From The Blog

Monthly Meditation – October 2010

The following is edited from “The Imitation of Christ” by THOMAS A KEMPIS

On the Deep Reverence with which Christ should be Received

Gladly do I receive, O Christ, Eternal Truth, the Words You have spoken. I receive them with gratitude and trust. You have given them to me for my salvation. May they be the more deeply imprinted in my heart. Your words, so tender, so full of sweetness and love, give me courage.

You command me to approach You in faith if I wish to have part in You, and to receive the food of immortality if I desire life and glory. 'Come to Me,' You say, 'all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.' O Lord my God! How sweet and loving in the ears of a sinner are these words, with which You invite the poor and needy to the Communion of Your most holy Body! But who am I, O Lord, that I should presume to approach You? The very Heaven of Heavens cannot contain You; and yet You say, 'Come you all to Me.'

What is the meaning of this kindly invitation? Unaware of any good in me on which I may presume, how shall I dare to come? How shall I invite You into my house, who have so often done evil in Your sight? The Angels and Archangels do You reverence; Saints and holy men stand in awe of You; yet You say, 'Come you all to Me'! Unless You Yourself had said it, who would believe it true? And who would dare approach, unless it was Your command?

Noah, a good man, is said to have worked a hundred years to build the ark, so that he and a few others might be saved. How, then, can I in one short hour prepare myself to receive with reverence the Creator of the world? Moses, Your great servant and special friend, constructed an Ark of imperishable wood, and covered it with purest gold, in order to house the Tablets of the Law: and how shall I, a corruptible creature, dare so lightly to receive You, the Maker of the Law and Giver of life? Solomon, wisest of Israel's kings, spent seven years in building a splendid Temple in praise of Your name. For eight days he kept the Feast of its Dedication, and offered a thousand peace-offerings. To the sound of trumpets, he solemnly and joyfully bore the Ark of the Covenant to its appointed resting place. How, then, shall I, unworthiest and poorest of men, welcome You into my house, when I can hardly spend half an hour devoutly? If only I could spend even half an hour as I ought!

O my God, how earnestly did all these strive to please You! And how little, alas, do I! How short is the time that I employ in preparing myself for Communion! Seldom am I entirely recollected, and very seldom free from all distraction. Yet in Your saving presence, O God, no unbecoming thought should enter my mind, for it is not an Angel, but the Lord of Angels who comes to be my guest.

How great a difference there is between the Ark of the Covenant and its relics, and Your most holy Body with its ineffable powers: between those sacrifices of the old Law which foreshadowed the Sacrifice to come, and the true Victim of Your Body, which fu1fills all the ancient rites!

Alas, why does not my heart bum within me at Your adorable presence? Why do I not prepare myself to receive Holy Communion, when the Patriarchs and Prophets of old, Kings and Princes with all their people, showed so great a devotion in Your holy worship?

The holy King David danced before the Ark, recalling Your blessings to his fathers; he wrote psalms, and taught his people to sing with joy; inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit, he often sang and played on the harp; he taught the people of Israel to praise God with the whole heart, and to bless Him every day. If all these performed such acts of praise and devotion before the Ark of the Covenant, how much greater devotion and reverence should I and all Christian people have in the presence of this Sacrament, and in receiving the most adorable Body of Christ?

Pilgrimages visit various places to venerate the relics of the Saints, covered with silks and gold, wondering at the story of their lives and the splendor of their shrines. But here on the Altar are You Yourself, my God, the Holy of Holies, Creator of men and Lord of Angels! When visiting such places, men are often moved by curiosity and seldom moved to true repentance. But here, in the Sacrament of the Altar, You are wholly present, my God, Christ Jesus; here we freely partake the fruit of eternal salvation, as often as we receive You worthily and devoutly; not with curiosity or sentimentality, but with firm faith, devout hope, and sincere love.

O God, invisible Creator of the world, how wonderful are Your dealings with us! How sweetly and graciously You welcome Your chosen, to whom You give Yourself in this Sacrament! It passes all understanding; it kindles the love and draws the hearts of the faithful to Yourself. For Your faithful ones, who strive to amend their whole lives, receive in this most exalted Sacrament the grace of devotion and the love of virtue.

O wonderful and hidden grace of this Sacrament, known so well to Christ's faithful, but hidden from unbelievers and servants of sin! In this Sacrament, spiritual grace is conveyed, lost virtue restored to the soul, and its sin-ravaged beauty renewed. Such is the grace of this Sacrament, that from the fullness of devotion You afford greater powers not only to the mind, but to the frail body.

We cannot but regret our own carelessness which hinders us from receiving Christ with greater love, for in Him rests all our hope of salvation. He is our Sanctification and Redemption: He is the comfort of pilgrims and the everlasting joy of the Saints, the delight of Heaven and the preservation of the whole world. O good Jesus, eternal Shepherd, we thank You that You deign to refresh us poor exiles with Your precious Body and Blood, and invite us to receive these Mysteries, saying, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.”