Thomas à Kempis: You Must Bring to God a Clean and Open Heart Sunday, Mar 27 2011 

When Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult.

When He is absent, all is hard.

When Jesus does not speak within, all other comfort is empty.

But if He says only a word, it brings great consolation.

[…] How dry and hard you are without Jesus!

How foolish and vain if you desire anything but Him!

Is it not a greater loss than losing the whole world?

For what, without Jesus, can the world give you?

Life without Him is a relentless hell, but living with Him is a sweet paradise.

If Jesus be with you, no enemy can harm you.

He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good above every good, whereas he who loses Him loses more than the whole world.

The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor, whereas no one is so rich as the man who lives in His grace.

It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus, and great wisdom to know how to keep Him.

Be humble and peaceful, and Jesus will be with you.

Be devout and calm, and He will remain with you.

[…] You cannot live well without a friend, and if Jesus be not your friend above all else, you will be very sad and desolate.

Thus, you are acting foolishly if you trust or rejoice in any other.

Choose the opposition of the whole world rather than offend Jesus.

Of all those who are dear to you, let Him be your special love.

Let all things be loved for the sake of Jesus, but Jesus for His own sake.

[…] Never wish that anyone’s affection be centered in you, nor let yourself be taken up with the love of anyone, but let Jesus be in you and in every good man.

Be pure and free within, unentangled with any creature.

You must bring to God a clean and open heart if you wish to attend and see how sweet the Lord is.

Truly you will never attain this happiness unless His grace prepares you and draws you on so that you may forsake all things to be united with Him alone.

When the grace of God comes to a man he can do all things, but when it leaves him he becomes poor and weak, abandoned, as it were, to affliction.

Yet, in this condition he should not become dejected or despair.

On the contrary, he should calmly await the will of God and bear whatever befalls him in praise of Jesus Christ.

For after winter comes summer, after night, the day, and after the storm, a great calm.

Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471): The Imitation of Christ, 2, 8.

 

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Thomas à Kempis: Keep Peace with Yourself and You will be able to Bring Peace to Others Tuesday, Mar 1 2011 

First keep peace with yourself; then you will be able to bring peace to others.

A peaceful man does more good than a learned man.

Whereas a passionate man turns even good to evil and is quick to believe evil, the peaceful man, being good himself, turns all things to good.

The man who is at perfect ease is never suspicious, but the disturbed and discontented spirit is upset by many a suspicion.

He neither rests himself nor permits others to do so.

He often says what ought not to be said and leaves undone what ought to be done.

He is concerned with the duties of others but neglects his own.

Direct your zeal, therefore, first upon yourself; then you may with justice exercise it upon those about you.

You are well versed in colouring your own actions with excuses which you will not accept from others, though it would be more just to accuse yourself and excuse your brother.

If you wish men to bear with you, you must bear with them.

Behold, how far you are from true charity and humility which does not know how to be angry with anyone, or to be indignant save only against self!

It is no great thing to associate with the good and gentle, for such association is naturally pleasing.

Everyone enjoys a peaceful life and prefers persons of congenial habits.

But to be able to live at peace with harsh and perverse men, or with the undisciplined and those who irritate us, is a great grace, a praiseworthy and manly thing.

Some people live at peace with themselves and with their fellow men, but others are never at peace with themselves nor do they bring it to anyone else.

These latter are a burden to everyone, but they are more of a burden to themselves.

A few, finally, live at peace with themselves and try to restore it to others.

Now, all our peace in this miserable life is found in humbly enduring suffering rather than in being free from it.

He who knows best how to suffer will enjoy the greater peace, because he is the conqueror of himself, the master of the world, a friend of Christ, and an heir of heaven.

Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471): The Imitation of Christ, 2, 3.

Thomas à Kempis: The Truly Interior Man Friday, Nov 26 2010 

When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men.

In the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn.

He was willing to suffer and to be despised. Do you dare to complain of anything?

He had enemies and defamers. Do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor?

How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity test it?

How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any hardship?

Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign with Him.

Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer.

For love of Him makes a man despise himself.

A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior man who is free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace.

He who tastes life as it really is, not as men say or think it is, is indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men.

He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of outward things, does not seek special places or times to perform devout exercises.

A spiritual man quickly recollects himself because he has never wasted his attention upon externals.

No outside work, no business that cannot wait stands in his way. He adjusts himself to things as they happen.

He whose disposition is well ordered cares nothing about the strange, perverse behavior of others, for a man is upset and distracted only in proportion as he engrosses himself in externals.

If all were well with you, therefore, and if you were purified from all sin, everything would tend to your good and be to your profit.

But because you are as yet neither entirely dead to self nor free from all earthly affection, there is much that often displeases and disturbs you.

Nothing so mars and defiles the heart of man as impure attachment to created things.

But if you refuse external consolation, you will be able to contemplate heavenly things and often to experience interior joy.

Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471): The Imitation of Christ, 2, 1.

 

Thomas à Kempis: “The Kingdom of God is Within You” Monday, Oct 25 2010 

“The kingdom of God is within you”, says the Lord (Luke 17:21).

Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest.

Learn to despise external things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious.

Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within.

His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.

Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you.

He Himself says: “If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him”. (John 14:23).

Give place, then, to Christ, but deny entrance to all others, for when you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for you. He will provide for you.

He will supply your every want, so that you need not trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains forever, standing firmly with us to the end.

[…] Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love. He will answer for you; He will do what is best for you.

You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a pilgrim wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until you are wholly united with Christ.

Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your repose? Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance to all earthly things. They all pass away, and you together with them.

Take care, then, that you do not cling to them lest you be entrapped and perish. Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ.

If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct your thoughts to Christ’s passion and willingly behold His sacred wounds.

If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata of Christ, you will find great comfort in suffering, you will mind but little the scorn of men, and you will easily bear their slanderous talk.

Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471): The Imitation of Christ, 2, 1.

Thomas à Kempis: The Beginning of all Temptation Lies in a Wavering Mind and Little Trust in God Wednesday, Oct 6 2010 

So long as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation. Whence it is written in Job: “The life of man upon earth is a warfare” (Job 7:1).

[…] Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed.

The saints all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away.

There is no state so holy, no place so secret that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us—in sin we were born.

When one temptation or trial passes, another comes; we shall always have something to suffer because we have lost the state of original blessedness.

[…] Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash ways.

Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you yourself would wish to be consoled.

The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many ways.

Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are.

Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.

Someone has said very aptly: “Resist the beginnings; remedies come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength.”

First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry.

And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.

[…] We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation that we may be able to bear it.

Let us humble our souls under the hand of God in every trial and temptation for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit.

Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471): The Imitation of Christ, 1, 13.

Thomas à Kempis: That We may be Freed from our Passions and Thus Have Peace of Mind Saturday, Sep 18 2010 

Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to contemplation?

Because they tried to mortify entirely in themselves all earthly desires, and thus they were able to attach themselves to God with all their heart and freely to concentrate their innermost thoughts.

We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken up with passing things.

[…] If we mortified our bodies perfectly and allowed no distractions to enter our minds, we could appreciate divine things and experience something of heavenly contemplation.

The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we are not free from passions and lusts: that we do not try to follow the perfect way of the saints.

Thus when we encounter some slight difficulty, we are too easily dejected and turn to human consolations.

If we tried, however, to stand as brave men in battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us.

For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.

If we let our progress in religious life depend on the observance of its externals alone, our devotion will quickly come to an end.

Let us, then, lay the axe to the root that we may be freed from our passions and thus have peace of mind.

If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon become perfect.

The contrary, however, is often the case—we feel that we were better and purer in the first fervor of our conversion than we are after many years in the practice of our faith.

Our fervor and progress ought to increase day by day; yet it is now considered noteworthy if a man can retain even a part of his first fervor.

If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start, we should afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy.

It is hard to break old habits, but harder still to go against our will.

If you do not overcome small, trifling things, how will you overcome the more difficult?

Resist temptations in the beginning, and unlearn the evil habit lest perhaps, little by little, it lead to a more evil one.

If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to yourself and what joy it will give to others, I think you will be more concerned about your spiritual progress.

Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471): The Imitation of Christ, 1,11.