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Apr 25 17 8:01 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK THREE - INTERNAL CONSOLATIONThe Forty-Eighth Chapter
THE DAY OF ETERNITY AND THE DISTRESSES OF THIS LIFE The Disciple
O MOST happy mansion of the city above! O most bright day of
eternity, which night does not darken, but which the highest truth
ever enlightens! O day, ever joyful and ever secure, which never
changes its state to the opposite! Oh, that this day shine forth,
that all these temporal things come to an end! It envelops the
saints all resplendent with heavenly brightness, but it appears
far off as through a glass to us wanderers on the earth. The
citizens of heaven know how joyful that day is, but the exiled
sons of Eve mourn that this one is bitter and tedious.
The days of this life are short and evil, full of grief and
distress. Here man is defiled by many sins, ensnared in many
passions, enslaved by many fears, and burdened with many cares. He
is distracted by many curiosities and entangled in many vanities,
surrounded by many errors and worn by many labors, oppressed by
temptations, weakened by pleasures, and tortured by want.
Oh, when will these evils end? When shall I be freed from the
miserable slavery of vice? When, Lord, shall I think of You alone?
When shall I fully rejoice in You? When shall I be without
hindrance, in true liberty, free from every grievance of mind and
body? When will there be solid peace, undisturbed and secure,
inward peace and outward peace, peace secured on every side? O
good Jesus, when shall I stand to gaze upon You? When shall I
contemplate the glory of Your kingdom? When will You be all in all
to me? Oh, when shall I be with You in that kingdom of Yours,
which You have prepared for Your beloved from all eternity?
I am left poor and exiled in a hostile land, where every day
sees wars and very great misfortunes. Console my banishment,
assuage my sorrow. My whole desire is for You. Whatever solace
this world offers is a burden to me. I desire to enjoy You
intimately, but I cannot attain to it. I wish to cling fast to
heavenly things, but temporal affairs and unmortified passions
bear me down. I wish in mind to be above all things, but I am
forced by the flesh to be unwillingly subject to them. Thus, I
fight with myself, unhappy that I am, and am become a burden to
myself, while my spirit seeks to rise upward and my flesh to sink
downward. Oh, what inward suffering I undergo when I consider
heavenly things; when I pray, a multitude of carnal thoughts rush
O my God, do not remove Yourself far from me, and depart not
in anger from Your servant. Dart forth Your lightning and disperse
them; send forth Your arrows and let the phantoms of the enemy be
put to flight. Draw my senses toward You and make me forget all
worldly things. Grant me the grace to cast away quickly all
vicious imaginings and to scorn them. Aid me, O heavenly Truth,
that no vanity may move me. Come, heavenly Sweetness, and let all
impurity fly from before Your face.
Pardon me also, and deal mercifully with me, as often as I
think of anything besides You in prayer. For I confess truly that
I am accustomed to be very much distracted. Very often I am not
where bodily I stand or sit; rather, I am where my thoughts carry
me. Where my thoughts are, there am I; and frequently my thoughts
are where my love is. That which naturally delights, or is by
habit pleasing, comes to me quickly. Hence You Who are Truth
itself, have plainly said: "For where your treasure is, there is
your heart also." If I love heaven, I think willingly of heavenly
things. If I love the world, I rejoice at the happiness of the
world and grieve at its troubles. If I love the flesh, I often
imagine things that are carnal. If I love the spirit, I delight in
thinking of spiritual matters. For whatever I love, I am willing
to speak and hear about.
Blessed is the man who for Your sake, O Lord, dismisses all
creatures, does violence to nature, crucifies the desires of the
flesh in fervor of spirit, so that with serene conscience he can
offer You a pure prayer and, having excluded all earthly things
inwardly and outwardly, becomes worthy to enter into the heavenly
choirs. The Forty-Ninth Chapter
THE DESIRE OF ETERNAL LIFE; THE GREAT REWARDS PROMISED TO THOSE WHO STRUGGLE The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, when you feel the desire for everlasting happiness
poured out upon you from above, and when you long to depart out of
the tabernacle of the body that you may contemplate My glory
without threat of change, open wide your heart and receive this
holy inspiration with all eagerness. Give deepest thanks to the
heavenly Goodness which deals with you so understandingly, visits
you so mercifully, stirs you so fervently, and sustains you so
powerfully lest under your own weight you sink down to earthly
things. For you obtain this not by your own thought or effort, but
simply by the condescension of heavenly grace and divine regard.
And the purpose of it is that you may advance in virtue and in
greater humility, that you may prepare yourself for future trials,
that you may strive to cling to Me with all the affection of your
heart, and may serve Me with a fervent will.
My child, often, when the fire is burning the flame does not
ascend without smoke. Likewise, the desires of some burn toward
heavenly things, and yet they are not free from temptations of
carnal affection. Therefore, it is not altogether for the pure
honor of God that they act when they petition Him so earnestly.
Such, too, is often your desire which you profess to be so strong.
For that which is alloyed with self-interest is not pure and
Ask, therefore, not for what is pleasing and convenient to
yourself, but for what is acceptable to Me and is for My honor,
because if you judge rightly, you ought to prefer and follow My
will, not your own desire or whatever things you wish.
I know your longings and I have heard your frequent sighs.
Already you wish to be in the liberty of the glory of the sons of
God. Already you desire the delights of the eternal home, the
heavenly land that is full of joy. But that hour is not yet come.
There remains yet another hour, a time of war, of labor, and of
trial. You long to be filled with the highest good, but you cannot
attain it now. I am that sovereign Good. Await Me, until the
kingdom of God shall come.
You must still be tried on earth, and exercised in many
things. Consolation will sometimes be given you, but the complete
fullness of it is not granted. Take courage, therefore, and be
strong both to do and to suffer what is contrary to nature.
You must put on the new man. You must be changed into another
man. You must often do the things you do not wish to do and forego
those you do wish. What pleases others will succeed; what pleases
you will not. The words of others will be heard; what you say will
be accounted as nothing. Others will ask and receive; you will ask
and not receive. Others will gain great fame among men; about you
nothing will be said. To others the doing of this or that will be
entrusted; you will be judged useless. At all this nature will
sometimes be sad, and it will be a great thing if you bear this
sadness in silence. For in these and many similar ways the
faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be tried, to see how far
he can deny himself and break himself in all things.
There is scarcely anything in which you so need to die to
self as in seeing and suffering things that are against your will,
especially when things that are commanded seem inconvenient or
useless. Then, because you are under authority, and dare not
resist the higher power, it seems hard to submit to the will of
another and give up your own opinion entirely.
But consider, my child, the fruit of these labors, how soon
they will end and how greatly they will be rewarded, and you will
not be saddened by them, but your patience will receive the
strongest consolation. For instead of the little will that you now
readily give up, you shall always have your will in heaven. There,
indeed, you shall find all that you could desire. There you shall
have possession of every good without fear of losing it. There
shall your will be forever one with Mine. It shall desire nothing
outside of Me and nothing for itself. There no one shall oppose
you, no one shall complain of you, no one hinder you, and nothing
stand in your way. All that you desire will be present there,
replenishing your affection and satisfying it to the full. There I
shall render you glory for the reproach you have suffered here;
for your sorrow I shall give you a garment of praise, and for the
lowest place a seat of power forever. There the fruit of glory
will appear, the labor of penance rejoice, and humble subjection
be gloriously crowned.
Bow humbly, therefore, under the will of all, and do not heed
who said this or commanded that. But let it be your special care
when something is commanded, or even hinted at, whether by a
superior or an inferior or an equal, that you take it in good part
and try honestly to perform it. Let one person seek one thing and
another something else. Let one glory in this, another in that,
and both be praised a thousand times over. But as for you, rejoice
neither in one or the other, but only in contempt of yourself and
in My pleasure and honor. Let this be your wish: That whether in
life or in death God may be glorified in you.
Apr 26 17 9:06 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK THREE - INTERNAL CONSOLATIONThe Fiftieth Chapter
HOW A DESOLATE PERSON OUGHT TO COMMIT HIMSELF INTO THE HANDS OF GOD The Disciple
LORD God, Holy Father, may You be blessed now and in eternity. For
as You will, so is it done; and what You do is good. Let Your
servant rejoice in You -- not in himself or in any other, for You
alone are true joy. You are my hope and my crown. You, O Lord, are
my joy and my honor.
What does Your servant possess that he has not received from
You, and that without any merit of his own? Yours are all the
things which You have given, all the things which You have made.
I am poor and in labors since my youth, and my soul is
sorrowful sometimes even to the point of tears. At times, also, my
spirit is troubled because of impending sufferings. I long for the
joy of peace. Earnestly I beg for the peace of Your children who
are fed by You in the light of consolation. If You give peace, if
You infuse holy joy, the soul of Your servant shall be filled with
holy song and be devout in praising You. But if You withdraw
Yourself, as You so very often do, he will not be able to follow
the way of Your commandments, but will rather be obliged to strike
his breast and bend the knee, because his today is different from
yesterday and the day before when Your light shone upon his head
and he was protected in the shadow of Your wings from the
temptations rushing upon him.
Just Father, ever to be praised, the hour is come for Your
servant to be tried. Beloved Father, it is right that in this hour
Your servant should suffer something for You. O Father, forever to
be honored, the hour which You knew from all eternity is at hand,
when for a short time Your servant should be outwardly oppressed,
but inwardly should ever live with You.
Let him be a little slighted, let him be humbled, let him
fail in the sight of men, let him be afflicted with sufferings and
pains, so that he may rise again with You in the dawn of the new
light and be glorified in heaven.
Holy Father, You have so appointed and wished it. What has
happened is what You commanded. For this is a favor to Your
friend, to suffer and be troubled in the world for Your love, no
matter how often and by whom You permit it to happen to him.
Nothing happens in the world without Your design and
providence, and without cause. It is well for me, O Lord, that You
have humbled me, that I may learn the justice of Your judgments
and cast away all presumption and haughtiness of heart. It is
profitable for me that shame has covered my face that I may look
to You rather than to men for consolation. Hereby I have learned
also to fear Your inscrutable judgment falling alike upon the just
and unjust yet not without equity and justice.
Thanks to You that You have not spared me evils but have
bruised me with bitter blows, inflicting sorrows, sending distress
without and within. Under heaven there is none to console me
except You, my Lord God, the heavenly Physician of souls, Who
wound and heal, Who cast down to hell and raise up again. Your
discipline is upon me and Your very rod shall instruct me.
Behold, beloved Father, I am in Your hands. I bow myself
under Your correcting chastisement. Strike my back and my neck,
that I may bend my crookedness to Your will. Make of me a pious
and humble follower, as in Your goodness You are wont to do, that
I may walk according to Your every nod. Myself and all that is
mine I commit to You to be corrected, for it is better to be
punished here than hereafter.
You know all things without exception, and nothing in man's
conscience is hidden from You. Coming events You know before they
happen, and there is no need for anyone to teach or admonish You
of what is being done on earth. You know what will promote my
progress, and how much tribulation will serve to cleanse away the
rust of vice. Deal with me according to Your good pleasure and do
not despise my sinful life, which is known to none so well or so
clearly as to You alone.
Grant me, O Lord, the grace to know what should be known, to
praise what is most pleasing to You, to esteem that which appears
most precious to You, and to abhor what is unclean in Your sight.
Do not allow me to judge according to the light of my bodily
eyes, nor to give sentence according to the hearing of ignorant
men's ears. But let me distinguish with true judgment between
things visible and spiritual, and always seek above all things
Your good pleasure. The senses of men often err in their
judgments, and the lovers of this world also err in loving only
visible things. How is a man the better for being thought greater
by men? The deceiver deceives the deceitful, the vain man deceives
the vain, the blind deceives the blind, the weak deceives the weak
as often as he extols them, and in truth his foolish praise shames
them the more. For, as the humble St. Francis says, whatever
anyone is in Your sight, that he is and nothing more. The Fifty-First Chapter
WHEN WE CANNOT ATTAIN TO THE HIGHEST, WE MUST PRACTICE THE HUMBLE WORKS The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, you cannot always continue in the more fervent desire of
virtue, or remain in the higher stage of contemplation, but
because of humanity's sin you must sometimes descend to lower
things and bear the burden of this corruptible life, albeit
unwillingly and wearily. As long as you wear a mortal body you
will suffer weariness and heaviness of heart. You ought,
therefore, to bewail in the flesh the burden of the flesh which
keeps you from giving yourself unceasingly to spiritual exercises
and divine contemplation.
In such condition, it is well for you to apply yourself to
humble, outward works and to refresh yourself in good deeds, to
await with unshaken confidence My heavenly visitation, patiently
to bear your exile and dryness of mind until you are again visited
by Me and freed of all anxieties. For I will cause you to forget
your labors and to enjoy inward quiet. I will spread before you
the open fields of the Scriptures, so that with an open heart you
may begin to advance in the way of My commandments. And you will
say: the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared
with the future glory which shall be revealed to us.
Apr 27 17 9:36 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK THREE - INTERNAL CONSOLATIONThe Fifty-Second Chapter
A MAN OUGHT NOT TO CONSIDER HIMSELF WORTHY OF CONSOLATION,
BUT RATHER DESERVING OF CHASTISEMENT The Disciple
LORD, I am not worthy of Your consolation or of any spiritual
visitation. Therefore, You treat me justly when You leave me poor
and desolate. For though I could shed a sea of tears, yet I should
not be worthy of Your consolation. Hence, I deserve only to be
scourged and punished because I have offended You often and
grievously, and have sinned greatly in many things. In all
justice, therefore, I am not worthy of any consolation.
But You, O gracious and merciful God, Who do not will that
Your works should perish, deign to console Your servant beyond all
his merit and above human measure, to show the riches of Your
goodness toward the vessels of mercy. For Your consolations are
not like the words of men.
What have I done, Lord, that You should confer on me any
heavenly comfort? I remember that I have done nothing good, but
that I have always been prone to sin and slow to amend. That is
true. I cannot deny it. If I said otherwise You would stand
against me, and there would be no one to defend me. What have I
deserved for my sins except hell and everlasting fire?
In truth, I confess that I am deserving of all scorn and
contempt. Neither is it fitting that I should be remembered among
Your devoted servants. And although it is hard for me to hear
this, yet for truth's sake I will allege my sins against myself,
so that I may more easily deserve to beg Your mercy. What shall I
say, guilty as I am and full of all confusion? My tongue can say
nothing but this alone: "I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned;
have mercy on me and pardon me. Suffer me a little that I may pour
out my grief, before I go to that dark land that is covered with
the shadow of death."
What do you especially demand of a guilty and wretched
sinner, except that he be contrite and humble himself for his
sins? In true sorrow and humility of heart hope of forgiveness is
born, the troubled conscience is reconciled, grace is found, man
is preserved from the wrath to come, and God and the penitent meet
with a holy kiss.
To You, O Lord, humble sorrow for sins is an acceptable
sacrifice, a sacrifice far sweeter than the perfume of incense.
This is also the pleasing ointment which You would have poured
upon Your sacred feet, for a contrite and humble heart You have
never despised. Here is a place of refuge from the force of the
enemy's anger. Here is amended and washed away whatever defilement
has been contracted elsewhere. The Fifty-Third Chapter
GOD'S GRACE IS NOT GIVEN TO THE EARTHLY MINDED The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, my grace is precious. It does not allow itself to be
mixed with external things or with earthly consolations. Cast away
all obstacles to grace, therefore, if you wish to receive its
Seek to retire within yourself. Love to dwell alone with
yourself. Seek no man's conversation, but rather pour forth devout
prayer to God that you may keep your mind contrite and your heart
Consider the whole world as nothing. Prefer attendance upon
God to all outward occupation, for you cannot attend upon Me and
at the same time take delight in external things. You must remove
yourself from acquaintances and from dear friends, and keep your
mind free of all temporal consolation. Thus the blessed Apostle
St. Peter begs the faithful of Christ to keep themselves as
strangers and pilgrims in the world.
What great confidence at the hour of death shall be his who
is not attached to this world by any affection. But the sickly
soul does not know what it is to have a heart thus separated from
all things, nor does the natural man know the liberty of the
spiritual man. Yet, if he truly wishes to be spiritual, he must
renounce both strangers and friends, and must beware of no one
more than himself.
If you completely conquer yourself, you will more easily
subdue all other things. The perfect victory is to triumph over
self. For he who holds himself in such subjection that sensuality
obeys reason and reason obeys Me in all matters, is truly his own
conqueror and master of the world.
Now, if you wish to climb to this high position you must
begin like a man, and lay the ax to the root, in order to tear out
and destroy any hidden unruly love of self or of earthly goods.
From this vice of too much self-love comes almost every other vice
that must be uprooted. And when this evil is vanquished, and
brought under control, great peace and quiet will follow at once.
But because few labor to die entirely to self, or tend
completely away from self, therefore they remain entangled in
self, and cannot be lifted in spirit above themselves. But he who
desires to walk freely with Me must mortify all his low and
inordinate affections, and must not cling with selfish love or
desire to any creature.
 Peter 2:11.
Apr 28 17 2:58 PM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK THREE - INTERNAL CONSOLATIONThe Fifty-Fourth Chapter
THE DIFFERENT MOTIONS OF NATURE AND GRACE The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, pay careful attention to the movements of nature and of
grace, for they move in very contrary and subtle ways, and can
scarcely be distinguished by anyone except a man who is spiritual
and inwardly enlightened. All men, indeed, desire what is good,
and strive for what is good in their words and deeds. For this
reason the appearance of good deceives many.
Nature is crafty and attracts many, ensnaring and deceiving
them while ever seeking itself. But grace walks in simplicity,
turns away from all appearance of evil, offers no deceits, and
does all purely for God in whom she rests as her last end.
Nature is not willing to die, or to be kept down, or to be
overcome. Nor will it subdue itself or be made subject. Grace, on
the contrary, strives for mortification of self. She resists
sensuality, seeks to be in subjection, longs to be conquered, has
no wish to use her own liberty, loves to be held under discipline,
and does not desire to rule over anyone, but wishes rather to
live, to stand, and to be always under God for Whose sake she is
willing to bow humbly to every human creature.
Nature works for its own interest and looks to the profit it
can reap from another. Grace does not consider what is useful and
advantageous to herself, but rather what is profitable to many.
Nature likes to receive honor and reverence, but grace faithfully
attributes all honor and glory to God. Nature fears shame and
contempt, but grace is happy to suffer reproach for the name of
Jesus. Nature loves ease and physical rest. Grace, however, cannot
bear to be idle and embraces labor willingly. Nature seeks to
possess what is rare and beautiful, abhorring things that are
cheap and coarse. Grace, on the contrary, delights in simple,
humble things, not despising those that are rough, nor refusing to
be clothed in old garments.
Nature has regard for temporal wealth and rejoices in earthly
gains. It is sad over a loss and irritated by a slight, injurious
word. But grace looks to eternal things and does not cling to
those which are temporal, being neither disturbed at loss nor
angered by hard words, because she has placed her treasure and joy
in heaven where nothing is lost.
Nature is covetous, and receives more willingly than it
gives. It loves to have its own private possessions. Grace,
however, is kind and openhearted. Grace shuns private interest, is
contented with little, and judges it more blessed to give than to
Nature is inclined toward creatures, toward its own flesh,
toward vanities, and toward running about. But grace draws near to
God and to virtue, renounces creatures, hates the desires of the
flesh, restrains her wanderings and blushes at being seen in
Nature likes to have some external comfort in which it can
take sensual delight, but grace seeks consolation only in God, to
find her delight in the highest Good, above all visible things.
Nature does everything for its own gain and interest. It can
do nothing without pay and hopes for its good deeds to receive
their equal or better, or else praise and favor. It is very
desirous of having its deeds and gifts highly regarded. Grace,
however, seeks nothing temporal, nor does she ask any recompense
but God alone. Of temporal necessities she asks no more than will
serve to obtain eternity.
Nature rejoices in many friends and kinsfolk, glories in
noble position and birth, fawns on the powerful, flatters the
rich, and applauds those who are like itself. But grace loves even
her enemies and is not puffed up at having many friends. She does
not think highly of either position or birth unless there is also
virtue there. She favors the poor in preference to the rich. She
sympathizes with the innocent rather than with the powerful. She
rejoices with the true man rather than with the deceitful, and is
always exhorting the good to strive for better gifts, to become
like the Son of God by practicing the virtues.
Nature is quick to complain of need and trouble; grace is
stanch in suffering want. Nature turns all things back to self. It
fights and argues for self. Grace brings all things back to God in
Whom they have their source. To herself she ascribes no good, nor
is she arrogant or presumptuous. She is not contentious. She does
not prefer her own opinion to the opinion of others, but in every
matter of sense and thought submits herself to eternal wisdom and
the divine judgment.
Nature has a relish for knowing secrets and hearing news. It
wishes to appear abroad and to have many sense experiences. It
wishes to be known and to do things for which it will be praised
and admired. But grace does not care to hear news or curious
matters, because all this arises from the old corruption of man,
since there is nothing new, nothing lasting on earth. Grace
teaches, therefore, restraint of the senses, avoidance of vain
self-satisfaction and show, the humble hiding of deeds worthy of
praise and admiration, and the seeking in every thing and in every
knowledge the fruit of usefulness, the praise and honor of God.
She will not have herself or hers exalted, but desires that God
Who bestows all simply out of love should be blessed in His gifts.
This grace is a supernatural light, a certain special gift of
God, the proper mark of the elect and the pledge of everlasting
salvation. It raises man up from earthly things to love the things
of heaven. It makes a spiritual man of a carnal one. The more,
then, nature is held in check and conquered, the more grace is
given. Every day the interior man is reformed by new visitations
according to the image of God. The Fifty-Fifth Chapter
THE CORRUPTION OF NATURE AND THE EFFICACY OF DIVINE GRACE The Disciple
O LORD, my God, Who created me to Your own image and likeness,
grant me this grace which You have shown to be so great and
necessary for salvation, that I may overcome my very evil nature
that is drawing me to sin and perdition. For I feel in my flesh
the law of sin contradicting the law of my mind and leading me
captive to serve sensuality in many things. I cannot resist the
passions thereof unless Your most holy grace warmly infused into
my heart assist me.
There is need of Your grace, and of great grace, in order to
overcome a nature prone to evil from youth. For through the first
man, Adam, nature is fallen and weakened by sin, and the
punishment of that stain has fallen upon all mankind. Thus nature
itself, which You created good and right, is considered a symbol
of vice and the weakness of corrupted nature, because when left to
itself it tends toward evil and to baser things. The little
strength remaining in it is like a spark hidden in ashes. That
strength is natural reason which, surrounded by thick darkness,
still has the power of judging good and evil, of seeing the
difference between true and false, though it is not able to
fulfill all that it approves and does not enjoy the full light of
truth or soundness of affection.
Hence it is, my God, that according to the inward man I
delight in Your law, knowing that Your command is good, just, and
holy, and that it proves the necessity of shunning all evil and
sin. But in the flesh I keep the law of sin, obeying sensuality
rather than reason. Hence, also, it is that the will to good is
present in me, but how to accomplish it I know not. Hence, too, I
often propose many good things, but because the grace to help my
weakness is lacking, I recoil and give up at the slightest
resistance. Thus it is that I know the way of perfection and see
clearly enough how I ought to act, but because I am pressed down
by the weight of my own corruption I do not rise to more perfect
How extremely necessary to me, O Lord, Your grace is to begin
any good deed, to carry it on and bring it to completion! For
without grace I can do nothing, but with its strength I can do all
things in You. O Grace truly heavenly, without which our merits
are nothing and no gifts of nature are to be esteemed!
Before You, O Lord, no arts or riches, no beauty or strength,
no wit or intelligence avail without grace. For the gifts of
nature are common to good and bad alike, but the peculiar gift of
Your elect is grace or love, and those who are signed with it are
held worthy of everlasting life. So excellent is this grace that
without it no gift of prophecy or of miracles, no meditation be it
ever so exalted, can be considered anything. Not even faith or
hope or other virtues are acceptable to You without charity and
O most blessed grace, which makes the poor in spirit rich in
virtues, which renders him who is rich in many good things humble
of heart, come, descend upon me, fill me quickly with your
consolation lest my soul faint with weariness and dryness of mind.
Let me find grace in Your sight, I beg, Lord, for Your grace
is enough for me, even though I obtain none of the things which
nature desires. If I am tempted and afflicted with many
tribulations, I will fear no evils while Your grace is with me.
This is my strength. This will give me counsel and help. This is
more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise.
This is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the
light of the heart, the consoler in anguish, the banisher of
sorrow, the expeller of fear, the nourisher of devotion, the
producer of tears. What am I without grace, but dead wood, a
useless branch, fit only to be cast away?
Let Your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O
Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Jesus
Christ, Your Son
Apr 29 17 6:39 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK THREE - INTERNAL CONSOLATIONThe Fifty-Sixth Chapter
WE OUGHT TO DENY OURSELVES AND IMITATE CHRIST THROUGH BEARING THE CROSS The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, the more you depart from yourself, the more you will be
able to enter into Me. As the giving up of exterior things brings
interior peace, so the forsaking of self unites you to God. I will
have you learn perfect surrender to My will, without contradiction
Follow Me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the
Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing.
Without the Life, there is no living. I am the Way which you must
follow, the Truth which you must believe, the Life for which you
must hope. I am the inviolable Way, the infallible Truth, the
unending Life. I am the Way that is straight, the supreme Truth,
the Life that is true, the blessed, the uncreated Life. If you
abide in My Way you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make
you free, and you shall attain life everlasting.
If you wish to enter into life, keep My commandments. If you
will know the truth, believe in Me. If you will be perfect, sell
all. If you will be My disciple, deny yourself. If you will
possess the blessed life, despise this present life. If you will
be exalted in heaven, humble yourself on earth. If you wish to
reign with Me, carry the Cross with Me. For only the servants of
the Cross find the life of blessedness and of true light. The Disciple
Lord Jesus, because Your way is narrow and despised by the
world, grant that I may despise the world and imitate You. For the
servant is not greater than his Lord, nor the disciple above the
Master. Let Your servant be trained in Your life, for there is my
salvation and true holiness. Whatever else I read or hear does not
fully refresh or delight me. The Voice of Christ
My child, now that you know these things and have read them
all, happy will you be if you do them. He who has My commandments
and keeps them, he it is that loves Me. And I will love him and
will show Myself to him, and will bring it about that he will sit
down with Me in My Father's Kingdom. The Disciple
Lord Jesus, as You have said, so be it, and what You have
promised, let it be my lot to win. I have received the cross, from
Your hand I have received it. I will carry it, carry it even unto
death as You have laid it upon me. Truly, the life of a good
religious man is a cross, but it leads to paradise. We have begun
-- we may not go back, nor may we leave off.
Take courage, brethren, let us go forward together and Jesus
will be with us. For Jesus' sake we have taken this cross. For
Jesus' sake let us persevere with it. He will be our help as He is
also our leader and guide. Behold, our King goes before us and
will fight for us. Let us follow like men. Let no man fear any
terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle. Let
us not suffer our glory to be blemished by fleeing from the Cross. The Fifty-Seventh Chapter
A MAN SHOULD NOT BE TOO DOWNCAST WHEN HE FALLS INTO DEFECTS The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, patience and humility in adversity are more pleasing to
Me than much consolation and devotion when things are going well.
Why are you saddened by some little thing said against you?
Even if it had been more you ought not to have been affected. But
now let it pass. It is not the first, nor is it anything new, and
if you live long it will not be the last.
You are manly enough so long as you meet no opposition. You
give good advice to others, and you know how to strengthen them
with words, but when unexpected tribulation comes to your door,
you fail both in counsel and in strength. Consider your great
weakness, then, which you experience so often in small matters.
Yet when these and like trials happen, they happen for your good.
Put it out of your heart as best you know how, and if it has
touched you, still do not let it cast you down or confuse you for
long. Bear it patiently at least, if you cannot bear it
cheerfully. Even though you bear it unwillingly, and are indignant
at it, restrain yourself and let no ill-ordered words pass your
lips at which the weak might be scandalized. The storm that is now
aroused will soon be quieted and your inward grief will be
sweetened by returning grace. "I yet live," says the Lord, "ready
to help you and to console you more and more, if you trust in Me
and call devoutly upon Me."
Remain tranquil and prepare to bear still greater trials. All
is not lost even though you be troubled oftener or tempted more
grievously. You are a man, not God. You are flesh, not an angel.
How can you possibly expect to remain always in the same state of
virtue when the angels in heaven and the first man in paradise
failed to do so? I am He Who rescues the afflicted and brings to
My divinity those who know their own weakness. The Disciple
Blessed be Your words, O Lord, sweeter to my mouth than honey
and the honeycomb. What would I do in such great trials and
anxieties, if You did not strengthen me with Your holy words? If I
may but attain to the haven of salvation, what does it matter what
or how much I suffer? Grant me a good end. Grant me a happy
passage out of this world. Remember me, my God, and lead me by the
right way into Your kingdom
Apr 30 17 7:27 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK THREE - INTERNAL CONSOLATIONThe Fifty-Eighth Chapter
HIGH MATTERS AND THE HIDDEN JUDGMENTS OF GOD ARE NOT TO BE SCRUTINIZED The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, beware of discussing high matters and God's hidden
judgments -- why this person is so forsaken and why that one is
favored with so great a grace, or why one man is so afflicted and
another so highly exalted. Such things are beyond all human
understanding and no reason or disputation can fathom the
judgments of God.
When the enemy puts such suggestions in your mind, therefore,
or when some curious persons raise questions about them, answer
with the prophet: "Thou art just, O Lord, and righteous are Thy
judgments"; and this: "The judgments of the Lord are true and
wholly righteous." My judgments are to be feared, not
discussed, because they are incomprehensible to the understanding
In like manner, do not inquire or dispute about the merits of
the saints, as to which is more holy, or which shall be greater in
the kingdom of heaven. Such things often breed strife and useless
contentions. They nourish pride and vainglory, whence arise envy
and quarrels, when one proudly tries to exalt one saint and the
other another. A desire to know and pry into such matters brings
forth no fruit. On the contrary, it displeases the saints, because
I am the God, not of dissension, but of peace -- of that peace
which consists in true humility rather than in self-exaltation.
Some are drawn by the ardor of their love with greater
affection to these saints or to those, but this affection is human
and not divine. I am He who made all the saints. I gave them
grace: I brought them to glory. I know the merits of each of them.
I came before them in the blessings of My sweetness. I knew My
beloved ones before the ages. I chose them out of the world --
they did not choose Me. I called them by grace, I drew them on by
mercy. I led them safely through various temptations. I poured
into them glorious consolations. I gave them perseverance and I
crowned their patience. I know the first and the last. I embrace
them all with love inestimable. I am to be praised in all My
saints. I am to be blessed above all things, and honored in each
of those whom I have exalted and predestined so gloriously without
any previous merits of their own.
He who despises one of the least of mine, therefore, does no
honor to the greatest, for both the small and the great I made.
And he who disparages one of the saints disparages Me also and all
others in the kingdom of heaven. They are all one through the bond
of charity. They have the same thought and the same will, and they
mutually love one another; but, what is a much greater thing, they
love Me more than themselves or their own merits. Rapt above
themselves, and drawn beyond love of self, they are entirely
absorbed in love of Me, in Whom they rest. There is nothing that
can draw them away or depress them, for they who are filled with
eternal truth burn with the fire of unquenchable love.
Therefore, let carnal and sensual men, who know only how to
love their own selfish joys, forbear to dispute about the state of
God's saints. Such men take away and add according to their own
inclinations and not as it pleases the Eternal Truth. In many this
is sheer ignorance, especially in those who are but little
enlightened and can rarely love anyone with a purely spiritual
love. They are still strongly drawn by natural affection and human
friendship to one person or another, and on their behavior in such
things here below are based their imaginings of heavenly things.
But there is an incomparable distance between the things which the
imperfect imagine and those which enlightened men contemplate
through revelation from above.
Be careful, then, My child, of treating matters beyond your
knowledge out of curiosity. Let it rather be your business and aim
to be found, even though the least, in the kingdom of God. For
though one were to know who is more holy than another, or who is
greater in the kingdom of heaven, of what value would this
knowledge be to him unless out of it he should humble himself
before Me and should rise up in greater praise of My name?
The man who thinks of the greatness of his own sins and the
littleness of his virtues, and of the distance between himself and
the perfection of the saints, acts much more acceptably to God
than the one who argues about who is greater or who is less. It is
better to invoke the saints with devout prayers and tears, and
with a humble mind to beg their glorious aid, than to search with
vain inquisitiveness into their secrets.
The saints are well and perfectly contented if men know how
to content themselves and cease their useless discussions. They do
not glory in their own merits, for they attribute no good to
themselves but all to Me, because out of My infinite charity I
gave all to them. They are filled with such love of God and with
such overflowing joy, that no glory is wanting to them and they
can lack no happiness. All the saints are so much higher in glory
as they are more humble in themselves; nearer to Me, and more
beloved by Me. Therefore, you find it written that they cast their
crowns before God, and fell down upon their faces before the Lamb,
and adored Him Who lives forever.
Many ask who is the greater in the kingdom of heaven when
they do not know whether they themselves shall be worthy of being
numbered among its least. It is a great thing to be even the least
in heaven where all are great because all shall be called, and
shall be, the children of God. The least shall be as a thousand,
and the sinner of a hundred years shall die. For when the
disciples asked who should be greater in the kingdom of heaven
they heard this response: "Unless you be converted and become as
little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, he
is the greater in the kingdom of heaven."
Woe to those, therefore, who disdain to humble themselves
willingly with the little children, for the low gate of the
heavenly kingdom will not permit them to enter. Woe also to the
rich who have their consolations here, for when the poor enter
into God's kingdom, they will stand outside lamenting. Rejoice,
you humble, and exult, you poor, for the kingdom of God is yours,
if only you walk in the truth.
 Ps. 118:137.
 Ps. 18:10.
 Matt. 18:3, 4. The Fifty-Ninth Chapter
ALL HOPE AND TRUST ARE TO BE FIXED IN GOD ALONE The Disciple
WHAT, Lord, is the trust which I have in this life, or what is my
greatest comfort among all the things that appear under heaven? Is
it not You, O Lord, my God, Whose mercies are without number?
Where have I ever fared well but for You? Or how could things go
badly when You were present? I had rather be poor for Your sake
than rich without You. I prefer rather to wander on the earth with
You than to possess heaven without You. Where You are there is
heaven, and where You are not are death and hell. You are my
desire and therefore I must cry after You and sigh and pray. In
none can I fully trust to help me in my necessities, but in You
alone, my God. You are my hope. You are my confidence. You are my
consoler, most faithful in every need.
All seek their own interests. You, however, place my
salvation and my profit first, and turn all things to my good.
Even though exposing me to various temptations and hardships, You
Who are accustomed to prove Your loved ones in a thousand ways,
order all this for my good. You ought not to be loved or praised
less in this trial than if You had filled me with heavenly
In You, therefore, O Lord God, I place all my hope and my
refuge. On You I cast all my troubles and anguish, because
whatever I have outside of You I find to be weak and unstable. It
will not serve me to have many friends, nor will powerful helpers
be able to assist me, nor prudent advisers to give useful answers,
nor the books of learned men to console, nor any precious
substance to win my freedom, nor any place, secret and beautiful
though it be, to shelter me, if You Yourself do not assist,
comfort, console, instruct, and guard me. For all things which
seem to be for our peace and happiness are nothing when You are
absent, and truly confer no happiness.
You, indeed, are the fountain of all good, the height of
life, the depth of all that can be spoken. To trust in You above
all things is the strongest comfort of Your servants.
My God, the Father of mercies, to You I look, in You I trust.
Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly benediction, so that it
may become Your holy dwelling and the seat of Your eternal glory.
And in this temple of Your dignity let nothing be found that might
offend Your majesty. In Your great goodness, and in the multitude
of Your mercies, look upon me and listen to the prayer of Your
poor servant exiled from You in the region of the shadow of death.
Protect and preserve the soul of Your poor servant among the many
dangers of this corruptible life, and direct him by Your
accompanying grace, through the ways of peace, to the land of
May 1 17 1:37 PM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION The Voice of Christ
COME to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will
refresh you. The bread which I will give is My Flesh, for the
life of the world. Take you and eat: this is My Body, which
shall be delivered for you. Do this for the commemoration of
Me. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in
Me, and I in him. The words that I have spoken to you are
spirit and life."
 Matt. 11:28.
 John 6:52.
 1 Cor. 11:24.
 John 6:57.
 John 6:64. The First Chapter
THE GREAT REVERENCE WITH WHICH WE SHOULD RECEIVE CHRIST The Disciple
THESE are all Your words, O Christ, eternal Truth, though they
were not all spoken at one time nor written together in one place.
And because they are Yours and true, I must accept them all with
faith and gratitude. They are Yours and You have spoken them; they
are mine also because You have spoken them for my salvation.
Gladly I accept them from Your lips that they may be the more
deeply impressed in my heart.
Words of such tenderness, so full of sweetness and love,
encourage me; but my sins frighten me and an unclean conscience
thunders at me when approaching such great mysteries as these. The
sweetness of Your words invites me, but the multitude of my vices
You command me to approach You confidently if I wish to have
part with You, and to receive the food of immortality if I desire
to obtain life and glory everlasting.
"Come to me," You say, "all you that labor and are burdened,
and I will refresh you."
Oh, how sweet and kind to the ear of the sinner is the word
by which You, my Lord God, invite the poor and needy to receive
Your most holy Body! Who am I, Lord, that I should presume to
approach You? Behold, the heaven of heavens cannot contain You,
and yet You say: "Come, all of you, to Me."
What means this most gracious honor and this friendly
invitation? How shall I dare to come, I who am conscious of no
good on which to presume? How shall I lead You into my house, I
who have so often offended in Your most kindly sight? Angels and
archangels revere You, the holy and the just fear You, and You
say: "Come to Me: all of you!" If You, Lord, had not said it, who
would have believed it to be true? And if You had not commanded,
who would dare approach?
Behold, Noah, a just man, worked a hundred years building the
ark that he and a few others might be saved; how, then, can I
prepare myself in one hour to receive with reverence the Maker of
Moses, Your great servant and special friend, made an ark of
incorruptible wood which he covered with purest gold wherein to
place the tables of Your law; shall I, a creature of corruption,
dare so easily to receive You, the Maker of law and the Giver of
Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, spent seven years
building a magnificent temple in praise of Your name, and
celebrated its dedication with a feast of eight days. He offered a
thousand victims in Your honor and solemnly bore the Ark of the
Covenant with trumpeting and jubilation to the place prepared for
it; and I, unhappy and poorest of men, how shall I lead You into
my house, I who scarcely can spend a half-hour devoutly -- would
that I could spend even that as I ought!
O my God, how hard these men tried to please You! Alas, how
little is all that I do! How short the time I spend in preparing
for Communion! I am seldom wholly recollected, and very seldom,
indeed, entirely free from distraction. Yet surely in the presence
of Your life-giving Godhead no unbecoming thought should arise and
no creature possess my heart, for I am about to receive as my
guest, not an angel, but the very Lord of angels.
Very great, too, is the difference between the Ark of the
Covenant with its treasures and Your most pure Body with its
ineffable virtues, between these sacrifices of the law which were
but figures of things to come and the true offering of Your Body
which was the fulfillment of all ancient sacrifices.
Why, then, do I not long more ardently for Your adorable
presence? Why do I not prepare myself with greater care to receive
Your sacred gifts, since those holy patriarchs and prophets of
old, as well as kings and princes with all their people, have
shown such affectionate devotion for the worship of God?
The most devout King David danced before the ark of God with
all his strength as he recalled the benefits once bestowed upon
his fathers. He made musical instruments of many kinds. He
composed psalms and ordered them sung with joy. He himself often
played upon the harp when moved by the grace of the Holy Ghost. He
taught the people of Israel to praise God with all their hearts
and to raise their voices every day to bless and glorify Him. If
such great devotion flourished in those days and such ceremony in
praise of God before the Ark of the Covenant, what great devotion
ought not I and all Christian people now show in the presence of
this Sacrament; what reverence in receiving the most excellent
Body of Christ!
Many people travel far to honor the relics of the saints,
marveling at their wonderful deeds and at the building of
magnificent shrines. They gaze upon and kiss the sacred relics
encased in silk and gold; and behold, You are here present before
me on the altar, my God, Saint of saints, Creator of men, and Lord
Often in looking at such things, men are moved by curiosity,
by the novelty of the unseen, and they bear away little fruit for
the amendment of their lives, especially when they go from place
to place lightly and without true contrition. But here in the
Sacrament of the altar You are wholly present, my God, the man
Christ Jesus, whence is obtained the full realization of eternal
salvation, as often as You are worthily and devoutly received. To
this, indeed, we are not drawn by levity, or curiosity, or
sensuality, but by firm faith, devout hope, and sincere love.
O God, hidden Creator of the world, how wonderfully You deal
with us! How sweetly and graciously You dispose of things with
Your elect to whom You offer Yourself to be received in this
Sacrament! This, indeed, surpasses all understanding. This in a
special manner attracts the hearts of the devout and inflames
their love. Your truly faithful servants, who give their whole
life to amendment, often receive in Holy Communion the great grace
of devotion and love of virtue.
Oh, the wonderful and hidden grace of this Sacrament which
only the faithful of Christ understand, which unbelievers and
slaves of sin cannot experience! In it spiritual grace is
conferred, lost virtue restored, and the beauty, marred by sin,
repaired. At times, indeed, its grace is so great that, from the
fullness of the devotion, not only the mind but also the frail
body feels filled with greater strength.
Nevertheless, our neglect and coldness is much to be deplored
and pitied, when we are not moved to receive with greater fervor
Christ in Whom is the hope and merit of all who will be saved. He
is our sanctification and redemption. He is our consolation in
this life and the eternal joy of the blessed in heaven. This being
true, it is lamentable that many pay so little heed to the
salutary Mystery which fills the heavens with joy and maintains
the whole universe in being.
Oh, the blindness and the hardness of the heart of man that
does not show more regard for so wonderful a gift, but rather
falls into carelessness from its daily use! If this most holy
Sacrament were celebrated in only one place and consecrated by
only one priest in the whole world, with what great desire, do you
think, would men be attracted to that place, to that priest of
God, in order to witness the celebration of the divine Mysteries!
But now there are many priests and Mass is offered in many places,
that God's grace and love for men may appear the more clearly as
the Sacred Communion is spread more widely through the world.
Thanks be to You, Jesus, everlasting Good Shepherd, Who have
seen fit to feed us poor exiled people with Your precious Body and
Blood, and to invite us with words from Your own lips to partake
of these sacred Mysteries: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are
burdened, and I will refresh you."
 Matt. 11:28.
May 2 17 7:36 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Second Chapter
GOD'S GREAT GOODNESS AND LOVE IS SHOWN TO MAN IN THIS SACRAMENT The Disciple
TRUSTING in Your goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I come as one
sick to the Healer, as one hungry and thirsty to the Fountain of
life, as one in need to the King of heaven, a servant to his Lord,
a creature to his Creator, a soul in desolation to my gentle
But whence is this to me, that You should come to me? Who am
I that You should offer Yourself to me? How dares the sinner to
appear in Your presence, and You, how do You condescend to come to
the sinner? You know Your servant, and You know that he has
nothing good in him that You should grant him this.
I confess, therefore, my unworthiness. I acknowledge Your
goodness. I praise Your mercy, and give thanks for Your immense
love. For it is because of Yourself that You do it, not for any
merit of mine; so that Your goodness may be better known to me,
that greater love may be aroused and more perfect humility born in
me. Since, then, this pleases You and You have so willed it, Your
graciousness pleases me also. Oh, that my sinfulness may not stand
in the way!
O most sweet and merciful Jesus, what great reverence,
thanks, and never-ending praise are due to You for our taking of
Your sacred body, whose dignity no man can express!
But on what shall I think in this Communion, this approach to
my Lord, Whom I can never reverence as I ought, and yet Whom I
desire devoutly to receive? What thought better, more helpful to
me than to humble myself entirely in Your presence and exalt Your
infinite goodness above myself?
I praise You, my God, and extol You forever! I despise myself
and cast myself before You in the depths of my unworthiness.
Behold, You are the Holy of holies, and I the scum of sinners!
Behold, You bow down to me who am not worthy to look up to You!
Behold, You come to me! You will to be with me! You invite me to
Your banquet! You desire to give me heavenly food, the Bread of
Angels to eat, none other than Yourself, the living Bread Who are
come down from heaven and give life to the world.
Behold, whence love proceeds! What condescension shines
forth! What great thanks and praise are due You for these gifts!
Oh, how salutary and profitable was Your design in this
institution! How sweet and pleasant the banquet when You gave
Yourself as food!
How admirable is Your work, O Lord! How great Your power! How
infallible Your truth! For You spoke and all things were made, and
this, which You commanded, was done. It is a wonderful thing,
worthy of faith, overpowering human understanding, that You, O
Lord, my God, true God and man, are contained whole and entire
under the appearance of a little bread and wine, and without being
consumed are eaten by him who receives You!
You, the Lord of the universe, Who have need of nothing, have
willed to dwell in us by means of Your Sacrament. Keep my heart
and body clean, so that with a joyous and spotless conscience I
may be able often to celebrate Your Mysteries and to receive for
my eternal salvation what You have ordained and instituted for
Your special honor and as an everlasting memorial.
Rejoice, my soul, and give thanks to God for having left you
so noble a gift and so special a consolation in this valley of
tears. As often as you renew this Mystery and receive the Body of
Christ, so often do you enact the work of redemption and become a
sharer in all the merits of Christ, for the love of Christ never
grows less and the wealth of His mercy is never exhausted.
Therefore, you should prepare yourself for it by constantly
renewing your heart and pondering deeply the great mystery of
salvation. As often as you celebrate or hear Mass, it should seem
as great, as new, as sweet to you as if on that very day Christ
became man in the womb of the Virgin, or, hanging on the Cross,
suffered and died for the salvation of man.
May 3 17 7:04 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Third Chapter
IT IS PROFITABLE TO RECEIVE COMMUNION OFTEN The Disciple
BEHOLD, I come to You, Lord, that I may prosper by Your gift and
be delighted at Your holy banquet which You, O God, in Your
sweetness have prepared for Your poor. Behold, all that I can or
ought to desire is in You. You are my salvation and my redemption,
my hope and strength, my honor and glory.
Gladden, then, this day the soul of Your servant because I
have raised my heart to You, O Lord Jesus. I long to receive You
now, devoutly and reverently. I desire to bring You into my house
that, with Zacheus, I may merit Your blessing and be numbered
among the children of Abraham.
My soul longs for Your Body; my heart desires to be united
with You. Give me Yourself -- it is enough; for without You there
is no consolation. Without You I cannot exist, without Your
visitation I cannot live. I must often come to You, therefore, and
receive the strength of my salvation lest, deprived of this
heavenly food, I grow weak on the way. Once, most merciful Jesus,
while preaching to the people and healing their many ills, You
said: "I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the
way." Deal with me likewise, You Who have left Yourself in
this Sacrament for the consolation of the faithful. You are sweet
refreshment to the soul, and he who eats You worthily will be a
sharer in, and an heir to, eternal glory.
It is indeed necessary for me, who fall and sin so often, who
so quickly become lax and weak, to renew, cleanse, and inflame
myself through frequent prayer, confession, and the holy reception
of Your Body, lest perhaps by abstaining too long, I fall away
from my holy purpose. For from the days of his youth the senses of
man are prone to evil, and unless divine aid strengthens him, he
quickly falls deeper. But Holy Communion removes him from evil and
confirms him in good.
If I am so often careless and lax when I celebrate or
communicate, what would happen if I did not receive this remedy
and seek so great a help? Although I am neither fit nor properly
disposed to celebrate every day, yet I will do my best at proper
times to receive the divine Mysteries and share in this great
grace. This, indeed, is the one chief consolation of the faithful
soul when separated from You by mortality, that often mindful of
her God, she receives her Beloved with devout recollection.
Oh, wonderful condescension of Your affection toward us, that
You, the Lord God, Creator and Giver of life to all, should see
fit to come to a poor soul and to appease her hunger with all Your
divinity and humanity! O happy mind and blessed soul which
deserves to receive You, her Lord God, and in receiving You, is
filled with spiritual joy! How great a Master she entertains, what
a beloved guest she receives, how sweet a companion she welcomes,
how true a friend she gains, how beautiful and noble is the spouse
she embraces, beloved and desired above all things that can be
loved and desired! Let heaven and earth and all their treasures
stand silent before Your face, most sweetly Beloved, for whatever
glory and beauty they have is of Your condescending bounty, and
they cannot approach the beauty of Your name, Whose wisdom is
 Matt. 15:32.
May 4 17 7:04 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Fourth Chapter
MANY BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN THOSE WHO RECEIVE COMMUNION WORTHILYThe Disciple
O LORD my God, favor Your servant with the blessings of Your
sweetness that I may merit to approach Your magnificent Sacrament
worthily and devoutly. Lift up my heart to You and take away from
me this heavy indolence. Visit me with Your saving grace that I
may in spirit taste Your sweetness which lies hidden in this
Sacrament like water in the depths of a spring. Enlighten my eyes
to behold this great Mystery, and give me strength to believe in
it with firm faith.
For it is Your work, not the power of man, Your sacred
institution, not his invention. No man is able of himself to
comprehend and understand these things which surpass even the keen
vision of angels. How, then, shall I, an unworthy sinner who am
but dust and ashes, be able to fathom and understand so great a
O Lord, I come to You at Your command in simplicity of heart,
in good, firm faith, with hope and reverence, and I truly believe
that You are present here in this Sacrament, God and man. It is
Your will that I receive You and unite myself to You in love.
Wherefore, I beg Your mercy and ask that special grace be given
me, that I may be wholly dissolved in You and filled with Your
love, no longer to concern myself with exterior consolations. For
this, the highest and most worthy Sacrament, is the health of soul
and body, the cure of every spiritual weakness. In it my defects
are remedied, my passions restrained, and temptations overcome or
allayed. In it greater grace is infused, growing virtue is
nourished, faith confirmed, hope strengthened, and charity fanned
You, my God, the protector of my soul, the strength of human
weakness, and the giver of every interior consolation, have given
and still do often give in this Sacrament great gifts to Your
loved ones who communicate devoutly. Moreover, You give them many
consolations amid their numerous troubles and lift them from the
depths of dejection to the hope of Your protection. With new
graces You cheer and lighten them within, so that they who are
full of anxiety and without affection before Communion may find
themselves changed for the better after partaking of this heavenly
food and drink.
Likewise, You so deal with Your elect that they may truly
acknowledge and plainly experience how weak they are in themselves
and what goodness and grace they obtain from You. For though in
themselves they are cold, obdurate, and wanting in devotion,
through You they become fervent, cheerful, and devout.
Who, indeed, can humbly approach the fountain of sweetness
and not carry away a little of it? Or who, standing before a
blazing fire does not feel some of its heat? You are a fountain
always filled with superabundance! You are a fire, ever burning,
that never fails!
Therefore, while I may not exhaust the fullness of the
fountain or drink to satiety, yet will I put my lips to the mouth
of this heavenly stream that from it I may receive at least some
small drop to refresh my thirst and not wither away. And if I
cannot as yet be all heavenly or as full of fire as the cherubim
and seraphim, yet I will try to become more devout and prepare my
heart so that I may gather some small spark of divine fire from
the humble reception of this life-giving Sacrament.
Whatever is wanting in me, good Jesus, Savior most holy, do
You in Your kindness and grace supply for me, You Who have been
pleased to call all unto You, saying: "Come to Me all you that
labor and are burdened and I will refresh you."
I, indeed, labor in the sweat of my brow. I am torn with
sorrow of heart. I am laden with sin, troubled with temptations,
enmeshed and oppressed by many evil passions, and there is none to
help me, none to deliver and save me but You, my Lord God and
Savior, to Whom I entrust myself and all I have, that You may
protect me and lead me to eternal life. For the honor and glory of
Your name receive me, You Who have prepared Your Body and Blood as
food and drink for me. Grant, O Lord, my God and Savior, that by
approaching Your Mysteries frequently, the zeal of my devotion may
May 5 17 8:51 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Fifth Chapter
THE DIGNITY OF THE SACRAMENT AND OF THE PRIESTHOOD The Voice of Christ
HAD you the purity of an angel and the sanctity of St. John the
Baptist, you would not be worthy to receive or administer this
Sacrament. It is not because of any human meriting that a man
consecrates and administers the Sacrament of Christ, and receives
the Bread of Angels for his food. Great is the Mystery and great
the dignity of priests to whom is given that which has not been
granted the angels. For priests alone, rightly ordained in the
Church, have power to celebrate Mass and consecrate the Body of
The priest, indeed, is the minister of God, using the word of
God according to His command and appointment. God, moreover, is
there -- the chief Author and invisible Worker to Whom all is
subject as He wills, to Whom all are obedient as He commands.
In this most excellent Sacrament, therefore, you ought to
believe in God rather than in your own senses or in any visible
sign, and thus, with fear and reverence draw near to such a work
as this. Look to yourself and see whose ministry has been given
you through the imposition of the bishop's hands.
Behold, you have been made a priest, consecrated to celebrate
Mass! See to it now that you offer sacrifice to God faithfully and
devoutly at proper times, and that you conduct yourself
blamelessly. You have not made your burden lighter. Instead, you
are now bound by stricter discipline and held to more perfect
A priest ought to be adorned with all virtues and show the
example of a good life to others. His way lies not among the
vulgar and common habits of men but with the angels in heaven and
the perfect men on earth. A priest clad in the sacred vestments
acts in Christ's place, that he may pray to God both for himself
and for all people in a suppliant and humble manner. He has before
and behind him the sign of the Lord's cross that he may always
remember the Passion of Christ. It is before him, on the chasuble,
that he may look closely upon the footsteps of Christ and try to
follow them fervently. It is behind him -- he is signed with it --
that he may gladly suffer for God any adversities inflicted by
He wears the cross before him that he may mourn his own sins,
behind him, that in pity he may mourn the sins of others, and know
that he is appointed to stand between God and the sinner, never to
become weary of prayer and the holy offering until it is granted
him to obtain grace and mercy.
When the priest celebrates Mass, he honors God, gladdens the
angels, strengthens the Church, helps the living, brings rest to
the departed, and wins for himself a share in all good things.
May 6 17 11:37 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Sixth Chapter
AN INQUIRY ON THE PROPER THING TO DO BEFORE COMMUNION The Disciple
WHEN I consider Your dignity, O Lord, and my own meanness, I
become very much frightened and confused. For if I do not receive,
I fly from Life, and if I intrude unworthily, I incur Your
displeasure. What, then, shall I do, my God, my Helper and Adviser
in necessity? Teach me the right way. Place before me some short
exercise suitable for Holy Communion, for it is good to know in
what manner I ought to make my heart ready devoutly and fervently
for You, to receive Your Sacrament for the good of my soul, or
even to celebrate so great and divine a sacrifice. The Seventh Chapter
THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE AND THE RESOLUTION TO AMEND The Voice of Christ
ABOVE all, God's priest should approach the celebration and
reception of this Sacrament with the deepest humility of heart and
suppliant reverence, with complete faith and the pious intention
of giving honor to God.
Carefully examine your conscience, then. Cleanse and purify
it to the best of your power by true contrition and humble
confession, that you may have no burden, know of no remorse, and
thus be free to come near. Let the memory of all your sins grieve
you, and especially lament and bewail your daily transgressions.
Then if time permits, confess to God in the secret depths of your
heart all the miseries your passions have caused.
Lament and grieve because you are still so worldly, so
carnal, so passionate and unmortified, so full of roving lust, so
careless in guarding the external senses, so often occupied in
many vain fancies, so inclined to exterior things and so heedless
of what lies within, so prone to laughter and dissipation and so
indisposed to sorrow and tears, so inclined to ease and the
pleasures of the flesh and so cool to austerity and zeal, so
curious to hear what is new and to see the beautiful and so slow
to embrace humiliation and dejection, so covetous of abundance, so
niggardly in giving and so tenacious in keeping, so inconsiderate
in speech, so reluctant in silence, so undisciplined in character,
so disordered in action, so greedy at meals, so deaf to the Word
of God, so prompt to rest and so slow to labor, so awake to empty
conversation, so sleepy in keeping sacred vigils and so eager to
end them, so wandering in your attention, so careless in saying
the office, so lukewarm in celebrating, so heartless in receiving,
so quickly distracted, so seldom fully recollected, so quickly
moved to anger, so apt to take offense at others, so prone to
judge, so severe in condemning, so happy in prosperity and so weak
in adversity, so often making good resolutions and carrying so few
of them into action.
When you have confessed and deplored these and other faults
with sorrow and great displeasure because of your weakness, be
firmly determined to amend your life day by day and to advance in
goodness. Then, with complete resignation and with your entire
will offer yourself upon the altar of your heart as an everlasting
sacrifice to the honor of My name, by entrusting with faith both
body and soul to My care, that thus you may be considered worthy
to draw near and offer sacrifice to God and profitably receive the
Sacrament of My Body. For there is no more worthy offering, no
greater satisfaction for washing away sin than to offer yourself
purely and entirely to God with the offering of the Body of Christ
in Mass and Communion.
If a man does what he can and is truly penitent, however
often he comes to Me for grace and pardon, "As I live, saith the
Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the
wicked turn from his way and live"; I will no longer remember
his sins, but all will be forgiven him.
 Ezek. 33:11.
May 7 17 7:31 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Eighth Chapter
THE OFFERING OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS; OUR OFFERING The Voice of Christ
AS I offered Myself willingly to God the Father for your sins with
hands outstretched and body naked on the cross, so that nothing
remained in Me that had not become a complete sacrifice to appease
the divine wrath, so ought you to be willing to offer yourself to
Me day by day in the Mass as a pure and holy oblation, together
with all your faculties and affections, with as much inward
devotion as you can.
What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to
Me? I care not for anything else you may give Me, for I seek not
your gift but you. Just as it would not be enough for you to have
everything if you did not have Me, so whatever you give cannot
please Me if you do not give yourself.
Offer yourself to Me, therefore, and give yourself entirely
for God -- your offering will be accepted. Behold, I offered
Myself wholly to the Father for you, I even gave My whole Body and
Blood for food that I might be all yours, and you Mine forever.
But if you rely upon self, and do not offer your free will to
Mine, your offering will be incomplete and the union between us
imperfect. Hence, if you desire to attain grace and freedom of
heart, let the free offering of yourself into the hands of God
precede your every action. This is why so few are inwardly free
and enlightened -- they know not how to renounce themselves
My word stands: "Everyone of you that doth not renounce all
that he possesseth, cannot be My disciple."
If, therefore, you wish to be My disciple, offer yourself to
Me with all your heart.
 Luke 14:33. The Ninth Chapter
WE SHOULD OFFER OURSELVES AND ALL THAT WE HAVE TO GOD, PRAYING FOR ALL The Disciple
ALL things in heaven and on earth, O Lord, are Yours. I long to
give myself to You as a voluntary offering to remain forever
Yours. With a sincere heart I offer myself this day to You, O
Lord, to Your eternal service, to Your homage, and as a sacrifice
of everlasting praise. Receive me with this holy offering of Your
precious Body which also I make to You this day, in the presence
of angels invisibly attending, for my salvation and that of all
O Lord, upon Your altar of expiation, I offer You all the
sins and offenses I have committed in Your presence and in the
presence of Your holy angels, from the day when I first could sin
until this hour, that You may burn and consume them all in the
fire of Your love, that You may wipe away their every stain,
cleanse my conscience of every fault, and restore to me Your grace
which I lost in sin by granting full pardon for all and receiving
me mercifully with the kiss of peace.
What can I do for all my sins but humbly confess and lament
them, and implore Your mercy without ceasing? In Your mercy, I
implore You, hear me when I stand before You, my God. All my sins
are most displeasing to me. I wish never to commit them again. I
am sorry for them and will be sorry as long as I live. I am ready
to do penance and make satisfaction to the utmost of my power.
Forgive me, O God, forgive me my sins for Your Holy Name.
Save my soul which You have redeemed by Your most precious Blood.
See, I place myself at Your mercy. I commit myself to Your hands.
Deal with me according to Your goodness, not according to my
malicious and evil ways.
I offer to You also all the good I have, small and imperfect
though it be, that You may make it more pure and more holy, that
You may be pleased with it, render it acceptable to Yourself, and
perfect it more and more, and finally that You may lead me, an
indolent and worthless creature, to a good and happy end.
I offer You also all the holy desires of Your devoted
servants, the needs of my parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and
all who are dear to me; of all who for Your sake have been kind to
me or to others; of all who have wished and asked my prayers and
Masses for them and theirs, whether they yet live in the flesh or
are now departed from this world, that they may all experience the
help of Your grace, the strength of Your consolation, protection
from dangers, deliverance from punishment to come, and that, free
from all evils, they may gladly give abundant thanks to You.
I offer You also these prayers and the Sacrifice of
Propitiation for those especially who have in any way injured,
saddened, or slandered me, inflicted loss or pain upon me, and
also for all those whom I have at any time saddened, disturbed,
offended, and abused by word or deed, willfully or in ignorance.
May it please You to forgive us all alike our sins and offenses
against one another.
Take away from our hearts, O Lord, all suspicion, anger,
wrath, contention, and whatever may injure charity and lessen
brotherly love. Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on those who ask
Your mercy, give grace to those who need it, and make us such that
we may be worthy to enjoy Your favor and gain eternal life.
May 9 17 10:10 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Tenth Chapter
DO NOT LIGHTLY FOREGO HOLY COMMUNION The Voice of Christ
YOU must often return to the source of grace and divine mercy, to
the fountain of goodness and perfect purity, if you wish to be
free from passion and vice, if you desire to be made stronger and
more watchful against all the temptations and deceits of the
The enemy, knowing the great good and the healing power of
Holy Communion, tries as much as he can by every manner and means
to hinder and keep away the faithful and the devout. Indeed, there
are some who suffer the worst assaults of Satan when disposing
themselves to prepare for Holy Communion. As it is written in Job,
this wicked spirit comes among the sons of God to trouble them by
his wonted malice, to make them unduly fearful and perplexed, that
thus he may lessen their devotion or attack their faith to such an
extent that they perhaps either forego Communion altogether or
receive with little fervor.
No attention, however, must be paid to his cunning wiles, no
matter how base and horrible -- all his suggestions must be cast
back upon his head. The wretch is to be despised and scorned. Holy
Communion must not be passed by because of any assaults from him
or because of the commotion he may arouse.
Oftentimes, also, too great solicitude for devotion and
anxiety about confession hinder a person. Do as wise men do. Cast
off anxiety and scruple, for it impedes the grace of God and
destroys devotion of the mind.
Do not remain away from Holy Communion because of a small
trouble or vexation but go at once to confession and willingly
forgive all others their offenses. If you have offended anyone,
humbly seek pardon and God will readily forgive you.
What good is it to delay confession for a long time or to put
off Holy Communion? Cleanse yourself at once, spit out the poison
quickly. Make haste to apply the remedy and you will find it
better than if you had waited a long time. If you put it off today
because of one thing, perhaps tomorrow a greater will occur to
you, and thus you will stay away from Communion for a long time
and become even more unfit.
Shake off this heaviness and sloth as quickly as you can, for
there is no gain in much anxiety, in enduring long hours of
trouble, and in depriving yourself of the divine Mysteries because
of these daily disturbances. Yes, it is very hurtful to defer Holy
Communion long, for it usually brings on a lazy spiritual sleep.
How sad that some dissolute and lax persons are willing to
postpone confession and likewise wish to defer Holy Communion,
lest they be forced to keep a stricter watch over themselves!
Alas, how little love and devotion have they who so easily put off
How happy and acceptable to God is he who so lives, and keeps
his conscience so pure, as to be ready and well disposed to
communicate, even every day if he were permitted, and if he could
do so unnoticed.
If, now and then, a man abstains by the grace of humility or
for a legitimate reason, his reverence is commendable, but if
laziness takes hold of him, he must arouse himself and do
everything in his power, for the Lord will quicken his desire
because of the good intention to which He particularly looks. When
he is indeed unable to come, he will always have the good will and
pious intention to communicate and thus he will not lose the fruit
of the Sacrament.
Any devout person may at any hour on any day receive Christ
in spiritual communion profitably and without hindrance. Yet on
certain days and times appointed he ought to receive with
affectionate reverence the Body of his Redeemer in this Sacrament,
seeking the praise and honor of God rather than his own
For as often as he devoutly calls to mind the mystery and
passion of the Incarnate Christ, and is inflamed with love for
Him, he communicates mystically and is invisibly refreshed.
He who prepares himself only when festivals approach or
custom demands, will often find himself unprepared. Blessed is he
who offers himself a sacrifice to the Lord as often as he
celebrates or communicates.
Be neither too slow nor too fast in celebrating but follow
the good custom common to those among whom you are. You ought not
to cause others inconvenience or trouble, but observe the accepted
rule as laid down by superiors, and look to the benefit of others
rather than to your own devotion or inclination. The Eleventh Chapter
THE BODY AND CHRIST AND SACRED SCRIPTURE ARE MOST NECESSARY TO A FAITHFUL SOUL The Disciple
O MOST sweet Lord Jesus, how great is the happiness of the devout
soul that feasts upon You at Your banquet, where there is set
before her to be eaten no other food but Yourself alone, her only
Lover, most desired of all that her heart can desire!
To me it would be happiness, indeed, to shed tears in Your
presence from the innermost depths of love, and like the pious
Magdalen to wash Your feet with them. But where now is this
devotion, this copious shedding of holy tears? Certainly in Your
sight, before Your holy angels, my whole heart ought to be
inflamed and weep for joy. For, hidden though You are beneath
another form, I have You truly present in the Sacrament.
My eyes could not bear to behold You in Your own divine
brightness, nor could the whole world stand in the splendor of the
glory of Your majesty. In veiling Yourself in the Sacrament,
therefore, You have regard for my weakness.
In truth, I possess and adore Him Whom the angels adore in
heaven -- I as yet by faith, they face to face unveiled. I must be
content with the light of the true faith and walk in it until the
day of eternal brightness dawns and the shadow of figures passes
away. When, moreover, that which is perfect shall have come, the
need of sacraments shall cease, for the blessed in heavenly glory
need no healing sacrament. Rejoicing endlessly in the presence of
God, beholding His glory face to face, transformed from their own
brightness to the brightness of the ineffable Deity, they taste
the Word of God made flesh, as He was in the beginning and will
remain in eternity.
Though mindful of these wonderful things, every spiritual
solace becomes wearisome to me because so long as I do not plainly
see the Lord in His glory, I consider everything I hear and see on
earth of little account.
You are my witness, O God, that nothing can comfort me, no
creature give me rest but You, my God, Whom I desire to
contemplate forever. But this is not possible while I remain in
mortal life, and, therefore, I must be very patient and submit
myself to You in every desire.
Even Your saints, O Lord, who now rejoice with You in the
kingdom of heaven, awaited the coming of Your glory with faith and
great patience while they lived. What they believed, I believe.
What they hoped for, I hope for, and whither they arrived, I trust
I shall come by Your grace. Meanwhile I will walk in faith,
strengthened by the example of the saints. I shall have, besides,
for comfort and for the guidance of my life, the holy Books, and
above all these, Your most holy Body for my special haven and
I feel there are especially necessary for me in this life two
things without which its miseries would be unbearable. Confined
here in this prison of the body I confess I need these two, food
and light. Therefore, You have given me in my weakness Your sacred
Flesh to refresh my soul and body, and You have set Your word as
the guiding light for my feet. Without them I could not live
aright, for the word of God is the light of my soul and Your
Sacrament is the Bread of Life.
These also may be called the two tables, one here, one there,
in the treasure house of holy Church. One is the table of the holy
altar, having the holy Bread that is the precious Body of Christ.
The other is the table of divine law, containing holy doctrine
that teaches all the true faith and firmly leads them within the
veil, the Holy of holies.
Thanks to You, Lord Jesus, Light of eternal light, for the
table of Your holy teaching which You have prepared for us by Your
servants, the prophets and Apostles and other learned men.
Thanks to You, Creator and Redeemer of men, Who, to declare
Your love to all the world, have prepared a great supper in which
You have placed before us as food not the lamb, the type of
Yourself, but Your own most precious Body and Blood, making all
the faithful glad in Your sacred banquet, intoxicating them with
the chalice of salvation in which are all the delights of
paradise; and the holy angels feast with us but with more
happiness and sweetness.
Oh, how great and honorable is the office of the priest, to
whom is given the consecration of the Lord of majesty in sacred
words, whose lips bless Him, whose hands hold Him, whose tongue
receives Him, and whose ministry it is to bring Him to others!
Oh, how clean those hands should be, how pure the lips, how
sanctified the body, how immaculate the heart of the priest to
whom the Author of all purity so often comes. No word but what is
holy, none but what is good and profitable ought to come from the
lips of the priest who so often receives the Sacrament of Christ.
Single and modest should be the eyes accustomed to looking upon
the Body of Christ. Pure and lifted up to heaven the hands
accustomed to handle the Creator of heaven and earth. To priests
above all it is written in the law: "Be ye holy, for I, the Lord
your God, am holy."
Let Your grace, almighty God, assist us, that we who have
undertaken the office of the priesthood may serve You worthily and
devoutly in all purity and with a good conscience. And if we
cannot live as innocently as we ought, grant us at least to lament
duly the wrongs we have committed and in the spirit of humility
and the purpose of a good will to serve You more fervently in the
May 10 17 12:44 PM
The Twelfth Chapter
THE COMMUNICANT SHOULD PREPARE HIMSELF FOR CHRIST WITH GREAT CARE The Voice of Christ
I AM the Lover of purity, the Giver of all holiness. I seek a pure
heart and there is the place of My rest.
Prepare for Me a large room furnished and I with My disciples
will keep the Pasch with you.
If you wish that I come to you and remain with you, purge out
the old leaven and make clean the dwelling of your heart. Shut out
the whole world with all the din of its vices. Sit as the sparrow
lonely on the housetop, and think on your transgressions in
bitterness of soul.
Everyone who loves prepares the best and most beautiful home
for his beloved, because the love of the one receiving his lover
is recognized thereby.
But understand that you cannot by any merit of your own make
this preparation well enough, though you spend a year in doing it
and think of nothing else. It is only by My goodness and grace
that you are allowed to approach My table, as though a beggar were
invited to dinner by a rich man and he had nothing to offer in
return for the gift but to humble himself and give thanks.
Do what you can and do that carefully. Receive the Body of
the Lord, your beloved God Who deigns to come to you, not out of
habit or necessity, but with fear, with reverence, and with love.
I am He that called you. I ordered it done. I will supply
what you lack. Come and receive Me.
When I grant the grace of devotion, give thanks to God, not
because you are worthy but because I have had mercy upon you. If
you have it not and feel rather dry instead, continue in prayer,
sigh and knock, and do not give up until you receive some crumb of
You have need of Me. I do not need you. You do not come to
sanctify Me but I come to sanctify you and make you better. You
come to be sanctified and united with Me, to receive new grace and
to be aroused anew to amend. Do not neglect this grace, but
prepare your heart with all care, and bring into it your Beloved.
Not only should you prepare devoutly before Communion, but
you should also carefully keep yourself in devotion after
receiving the Sacrament. The careful custody of yourself afterward
is no less necessary than the devout preparation before, for a
careful afterwatch is the best preparation for obtaining greater
grace. If a person lets his mind wander to external comforts, he
becomes quite indisposed.
Beware of much talking. Remain in seclusion and enjoy your
God, for you have Him Whom all the world cannot take from you.
I am He to Whom you should give yourself entirely, that from
now on you may live, not in yourself, but in Me, with all cares
cast away. The Thirteenth Chapter
WITH ALL HER HEART THE DEVOUT SOUL SHOULD DESIRE UNION WITH CHRIST IN THE SACRAMENT The Disciple
LET it be granted me to find You alone, O Christ, to open to You
my whole heart, to enjoy You as my soul desires, to be disturbed
by no one, to be moved and troubled by no creature, that You may
speak to me and I to You alone, as a lover speaks to his loved
one, and friend converses with friend.
I pray for this, I desire this, that I may be completely
united to You and may withdraw my heart from all created things,
learning to relish the celestial and the eternal through Holy
Communion and the frequent celebration of Mass.
Ah Lord God, when shall I be completely united to You and
absorbed by You, with self utterly forgotten? You in me and I in
You? Grant that we may remain so together. You in truth are my
Beloved, chosen from thousands, in Whom my soul is happy to dwell
all the days of her life. You are in truth my pledge of peace, in
Whom is the greatest peace and true rest, without Whom there is
toil and sorrow and infinite misery.
You truly are the hidden God. Your counsel is not with the
wicked, and Your conversation is rather with the humble and the
O how kind is Your spirit, Lord, Who in order to show Your
sweetness toward Your children, deign to feed them with the
sweetest of bread, bread come down from heaven! Surely there is no
other people so fortunate as to have their god near them, as You,
our God, are present everywhere to the faithful, to whom You give
Yourself to be eaten and enjoyed for their daily solace and the
raising of their hearts to heaven.
Indeed, what other nation is so renowned as the Christian
peoples? What creature under heaven is so favored as the devout
soul to whom God comes, to feed her with His glorious Flesh? O
unspeakable grace! O wonderful condescension! O love beyond
measure, singularly bestowed upon man!
What return shall I make to the Lord for this love, this
grace so boundless? There is nothing I can give more pleasing than
to offer my heart completely to my God, uniting it closely with
His. Then shall all my inner self be glad when my soul is
perfectly united with God. Then will He say to me: "If you will be
with Me, I will be with you." And I will answer Him: "Deign, O
Lord, to remain with me. I will gladly be with You. This is my one
desire, that my heart may be united with You."
May 11 17 3:05 PM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Fourteenth Chapter
THE ARDENT LONGING OF DEVOUT MEN FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST The Disciple
HOW great is the abundance of Your kindness, O Lord, which You
have hidden from those who fear You!
When I think how some devout persons come to Your Sacrament
with the greatest devotion and love, I am frequently ashamed and
confused that I approach Your altar and the table of Holy
Communion so coldly and indifferently; that I remain so dry and
devoid of heartfelt affection; that I am not completely inflamed
in Your presence, O my God, nor so strongly drawn and attracted as
many devout persons who, in their great desire for Communion and
intense heart love, could not restrain their tears but longed from
the depths of their souls and bodies to embrace You, the Fountain
of Life. These were able to appease and allay their hunger in no
other way than by receiving Your Body with all joy and spiritual
eagerness. The faith of these men was true and ardent --
convincing proof of Your sacred presence. They whose hearts burn
so ardently within them when Jesus lives with them truly know
their Lord in the breaking of bread.
Such affection and devotion, such mighty love and zeal are
often far beyond me. Be merciful to me, O sweet, good, kind Jesus,
and grant me, Your poor suppliant, sometimes at least to feel in
Holy Communion a little of the tenderness of Your love, that my
faith may grow stronger, that my hope in Your goodness may
increase, and that charity, once perfectly kindled within me by
tasting heavenly manna, may never fail.
Your mercy can give me the grace I long for and can visit me
most graciously with fervor of soul according to Your good
pleasure. For although I am not now inflamed with as great desire
as those who are singularly devoted to You, yet by Your grace I
long for this same great flame, praying and seeking a place among
all such ardent lovers that I may be numbered among their holy
company. The Fifteenth Chapter
THE GRACE OF DEVOTION IS ACQUIRED THROUGH HUMILITY AND SELF-DENIAL The Voice of Christ
YOU must seek earnestly the grace of devotion, ask for it
fervently, await it patiently and hopefully, receive it
gratefully, guard it humbly, cooperate with it carefully and leave
to God, when it comes, the length and manner of the heavenly
When you feel little or no inward devotion, you should
especially humiliate yourself, but do not become too dejected or
unreasonably sad. In one short moment God often gives what He has
long denied. At times He grants at the end what He has denied from
the beginning of prayer. If grace were always given at once, or
were present at our beck and call, it would not be well taken by
weak humankind. Therefore, with good hope and humble patience
await the grace of devotion.
When it is not given, or for some unknown reason is taken
away, blame yourself and your sins. Sometimes it is a small matter
that hinders grace and hides it, if, indeed, that which prevents
so great a good may be called little rather than great. But if you
remove this hindrance, be it great or small, and if you conquer it
perfectly, you shall have what you ask. As soon as you have given
yourself to God with all your heart and seek neither this nor that
for your own pleasure and purpose, but place yourself completely
in His charge, you shall find yourself at peace, united with Him,
because nothing will be so sweet, nothing will please you so much
as the good pleasure of His will.
Anyone, therefore, who shall with simplicity of heart direct
his intention to God and free himself from all inordinate love or
dislike for any creature will be most fit to receive grace and
will be worthy of the gift of devotion. For where the Lord finds
the vessel empty He pours down His blessing.
So also the more perfectly a man renounces things of this
world, and the more completely he dies to himself through contempt
of self, the more quickly this great grace comes to him, the more
plentifully it enters in, and the higher it uplifts the free
Then shall he see and abound, then shall his heart marvel and
be enlarged within him, because the Hand of the Lord is with him
and in the hollow of that Hand he has placed himself forever. Thus
shall the man be blessed who seeks God with all his heart and has
not regarded his soul in vain. Such a one, receiving the Holy
Eucharist, merits the grace of divine union because he looks not
on his own thoughts, nor to his own comfort, but above all
devotion and consolation to the glory and honor of God.
May 12 17 5:39 PM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Sixteenth Chapter
WE SHOULD SHOW OUR NEEDS TO CHRIST AND ASK HIS GRACEThe Disciple
O MOST kind, most loving Lord, Whom I now desire to receive with
devotion, You know the weakness and the necessity which I suffer,
in what great evils and vices I am involved, how often I am
depressed, tempted, defiled, and troubled.
To You I come for help, to You I pray for comfort and relief.
I speak to Him Who knows all things, to Whom my whole inner life
is manifest, and Who alone can perfectly comfort and help me.
You know what good things I am most in need of and how poor I
am in virtue. Behold I stand before You, poor and naked, asking
Your grace and imploring Your mercy.
Feed Your hungry beggar. Inflame my coldness with the fire of
Your love. Enlighten my blindness with the brightness of Your
presence. Turn all earthly things to bitterness for me, all
grievance and adversity to patience, all lowly creation to
contempt and oblivion. Raise my heart to You in heaven and suffer
me not to wander on earth. From this moment to all eternity do You
alone grow sweet to me, for You alone are my food and drink, my
love and my joy, my sweetness and my total good.
Let Your presence wholly inflame me, consume and transform me
into Yourself, that I may become one spirit with You by the grace
of inward union and by the melting power of Your ardent love.
Suffer me not to go from You fasting and thirsty, but deal
with me mercifully as You have so often and so wonderfully dealt
with Your saints.
What wonder if I were completely inflamed by You to die to
myself, since You are the fire ever burning and never dying, a
love purifying the heart and enlightening the understanding. The Seventeenth Chapter
THE BURNING LOVE AND STRONG DESIRE OT RECEIVE CHRIST The Disciple
WITH greatest devotion and ardent love, with all affection and
fervor of heart I wish to receive You, O Lord, as many saints and
devout persons, most pleasing to You in their holiness of life and
most fervent in devotion, desired You in Holy Communion.
O my God, everlasting love, my final good, my happiness
unending, I long to receive You with as strong a desire and as
worthy a reverence as any of the saints ever had or could have
felt, and though I am not worthy to have all these sentiments of
devotion, still I offer You the full affection of my heart as if I
alone had all those most pleasing and ardent desires.
Yet, whatever a God-fearing mind can conceive and desire, I
offer in its entirety to You with the greatest reverence and
inward affection. I wish to keep nothing for self but to offer to
You, willingly and most freely, myself and all that is mine.
O Lord God, my Creator and my Redeemer, I long to receive You
this day with such reverence, praise, and honor, with such
gratitude, worthiness and love, with such faith, hope, and purity
as that with which Your most holy Mother, the glorious Virgin
Mary, longed for and received You when she humbly and devoutly
answered the angel who announced to her the mystery of the
Incarnation: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me
according to thy word."
Likewise as Your blessed precursor, the most excellent of
saints, John the Baptist, gladdened by Your presence, exulted in
the Holy Ghost while yet enclosed in the womb of his mother, and
afterward seeing Jesus walking among men, humbled himself and with
devout love declared: "The friend of the bridegroom, who standeth
and heareth him, rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom's
voice," even so I long to be inflamed with great and holy
desires and to give myself to You with all my heart.
Therefore I offer and present to You the gladness of all
devout hearts, their ardent affection, their mental raptures,
their supernatural illuminations and heavenly visions together
with all the virtues and praises which have been or shall be
celebrated by all creatures in heaven and on earth, for myself and
all commended to my prayers, that You may be worthily praised and
Accept, O Lord my God, my promises and desires of giving You
infinite praise and boundless benediction, which in the vastness
of Your ineffable greatness are justly due You. This I render and
desire to render every day and every moment of time, and in my
loving prayers I invite and entreat all celestial spirits and all
the faithful to join me in giving You praise and thanks.
Let all people, races, and tongues praise You and with the
greatest joy and most ardent devotion magnify Your sweet and holy
name. And let all who reverently and devoutly celebrate this most
great Sacrament and receive it in the fullness of faith, find
kindness and mercy in You and humbly pray for me, a sinner. And
when they have received the longed-for devotion and blissful
union, and, well consoled and wonderfully refreshed, have retired
from Your holy, Your celestial table, may they deign to remember
my poor soul.
 Luke 1:38.
 John 3:29.
May 13 17 7:04 AM
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
BOOK FOUR - AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNIONThe Eighteenth Chapter
MAN SHOULD NOT SCRUTINIZE THIS SACRAMENT IN CURIOSITY
BUT HUMBLY IMITATE CHRIST AND SUBMIT REASON TO HOLY FAITH The Voice of Christ
BEWARE of curious and vain examination of this most profound
Sacrament, if you do not wish to be plunged into the depths of
doubt. He who scrutinizes its majesty too closely will be
overwhelmed by its glory.
God can do more than man can understand. A pious and humble
search for truth He will allow, a search that is ever ready to
learn and that seeks to walk in the reasonable doctrine of the
Blest is the simplicity that leaves the difficult way of
dispute and goes forward on the level, firm path of God's
commandments. Many have lost devotion because they wished to
search into things beyond them.
Faith is required of you, and a sincere life, not a lofty
intellect nor a delving into the mysteries of God. If you neither
know nor understand things beneath you, how can you comprehend
what is above you? Submit yourself to God and humble reason to
faith, and the light of understanding will be given you so far as
it is good and necessary for you. Some are gravely tempted
concerning faith and the Sacrament but this disturbance is not
laid to them but to the enemy.
Be not disturbed, dispute not in your mind, answer not the
doubts sent by the devil, but believe the words of God, believe
His saints and prophets and the evil enemy will flee from you. It
is often very profitable for the servant of God to suffer such
things. For Satan does not tempt unbelievers and sinners whom he
already holds securely, but in many ways he does tempt and trouble
the faithful servant.
Go forward, then, with sincere and unflinching faith, and
with humble reverence approach this Sacrament. Whatever you cannot
understand commit to the security of the all-powerful God, Who
does not deceive you. The man, however, who trusts in himself is
deceived. God walks with sincere men, reveals Himself to humble
men, enlightens the understanding of pure minds, and hides His
grace from the curious and the proud.
Human reason is weak and can be deceived. True faith,
however, cannot be deceived. All reason and natural science ought
to come after faith, not go before it, nor oppose it. For in this
most holy and supremely excellent Sacrament, faith and love take
precedence and work in a hidden manner.
God, eternal, incomprehensible, and infinitely powerful, does
great and inscrutable things in heaven and on earth, and there is
no searching into His marvelous works. If all the works of God
were such that human reason could easily grasp them, they would
not be called wonderful or beyond the power of words to tell.
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