BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 7: OF THE EXAMINATION OF
OUR OWN CONSCIENCE,
AND OF A RESOLUTION OF AMENDMENT
The Voice of the Beloved.
ABOVE all things, it behooveth the priest of God to come to the
celebrating, handling, and receiving this Sacrament with the greatest
humility of heart and lowly reverence; with a full faith, and a pious
intention for the honor of God.
Examine diligently thy conscience, and to the best of thy power cleanse
and purify it by a true contrition and humble confession; so that thou
neither have nor know of anything weighty, which may give thee remorse,
and hinder thy free access.
Hold in displeasure all thy sins in general, and for thy daily excesses
more especially grieve and lament.
And, if time admit, confess to God, in the secrecy of thy heart, all
the miseries of thy passions.
2. Sigh and grieve that thou art still so carnal and worldly, so
unmortified from thy passions.
So full of the motions of concupiscence; so unguarded in thine outward
senses; so often entangled with many vain imaginations.
So much inclined to things exterior; so negligent of the interior.
So prone to laughter and dissipation; so hard to tears and compunction.
So inclined to relaxation, and to the pleasures of the flesh; so
sluggish in austerity and fervor.
So curious to hear news and see fine things; so remiss to embrace
humiliation and abjection.
So covetous to possess much; so sparing in giving, so close in
So inconsiderate in talking; so unobservant of silence.
So disordered in thy manners; so overeager in thine actions.
So immoderate in food; so deaf to the Word of God.
So ready for repose; so slow to labor.
So wakeful to hear idle tales; so drowsy at the sacred vigils.
So hasty to finish thy devotions; so wandering in attention.
So negligent in reciting the hours; so tepid in celebrating; so dry in
So quickly distracted; so seldom fully recollected.
So suddenly moved to anger; so apt to take offense at others.
So prone to judge; so severe in reprehending.
So joyful in prosperity; so weak in adversity.
So often proposing many good things; and bringing so little to effect.
3. Having confessed and bewailed these and thine other defects with
sorrow, and great displeasure at thine own weakness, make a strong
resolution of always amending thy life, and of advancing for the
Then, with an entire resignation, and with thy whole will, offer
thyself up to the honor of My Name, on the altar of thy heart, as a
perpetual holocaust; faithfully committing to Me both thy soul and
That so thou mayst be worthy to approach to offer up a sacrifice to
God, and profitably to receive the Sacrament of My Body.
4. For there is no oblation more worthy, no satisfaction greater, for
the washing away of sins, than to offer thyself purely and entirely to
God, together with the oblation of the Body of Christ, in the Mass, and
in the Communion.
If a man does what lieth in him, and is truly penitent, as often as he
shall approach to Me for pardon and grace, I live, saith the Lord, and
I will not the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and
live; wherefore I will no longer remember his sins, but all shall be
I. THE first disposition for a worthy Communion is purity of
heart, which consists in detachment from all willful sin, and from all
affection to it. It is in this sense that St. Augustine, speaking to
priests and those who communicate, says that we must come to the altar
innocent. You should therefore, before Communion, carefully examine
your conscience in detail upon your ordinary faults. See before God if
there be not some considerable sin upon your soul, and if so, confess
it with sincere sorrow; for in this case it is not sufficient, says the
Council of Trent, to make an act of contrition, you must also go to
Confession before you approach to the Holy Communion. In this manner it
explains those words of St. Paul, "Let
a man prove himself," that so he may be prepared to receive
worthily this heavenly Bread, and may not eat it to his own
II. Be not satisfied with examining whether your conscience reproaches
you with any considerable sin; but examine also before God, and detest
even the smallest sins which you so easily commit, especially such as
are knowingly committed against the inspirations of grace; sins of
habit, of attachment, and of indisposition-----that is,
those which are most consonant with your natural inclinations; the sins
which you may have occasioned in others, or in which you have
participated; hidden sins, etc. Ask pardon for them of Jesus Christ,
before you receive Him, and pray for grace to correct them, and to
punish yourself for having committed them.
An Act of Contrition before Communion.
I COME to Thee, O Jesus, as a sick man to his physician, in hopes
of obtaining a cure. Thou hast said that those who are afflicted with
disease, should approach to Him Who is able and willing to heal them;
wherefore do I desire to approach to Thee and to receive Thee
frequently, the true Physician and Savior of my soul, for I have need
of Thee to heal my many maladies. To Thee do I cry with the leper in
the Gospel: "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou
canst make me clean."
Inspire me with the same holy confidence with which the sick, during
Thy lifetime, presented themselves before Thee. Grant that, like them,
I may say within myself, "If I shall
but touch the hem of His garment," that is, the appearances
under which Thou art concealed, "I
shall be healed."
With the like confidence, I approach and prostrate myself at Thy sacred
feet, and beg pardon for all the sins of my whole life, which I detest
from my heart, for the love of Thee.
Pardon, O Jesus, pardon me all that is displeasing to Thee. Suffer me
not to receive Thee unworthily. I truly regret having wounded Thy
heart, insulted Thy goodness, provoked Thine anger, resisted Thy grace
and the allurements of Thy love. I have offended all Thy Divine
perfections: forgive and chastise me, and let my punishment be to hate
myself, that I may love Thee. To Thee alone do I address my grief; I
have grievously offended Thee, and for this will I live and die in the
sorrows of repentance. Take from me life, or take away sin, for I can
no longer live and offend Thee; I desire to avoid everything that is
displeasing to Thee, or can in any degree remove or separate me from