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The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Part 4 out of 4

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be anxious and without affection before Communion, afterwards
being refreshed with heavenly food and drink, find themselves
changed for the better. And even in such wise Thou dealest
severally with Thine elect, that they may truly acknowledge and
clearly make proof that they have nothing whatsoever of their
own, and what goodness and grace come to them from Thee; because
being in themselves cold, hard of heart, indevout, through Thee
they become fervent, zealous, and devout. For who is there
coming humbly to the fountain of sweetness, carrieth not away
thence at the least some little of that sweetness? Or who
standing by a large fire, feeleth not from thence a little of its
heat? And Thou art ever a full and overflowing fountain, a fire
continually burning, and never going out.

4. Wherefore if it is not suffered to me to draw from the fulness
of the fountain, nor to drink unto satisfying, yet will I set my
lips to the mouth of the heavenly conduit, that at least I may
receive a small drop to quench my thirst, that I dry not up
within my heart. And if I am not yet able to be altogether
heavenly and so enkindled as the Cherubim and Seraphim, yet will
I endeavour to give myself unto devotion, and to prepare my
heart, that I may gain if it be but a little flame of the divine
fire, through the humble receiving of the life-giving Sacrament.
But whatsoever is wanting unto me, O merciful Jesus, Most Holy
Saviour, do Thou of Thy kindness and grace supply, who hast
vouchsafed to call all unto Thee, saying, Come unto me, all ye
that are weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you.

5. I indeed labour in the sweat of my face, I am tormented with
sorrow of heart, I am burdened with sins, I am disquieted with
temptations, I am entangled and oppressed with many passions, and
there is none to help me, there is none to deliver and ease me,
but Thou, O Lord God, my Saviour, to whom I commit myself and all
things that are mine, that Thou mayest preserve me and lead me
unto life eternal.

Receive me unto the praise and glory of Thy name, who hast
prepared Thy Body and Blood to be my meat and drink. Grant, O
Lord God my Saviour, that with coming often to Thy mysteries the
zeal of my devotion may increase.


Of the dignity of this Sacrament, and of the office of the priest

The Voice of the Beloved

If thou hadst angelic purity and the holiness of holy John the
Baptist, thou wouldest not be worthy to receive or to minister
this Sacrament. For this is not deserved by merit of man that a
man should consecrate and minister the Sacrament of Christ, and
take for food the bread of Angels. Vast is the mystery, and
great is the dignity of the priests, to whom is given what is not
granted to Angels. For priests only, rightly ordained in the
church, have the power of consecrating and celebrating the Body
of Christ. The priest indeed is the minister of God, using the
Word of God by God's command and institution; nevertheless God is
there the principal Author and invisible Worker, that to whom all
that He willeth is subject, and all He commandeth is obedient.

2. Therefore thou must believe God Almighty in this most
excellent Sacrament, more than thine own sense or any visible
sign at all. And therefore with fear and reverence is this work
to be approached. Take heed therefore and see what it is of
which the ministry is committed to thee by the laying on of the
Bishop's hand. Behold thou art made a priest and art consecrated
to celebrate. See now that thou do it before God faithfully and
devoutly at due time, and shew thyself without blame. Thou hast
not lightened thy burden, but art now bound with a straiter bond
of discipline, and art pledged to a higher degree of holiness. A
priest ought to be adorned with all virtues and to afford to
others an example of good life. His conversation must not be
with the popular and common ways of men, but with Angels in
Heaven or with perfect men on earth.

3. A priest clad in holy garments taketh Christ's place that he
may pray unto God with all supplication and humility for himself
and for the whole people. He must always remember the Passion of
Christ. He must diligently look upon Christ's footsteps and
fervently endeavour himself to follow them. He must bear meekly
for God whatsoever ills are brought upon him by others. He must
mourn for his own sins, and for the sins committed by others, and
may not grow careless of prayer and holy oblation, until he
prevail to obtain grace and mercy. When the priest celebrateth,
he honoureth God, giveth joy to the Angels, buildeth up the
Church, helpeth the living, hath communion with the departed, and
maketh himself a partaker of all good things.


An inquiry concerning preparation for Communion

The Voice of the Disciple

When I consider Thy dignity, O Lord, and mine own vileness, I
tremble very exceedingly, and am confounded within myself. For
if I approach not, I fly from life; and if I intrude myself
unworthily, I run into Thy displeasure. What then shall I do, O
my God, Thou helper and Counsellor in necessities.

2. Teach Thou me the right way; propound unto me some short
exercise befitting Holy Communion. For it is profitable to know
how I ought to prepare my heart devoutly and reverently for Thee,
to the intent that I may receive Thy Sacrament to my soul's
health [or it may be also for the celebrating this so great and
divine mystery].


Of the examination of conscience, and purpose of amendment

The Voice of the Beloved

Above all things the priest of God must draw nigh, with all
humility of heart and supplicating reverence, with full faith and
pious desire for the honour of God, to celebrate, minister, and
receive this Sacrament. Diligently examine thy conscience and
with all thy might with true contrition and humble confession
cleanse and purify it, so that thou mayest feel no burden, nor
know anything which bringeth thee remorse and impedeth thy free
approach. Have displeasure against all thy sins in general, and
specially sorrow and mourn because of thy daily transgressions.
And if thou have time, confess unto God in the secret of thine
heart, all miseries of thine own passion.

2. Lament grievously and be sorry, because thou art still so
carnal and worldly, so unmortified from thy passions, so full of
the motion of concupiscence, so unguarded in thine outward
senses, so often entangled in many vain fancies, so much inclined
to outward things, so negligent of internal; so ready to laughter
and dissoluteness, so unready to weeping and contrition; so prone
to ease and indulgence of the flesh, so dull to zeal and fervour;
so curious to hear novelties and behold beauties, so loth to
embrace things humble and despised; so desirous to have many
things, so grudging in giving, so close in keeping; so
inconsiderate in speaking, so reluctant to keep silence; so
disorderly in manners, so inconsiderate in actions; so eager
after food, so deaf towards the Word of God; so eager after rest,
so slow to labour; so watchful after tales, so sleepy towards
holy watchings; so eager for the end of them, so wandering in
attention to them; so negligent in observing the hours of prayer,
so lukewarm in celebrating, so unfruitful in communicating; so
quickly distracted, so seldom quite collected with thyself; so
quickly moved to anger, so ready for displeasure at others; so
prone to judging, so severe at reproving; so joyful in
prosperity, so weak in adversity; so often making many good
resolutions and bringing them to so little effect.

3. When thou hast confessed and bewailed these and thy other
shortcomings, with sorrow and sore displeasure at thine own
infirmity, make then a firm resolution of continual amendment of
life and of progress in all that is good. Then moreover with
full resignation and entire will offer thyself to the honour of
My name on the altar of thine heart as a perpetual whole
burnt-offering, even by faithfully presenting thy body and soul
unto Me, to the end that thou mayest so be accounted worthy to
draw near to offer this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to
God, and to receive the Sacrament of My Body and Blood to thy
soul's health. For there is no oblation worthier, no
satisfaction greater for the destroying of sin, than that a man
offer himself to God purely and entirely with the oblation of
the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Communion. If a man
shall have done what in him lieth, and shall repent him truly,
then how often soever he shall draw nigh unto Me for pardon and
grace, As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death
of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted, and live.
All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be
mentioned unto him.(1)

(1) Ezekiel xviii. 22, 23.


Of the oblation of Christ upon the cross, and of resignation of

The Voice of the Beloved

As I of my own will offered myself unto God the Father on the
Cross for thy sins with outstretched hands and naked body, so
that nothing remained in Me that did not become altogether a
sacrifice for the Divine propitiation; so also oughtest thou
every day to offer thyself willingly unto Me for a pure and holy
oblation with all thy strength and affections, even to the utmost
powers of thine heart. What more do I require of thee than thou
study to resign thyself altogether unto Me? Whatsoever thou givest
besides thyself, I nothing care for, for I ask not thy gift, but

2. As it would not be sufficient for thee if thou hadst all
things except Me, even so whatsoever thou shalt give Me, if thou
give Me not thyself, it cannot please Me. Offer thyself to Me,
and give thyself altogether for God, so shall thy offering be
accepted. Behold I offered Myself altogether to the Father for
thee, I give also My whole body and blood for food, that thou
mightest remain altogether Mine and I thine. But if thou stand
in thyself, and offer not thyself freely to My will, thy offering
is not perfect, neither shall the union betwixt us be complete.
Therefore ought the freewill offering of thyself into the hands
of God to go before all thy works, if thou wilt attain liberty
and grace. For this is the cause that so few are inwardly
enlightened and made free, that they know not how to deny
themselves entirely. My word standeth sure, Except a man forsake
all, he cannot be My disciple.(1) Thou therefore, if thou wilt
be My disciple, offer thyself to Me with all thy affections.

(1) Luke xiv. 33.


That we ought to offer ourselves and all that is ours to God, and
to pray for all

The Voice of the Disciple

Lord, all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine.(1) I
desire to offer myself up unto thee as a freewill offering, and
to continue Thine for ever. Lord, in the uprightness of mine
heart I willingly offer(2) myself to Thee to-day to be Thy
servant for ever, in humble submission and for a sacrifice of
perpetual praise. Receive me with this holy Communion of Thy
precious Body, which I celebrate before Thee this day in the
presence of the Angels invisibly surrounding, that it may be for
the salvation of me and of all Thy people.

2. Lord, I lay before Thee at this celebration all my sins and
offences which I have committed before Thee and Thy holy Angels,
from the day whereon I was first able to sin even unto this hour;
that Thou mayest consume and burn them every one with the fire of
Thy charity, and mayest do away all the stains of my sins, and
cleanse my conscience from all offence, and restore me to Thy
favour which by sinning I have lost, fully forgiving me all, and
mercifully admitting me to the kiss of peace.

3. What can I do concerning my sins, save humbly to confess and
lament them and unceasingly to beseech Thy propitiation? I
beseech Thee, be propitious unto me and hear me, when I stand
before Thee, O my God. All my sins displease me grievously: I
will never more commit them; but I grieve for them and will grieve
so long as I live, steadfastly purposing to repent me truly, and
to make restitution as far as I can. Forgive, O God, forgive me
my sins for Thy holy Name's sake; save my soul, which Thou hast
redeemed with Thy precious blood. Behold I commit myself to Thy
mercy, I resign myself to Thy hands. Deal with me according to
Thy loving-kindness, not according to my wickedness and iniquity.

4. I offer also unto Thee all my goodness, though it is
exceedingly little and imperfect, that Thou mayest mend and
sanctify it, that Thou mayest make it well pleasing and
acceptable in Thy sight, and ever draw it on towards perfection;
and furthermore bring me safely, slothful and useless poor
creature that I am, to a happy and blessed end.

5. Moreover I offer unto Thee all pious desires of the devout,
necessities of parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and all who
are dear to me, and of those who have done good to me, or to
others for Thy love; and those who have desired and besought my
prayers for themselves and all belonging to them; that all may
feel themselves assisted by Thy grace, enriched by consolation,
protected from dangers, freed from pains; and that being
delivered from all evils they may joyfully give Thee exceeding

6. I offer also to Thee prayers and Sacramental intercessions for
those specially who have injured me in aught, made me sad, or
spoken evil concerning me, or have caused me any loss or
displeasure; for all those also whom I have at any time made sad,
disturbed, burdened, and scandalized, by words or deeds,
knowingly or ignorantly; that to all of us alike, Thou mayest
equally pardon our sins and mutual offences. Take away, O Lord,
from our hearts all suspicion, indignation, anger, and
contention, and whatsoever is able to injure charity and diminish
brotherly love. Have mercy, have mercy, Lord, on those who
entreat Thy mercy; give grace to the needy; and make us such that
we may be worthy to enjoy Thy grace, and go forward to the life
eternal. Amen.

(1) 1 Chronicles xxix. 11. (2) 1 Chronicles xxix. 17.


That Holy Communion is not lightly to be omitted

The Voice of the Beloved

Thou must frequently betake thee to the Fountain of grace and
divine mercy, to the Fountain of goodness and all purity; to the
end that thou mayest obtain the healing of thy passions and
vices, and mayest be made stronger and more watchful against all
temptations and wiles of the devil. The enemy, knowing what
profit and exceeding strong remedy lieth in the Holy Communion,
striveth by all means and occasions to draw back and hinder the
faithful and devout, so far as he can.

2. For when some set about to prepare themselves for Holy
Communion, they suffer from the more evil suggestions of Satan.
The very evil spirit himself (as is written in Job), cometh among
the sons of God that he may trouble them by his accustomed evil
dealing, or make them over timid and perplexed; to the intent
that he may diminish their affections, or take away their faith
by his attacks, if haply he may prevail upon them to give up Holy
Communion altogether, or to come thereto with lukewarm hearts.
But his wiles and delusions must not be heeded, howsoever wicked
and terrible they be; but all his delusion must be cast back upon
his own head. The wretch must be despised and laughed to scorn:
neither must Holy Communion be omitted because of his insults and
the inward troubles which he stirreth up.

3. Often also too much carefulness or some anxiety or other
touching confession hindereth from obtaining devotion. Do thou
according to the counsel of wise men, and lay aside anxiety and
scruple, because it hindereth the grace of God and destroyeth
devotion of mind. Because of some little vexation or trouble do
not thou neglect Holy Communion, but rather hasten to confess it,
and forgive freely all offences committed against thee. And if
thou hast offended any man, humbly beg for pardon, and God shall
freely forgive thee.

4. What profiteth it to put off for long time the confession of
thy sins, or to defer Holy Communion? Cleanse thyself forthwith,
spit out the poison with all speed, hasten to take the remedy,
and thou shalt feel thyself better than if thou didst long defer
it. If to-day thou defer it on one account, to-morrow perchance
some greater obstacle will come, and so thou mayest be long time
hindered from Communion and become more unfit. As soon as thou
canst, shake thyself from thy present heaviness and sloth, for it
profiteth nothing to be long anxious, to go long on thy way with
heaviness of heart, and because of daily little obstacles to
sever thyself from divine things: nay it is exceeding hurtful to
defer thy Communion long, for this commonly bringeth on great
torpor. Alas! there are some, lukewarm and undisciplined, who
willingly find excuses for delaying repentance, and desire to
defer Holy Communion, lest they should be bound to keep stricter
watch upon themselves.

5. Alas! how little charity, what flagging devotion, have they
who so lightly put off Holy Communion. How happy is he, how
acceptable to God, who so liveth, and in such purity of conscience
keepeth himself, that any day he could be ready and well inclined
to communicate, if it were in his power, and might be done without
the notice of others. If a man sometimes abstaineth for the sake
of humility or some sound cause, he is to be commended for his
reverence. But if drowsiness have taken hold of him, he ought
to rouse himself and to do what in him lieth; and the Lord will
help his desire for the good will which he hath, which God
specially approveth.

6. But when he is hindered by sufficient cause, yet will he ever
have a good will and pious intention to communicate; and so he
shall not be lacking in the fruit of the Sacrament. For any
devout man is able every day and every hour to draw near to
spiritual communion with Christ to his soul's health and without
hindrance. Nevertheless on certain days and at the appointed
time he ought to receive the Body and Blood of his Redeemer with
affectionate reverence, and rather to seek after the praise and
honour of God, than his own comfort. For so often doth he
communicate mystically, and is invisibly refreshed, as he
devoutly calleth to mind the mystery of Christ's incarnation and
His Passion, and is inflamed with the love of Him.

7. He who only prepareth himself when a festival is at hand or
custom compelleth, will too often be unprepared. Blessed is he
who offereth himself to God for a whole burnt-offering, so often
as he celebrateth or communicateth! Be not too slow nor too
hurried in thy celebrating, but preserve the good received custom
of those with whom thou livest. Thou oughtest not to produce
weariness and annoyance in others, but to observe the received
custom, according to the institution of the elders; and to
minister to the profit of others rather than to thine own
devotion or feeling.


That the Body and Blood of Christ and the Holy Scriptures are
most necessary to a faithful soul

The Voice of the Disciple

O most sweet Lord Jesus, how great is the blessedness of the
devout soul that feedeth with Thee in Thy banquet, where there is
set before it no other food than Thyself its only Beloved, more
to be desired than all the desires of the heart? And to me it
would verily be sweet to pour forth my tears in Thy presence from
the very bottom of my heart, and with the pious Magdalene to
water Thy feet with my tears. But where is this devotion? Where
the abundant flowing of holy tears? Surely in Thy presence and
in the presence of the holy Angels my whole heart ought to burn
and to weep for joy; for I have Thee in the Sacrament verily
present, although hidden under other form.

2. For in Thine own Divine brightness, mine eyes could not endure
to behold Thee, neither could the whole world stand before the
splendour of the glory of Thy Majesty. In this therefore Thou
hast consideration unto my weakness, that Thou hidest Thyself
under the Sacrament. I verily possess and adore Him whom the
Angels adore in heaven; I yet for a while by faith, but they by
sight and without a veil. It is good for me to be content with
the light of true faith, and to walk therein until the day of
eternal brightness dawn, and the shadows of figures flee away.(1)
But when that which is perfect is come, the using of Sacraments
shall cease, because the Blessed in heavenly glory have no need
of Sacramental remedy. For they rejoice unceasingly in the
presence of God, beholding His glory face to face, and being
changed from glory to glory(2) of the infinite God, they taste
the Word of God made flesh, as He was in the beginning and
remaineth for everlasting.

3. When I think on these wondrous things, even spiritual comfort
whatsoever it be becometh sore weariness to me; for so long as I
see not openly my Lord in His own Glory, I count for nothing all
which I behold and hear in the world. Thou, O God, art my
witness that nothing is able to comfort me, no creature is able
to give me rest, save Thou, O my God, whom I desire to
contemplate everlastingly. But this is not possible, so long as
I remain in this mortal state. Therefore ought I to set myself
unto great patience, and submit myself unto Thee in every desire.
For even Thy Saints, O Lord, who now rejoice with Thee in the
kingdom of heaven, waited for the coming of Thy glory whilst they
lived here, in faith and great glory. What they believed, that
believe I; what they hoped, I hope; whither they have attained
to, thither through Thy grace hope I to come. I will walk
meanwhile in faith, strengthened by the examples of the Saints.
I will have also holy books for comfort and for a mirror of life,
and above them all Thy most holy Body and Blood shall be
for me a special remedy and refuge.

4. For two things do I feel to be exceedingly necessary to me in
this life, without which this miserable life would be intolerable
to me; being detained in the prison of this body, I confess that
I need two things, even food and light. Thou hast therefore
given to me who am so weak, Thy sacred Body and Blood, for the
refreshing of my soul and body, and hast set Thy Word for a
lantern to my feet.(3) Without these two I could not properly
live; for the Word of God is the light of my soul, and Thy
Sacrament the bread of life. These may also be called the two
tables, placed on this side and on that, in the treasury of Thy
holy Church. One table is that of the Sacred Altar, bearing the
holy bread, that is the precious Body and Blood of Christ; the
other is the table of the Divine Law, containing holy doctrine,
teaching the true faith, and leading steadfastly onwards even to
that which is within the veil, where the Holy of Holies is.

5. Thanks be unto Thee, O Lord Jesus, Light of Light everlasting,
for that table of holy doctrine which Thou has furnished unto us
by Thy servants the Prophets and Apostles and other teachers.
Thanks be to Thee, O Creator and Redeemer of men, who to make
known Thy love to the whole world has prepared a great supper, in
which Thou hast set forth for good not the typical lamb, but
Thine own most Holy Body and Blood; making all Thy faithful ones
joyful with this holy banquet and giving them to drink the cup of
salvation, wherein are all the delights of Paradise, and the holy
Angels do feed with us, and with yet happier sweetness.

6. Oh how great and honourable is the office of the priests, to
whom it is given to consecrate the Sacrament of the Lord of
majesty with holy words, to bless it with the lips, to hold it in
their hands, to receive it with their own mouth, and to
administer it to others! Oh how clean ought those hands to be,
how pure the mouth, how holy the body, how unspotted the heart of
the priest, to whom so often the Author of purity entereth in!
From the mouth of the priest ought naught to proceed but what is
holy, what is honest and profitable, because he so often
receiveth the Sacrament of Christ.

7. His eyes ought to be single and pure, seeing they are wont to
look upon the Body of Christ; the hands should be pure and lifted
towards heaven, which are wont to hold within them the Creator
of heaven and earth. To priests is it specially said in the Law,
Be ye holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.(4)

8. Assist us with Thy grace, O Almighty God, that we who have
taken upon us the priestly office, may be able to converse
worthily and devoutly with Thee in all purity and good
conscience. And if we are not able to have our conversation in
such innocency of life as we ought, yet grant unto us worthily to
lament the sins which we have committed, and in the spirit of
humility and full purpose of a good will, to serve Thee more
earnestly for the future.

(1) Cant. ii. 17. (2) 2 Corinthians iii. 18.
(3) Psalm cxix. 105. (4) Leviticus xix. 2.


That he who is about to Communicate with Christ ought to prepare
himself with great diligence

The Voice of the Beloved

I am the Lover of purity, and Giver of sanctity. I seek a pure
heart, and there is the place of My rest. Prepare for Me the
larger upper room furnished, and I will keep the Passover at thy
house with my disciples.(1) If thou wilt that I come unto thee
and abide with thee, purge out the old leaven,(2) and cleanse the
habitation of thy heart. Shut out the whole world, and all the
throng of sins; sit as a sparrow alone upon the house-top,(3) and
think upon thy transgressions with bitterness of thy soul. For
everyone that loveth prepareth the best and fairest place for his
beloved, because hereby the affection of him that entertaineth
his beloved is known.

2. Yet know thou that thou canst not make sufficient preparation
out of the merit of any action of thine, even though thou
shouldest prepare thyself for a whole year, and hadst nothing
else in thy mind. But out of My tenderness and grace alone art
thou permitted to draw nigh unto My table; as though a beggar
were called to a rich man's dinner, and had no other recompense
to offer him for the benefits done unto him, but to humble
himself and to give him thanks. Do therefore as much as lieth in
thee, and do it diligently, not of custom, nor of necessity, but
with fear, reverence, and affection, receive the Body of thy
beloved Lord God, who vouchsafeth to come unto thee. I am He who
hath called thee; I commanded it to be done; I will supply what
is lacking to thee; come and receive Me.

3. When I give the grace of devotion, give thanks unto thy God;
it is not because thou art worthy, but because I had mercy on
thee. If thou hast not devotion, but rather feelest thyself dry,
be instant in prayer, cease not to groan and knock; cease not
until thou prevail to obtain some crumb or drop of saving grace.
Thou hast need of Me, I have no need of thee. Nor dost thou come
to sanctify Me, but I come to sanctify thee and make thee better.
Thou comest that thou mayest be sanctified by Me, and be united
to Me; that thou mayest receive fresh grace, and be kindled anew
to amendment of life. See that thou neglect not this grace, but
prepare thy heart with all diligence, and receive thy Beloved
unto thee.

4. But thou oughtest not only to prepare thyself for devotion
before Communion, thou must also keep thyself with all diligence
therein after receiving the Sacrament; nor is less watchfulness
needed afterwards, than devout preparation beforehand: for good
watchfulness afterwards becometh in turn the best preparation for
the gaining more grace. For hereby is a man made entirely
indisposed to good, if he immediately return from Communion to
give himself up to outward consolations. Beware of much
speaking; remain in a secret place, and hold communion with thy
God; for thou hast Him whom the whole world cannot take away from
thee. I am He to whom thou oughtest wholly to give thyself; so
that now thou mayest live not wholly in thyself, but in Me, free
from all anxiety.

(1) Mark xiv. 14, 15. (2) 1 Corinthians v. 7.
(3) Psalm cii. 7.


That the devout soul ought with the whole heart to yearn after
union with Christ in the Sacrament

The Voice of the Disciple

Who shall grant unto me, O Lord, that I may find Thee alone, and
open all my heart unto Thee, and enjoy Thee as much as my soul
desireth; and that no man may henceforth look upon me, nor any
creature move me or have respect unto me, but Thou alone speak
unto me and I unto Thee, even as beloved is wont to speak unto
beloved, and friend to feast with friend? For this do I pray,
this do I long for, that I may be wholly united unto Thee, and
may withdraw my heart from all created things, and by means of
Holy Communion and frequent celebration may learn more and more
to relish heavenly and eternal things. Ah, Lord God, when shall
I be entirely united and lost in Thee, and altogether forgetful
of myself? Thou in me, and I in Thee;(1) even so grant that we
may in like manner continue together in one.

2. Verily Thou art my Beloved, the choicest among ten
thousand,(2) in whom my soul delighteth to dwell all the days of
her life. Verily Thou art my Peacemaker, in Whom is perfect
peace and true rest, apart from Whom is labour and sorrow and
infinite misery. Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, and
Thy counsel is not with the wicked, but Thy Word is with the
humble and the simple. O how sweet, O Lord, is Thy spirit, who
that Thou mightest manifest Thy sweetness towards Thy children,
dost vouchsafe to refresh them with the bread which is full of
sweetness, which cometh down from heaven. Verily there is no
other nation so great, which hath its gods drawing nigh to them,
as Thou, our God, art present unto all Thy faithful ones,(3) unto
whom for their daily solace, and for lifting up their heart unto
heaven, Thou givest Thyself for their food and delight.

3. For what other nation is there so renowned as the Christian
people? Or what creature is so beloved under heaven as the
devout soul to which God entereth in, that he may feed it with
His glorious flesh? O unspeakable grace! O wonderful
condescension! O immeasurable love specially bestowed upon men!
But what reward shall I give unto the Lord for this grace, for
charity so mighty? There is nothing which I am able to present
more acceptable than to give my heart altogether unto God, and to
join it inwardly to Him. Then all my inward parts shall rejoice,
when my soul shall be perfectly united unto God. Then shall He
say unto me, "If thou wilt be with Me, I will be with thee." And
I will answer Him, "Vouchsafe, O Lord, to abide with me, I will
gladly be with Thee; this is my whole desire, even that my heart
be united unto Thee."

(1) John xv. 4. (2) Cant. v. 10. (3) Deuteronomy iv. 7.


Of the fervent desire of certain devout persons to receive the
Body and Blood of Christ

The Voice of the Disciple

O how great is the abundance of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou
hast laid up for them that fear Thee. When I call to mind some
devout persons who draw nigh to Thy Sacrament, O Lord, with the
deepest devotion and affection, then very often I am confounded
in myself and blush for shame, that I approach Thine altar and
table of Holy Communion so carelessly and coldly, that I remain
so dry and without affection, that I am not wholly kindled with
love before Thee, my God, nor so vehemently drawn and affected as
many devout persons have been, who out of the very earnest desire
of the Communion, and tender affection of heart, could not
refrain from weeping, but as it were with mouth of heart and body
alike panted inwardly after Thee, O God, O Fountain of Life,
having no power to appease or satiate their hunger, save by
receiving Thy Body with all joyfulness and spiritual eagerness.

2. O truly ardent faith of those, becoming a very proof of Thy
Sacred Presence! For they verily know their Lord in the breaking
of bread, whose heart so ardently burneth within them(1) when
Jesus walketh with them by the way. Ah me! far from me for the
most part is such love and devotion as this, such vehement love
and ardour. Be merciful unto me, O Jesus, good, sweet, and kind,
and grant unto Thy poor suppliant to feel sometimes, in Holy
Communion, though it be but a little, the cordial affection of
Thy love, that my faith may grow stronger, my hope in Thy
goodness increase, and my charity, once kindled within me by the
tasting of the heavenly manna, may never fail.

3. But Thy mercy is able even to grant me the grace which I long
for, and to visit me most tenderly with the spirit of fervour
when the day of Thy good pleasure shall come. For, although I
burn not with desire so vehement as theirs who are specially
devout towards Thee, yet, through Thy grace, I have a desire
after that greatly inflamed desire, praying and desiring to be
made partaker with all those who so fervently love Thee, and to
be numbered among their holy company.

(1) Luke xxiv. 32.


That the grace of devotion is acquired by humility and

The Voice of the Beloved

Thou oughtest to seek earnestly the grace of devotion, to ask it
fervently, to wait for it patiently and faithfully, to receive it
gratefully, to preserve it humbly, to work with it diligently,
and to leave to God the time and manner of heavenly visitation
until it come. Chiefly oughtest thou to humble thyself when thou
feelest inwardly little or no devotion, yet not to be too much
cast down, nor to grieve out of measure. God ofttimes giveth in
one short moment what He hath long time denied; He sometimes
giveth at the end what at the beginning of prayer He hath
deferred to give.

2. If grace were always given immediately, and were at hand at
the wish, it would be hardly bearable to weak man. Wherefore the
grace of devotion is to be waited for with a good hope and with
humble patience. Yet impute it to thyself and to thy sins when
it is not given, or when it is mysteriously taken away. It is
sometimes a small thing which hindereth and hideth grace; (if
indeed that ought to be called small and not rather great, which
hindereth so great a good); but if thou remove this, be it small
or great, and perfectly overcome it, thou wilt have what thou
hast asked.

3. For immediately that thou hast given thyself unto God with all
thine heart, and hast sought neither this nor that according to
thine own will and pleasure, but hast altogether settled thyself
in Him, thou shalt find thyself united and at peace; because
nothing shall give thee so sweet relish and delight, as the good
pleasure of the Divine will. Whosoever therefore shall have
lifted up his will unto God with singleness of heart, and shall
have delivered himself from every inordinate love or dislike of
any created thing, he will be the most fit for receiving grace,
and worthy of the gift of devotion. For where the Lord findeth
empty vessels,(1) there giveth He His blessing. And the more
perfectly a man forsaketh things which cannot profit, and the
more he dieth to himself, the more quickly doth grace come, the
more plentifully doth it enter in, and the higher doth it lift up
the free heart.

4. Then shall he see, and flow together, and wonder, and his
heart shall be enlarged within him,(2) because the hand of the
Lord is with him, and he hath put himself wholly in His hand,
even for ever. Lo, thus shall the man be blessed, that seeketh
God with all his heart, and receiveth not his soul in vain. This
man in receiving the Holy Eucharist obtaineth the great grace of
Divine Union; because he hath not regard to his own devotion and
comfort, but, above all devotion and comfort, to the glory and
honour of God.

(1) 2 Kings iv. (2) Isaiah lx. 5.


That we ought to lay open our necessities to Christ and to
require His Grace

The Voice of the Disciple

O most sweet and loving Lord, whom now I devoutly desire to
receive, Thou knowest my infirmity and the necessity which I
suffer, in what evils and vices I lie; how often I am weighed
down, tempted, disturbed, and defiled. I come unto Thee for
remedy, I beseech of Thee consolation and support. I speak unto
Thee who knowest all things, to whom all my secrets are open, and
who alone art able perfectly to comfort and help me. Thou
knowest what good thing I most stand in need of, and how poor I
am in virtues.

2. Behold, I stand poor and naked before Thee, requiring grace,
and imploring mercy. Refresh the hungry suppliant, kindle my
coldness with the fire of Thy love, illuminate my blindness with
the brightness of Thy presence. Turn thou all earthly things
into bitterness for me, all grievous and contrary things into
patience, all things worthless and created into contempt and
oblivion. Lift up my heart unto Thee in Heaven, and suffer me
not to wander over the earth. Be Thou alone sweet unto me from
this day forward for ever, because Thou alone art my meat and
drink, my love and joy, my sweetness and my whole good.

3. Oh that Thou wouldest altogether by Thy presence, kindle,
consume, and transform me into Thyself; that I may be made one
spirit with Thee, by the grace of inward union, and the melting
of earnest love! Suffer me not to go away from Thee hungry and
dry; but deal mercifully with me, as oftentimes Thou hast dealt
wondrously with Thy saints. What marvel if I should be wholly
kindled from Thee, and in myself should utterly fail, since Thou
art fire always burning and never failing, love purifying the
heart and enlightening the understanding.


Of fervent love and vehement desire of receiving Christ

The Voice of the Disciple

With the deepest devotion and fervent love, with all affection
and fervour of heart, I long to receive Thee, O Lord, even as many
Saints and devout persons have desired Thee in communicating, who
were altogether well pleasing to Thee by their sanctity of life,
and dwelt in all ardent devotion. O my God, Eternal Love, my
whole Good, Happiness without measure, I long to receive Thee
with the most vehement desire and becoming reverence which any
Saint ever had or could have.

2. And although I be unworthy to have all those feelings of
devotion, yet do I offer Thee the whole affection of my heart,
even as though I alone had all those most grateful inflamed
desires. Yea, also, whatsoever things a pious mind is able to
conceive and long for, all these with the deepest veneration and
inward fervour do I offer and present unto Thee. I desire to
reserve nothing unto myself, but freely and entirely to offer
myself and all that I have unto Thee for a sacrifice. O Lord my
God, my Creator and Redeemer! with such affection, reverence,
praise, and honour, with such gratitude, worthiness, and love,
with such faith, hope, and purity do I desire to receive Thee
this day, as Thy most blessed Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary,
received and desired Thee, when she humbly and devoutly answered
the Angel who brought unto her the glad tidings of the mystery of
the Incarnation. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me
according to thy word.(1)

3. And as Thy blessed forerunner, the most excellent of Saints,
John Baptist, being full of joy in Thy presence, leapt while yet
in the womb of his mother, for joy in the Holy Ghost; and
afterwards discerning Jesus walking amongst men, humbled himself
exceedingly, and said, with devout affection, The friend of the
bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly
because of the bridegroom's voice;(2) even so I wish to be
inflamed with great and holy desires, and to present myself unto
Thee with my whole heart. Whence also, on behalf of myself and
of all commended to me in prayer, I offer and present unto Thee
the jubilation of all devout hearts, their ardent affections,
their mental ecstasies, and supernatural illuminations and
heavenly visions, with all the virtues and praises celebrated and
to be celebrated by every creature in heaven and earth; to the
end that by all Thou mayest worthily be praised and glorified for

4. Receive my prayers, O Lord my God, and my desires of giving
Thee infinite praise and unbounded benediction, which, according
to the multitude of Thine unspeakable greatness, are most justly
due unto Thee. These do I give Thee, and desire to give every
day and every moment; and with beseechings and affectionate
desires I call upon all celestial spirits and all Thy faithful
people to join with me in rendering Thee thanks and praises.

5. Let all peoples, nations, and tongues praise Thee, and magnify
Thy holy and sweet-sounding Name, with highest jubilations and
ardent devotion. And let all who reverently and devoutly
celebrate Thy most high Sacrament, and receive it with full
assurance of faith, be accounted worthy to find grace and mercy
with Thee, and intercede with all supplication for me a sinner;
and when they shall have attained unto their wished-for devotion
and joyous union with Thee, and shall depart full of comfort and
wondrously refreshed from Thy holy, heavenly table, let them
vouchsafe to be mindful of me, for I am poor and needy.

(1) Luke i. 38. (2) John iii. 29.


That a man should not be a curious searcher of the Sacrament, but
a humble imitator of Christ, submitting his sense to holy faith

The Voice of the Beloved

Thou must take heed of curious and useless searching into this
most profound Sacrament, if thou wilt not be plunged into the
abyss of doubt. He that is a searcher of Majesty shall be
oppressed by the glory thereof.(1) God is able to do more than
man can understand. A pious and humble search after truth is to
be allowed, when it is always ready to be taught, and striving
to walk after the wholesome opinions of the fathers.

2. Blessed is the simplicity which leaveth alone the difficult
paths of questionings, and followeth the plain and firm steps of
God's commandments. Many have lost devotion whilst they sought
to search into deeper things. Faith is required of thee, and a
sincere life, not loftiness of intellect, nor deepness in the
mysteries of God. If thou understandest not nor comprehendest
the things which are beneath thee, how shalt thou comprehend
those which are above thee? Submit thyself unto God, and humble
thy sense to faith, and the light of knowledge shall be given
thee, as shall be profitable and necessary unto thee.

3. There are some who are grievously tempted concerning faith and
the Sacrament; but this is not to be imputed to themselves but
rather to the enemy. Care not then for this, dispute not with
thine own thoughts, nor make answer to the doubts which are cast
into thee by the devil; but believe the words of God, believe His
Saints and Prophets, and the wicked enemy shall flee from thee.
Often it profiteth much, that the servant of God endureth such
things. For the enemy tempteth not unbelievers and sinners,
because he already hath secure possession of them; but he
tempteth and harasseth the faithful and devout by various means.

4. Go forward therefore with simple and undoubting faith, and
draw nigh unto the Sacrament with supplicating reverence. And
whatsoever thou art not enabled to understand, that commit
without anxiety to Almighty God. God deceiveth thee not; he is
deceived who believeth too much in himself. God walketh with the
simple, revealeth Himself to the humble, giveth understanding to
babes, openeth the sense to pure minds, and hideth grace from the
curious and proud. Human reason is weak and may be deceived; but
true faith cannot be deceived.

5. All reason and natural investigation ought to follow faith,
not to precede, nor to break it. For faith and love do here
especially take the highest place, and work in hidden ways in
this most holy and exceeding excellent Sacrament. God who is
eternal and incomprehensible, and of infinite power, doth great
and inscrutable things in heaven and in earth, and His wonderful
works are past finding out. If the works of God were of such
sort that they might easily be comprehended by human reason, they
should no longer be called wonderful or unspeakable.

(1) Proverbs xxv. 27 (Vulg.).

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