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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

THE days of penance have come to us: unto the remission of our sins and the salvation of our souls. Blessed be God Who has provided us with the season and the method of doing some penance for our sins. For thus we merit His mercy: and also fuller grace and glory. O sacred time of penance, given unto salvation to all men; putting an end to vice, preparing the way for virtue, bringing in compunction, nourishing devotion: shaking off tepidity, renewing fervour, and arousing to every good. O fervour of devotion, O desire of amendment, now show thy power: and let that appear in effect, which thou hast first conceived in mind. Would that now thou wouldst overcome perfectly if only one vice: or unlearn some bad habit. O if thou wouldst now go up but one step in virtue: or wouldst gain some special grace from the Lord. If now thou dost not toil for thy perfection; when then wilt thou make progress, and when wilt thou correct any failing? For seldom at other times is he proved religious: whoever is not found religious at this season. At other times it is praiseworthy to be on one’s guard against what is unlawful: but now it is blamable not to abstain from what is lawful. A holy season demands a holy manner of life: and the many thousand examples of the faithful encourage the more to imitation. If now it becomes every Christian to live more holily; how much more the religious, who ought to show a pattern of holiness and abstinence to others? Fresh devotion therefore is to be taken up, and greater watchfulness is to be exercised over the senses: and a perfect amendment of the whole man, interior and exterior, is to be pursued. Let the mind be devout, prayer pure; meditation frequent, reading earnest, speech seldom and useful, solitude pleasant and enduring: toil in the hands, piety in the intention, Christ ever in the heart. Now also a more careful watch must be kept against the wiles of the enemy: who is wont more bitterly at this time to seek out and tempt the devout; if haply he may render them tepid, or impatient: that their toil may become useless, or penance a burden, or the choir wearisome. Nor is it strange if he dare to tempt us: who feared not to tempt Christ, the Lord. But the wretch departed vanquished and confounded; that hope of victory might be given us: and that we might not fear the devil, who have with us Christ, his conqueror. Let us then manfully resist: and abide constant in all adversities. Certainly it is not without reason that so often we sing in Church: “let us commend ourselves in much patience through the armour of the power of the justice of God.” Very necessary is patience now; for many things come contrary to nature: which cannot be borne without interior grace. One thing burdens one man more, and another, another: according to what each feels is more contrary to his nature, or habits. And so he is happy and wise: who at this time is brave, and armed with patience. For it is an excellent remedy not to give way to fear, nor to turn one’s back to the enemy: but to do manfully, and to be cheerfully willing to bear worse for the Lord. For thus acted the holy men, our glorious fathers burning with the love of God, who instituted these observances: and left them to us to do likewise. Finally, our Lord Jesus Christ underwent the grievous torments of the cross: and exhibited to us His patience for our consolation and perpetual imitation. Whoever therefore is now more devout in all things: there is no doubt that he will more joyously welcome the holy pasch. Whoever now is more mortified and more solicitous for his interior progress: assuredly, when the Lord rises, he will more gladly exult with Him.

O good Jesus, sweet guest and faithful friend; give heed to my desires and groanings: strengthen me, a weakling, in this holy fast, consecrated as a law by Thee. Give strength of mind and the grace of interior fullness: so that this bodily fasting may be the cleansing of my sins. Grant me so to abstain from bodily food: that in my mind I may fast from all vices and passions. Defend me from the cunning foe; who by every means strives to hinder the purpose I have conceived: and to draw me back from holy fervour. Give me Thy right hand, good Jesus; so that without weariness, without elation, without distraction of heart in Thy presence I may chant in the choir this holy time: and with all fidelity offer Thee the tithe of my days. Amen.

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