Remarkable Comfort

From “A Devout Exhortation to the Communion of the Holy Body of Christ,” The Imitation of Christ 3 (ca. 1420)

Beyond trusting to your goodness and your great mercy, Lord, I come, sick to a healer, hungry and parched to the font of life, destitute to the king of heaven, a gasping servant to my Lord, a creature to my creator, desperate to my holy comforter. But from where do I get this, that you should come to me? Who am I that you should offer your very self to me? How does a sinner dare appear to you face-to-face? And you, how do you condescend to come to a sinner? You know your servant and you know he has nothing good in himself from which you should offer this to him?

I acknowledge my worthlessness; I recognize your goodness; I praise your pity and I give you thanks for your overwhelming love… you give me the strength of heavenly food and the bread of angels to eat, none other than your very self, the living bread that came down from heaven and gives life to the world…

Rejoice my soul and give thanks to God for leaving to you so noble a gift and so remarkable a comfort in this vale of tears, for as often as you celebrate this mystery anew, and receive the body of Christ just so often you do the work of your redemption, and benefit from a sharing in all the merits of Christ. And indeed, Christ’s love never diminishes, and the magnitude of his offering is never exhausted.

Thomas a Kempis (ca. 1389-1471) was a German priest and spiritual writer. He served as prior of house of the Brethren of the Common Life, a religious community devoted to simplicity and education. He is remembered for The Imitation of Christ, a manual of advice for laypeople, which is one of the most widely read and cherished books of Western Christian spirituality. He is commemorated in some churches on July 24.


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