COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER XVIII.

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

CHAPTER XVIII.: Man Should Not Scrutinize This Sacrament in Curiosity, But Humbly Imitate Christ and Submit Reason to Holy Faith


The impious man desires knowledge, and in it is his destruction. He demands salvation from knowledge, he demands it from pride, he demands it from himself- and from the depths of his darkened intelligence, from his powerless and degraded nature, comes an answer of death. Christians, never forget that the just man lives by faith. Live then by faith–by living on the adorable Eucharist, which is the strongest and the sweetest proof of it. He who is the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has spoken; He has said: This is my body–this is my blood. Do you then believe Him? Yes, Lord! I believe and confess that what were bread and wine, are truly thy body and blood. My mind submits itself and imposes silence on my rebellious senses. Through love for the world God delivered up his Son, and in order to render the gift complete, that Divine Son gives Himself daily to man at the holy altar. The infinite love of God explains all and renders everything clear. The ways of God being impenetrable, how can we understand everything. Our happiness consists in believing without comprehending. Let proud reason, ever ready with arguments, be therefore silent; let it cease opposing its weakness to thy omnipotence. To its doubts and questions, we will give but one answer: God so loved the world! (John, 3:16.) That answer suffices, and no other is sufficient without it: you are astonished that God conceals Himself under the mean appearance of earthly bread: that the Saviour of men makes Himself your food. You hesitate, your faith wavers; it is because you do not love. But do ye, faithful souls, go to the altar with joy and confidence; go to Jesus; go to the mysterious banquet of his love. Pay no attention to the so-called philosophers and wise men of the world. If they try to keep you from following Jesus, turn away from them, and say to Him as St. Peter did: If we do not go to Thee, O Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life (John, 6:69).

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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER XVII.

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

CHAPTER XVII.: The Burning Love and Strong Desire to Receive Christ


Jesus Christ teaches and inspires us with patience by his practice of it in the holy Eucharist, in which He is an object of contempt to some, of neglect to others, and of indifference to many, who are but little devoted to God, much to the world, and wholly to themselves; in which He beholds Himself exposed to the unworthy or fruitless communions of so many, whose lives are either decidedly criminal, from being spent in the habit and occasion of mortal sin, or at least are of no avail to salvation. Nevertheless, He suffers all these outrages with invincible patience, and He suffers them thus, in order to teach and to induce us to suffer contradictions and injuries in like manner.

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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER XVI.

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

CHAPTER XVI.: We Should Show Our Needs to Christ and Ask His Grace


It is not by forcing ourselves to raise our minds to sublime thoughts, that we shall gather the fruit of the holy communion; but by adoring, full of love, Jesus Christ in us, by opening to him our hearts with great confidence and with great simplicity, as a man is wont to speak to his friend (Exodus. 33:11). We have wants; it is necessary to make them known to Him We are covered with wounds; we must show them to Him, in order that he may wash them with his divine blood. We are weak; it is necessary to beseech Him to strengthen us. We are naked, hungry and thirsty; we must say to Him: Have pity on this poor beggar. From him flow all graces; listen to his words: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me although he be dead, shall live; and every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever (John 11:25, 26).

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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER XV.

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

CHAPTER XV.: The Grace of Devotion is Acquired Through Humility and Self-Denial


Although we should love God for Himself, we are permitted to desire his gifts, provided that we remain fully submitted to his holy will. The most precious graces are not always the most perceptible, those which, so to speak, inundate the soul with light and with joy. Such may, if we are not on our guard, excite vain self-complaisance. Often it is more sure to walk, in this life, in the obscurities of pure faith; to be proved by sadness, by sufferings, by bitterness, and to bear the Cross interiorly like Jesus, when He cried out: My God, why hast Thou forsaken me? (Mark 15:34.) Then all pride is humbled: we find nothing but weakness in us: we humiliate ourselves beneath the hand which strikes, but which strikes in order to heal, and this holy exercise of self-denial, more meritorious for the faithful soul and more agreeable to God than a perceptible fervour, melts the Heavenly Bridegroom and leads him back near unto the Bride, who, deprived of her well-beloved, was watching in her grief, as a sparrow all alone on the house top (Psalms ci. 8). He discovers Himself to her in the Divine Eucharist; He consoles her, dries up her tears, lavishes on her his chaste caresses, inflames her with his love, like the Disciples of Emmaus, when they said: Was not our heart turning within us, whilst he spoke in the way, and opened to us the Scripture? (Luke 24:32.)

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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER XIV.

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

CHAPTER XIV.: The Ardent Longing of Devout Men for the Body of Christ


How to make a good spiritual Communion. Spiritual communion, which the Council of Trent approves of and so strongly advises and commends as a substitute for the sacramental and corporal reception of Jesus Christ, may be made at all times and in all places, whether we are in the presence of the blessed sacrament are not. We may make it every hour, or after a Hail Mary, said in honour of the Blessed Virgin, mother of God, uniting ourselves to those holy dispositions with which she conceived Jesus Christ in her chaste womb. We should bring our minds to a respectful remembrance of Jesus Christ in the most holy sacrament; we should there adore him, and direct our hearts towards him, as Daniel did towards the temple; we should give all to him, and ardently desire to receive him sacramentally.

But the most proper time for making a good spiritual communion is when we assist at Mass, at the time of the priest’s communion. Then a Christian, animated with a lively and actual faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the blessed sacrament, and with an ardent desire of being intimately united to him, should evince such dispositions, by humbling himself profoundly in his presence, and esteeming himself unworthy of really receiving him, implore him to come and dwell in his mind by faith, and in his heart by love and gratitude for his goodness, that so he may say with the apostle, I live now, not I, but Christ liveth in me.

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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER XIII.

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

CHAPTER XIII.: With All Her Heart the Devout Soul Should Desire Union with Christ in the Sacrement


I abandon myself to Thee, O my God: to thy unity, in order to be made one with Thee; to thy infinity, incomprehensible immensity, in order to lose and to forget myself; to thy infinite wisdom, to be governed by it according to thy designs, and not according to my own thoughts; to thy eternal decrees, known and unknown, in order to conform myself to them, because both are just; to thy eternity, in order to make it my happiness; to thy supreme power, in order to be always in thy hands; to thy paternal goodness in order that, when my life shall end, Thou mayest receive my soul in thy arms; to thy justice, in as far as it justifies the impious and the sinful man, to the end that, from being impious and a sinner, Thou mayest make him just and holy. It is only to that justice which punishes crimes that 1 do not wish to abandon myself; for that would be to abandon myself to the damnation which I deserve. And nevertheless, O Lord, even that justice is holy like all thy other attributes; it is holy and must not be deprived of its sacrifice. It is necessary therefore that I should abandon myself to it, and behold! Jesus Christ presents Himself in order that I may abandon myself to it in Him and through Him.

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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER XII.

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

CHAPTER XII.: The Communicant Should Prepare Himself for Christ with Great Care


The preparation for the New Pasch comprises two things: in order to purify the guest-chamber and to adorn it, that is to say, in order to receive worthily the body and the blood of Christ, the soul should above all be free from blemishes; it should have been washed in the waters of penitence, and afterwards exercised in the practice of virtues which make it pleasing to God. What pleases God and draws down his graces, is profound humility, and sovereign contempt of one’s self; a lively faith, a perfect abandonment of one’s own will, detachment from the earth, the desire for heavenly things, and divine charily. Christian soul! thou who aspirest to the nuptial banquet! imitate then the prudent virgins: take oil and light your lamp, in order to go meet the bridegroom; for those whose lamps are extinguished, shall hear those terrible words: verily 1 know you not.

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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER XI.

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

CHAPTER XI.: The Body of Christ and Sacred Scripture Are Most Necessary to a Faithful Sole


What is this earth? A place of exile, a valley of tears, as the Church calls it. Man there searches in the darkness for truth, which is the life of his intelligence; he there searches, in the midst of evils without number, for good, he knows not what good, inexhaustible, immense, eternal, which is the life of his heart; and everything that he seeks for escapes from him. Doubt and error weary out his exhausted reason. What he believed to be good things change into bitterness. He finds emptiness and disgust at the bottom of all. If he is alone his soul falls back with pain on itself: he wants support, and woe to him if he places his trust in other men! They mask themselves in order to take him by surprise; they profane the name of friendship in order to deceive him; whilst they smile on him with their mouths, they lay snares for him in the dark, and when by tricks, and lies, and base perfidy they have enveloped him with their nets, they suddenly unmask themselves, rush on him, and devour him as the hyena devours his prey. Lamentable condition! But God has not abandoned his poor creatures. He has given us Himself in the Divine Eucharist. Every time that we approach that august sacrament we receive into us the wisdom, the uncreated light, the Word of God, the living word; we receive the author of grace, the finisher of the faith: the flesh, that was nailed to the cross for us, is incorporated with our flesh; the blood, which has saved the world, is m9ed with our blood; a sacred kiss unites our souls with the soul of the Redeemer; his divinity penetrates us, consuming in us everything that sin had corrupted; and the faithful friend reposes in our breasts.

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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER X.

Challoner’s Reflection on The Imitation of Christ1
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.

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

COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER IX.

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

CHAPTER IX.: We Should Offer Ourselves and All That We Have to God, Praying for All


Wearied with the slavery of our passions, and fatigued with the inefficacy of our desires, we promise God what we never perform, and pretend to be his, without ceasing to be our own, or weaning ourselves from the world and vanity; let us now, after having received Him, make a firm resolution of giving ourselves really to Him, and of dedicating and consecrating ourselves to his love. It is time, O my Saviour, that this heart, which was made for thy love, and redeemed by thy blood, should for ever cease to be devoted to itself, and become wholly and irrevocably thine; and I protest at thy sacred feet, that such is my ardent desire. This heart has received Thee, my Jesus! and Thou desirest to consummate within it that new life which Thou hast assumed on the altar to make it a victim of thy love. Sacrifice then to thy Father thy holy life, and my life of sin; and never suffer me to recall that heart which on this day I wholly give to Thee.

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