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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER VII.

Challoner’s Reflection on The Imitation of Christ1
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

CHAPTER VII.: The Examination of Conscience and the Resolution to Amend


There is nothing more useful in itself, nor more indispensable in order to approach worthily the altar, than to descend into your conscience, and to examine, with a salutary severity, its sad depths. We have in ourselves, as it were, an image of the kingdom of darkness; in us lives, increases, and propagates itself the numerous family of vices, sprung from the threefold concupiscence which has infected human life from its otigin. Whoever seriously examines his heart, finds in it the germ of all that is bad; a pride, sometimes bold and violent, sometimes full of duplicity and artifices; an unrestrained curiosity; burning desires; hatred which injuries, outrages, and calumny accompany; envy, the mother of murder; avarice which says without ceasing, Bring, bring (Proverbs 30:15Open Link in New Window); hardness of heart; the guilty joys of the mind: and although these seeds of death do not develope themselves in every man to the same degree, all have them in themselves, and grace alone smothers “-.em more or less. Such is, since his original fall, the lot of the children of Adam. Who, in his terror, would not cry out to the Lord from the depths of his immense misery? He that hideth his sins shall not prosper; but he that shall confess and for* sake them, shall obtain mercy (Proverbs 28:13Open Link in New Window). Touched with compassion for sinners, Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of penance, which regenerates them in the blood of the Lamb, and clothes them again with their primitive innocence. This is the nuptial robe necessary in order to assist at the feast of the bridegroom; ye who bear with grief the weight of your sins, hasten then, go, full of repentance, of faith, of hope, and of love, to lay down that oppressive burden at the feet of him who takes the place, in the sacred tribunal, of the Son of God Himself; go and humiliate yourselves; go and weep: a divine hand will dry your tears, and, re-established in grace with God and in peace with yourselves, you will at last feel gladness and joy in your souls.

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  1. Right Rev. R. Challoner, D.D., V.A., Imitation of Christ, Dublin: McGlashan and Gill, 1873

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.

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER VI.

Challoner’s Reflection on The Imitation of Christ1
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

CHAPTER VI.: An Inquiry on the Proper Thing to Do Before Communion


Ont of the best dispositions for worthily receiving the holy communion, is to be resolved that Jesus shall reign for ever in our hearts; that is, that we will obey Him in all things, and refuse Him nothing that He demands of us; for it is in quality of king that He comes to us, and as the king of all bounty He comes into our souls, to be again born there, and to reign over our passions and affections.

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  1. Right Rev. R. Challoner, D.D., V.A., Imitation of Christ, Dublin: McGlashan and Gill, 1873

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

The Fourth Chapter: Many Blessings Are Given Those Who Receive Communion Worthily

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

The Fourth Chapter: Many Blessings Are Given Those Who Receive Communion Worthily


The Disciple

O LORD my God, favor Your servant with the blessings of Your sweetness that I may merit to approach Your magnificent Sacrament worthily and devoutly. Lift up my heart to You and take away from me this heavy indolence. Visit me with Your saving grace that I may in spirit taste Your sweetness which lies hidden in this Sacrament like water in the depths of a spring. Enlighten my eyes to behold this great Mystery, and give me strength to believe in it with firm faith.

For it is Your work, not the power of man, Your sacred institution, not his invention. No man is able of himself to comprehend and understand these things which surpass even the keen vision of angels. How, then, shall I, an unworthy sinner who am but dust and ashes, be able to fathom and understand so great a mystery? Continue reading

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER IV.

Challoner’s Reflection on The Imitation of Christ1
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

CHAPTER IV.: Many Blessings Are Given Those Who Receive Communion Worthily


Jesus Christ when about to quit the earth, promised to his disciples that he would send them the consoling Spirit; and it is this divine Spirit which is given to us in the sacrament of the New Law–the substantial love of the Father and of the Son. By an invisible operation, as sweet as it is powerful, He freely inclines our will to what is good, purifies it, and raises it to God. He is our strength: the Word is our light. Now, when we have in us Jesus Christ, we have the Word itself in us, and we participate in all the gifts which the Word and the Holy Spirit, which proceeds from Him, pour out incessantly on the sacred humanity of the Saviour, become one with us by the communion of his body and of his blood, of his soul and of his divinity, which are inseparable. In Him are all riches of fullness of understanding; all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (1 Colossians 2:2, 3Open Link in New Window): and He opens out those treasures to us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, whilst the sanctifying spirit consumes in us, by his divine flames, the last traces of sin, gives us, as it were, a foretaste of celestial happiness, and prepares us to enjoy it fully, when we shall have arrived at the happy term of our trials on this earth. Go then to the fountain of graces, go to the altar, go to Jesus: and to whom. Lord, shall we go? Thou hast the words if eternal life (John, 6:69). When languishing, Thou dost fortify us; when afflicted Thou dost console us; when troubled by the tempests which are within and without, thou dost rebuke the wind and there is made a great calm (Mark 4:39Open Link in New Window).

O Jesus, thy love presseth me (2 Corinthians 5:14Open Link in New Window), and my soul has grown faint in the ardour of uniting itself to Thee. That is ray entire desire. I have no other; I wish for Thee only, O my God! when shall I be able to say: My beloved to me and I to Him (Song of Solomon 2:16Open Link in New Window); it is not I who live, but Christ liveth in me (Galatians 2:20Open Link in New Window). Amen.

  1. Right Rev. R. Challoner, D.D., V.A., Imitation of Christ, Dublin: McGlashan and Gill, 1873

The Third Chapter: It Is Profitable to Receive Communion Often

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

The Third Chapter: It Is Profitable to Receive Communion Often


The Disciple

BEHOLD, I come to You, Lord, that I may prosper by Your gift and be delighted at Your holy banquet which You, O God, in Your sweetness have prepared for Your poor. Behold, all that I can or ought to desire is in You. You are my salvation and my redemption, my hope and strength, my honor and glory.

Gladden, then, this day the soul of Your servant because I have raised my heart to You, O Lord Jesus. I long to receive You now, devoutly and reverently. I desire to bring You into my house that, with Zacheus, I may merit Your blessing and be numbered among the children of Abraham. Continue reading

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER III.

Challoner’s Reflection on The Imitation of Christ1
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

CHAPTER III.: It Is Profitable to Receive Communion Often


As much as we should take care to prove ourselves before eating of the bread and drinking of the chalice of the Lord (1 Corinthians xi. 28), in the same degree should we be careful not to keep away from the Holy Table through false respect and excessive fear. We will be always, no matter what we do, infinitely unworthy of so high a favour; nothing is pure, nothing is holy before Him who is Holiness itself. But when the Saviour says to us . Come ye to me! He knows our misery, and it is in order to heal it that he invites us to go to Him. Let us go then, not like the hypocritical Pharisee, giving God thanks that we are not as the rest of men (Luke, 18:n): God repels with horror this pride of conscience which disguises from itself its secret scars; let us go, but like the humble publican, with our eyes cast down on this earth, striking our breast and saying: 0 God be merciful to me a sinner! (Luke 18:13Open Link in New Window.) It is necessary, without doubt, to prepare ourselves by penitence, recollection, and PRAYER. for the communion of the body and of the blood of Jesus Christ; but, having sincerely prepared ourselves with our entire soul, it is insulting the Redeemer to refuse his gifts; it is voluntarily depriving ourselves of the most precious, abundant, and holy graces; it is renouncing life: for, except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you (1 John, 6:54).

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  1. Right Rev. R. Challoner, D.D., V.A., Imitation of Christ, Dublin: McGlashan and Gill, 1873

The Second Chapter: God’s Great Goodness and Love is Shown to Man in This Sacrament

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

The Second Chapter: God’s Great Goodness and Love is Shown to Man in This Sacrament


The Disciple

TRUSTING in Your goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I come as one sick to the Healer, as one hungry and thirsty to the Fountain of life, as one in need to the King of heaven, a servant to his Lord, a creature to his Creator, a soul in desolation to my gentle Comforter.

But whence is this to me, that You should come to me? Who am I that You should offer Yourself to me? How dares the sinner to appear in Your presence, and You, how do You condescend to come to the sinner? You know Your servant, and You know that he has nothing good in him that You should grant him this. Continue reading