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THE IMITATION OF CHRIST

Book Four

by Thomas a Kempis
Translated by Rev. William Benham



THE FOURTH BOOK

OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR

A devout exhortation to the Holy Communion



The Voice of Christ



Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will

refresh you(1), saith the Lord.  The bread that I will give is My

flesh which I give for the life of the world.(2)  Take, eat: this

is My Body, which is given for you; this do in rememberance of

Me.(3)  He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in

Me and I in him.  The words that I speak unto you, they are

spirit, and they are life.(4)



(1) Matthew xi. 28   (2) John vi. 51.

(3) Matthew xxi. 26; Luke xxii. 19.   (4) John vi. 57, 63.





CHAPTER I



With how great reverence Christ must be received



The Voice of the Disciple



These are Thy words, O Christ, Eternal Truth; though not uttered

at one time nor written together in one place of Scripture.

Because therefore they are Thy words and true, I must gratefully

and faithfully receive them all.  They are Thine, and Thou hast

uttered them; and they are mine also, because Thou didst speak

them for my salvation.  Gladly I receive them from Thy mouth,

that they may be more deeply implanted in my heart.  Words of

such great grace arouse me, for they are full of sweetness and

love; but my own sins terrify me, and my impure conscience

driveth me away from receiving so great mysteries.  The sweetness

of Thy words encourageth me, but the multitude of my faults

presseth me down.



2. Thou commandest that I draw near to Thee with firm confidence,

if I would have part with Thee, and that I receive the food of

immortality, if I desire to obtain eternal life and glory.  Come

unto Me, sayest Thou, all that labour and are heavy laden, and I

will refresh you.  Oh, sweet and lovely word in the ear of the

sinner, that Thou, O Lord my God, dost invite the poor and needy

to the Communion of Thy most holy body and blood.  But who am I,

O Lord, that I should presume to approach unto Thee?  Behold the

heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee, and yet Thou sayest, Come

ye all unto Me.



3. What meaneth this most gracious condescension, this most

lovely invitation?  How shall I dare to come, who know no good

thing of myself, whence I might be able to presume?  How shall I

bring Thee within my house, seeing that I so often have sinned in

Thy most loving sight?  Angels and Archangels stand in awe of

Thee, and Thou sayest, Come unto Me!  Except Thou, Lord, hadst

said it, who should believe it true?  And except Thou hadst

commanded, who should attempt to draw near?



4. Behold, Noah, that just man, laboured for a hundred years in

building the ark, that he might be saved with the few; and I, how

shall I be able in one hour to prepare myself to receive the

Builder of the world with reverence?  Moses, Thy servant, Thy

great and especial friend, made an ark of incorruptible wood,

which also he covered with purest gold, that he might lay up in

it the tables of the law, and I, a corruptible creature, shall I

dare thus easily to receive Thee, the Maker of the Law, and the

Giver of life?  Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, was

seven years building his magnificent temple to the praise of Thy

Name, and for eight days celebrated the feast of its dedication,

offered a thousand peace offerings, and solemnly brought up the

Ark of the Covenant to the place prepared for it, with the sound

of trumpets and great joy, and I, unhappy and poorest of mankind,

how shall I bring Thee into my house, who scarce know how to

spend half an hour in devotion?  And oh that it were even one

half hour worthily spent!



5. O my God, how earnestly these holy men strove to please Thee!

And alas! how little and trifling is that which I do! how short

a time do I spend, when I am disposing myself to Communion.

Rarely altogether collected, most rarely cleansed from all

distraction.  And surely in the saving presence of Thy Godhead no

unmeet thought ought to intrude, nor should any creature take

possession of me, because it is not an Angel but the Lord of

Angels, that I am about to receive as my Guest.



6. Yet there is a vast difference between the Ark of the Covenant

with its relics, and Thy most pure Body with its ineffable

virtues, between those sacrifices of the law, which were figures

of things to come, and the true sacrifice of Thy Body, the

completion of all the ancient sacrifices.



7. Wherefore then do I not yearn more ardently after Thy adorable

presence?  Why do I not prepare myself with great solicitude to

receive Thy holy things, when those holy Patriarchs and Prophets

of old, kings also and princes, with the whole people, manifested

so great affection of devotion towards Thy Divine Service?



8. The most devout king David danced with all his might before

the Ark of God, calling to mind the benefits granted to his

forefathers in days past; he fashioned musical instruments of

various sorts, put forth Psalms, and appointed them to be sung

with joy, played also himself ofttimes on the harp, being

inspired with the grace of the Holy Ghost; he taught the people

of Israel to praise God with the whole heart, and with unity of

voice to bless and praise Him every day.  If so great devotion

was then exercised, and celebration of divine praise was carried

on before the Ark of the Testimony, how great reverence and

devotion ought now to be shown by me and all Christian people at

the ministering of the Sacrament, at receiving the most precious

Body and Blood of Christ.



9. Many run to diverse places to visit the memorials of departed

Saints, and rejoice to hear of their deeds and to look upon the

beautiful buildings of their shrines.  And behold, Thou art

present here with me, O my God, Saint of Saints, Creator of men

and Lord of the Angels.  Often in looking at those memorials men

are moved by curiosity and novelty, and very little fruit of

amendment is borne away, especially when there is so much

careless trifling and so little true contrition.  But here in the

Sacrament of the Altar, Thou art present altogether, My God, the

Man Christ Jesus, where also abundant fruit of eternal life is

given to every one soever that receiveth Thee worthily and

devoutly.  But to this no levity draweth, no curiousity, nor

sensuality, only steadfast faith, devout hope, and sincere

charity.



10. O God, invisible Creator of the world, how wondrously dost

Thou work with us, how sweetly and graciously Thou dealest with

Thine elect, to whom Thou offerest Thyself to be received in this

Sacrament!  For this surpasseth all understanding, this specially

draweth the hearts of the devout and enkindleth their affections.

For even thy true faithful ones themselves, who order their whole

life to amendment, oftentimes gain from this most excellent

Sacrament great grace of devotion and love of virtue.



11. Oh admirable and hidden grace of the Sacrament, which only

Christ's faithful ones know, but the faithful and those who serve

sin cannot experience!  In this Sacrament is conferred spiritual

grace, and lost virtue is regained in the soul, and the beauty

which was disfigured by sin returneth again.  So great sometimes

is this grace that out of the fulness of devotion given, not only

the mind but also the weak body feeleth that more strength is

supplied unto it.



12. But greatly must we mourn and lament over our lukewarmness

and negligence, that we are not drawn by greater affection to

become partakers of Christ, in whom all the hope and merit of

those that are to be saved consist.  For He Himself is our

sanctification and redemption.(1)  He is the consolation of

pilgrims and the eternal fruition of the Saints.  Therefore it is

grievously to be lamented that many so little consider this

health-giving mystery, which maketh heaven glad and preserveth

the whole world.  Alas for the blindness and hardness of man's

heart, that he considereth not more this unspeakable gift, and

even slippeth down through the daily use, into carelessness.



13. For if this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in one place

only, and were consecrated only by one priest in the whole world,

with what great desire thinkest thou, would men be affected

towards that place and towards such a priest of God, that they

might behold the divine mysteries celebrated?  But now are many

men made priests and in many places the Sacrament is celebrated,

that the grace and love of God towards men might the more appear,

the more widely the Holy Communion is spread abroad over all the

world.  Thanks be unto Thee, O good Jesus, Eternal Shepherd, who

hast vouchsafed to refresh us, poor and exiled ones, with Thy

precious Body and Blood, and to invite us to partake these holy

mysteries by the invitation from Thine own mouth, saying, Come

unto Me, ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh

you.



(1) 1 Corinthians i. 30.





CHAPTER II



That the greatness and charity of God is shown to men in the

Sacrament



The Voice of the Disciple



Trusting in Thy goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I draw near,

the sick to the Healer, the hungering and thristing to the

Fountain of life, the poverty-stricken to the King of heaven, the

servant to the Lord, the creature to the Creator, the desolate to

my own gentle Comforter.  But whence is this unto me, that Thou

comest unto me?  Who am I that Thou shouldest offer me Thyself?

How doth a sinner dare to appear before Thee?  And how dost thou

vouchsafe to come to the sinner?  Thou knowest Thy servant, and

Thou knowest that he hath in him no good thing for which Thou

shouldest grant him this grace.  I confess therefore mine own

vileness, I acknowledge Thy goodness, I praise Thy tenderness,

and I give Thee thanks for Thine exceeding great love.  For Thou

doest this for Thine own sake, not for my merits, that Thy

goodness may be more manifest unto me, Thy charity more

abundantly poured out upon me, and Thy humility more perfectly

commended unto me.  Therefore because this pleaseth Thee and Thou

hast commanded that thus it shall be, Thy condescension pleaseth

me also; and oh that mine iniquity hinder it not.



2. O most sweet and tender Jesus, what reverence, what giving of

thanks is due to Thee with perpetual praise for the receiving of

Thy sacred Body and Blood, the dignity whereof no man is found

able to express.  But what shall I think upon in this Communion

in approaching my Lord, whom I am not able worthily to honour,

and nevertheless whom I long devoutly to receive?  What shall be

better and more healthful meditation for me, than utter

humiliation of myself before Thee, and exaltation of Thine

infinite goodness towards me?  I praise Thee, O my God, and exalt

Thee for evermore.  I despise myself, and cast myself down before

Thee into the deep of my vileness.



3. Behold, Thou art the Saint of saints and I the refuse of

sinners; behold, Thou stoopest unto me who am not worthy to look

upon Thee; behold, Thou comest unto me, Thou willest to be with

me, Thou invitest me to Thy feast.  Thou willest to give me the

heavenly food and bread of angels to eat; none other, in truth,

than Thyself, The living bread, which didst descend from heaven;

and givest life to the world.(1)



4. Behold, whence this love proceedeth! what manner of

condescenion shineth forth herein.  What great giving of thanks

and praise is due unto Thee for these benefits!  Oh how salutary

and profitable Thy purpose when Thou didst ordain this!  How

sweet and pleasant the feast when Thou didst  give Thyself for

food!  Oh how admirable is thy working, O Lord, how mighty Thy

power, how unspeakable Thy truth!  For Thou didst speak the word,

and all things were made; and this is done which Thou hast

commanded.



5. A thing wonderful, and worthy of faith, and surpassing all the

understanding of man, that Thou, O Lord my God, very God and very

man, givest Thyself altogether to us in a little bread and wine,

and art so our inexhaustible food.  Thou, O Lord of all, who hast

need of nothing, hast willed to dwell in us through Thy

Sacrament.  Preserve my heart and my body undefiled, that with a

joyful and pure conscience I may be able very often to

[celebrate, and](2) receive to my perpetual health.  Thy

mysteries, which Thou hast consecrated and instituted both for

Thine own honour, and for a perpetual memorial.



6. Rejoice, O my soul, and give thanks unto God for so great a

gift and precious consolation, left unto thee in this vale of

tears.  For so oft as thou callest this mystery to mind and

receivest the body of Christ, so often dost thou celebrate the

work of thy redemption, and art made partaker of all the merits

of Christ.  For the charity of Christ never groweth less, and the

greatness of His propitiation is never exhausted.  Therefore, by

continual renewal of thy spirit, thou oughtest to dispose thyself

hereunto and to weigh the great mystery of salvation with

attentive consideration.  So great, new, and joyful ought it to

appear to thee when thou comest to communion, as if on this

self-same day Christ for the first time were descending into the

Virgin's womb and becoming man, or hanging on the cross,

suffering and dying for the salvation of mankind.



(1) John vi. 51.

(2) The words in brackets are only suitable for a priest.





CHAPTER III



That it is profitable to Communicate often



The Voice of the Disciple



Behold I come unto Thee, O Lord, that I may be blessed through

Thy gift, and be made joyful in Thy holy feast which Thou, O God,

of Thy goodness hast prepared for the poor.(1)  Behold in Thee is

all that I can and ought to desire, Thou art my salvation and

redemption, my hope and strength, my honour and glory.  Therefore

rejoice the soul of Thy servant this day, for unto Thee, O Lord

Jesus, do I lift up my soul.(2)  I long now to receive Thee

devoutly and reverently, I desire to bring Thee into my house, so

that with Zacchaeus I may be counted worthy to be blessed by Thee

and numbered among the children of Abraham.  My soul hath an

earnest desire for Thy Body, my heart longeth to be united with

Thee.



2. Give me Thyself and it sufficeth, for besides Thee no

consolation availeth.  Without Thee I cannot be, and without Thy

visitation I have no power to live.  And therefore I must needs

draw nigh unto Thee often, and receive Thee for the healing of my

soul, lest haply I faint by the way if I be deprived of heavenly

food.  For so Thou, most merciful Jesus, preaching to the people

and healing many sick, didst say, I will not send them away

fasting to their own homes, lest they faint by the way.(3)  Deal

therefore now to me in like manner, for Thou left Thyself for the

consolation of the faithful in the Sacrament.  For Thou art the

sweet refreshment of the soul, and he who shall eat Thee worthily

shall be partaker and inheritor of the eternal glory.  Necessary

indeed it is for me, who so often slide backwards and sin, so

quickly wax cold and faint, to renew, cleanse, enkindle myself by

frequent prayers and penitences and receiving of Thy sacred Body

and Blood lest haply by too long abstinence, I fall short of my

holy resolutions.



3. For the imaginations of man's heart are evil from his

youth,(4) and except divine medicine succour him, man slideth

away continually unto the worse.  The Holy Communion therefore

draweth us back from evil, and strengtheneth us for good.  For if

I now be so negligent and lukewarm when I communicate [or

celebrate], how should it be with me, if I receive not this

medicine, and sought not so great a help?  [And though I am not

every day fit nor well prepared to celebrate, I will nevertheless

give diligent heed at due season, to receive the divine

mysteries, and to become partaker of so great grace].  For this

is the one principal consolation of the faithful soul, so long as

it is absent from Thee in mortal body, that being continually

mindful of its God, it receiveth its Beloved with devout spirit.



4. Oh wonderful condescension of Thy pity surrounding us, that

Thou, O Lord God, Creator and Quickener of all spirits, deignest

to come unto a soul so poor and weak, and to appease its hunger

with Thy whole Diety and Humanity.  Oh happy mind and blessed

soul, to which is granted devoutly to receive Thee its Lord God,

and in so receiving Thee to be filled with all spiritul joy!  Oh

how great a Lord doth it entertain, how beloved a Guest doth it

bring in, how delightful a Companion doth it receive, how

faithful a Friend doth it welcome, how beautiful and exalted a

Spouse, above every other Beloved, doth it embrace, One to be

loved above all things that can be desired!  O my most sweet

Beloved, let heaven and earth and all the glory of them, be

silent in Thy presence; seeing whatsoever praise and beauty they

have it is of Thy gracious bounty; and they shall never reach

unto the loveliness of Thy Name, Whose Wisdom is infinite.(5)



(1) Psalm lxviii. 10.   (2) Psalm lxxxvi. 4.

(3) Matthew xv. 32.   (4) Genesis viii. 21.

(5) Psalm cxlvii. 5.





CHAPTER IV



That many good gifts are bestowed upon those who Communicate

devoutly



The Voice of the Disciple



O Lord my God, prevent Thou Thy servant with the blessings of Thy

sweetness, that I may be enabled to draw near worthily and

devoutly to Thy glorious Sacrament.  Awaken my heart towards

Thee, and deliver me from heavy slumber.  Visit me with Thy

salvation that I may in spirit taste Thy sweetness, which

plentifully lieth hid in this Sacrament as in a fountain.

Lighten also mine eyes to behold this so great mystery, and

strengthen me that I may believe it with undoubting faith.  For

it is Thy word, not human power; it is Thy holy institution, not

the invention of man.  For no man is found fit in himself to

receive and to understand these things, which transcend even the

wisdom of the Angels.  What portion then shall I, unworthy

sinner, who am but dust and ashes, be able to search into and

comprehend of so deep a Sacrament?



2. O Lord, in the simplicity of my heart, in good and firm faith,

and according to Thy will, I draw nigh unto Thee with hope and

reverence, and truly believe that Thou art here present in the

Sacrament, God and man.  Thou willest therefore that I receive

Thee and unite myself to Thee in charity.  Wherefore I beseech

Thy mercy, and implore Thee to give me Thy special grace, to this

end, that I may be wholly dissolved and overflow with love

towards Thee, and no more suffer any other consolation to enter

into me.  For this most high and most glorious Sacrament is the

health of the soul and the body, the medicine of all spiritual

sickness, whereby I am healed of my sins, my passions are

bridled, temptations are conquered or weakened, more grace is

poured into me, virtue begun is increased, faith is made firm,

hope is strengtened, and charity is enkindled and enlarged.



3. For in this Sacrament Thou hast bestowed many good things and

still bestowest them continually on Thine elect who communicate

devoutly, O my God, Lifter up of my soul, Repairer of human

infirmity, and Giver of all inward consolation.  For Thou pourest

into them much consolation against all sorts of tribulation, and

out of the deep of their own misery Thou liftest them up to the

hope of Thy protection, and with ever new grace, dost inwardly

refresh and enlighten them; so that they who felt themselves to

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 thrist, 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.





CHAPTER V



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 to

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 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.





CHAPTER VI



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].





CHAPTER VII



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 is 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 faitfully 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.





CHAPTER VIII



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

self



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

of thine heart.  What more do I require of thee than thou study

to resign thyself altogether to Me?  Whatsoever thou givest

besides thyself, I nothing care for, for I ask not thy gift, but

thee.



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. 32.





CHAPTER IX



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.(2)  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(3) 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,

for 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 beseech Thy propitiation?  I beseech

Thee, be propitious unto me and hear me, when I stand before

Thee, O my God.  All me 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

thanks.



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 ours 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.



(2) 1 Chronicles xxix. 11.   (3) 1 Chronicles xxix. 17.





CHAPTER X



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 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 undiscplined, 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, 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 called to mind the mystery of Christ's incarnation and

His Passions, 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 of 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.





CHAPTER XI



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 for, 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 to 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 entered 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

up 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.





CHAPTER XII



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 night 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 command 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) Psalms cii. 7.





CHAPTER XIII



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 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.





CHAPTER XIV



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 the 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.





CHAPTER XV



That the grace of devotion is acquired by humility and

self-denial



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 not 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.





CHAPTER XVI



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.





CHAPTER XVII



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; let it be 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 affection,

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

ever.



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.





CHAPTER XVIII



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 to God, and humble

thy sense to faith, and the light of knowledge shall be given to

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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