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Speculum Christiani

Page history last edited by nathan rein 13 years, 10 months ago

Dietrich Kolde, Mirror for Christians (1470)


Dietrich Kolde (d. 1515) was first an Augustinian and then a Franciscan priest who served various constituencies in German-speaking lands and the Low Countries. His catechism was written in German for the instruction of uneducated lay people, and after its first printing in 1470 it went on to become one of the most popular of these pedagogical tools. In it he rehearses and explains the traditional matter of catechesis—the creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. And along the way he inserts practical advice about how Christians should conduct themselves in the most mundane events of ordinary life. He also adds a section on how to die, a major theme in late medieval devotional literature.


A Lesson About How a Person Should Conduct Himself at Meals


When you are about to sit down to eat and drink at the table, you should bless God first with an Our Father or two, and make the sign of the cross over the meal and say: Bless us and these gifts that we will receive by your generosity through Jesus Christ your dear Son. Amen. May God allow us to partake at the heavenly table. God is love. Whoever remains in love, remains in God, and God remains in him. May his love bless us and lead us to eternal life. Amen.

You should speak of God during the meal, because God’s angels are standing at your table and at your door. Further, you should eat and drink in moderation. Further, you should not eat your fill, even though you would like more, since otherwise you would be acting like the beasts that stuff themselves until they can eat no more. You should think thus during the meal: O dear Lord, how many holy people there are who scarcely have bread to eat, and they thank you much more than I! O dear Lord, our ancestors in the wilderness did not live so luxuriously with food and drink as we do now. But nevertheless we would like to be in heaven. O dear Lord, please console and nourish all the souls in purgatory. Amen.

After the meal you should get up and say an Our Father and thank him for his gifts, and then say this as well: O dear Lord, give favor and grace to the living. Give eternal rest to the dead. To holy Christendom give peace, and give us poor sinners eternal life after this life. Amen.


How A Person Should Conduct Himself When He Goes to Bed


In the evening, when you go to bed, you should kneel down in front of your bed, and if you wish you can stretch out your arms like a cross, as Christ did on the cross, and raise your eyes to heaven and say: O dear Lord, almighty God, I am a poor sinful person. I am guilty of not serving you fervently today; and of not saying my prayers with fervor; and of passing many hours, nearly all the time, idly; and of neglecting to do many good works. Further, here you should say what sins you committed that day, and cry out and ask God the Lord for compassion and grace and forgiveness for your sins, and resolve firmly to go to confession and to commit the sins no more. And if you were to die that night with such a resolution, you would never be damned. Further, you should thank our dear Lord and Mary his dear mother for the bitter suffering and the pain that Mary endured at the time of vespers when she saw her dear child taken from the cross and laid on her virgin bosom; further, for how he was buried at the time of Compline and Mary, the blessed mother of our dear Lord, had to go away so bitterly grieving and weeping; and for how she came again to Jerusalem with bloody clothes; and how the women of Jerusalem stood before the entrance and said: Oh Lord God, how can the dear mother be so sadly troubled; oh what state the holy maternal heart must be in; oh the poor woman, what pain she has endured as she lost such a sweet dear child; and they said to her: O Mary, why are your clothes so bloody? You should weep when you think of this, and ask Mary on your behalf to ask her dear child for forgiveness of your sins, and for solace and rest for the poor souls in purgatory. And in this state of great fervor you should go to bed and think how the great lords of this world and many rich people who have lived and died in sins are now burning in hell, where they will never again rest or sleep. And because you know this, you should sleep sweetly and think about resting with Saint John the Evangelist at the breast of Jesus. Oh how sweetly you will sleep, and how happily you will awake in the morning, and how happy you will be all day. If you awake in the night, you should say: O dear Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and give rest to the souls in purgatory, because they are in great pain.


How One Should Die, and This Is the Most Fruitful Lesson in the World


First of all, a person should say his creed repeatedly in German and with devotion; and if he cannot say the creed himself, he should have it spoken before him by another person. And he should always say: O dear Lord, I believe all that a good Christian is obliged to believe, and I desire to live and die in the faith. And if anything else occurs to me that is contrary to this creed I renounce it now for then and then for now. O dear Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen me in this holy faith. O dear Lord, even though I have sinned much and confessed badly and improved badly, I still do not want to despair of you, because you are so very compassionate; I have become so bitterly sour toward you and you have suffered so much for me. And you also said: Anyone who comes to your vineyard at the time of vespers should receive payment equal to those who worked the whole day. O dear Lord, I come to my conversion late. Have mercy on me. You can speak a word and forgive me all my sins. O dear Lord, what would you gain if I should lie a long time in purgatory, a fate which I surely deserve? O dear Lord, you said: Ask and it will be given to you. I ask you, Lord, just say a word and make my soul healthy. O dear Lord, please be mindful that the dead will not praise you nor all those who are in hell. O dear Lord, I will gladly endure everything that you send to me for my sins. O dear Lord, please let this small suffering, and your great and manifold suffering, stand for all my sins.

Further, one should say the following prayers repeatedly to sick people:

O dear Lord Jesus Christ, you untied the bonds of all my sins with your holy suffering. Therefore, dear Lord, I want to offer you an offering of praise, namely my poor soul, which I offer into your hands. Now I will die patiently and willingly if that is your dearest will. O dear Lord Jesus Christ, I am sorry from the bottom of my heart that I have angered you. O dear Lord God, I wish I were a thousand times more sorry. I wish I could cry tears of blood for my sins. Oh, dear Lord, accept my good intentions in place of works. O dear Lord, I give you my body and my soul. Do with me as your holy will dictates, and not as my earthly nature wills. The spirit is prepared but the flesh is weak: O dear Lord Jesus Christ, please do not reject me, a poor sinner.

Further, when it gets to the point of separation, or when bitter death is coming, then you should say the following repeatedly:

O dear Lord Jesus Christ, father and mother have left me. I ask you, dear Lord, to receive me now into your kingdom.

O holy God! O powerful God! O compassionate God! O strict and righteous judge, have mercy on me, a poor sinner, when I must answer at your terrifyingly strict court, and when I am to give testimony as a poor human being about all my words and all my deeds. O dear Lord Jesus, then may your holy bitter death, your precious blood and your unspeakable manifold suffering stand between you and all my sins.

O dear Lord Jesus, I am the poor human being that you yourself created in your own image with your divine strength and power. O dear Lord, I am the poor human being that you yourself redeemed and delivered from all strength and power of the devil with your innocent bitter death.

O dearest Lord Jesus Christ, I am the poor human being that you can preserve with your unfathomable compassion. Stand by me in my hour of death, when all the world departs from me.

O Father, into your hands I commit my spirit, because you have redeemed me, O my God of truth.

O Mary, mother of grace and mother of compassion, shelter and protect me from the devils and receive my poor soul in my hour of death. O gentle advocate and guiding star, please do not depart from me. O esteemed sweet Virgin Mary, let me see your chosen pure child rejoicing now. O dear Mary, let me hear the voices of the angels. Go out, O beautiful bride of Christ, you noble soul! Jesus, your bridegroom, is coming! O Mary, let me never hear the voice of Jesus the strict judge. O gentle, compassionate and sweet Mary, stand by me now, because today I must fight a battle on which my poor soul’s eternal bliss or eternal damnation depends. O Mary, mother of God, and all God’s dear saints, stand by me and help me fight, for if you do not help me my battle is lost. O dear, most sweet, gentle, compassionate maid Mary, have mercy on me, a poor, sorrowful, sinful human, because you are my mother and my only comfort, my hope and my confidence. Further, it is very useful and good to read with fervor the passion of our Lord for the sick person, and the Our Father in German and the creed in German.

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