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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

I WILL ask the Father: and He shall give you another Paraclete. When our Lord Jesus Christ was about to depart from His disciples in the body, He promised them, saddened for His absence, the spiritual comfort of the Holy Ghost; Who SHOULD NEVER LEAVE their hearts: but should abide with them for ever. O what a blessed promise of Christ, not of worldly joy, but OF THE COMFORT OF THE HOLY GHOST; which is so precious and sweet: THAT NOTHING CAN BE COMPARED WITH IT in all things human. The holy apostles had great comfort in the humanity of Christ, hearing without hindrance divine words from His mouth, and seeing with their own eyes His wondrous miracles; and therefore not without good cause were they saddened at His departure, to be parted, like orphans, from His most sweet fellowship: fearing to be left without the defence needful to them, amid the wickedness and scandals of the Jews. Wherefore He, the most gracious Master, knowing secrets and foreseeing the future, relieves His dear disciples of the threatening grief, and in place of His bodily presence FIRMLY promises them a comfort, spiritual and ABIDING IN THEM. For they were such: as to be WORTHY of heavenly consolation and the divine INDWELLING; inasmuch as they were now true despisers of the world: and PERFECT FOLLOWERS OF THE HUMBLE LIFE OF CHRIST. BECAUSE THE FATHER LOVES SUCH: for such the Son prays: SUCH THE HOLY GHOST HEARS AND ENLIGHTENS.

See now the inestimable condescension of the divine graciousness: how the Son of God chose poor and simple men to the fellowship of His preaching for the conversion of the world; on whom also for the vile and valueless things of the world, which they had forsaken: He vouchsafed to bestow freely the precious gifts of the Holy Ghost. Why this? To teach that the glory of the world is to be spurned: and to show THAT HUMILITY IS MOST PLEASING TO HIM. Therefore, having heard these so divine oracles, O religious, flee honours and pleasures; put away worldly cares: and make ready thy heart for the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost by devout prayer. And if already thou art in a good state and hast left the ways of the world; do not look back again, do not be satisfied with the present: but more eagerly pant after things more perfect and more holy; and, in order to merit to receive now NEW grace, be INSTANT in compunction: and shut thyself in thy cell as in the upper room with the apostles. For this is a likely token of the presence of the grace of God, if a man long to possess higher things; if he inwardly grieve for his daily short-coming, IF HE ABSTAIN FROM MANY THINGS PERMITTED HIM: if he diligently ponder how he may progress unto better: IF HE NEVER DEEM HIMSELF PERFECT IN ANYTHING: NOR BELIEVE THAT HE HAS DONE ANYTHING WORTHILY. For it behoves thee UTTERLY TO RENOUNCE ALL LOWER THINGS, if thou desirest to be refreshed with the comfort of the Holy Ghost; if thou wilt be STRENGTHENED by His power: if thou longest to be inflamed with His love.

But we must ask further: by what exercises the holy apostles attained so great a grace. For they did not rise to such great perfection by a sudden change of life, or only in one day: but they made progress by degrees through increase of virtue in the school of Christ, as good pupils carefully taught by a good master. And first indeed they freely forsook all that was theirs for Christ’s sake; they renounced kith and kin, and other worldly ties: ready to bear with Him toil and want and the curses of men. On which account before His Passion, He said to them, “You are they who have continued with Me in My temptations.” Behold the good beginnings of the apostles; that, stripped of earthly things and tried by adversity; they cleaved to Christ with perseverance. And although at the time of the Passion through fear of death they withdrew somewhat from Him, for this nevertheless they sorrowed much: and, more FULLY RECOGNIZING their own weakness, WITH GREATER HUMILITY and more fervent love they returned to Christ. For, after His resurrection, they were again visited by Him, and strengthened by His words and the Scriptures: that thus they might attain higher perfection in faith and the spiritual life. Finally, when Christ ascended into Heaven, they placed their whole hope in heavenly things: nor did they then grieve much at His departure; but were glad rather at the brightness of His glory: so that they returned with great joy into Jerusalem. There, gathered together in the supper-room, with one mind they were instant in prayer and holy meditation: and humbly and with much desire they prepared themselves for the grace of the Holy Ghost to be sent down upon them from Heaven. There, ABIDING WITH MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS, they DEVOUTLY conferred together concerning the actions and teachings and miracles of our Saviour: and, as it is piously to be believed, they heard and learnt not a few mysteries of Christ from the Blessed Virgin. There, putting aside worldly cares, and shutting out vain discourses, they turned THEIR WHOLE DESIRE to interior things and the heavenly PROMISES; that they might merit to receive in addition to the gifts, which they already possessed, THE HOLY GHOST STILL MORE FULLY. And so it came to pass. For in His coming all were filled, and gifted and enlightened with such graces: that in signs and virtues and teaching they far outshone the patriarchs and prophets. For whatever was veiled in mystery in the law and the prophetic sayings, this by the enlightenment of the Holy Ghost they understood: and they were able to speak in divers tongues. The which was very necessary for the edification of the whole Church: that they should first be perfectly instructed in all the mysteries of our salvation: who were afterwards to preach the Gospel of Christ to every creature throughout the world. The heavenly Father then gave the good Spirit to them that asked Him: and enriched the hearts of the apostles with so OVERFLOWING A BLESSING, that now THEY HAD NO EARTHLY AMBITION; NOR FEARED ANY WORLDLY ADVERSITY; BUT WERE GLAD TO SUFFER REPROACH FOR THE NAME OF JESUS. And with the fullness of knowledge, He added unto them the armour of the spiritual warfare: that they might have divine wisdom against the errors of the Gentiles, to overcome the eloquence of the philosophers: and against the fury of persecutors, might unwaveringly hold the palm of patience. Verily great grace shone in the apostles; inasmuch as men, so unskilled according to the world, in so short a time rose to such a height of holiness: that with the aid of the Holy Ghost their preaching reached even to the ends of the earth.

Following also on what has been already said, consider that the holy apostles, who were most dear to Christ, did not receive this spiritual comfort without labour and due preparation: they lived not without strife and bodily suffering in this world; but became so much the more zealous for Christ and the neighbour’s salvation: the more they acknowledged that they had received fuller gifts than others. Of the which they sought not their own glory, nor a passing reward, nor the praise of men: but SIMPLY GOD’S honour, and the glory of Heaven after the toil of this life. Who verily strove to guard CAREFULLY, with HUMILITY AND MEEKNESS of heart, the heavenly-received grace in all their conversation amid many nations: not becoming tepid in leisure, not seeking the ease of the flesh: but COUNTING THE GAIN OF SOULS, by word and EXAMPLE they edified their flocks: and presented very great fruit to God. Their acts therefore and words, it is very profitable for all religious and devout to meditate earnestly; who have purposed to take up their cross for Christ, and follow the apostolic life; that thereby they may be ever eager for progress in a better life: and persevering in the discipline of the Order, by the help of the grace of the Holy Ghost, may take hold of eternal life with all the saints. Amen.

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