Challoner’s Reflection on The Imitation of Christ
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION
CHAPTER X.: Do Not Lightly Forego Holy Communion
That it should be necessary to urge on Christians to seat themselves at the Holy Table, to nourish themselves with the bread of life, to receive unto them the author and finisher of faith (Hebrews 12:2
), the Saviour of men, the Word of God; that they should seek on all sides pretexts to remain away from Him; that they should look on, as a hard obligation, the duty which the Church imposes on them, of participating at certain times of the body and blood of Jesus Christ;–all this is so strange and terrible, that the soul flies from the thought, as it would fly from a vision of hell. But amongst the faithful, whom love attracts to the sacred banquet of the Bridegroom, there are some who, deluded by sad and false doctrines, or held back by the scruples of a conscience timid to excess, never believe themselves sufficiently prepared, and deprive themselves voluntarily of the Divine Eucharist, on account of the great respect which that august sacrament inspires in them. Without doubt we should prove ourselves, without doubt it would be desirable that those who eat the bread of angels should have all the purity of those celestial spirits; but He who knows our misery, and who came to heal it, does not require that man should be perfect in order to approach the source of all graces; he only asks that he should be purified by penitence, and that he should bring to the foot of the altar a contrite and humble heart, a sincere repentance of all his faults, a pure will and an ardent love. Whilst Jesus repulses and curses the Pharisees, the proud observers of the Law, He receives the sinful woman, He pities her humble grief, He blesses her tears, and many sins are forgiven her because she loved much (Luke, 7:47). Too often the seeming delicacy of conscience, which keeps a person a long time away from communion, conceals a great and culpable pride. Instead of abandoning himself to the advice of the guide who holds the place of God, he wishes to direct himself and to judge of himself–a sad error, the inevitable result of which is either despair or frightful presumption. Never quit the path of obedience; all others lead to perdition. If you are ordered not to approach the Holy Table keep away from it and weep? If it is said to you: go to Jesus in the sacrament of his love, approach with joy. No disposition of mind is equal to the entire sacrifice of human reason and of one’s own will; have in every thing and always the simplicity of a little child: simplicity of heart is dear to God; He blesses it for time, He blesses it for eternity.