Challoner’s Reflection on The Imitation of Christ1
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION
CHAPTER II.: God’s Great Goodness and Love is Shown to Man in This Sacrament
The Apostle St. John, borne in spirit into the heavenly Jerusalem, saw, in the midst of the throne of God, a Lamb standing as it were slain, and around him the seven spirits whom God sends through the entire earth, and four and twenty ancients; and those ancients prostrated themselves before the Lamb, holding in their hands harps and vials full of odours, which are the PRAYER.s of Saints: and they sang a new canticle of praise to Him who had been put to death, and who redeemed us to God, from every tribe, from every tongue, from all peoples, and from all nations: and myriads of angels raised their voices and cried out: the Lamb which has been slain is worthy to receive power, dignity, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and benediction from all creatures that are in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea; and all that were there cried out to Him who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb, benediction, honour, glory and power! (Apoc. v.) Then behold another sight. This very Lamb, who receives on his eternal throne the adoration of the angels and of the saints, and whom the entire glory of heaven surrounds, comes to us full of sweetness; and, concealed under the appearance of a morsel of bread, He gives himself to his poor creatures, in order to sanctify our souls, to nourish them, and even our bodies, by the substantial union of his flesh to our flesh, of his blood to our blood; taking flesh anew, so to speak, in each of us, and accomplishing in us, in an incomprehensible manner, by communicating Himself entirely to us, the great sacrifice of the cross. It is too much, O Lord! it is too much; remember who Thou art; or rather grant that I may never forget it, and that I may approach to Thee as the angels do, trembling with respect, with a heart filled with a sense of its unworthiness, penetrated by thy mercies, and inflamed by that same inexhaustible, immense and eternal love which urges Thee to come down to it.
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 unite Thyself to my soul, 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 should say to me as Thou didst say to- him, that I shall have no part in thy glory, if I do not honour thy humility, I consent to thy being born in my soul, although a thousand times poorer than the crib, that I may live henceforth only by and for Thee. Amen.
- Right Rev. R. Challoner, D.D., V.A., Imitation of Christ, Dublin: McGlashan and Gill, 1873 ↩