The Fourteenth Chapter: The Ardent Longing of Devout Men for the Body of Christ

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Fourteenth Chapter: The Ardent Longing of Devout Men for the Body of Christ


The Disciple

HOW great is the abundance of Your kindness, O Lord, which You have hidden from those who fear You!

When I think how some devout persons come to Your Sacrament with the greatest devotion and love, I am frequently ashamed and confused that I approach Your altar and the table of Holy Communion so coldly and indifferently; that I remain so dry and devoid of heartfelt affection; that I am not completely inflamed in Your presence, O my God, nor so strongly drawn and attracted as many devout persons who, in their great desire for Communion and intense heart love, could not restrain their tears but longed from the depths of their souls and bodies to embrace You, the Fountain of Life. These were able to appease and allay their hunger in no other way than by receiving Your Body with all joy and spiritual eagerness. The faith of these men was true and ardent–convincing proof of Your sacred presence. They whose hearts burn so ardently within them when Jesus lives with them truly know their Lord in the breaking of bread. Continue reading

The Thirteenth Chapter: With All Her Heart the Devout Soul Should Desire Union with Christ in the Sacrement

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Thirteenth Chapter: With All Her Heart the Devout Soul Should Desire Union with Christ in the Sacrement


The Disciple

LET it be granted me to find You alone, O Christ, to open to You my whole heart, to enjoy You as my soul desires, to be disturbed by no one, to be moved and troubled by no creature, that You may speak to me and I to You alone, as a lover speaks to his loved one, and friend converses with friend.

I pray for this, I desire this, that I may be completely united to You and may withdraw my heart from all created things, learning to relish the celestial and the eternal through Holy Communion and the frequent celebration of Mass. Continue reading

The Twelfth Chapter: The Communicant Should Prepare Himself for Christ with Great Care

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Twelfth Chapter: The Communicant Should Prepare Himself for Christ with Great Care


The Voice of Christ

I AM the Lover of purity, the Giver of all holiness. I seek a pure heart and there is the place of My rest.

Prepare for Me a large room furnished and I with My disciples will keep the Pasch with you. Continue reading

The Eleventh Chapter: The Body of Christ and Sacred Scripture Are Most Necessary to a Faithful Sole

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Eleventh Chapter: The Body of Christ and Sacred Scripture Are Most Necessary to a Faithful Sole


The Disciple

O MOST sweet Lord Jesus, how great is the happiness of the devout soul that feasts upon You at Your banquet, where there is set before her to be eaten no other food but Yourself alone, her only Lover, most desired of all that her heart can desire!

To me it would be happiness, indeed, to shed tears in Your presence from the innermost depths of love, and like the pious Magdalen to wash Your feet with them. But where now is this devotion, this copious shedding of holy tears? Certainly in Your sight, before Your holy angels, my whole heart ought to be inflamed and weep for joy. For, hidden though You are beneath another form, I have You truly present in the Sacrament. Continue reading

The Tenth Chapter: Do Not Lightly Forego Holy Communion

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Tenth Chapter: Do Not Lightly Forego Holy Communion


The Voice of Christ

YOU must often return to the source of grace and divine mercy, to the fountain of goodness and perfect purity, if you wish to be free from passion and vice, if you desire to be made stronger and more watchful against all the temptations and deceits of the devil.

The enemy, knowing the great good and the healing power of Holy Communion, tries as much as he can by every manner and means to hinder and keep away the faithful and the devout. Indeed, there are some who suffer the worst assaults of Satan when disposing themselves to prepare for Holy Communion. As it is written in Job, this wicked spirit comes among the sons of God to trouble them by his wonted malice, to make them unduly fearful and perplexed, that thus he may lessen their devotion or attack their faith to such an extent that they perhaps either forego Communion altogether or receive with little fervor. Continue reading

The Ninth Chapter: We Should Offer Ourselves and All That We Have to God, Praying for All

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Ninth Chapter: We Should Offer Ourselves and All That We Have to God, Praying for All


The Disciple

ALL things in heaven and on earth, O Lord, are Yours. I long to give myself to You as a voluntary offering to remain forever Yours. With a sincere heart I offer myself this day to You, O Lord, to Your eternal service, to Your homage, and as a sacrifice of everlasting praise. Receive me with this holy offering of Your precious Body which also I make to You this day, in the presence of angels invisibly attending, for my salvation and that of all Your people.

O Lord, upon Your altar of expiation, I offer You all the sins and offenses I have committed in Your presence and in the presence of Your holy angels, from the day when I first could sin until this hour, that You may burn and consume them all in the fire of Your love, that You may wipe away their every stain, cleanse my conscience of every fault, and restore to me Your grace which I lost in sin by granting full pardon for all and receiving me mercifully with the kiss of peace. Continue reading

The Eighth Chapter: The Offering of Christ on the Cross; Our Offering

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Eighth Chapter: The Offering of Christ on the Cross; Our Offering


The Voice of Christ

AS I offered Myself willingly to God the Father for your sins with hands outstretched and body naked on the cross, so that nothing remained in Me that had not become a complete sacrifice to appease the divine wrath, so ought you to be willing to offer yourself to Me day by day in the Mass as a pure and holy oblation, together with all your faculties and affections, with as much inward devotion as you can.

What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to Me? I care not for anything else you may give Me, for I seek not your gift but you. Just as it would not be enough for you to have everything if you did not have Me, so whatever you give cannot please Me if you do not give yourself. Continue reading

The Seventh Chapter: The Examination of Conscience and the Resolution to Amend

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Seventh Chapter: The Examination of Conscience and the Resolution to Amend


The Voice of Christ

ABOVE all, God’s priest should approach the celebration and reception of this Sacrament with the deepest humility of heart and suppliant reverence, with complete faith and the pious intention of giving honor to God.

Carefully examine your conscience, then. Cleanse and purify it to the best of your power by true contrition and humble confession, that you may have no burden, know of no remorse, and thus be free to come near. Let the memory of all your sins grieve you, and especially lament and bewail your daily transgressions. Then if time permits, confess to God in the secret depths of your heart all the miseries your passions have caused. Continue reading

The Sixth Chapter: An Inquiry on the Proper Thing to Do Before Communion

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Sixth Chapter: An Inquiry on the Proper Thing to Do Before Communion


The Disciple

WHEN I consider Your dignity, O Lord, and my own meanness, I become very much frightened and confused. For if I do not receive, I fly from Life, and if I intrude unworthily, I incur Your displeasure. What, then, shall I do, my God, my Helper and Adviser in necessity? Teach me the right way. Place before me some short exercise suitable for Holy Communion, for it is good to know in what manner I ought to make my heart ready devoutly and fervently for You, to receive Your Sacrament for the good of my soul, or even to celebrate so great and divine a sacrifice.

The Fifth Chapter: The Dignity of the Sacrament and of the Priesthood

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

The Fifth Chapter: The Dignity of the Sacrament and of the Priesthood


The Voice of Christ

HAD you the purity of an angel and the sanctity of St. John the Baptist, you would not be worthy to receive or administer this Sacrament. It is not because of any human meriting that a man consecrates and administers the Sacrament of Christ, and receives the Bread of Angels for his food. Great is the Mystery and great the dignity of priests to whom is given that which has not been granted the angels. For priests alone, rightly ordained in the Church, have power to celebrate Mass and consecrate the Body of Christ.

The priest, indeed, is the minister of God, using the word of God according to His command and appointment. God, moreover, is there–the chief Author and invisible Worker to Whom all is subject as He wills, to Whom all are obedient as He commands. Continue reading