788) The Imitation of Christ (b)

Thomas à Kempis - De Imitatione Christi.gif

The manuscript of De Imitatione Christi  (Wikipedia)


From The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis  (1380-1471)


“Blessed…O Lord, is the man you teach from your Law” (Psalm 94:12).  Happy is the one who learns the truth, not in words that pass away, but as it actually is.  Our opinions and our own senses often deceive us, and we discern very little…  It is great folly to neglect the things that are profitable and necessary, and to give our minds to things that are irrelevant and harmful.


Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it; and no knowledge of ours is without some darkness.  Humble knowledge of self is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit of learning.  Not that learning is to be considered evil; or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred.  Many err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than to live well.  Oh, if men only bestowed as much labor in the rooting out of vices and the planting of virtues as they do in proposing questions, there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world, nor so much looseness among us, nor such laxity in religious devotion.  Surely, when the day of judgment comes, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done (Matthew 25); not how well we have spoken, but how well we have lived.


Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you knew so well in life and who were famous for their learning?  Others have already taken their places; others who do not even think of their predecessors.  During life they seemed to be something; but now they are seldom remembered.  How quickly the glory of the world passes away! (Eccl. 2:11)…  How many there are who perish because of vain worldly knowledge and too little care for serving God.


Do not yield to every impulse and suggestion, but consider things carefully and patiently in the light of God’s will.  For very often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good.  Good men, however, do not readily believe every talebearer, for they know that human frailty is prone to evil, and will likely sin in speaking.  It is great wisdom to not act rashly (Proverbs 19:2), or to cling obstinately to one’s opinion; and to not believe everything people say, or to spread abroad the gossip one has heard.  


    When a man desires something too much, he is immediately disquieted within himself.  The proud and covetous are never at rest; whereas he who is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace (Psalm 37:11).  A man that cannot deny himself is quickly tempted and can be overcome by small afflictions.  His spirit is weak and he cannot abstain from earthly desires.  Hence, it makes him sad to go without them; and he is quickly angered if reproved.  Yet, even when he attains that which he had desired, he is burdened with remorse of conscience; because he followed his sinful passions, and they did not lead to the peace he sought.  True peace of heart, then, is found by resisting our passions, not by obeying them.  There is no peace in the heart of one given to outward things and to vain attractions.
If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends because they are powerful, but in God who gives all things, and who desires above all to give you Himself.  Do not boast of personal stature or of physical beauty, qualities which can be disfigured and destroyed by a little sickness.  Do not take pride in your talent or ability, lest you displease God to whom belongs all the natural gifts that you have.
    If there be any good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain humble.  It does no harm to esteem yourself lower than all others, but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one.  The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy, indignation, and frequent anger.

John 8:12  —  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jeremiah 17:5  —  This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” 
I Corinthians 2:4-5  —  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

O God, you who are the truth, make me one with you.  I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in you is all that I desire.  Let the learned be still.  You alone speak to me.  AMEN.   

–Thomas a Kempis