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THE IMITATION OF CHRIST

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BOOK FOUR
AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

LIBER QUARTUS
De devota exhortatione ad sacram Corporis Christi communionem.

Chapter 11
THE BODY OF CHRIST AND SACRED SCRIPTURE ARE MOST NECESSARY TO A FAITHFUL SOUL

Cap. 11.
Quod Corpus Christi, et sacra Scriptura
sunt animæ fideli necessaria.

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. 1. Dulcissime Domine Jesu, quanta est dulcedo devotæ animæ tecum epulantis in convivio tuo. Ubi ei non alius cibus manducandus proponitur nisi tu unicus dilectus ejus, super omnia desideria cordis desiderabilies. Et mihi quidem dulce foret in præsentia tua ex intimo affectu lacrymas fundere, et cum pia Magdalena pedes tuos lacrymis irrigare. Sed ubi est hæc devotio? Ubi lacrymarum sanctarum copiosa effusio? Certe in conspectu tuo et sanctorum Angelorum tuorum cor meum ardere deberet et ex gaudio flere. Habeo enim te in Sacramento vere præsentem, quamvis aliena specie occultatum.
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. 2. Nam in propria et divina claritate te conspicere oculi mei ferre non possunt, sed neque totus mundus in fulgore gloriæ majestatis tuæ subsisteret. In hoc ergo meæ imbecillitati consulis, quod te sub Sacramento abscondis. Habeo vere et adoro, quem Angeli adorant in cælo; sed ego interim adhuc in fide, illi autem in specie et sine velamine. Me oportet contentum esse in lumine veræ fidei, et in ea ambulare, donec aspiret dies æternæ claritatis, et umbræ figurarum inclinentur. Cum autem venerit, quod perfectum est, cessabit usus Sacramentorum, quia Beati in gloria cælesti non egent medicamine sacramentali. Gaudent enim sine fine in præsentia Dei, facie ad faciem gloriam ejus speculantes, et de claritate in claritatem abyssi Deitatis transformati, gustant verbum Dei, carnem factum; sicut fuit ab initio et manet in æternum.
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 refuge. 3. Memor horum mirabilium, grave mihi sit tædium, etiam vel quodlibet spirituale solatium, et quamdiu Dominum meum aperte in sua gloria non video, pro nihilo duco, omne quod in mundo conspicio et audio. Testis es, mi Deus, quod nulla potest me res consolari, nulla creatura quietare, nisi tu, Deus meus, quem desidero æternaliter contemplari. Sed non est hoc possibile durante me in hac mortalitate: et ideo oportet ut me ponam ad magnam patientiam, et meipsum in omni desiderio tibi submittam. Nam et Sancti tui, Domine, qui tecum jam in regno cælorum exultant in fide et patientia magna, dum viverent, adventum gloriæ tuæ expectabant. Quod illi crediderunt, ego credo; quod illi speraverunt, ego spero; quo illi pervenerunt, per gratiam tuam me venturum confido. Ambulabo interim in fide, exemplis confortatus Sanctorum. Haeo etiam libros sanctos pro solatio et vitæ speculo, atque super hæc omnia sacratissimum Corpus tuum pro singulari remedio et refrigerio.
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. 4. Duo namque mihi necessaria permaxime sentio in hac vita, sine quibus mihi importabilis foret ista miserabilis vitia. In carcere corporis hujus detentus egere duobus fateor, cibo scilicet, et lumine. Dedisti itaque mihi infirmo sacrum Corpus tuum ad refectionem mentis et corporis, et posuisti lucernam pedibus meis verbum tuum. Sine his duobus bene vivere non possem: nam verbum Dei lux est animæ, et Sacramentum tuum panis vitæ. Hæc possunt etiam dici mensæ duæ, hinc et inde in Gazophylacio sanctæ Ecclesiæ positæ. Una mensa est sacri altaris, habens panem sanctum, idest Corpus Christi prætiosum. Altera est divinæ legis continens doctrinam sanctam, erudiens fidem rectam, et firmiter usque ad interiora velaminis, ubi sunt sancta sanctorum, perducens.
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. 5. Gratias tibi, bone Jesu, lux lucis æternæ, pro doctrinæ sacræ mensa, quam nobis, per servos tuos Prophetas, et Apostolos aliosque Doctores ministrasti. Gratias tibi, Salvator et Creator hominum, qui ad declarandam toti mundo charitatem tuam cœ nam parasti magnam, in qua non agnum typicum, sed tuum Corpus sanctissimum, et Sanguinem proposuisti ad manducandum: læ tificans omnes fideles convivio sacro, et calice inebrians salutari, in quo sunt omnes deliciæ Paradisi; et epulantur nobiscum Angeli sancti, sed suavitate feliciori.
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. 6. Q. quam mangum et honorabile est officium Sacerdotum, quibus datum est Dominum majestatis verbis sacris consecrare, labiis benedicere, manibus tenere, ore proprio sumere, et cæteris ministrare. O, quam mundæ debent esse manus illæ , quam purum os, quam sanctum corpus, quam immaculatum cor Sacerdotis, ad quem toties ingreditur Auctor puritatis. Ex ore Sacerdotis non nisi sanctum, nisi honestum et utile procedere debet verbum qui tam sæ pe Christi accipit Sacramentum.
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."

7. Oculi ejus simplices et pudici, qui Christi Corpus solent intueri. Manus puræ et in cæ lum elevatæ , quæ Creatorem cæ li, et terræ solent contractare. Sacerdotibus specialiter in Lege dicitur: Sancti estote, quoniam ego sanctus sum, Dominus Deus vester.

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 future. 8. Adjuvet nos gratia tua omnipotens Deus, ut qui officium sacerdotale suscepimus, digne ac devote tibi omni puritate et conscientia bona famulari valeamus. Et si non possumus in tanta innocentia vitæ conversari ut debemus, concede nobis tamen digne flere mala quæ gessimus, ut in spiritu humilitatis ac bonæ voluntatis proposito tibi ferventius de cætero deservire valeamus.
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