworthiness by the excess of Thy
merciful goodness, which does not suppose, but constitutes the merit of
O infinite greatness! O sovereign majesty! O immensity of my God,
concealed and annihilated in the Sacred Host which I am going to
receive! To Thee do I give all glory, and to myself all possible
contempt, which alone is my due. Come, O Jesus, come and fill my empty
and depraved heart with the plenitude of Thy love. Come, and do Thou
take place of self within me, and raise me, who am poor, from the dust
and from nothing, and elevate me to the possession of Thy love. But am
I nothing? I am worse, I am a sinner, and deserve Hell. Ah! I would
willingly say, with St. Peter, "Depart from me, O Lord;" but fearing
lest Thou shouldst say to me, as Thou didst say to him, that I shall
have no part in Thy glory, if I do not honor Thy humility, I consent to
Thy being born in my soul, although a thousand times poorer than the
crib, that henceforth I may live only by and for Thee. Amen.