Archive for the ‘Thursdays With Thomas a Kempis’ Category

Avoid the gatherings of men as much as you can. The discussing of worldly affairs, even though engaged in with good intentions, is nevertheless a hindrance, for we quickly become tainted and charmed by trivia. I have often wished that I had remained silent and had not been in the company of men.

Why are we so fond of speaking and conversing with one another, though we rarely return to our silence without some injury to our consciences? The reason why we enjoy talking is because we seek solace in chatting with one another and desire to lighten our distracted hearts. Furthermore, we enjoy talking and thinking about the things we most want and desire, or those which we especially dislike.

2. But alas! It is often vain and to no purpose, for the consolation gained by talking greatly diminishes the internal consolation granted us by God. Therefore, we must watch and pray lest we spend our time in fruitless idleness.

If it is permitted and advisable to speak, then speak of those things that nourish the spiritual life. Negligence about our spiritual progress and yielding to bad habits are the reasons for our keeping so little control over our tongues. Godly conversation about spiritual matters very much helps spiritual advancement, especially when persons of like mind and heart are united in God.

The Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter 10

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It is a very excellent thing to be under obedience, that is, to live under a superior and not to be one’s own master. There is greater security in living a life of submission than there is in exercising authority. Many live under obedience, more out of necessity than out of love of God, and they murmur and complain in their discontent. These will never achieve spiritual freedom until, for the love of God, they submit themselves with all their heart.

No matter where you go, here or there, you will find no rest except in humbly subjecting yourself to the authority of a superior. Many have dreamed that it would be better for them to be in another monastery, but they have found they were deluded.

It is indeed true that everyone likes to have his own way and is partial to those who think the same as he does. But if God dwells among us then we must sometimes relinquish our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to be able to know all things? Therefore, rely not too heavily on your own opinion, but listen to the ideas of others as well. Your opinion may be a good one, but if, for God’s sake, you set it aside and follow that of another, you will profit the more.

3. I have often heard it said that it is safer to listen and to take advice than to offer it. It may well happen that each one’s opinion is good, but to refuse to go along with another’s opinion, when reason or a just cause demand it, is a sign of perverse pride.

The Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter 9

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Do not open your heart to everyone, but discuss your affairs with one who is wise and fears God. Do not associate too freely with young people nor with strangers. Do not flatter those who are rich, nor be eager to be in the presence of those who are important in the eyes of the world.

Keep company with the humble and simple, with the devout and godly, and speak of those things which nurture religion. Do not be familiar with any woman but, in general, commend all good women to God. Desire to be familiar only with God and His angels and shun the acquaintance of men.

2. We must have charity toward all but familiarity is not necessary. It sometimes happens that a person unknown to us enjoys a dazzling reputation, but when we finally do meet he makes much less of an impression. We sometimes think that our own presence gives pleasure to others, whereas we may really be offensive to them because of some unbecoming behavior in us.

The Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter 8

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A fool is he who puts his trust in men or created things. Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ and to be reckoned as a poor man in this world.

Do not rely on yourself, but place your trust in God. Do whatever lies in your power and God will assist your good intentions. Trust neither in your own knowledge nor in the cleverness of any human being; rather, trust in God’s grace, for it is He who supports the humble and humbles the overconfident.

Glory neither in wealth, if you have any, nor in friends, if they are powerful, but boast in God, the giver of all good things, who desires, above all, to bestow Himself on you.

Do not boast about your good looks nor your body’s strength, which a slight illness can mar and disfigure. Do not take pride in your skills and talents lest you offend God, to whom you owe these very gifts and endowments.

3. Do not esteem yourself as someone better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted for worse in the eyes of God, who knows what is in men’s hearts. Take no pride in your good accomplishments for God judges differently than men and it often happens that what is pleasing to men is actually displeasing to God.

If you see anything good in yourself, believe still better things of others and you will, then, preserve humility. It will do you no harm if you account yourself as worst of all; but it will very much harm you to think that you are better than everyone else. Peace dwells in a humble heart, while in the heart of the proud man there is envy and resentment.

The Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter 7

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Whenever you desire anything inordinately, you immediately find that you grow dissatisfied with yourself. Those who are proud and avaricious never arrive at contentment; it is the poor and the humble in spirit who live in great peace.

Anyone who is not totally dead to himself will soon find that he is tempted and overcome by piddling and frivolous things. Whoever is weak in spirit, given to the flesh, and inclined to sensual things can, but on with great difficulty, drag himself away from his earthly desires. Therefore, he is often gloomy and sad when he is trying to pull himself from them and easily gives in to anger should someone attempt to oppose him.

2. If he has given in to his inclinations and has yielded to his passions, he is then immediately afflicted with a guilty conscience. In no way do such yieldings help him to find the peace he seeks. It is by resisting our passions and not by being slaves to them that true peace of heart is to be found.

There is no peace, therefore, in the heart of the man who is given to the flesh, nor in the man who is attached to worldly things. Peace is found only in one who is fervent and spiritual.

The Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter 6

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In Holy Scripture we seek truth and not eloquence. All Sacred Scripture should be read in the spirit with which it was written.

We should search the Scriptures for what is to our profit, rather than for niceties of language. You should read the simple and devout books as eagerly as those that are lofty and profound. The authority of the author, whether he be of great or little learning, ought not to influence you, but let the love of pure truth draw you to read them. Do not inquire about who is the one saying this, but pay attention to what he is saying.

2. Men enter and pass out of this world, but the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. God speaks to all of us in a variety of ways and is no respecter of persons. Our curiosity proves a hindrance to us, for while reading the Scriptures we sometimes want to stop to debate and discuss, when we should simply read on.

If you wish to derive profit from your reading of Scripture, do it with humility, simplicity, and faith; at no time use it to gain a reputation for being one who is learned. Eagerly ask yourself questions and listen in silence to the words of the saints, and do not let the riddles of the ancients baffle you. They were written down for definite purpose.

The Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter 5

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We ought not to be too ready to believe every word or item of gossip, but we ought to weigh each carefully and unhurriedly before God. Alas! Our weakness is such that we are often more readily inclined to believe and speak ill of someone than that which Is good. But those who are perfect do not easily give credence to every tale they hear, for they know that human nature is prone to evil and that the human tongue can be treacherous.

2. It is a mark of great wisdom neither to be hasty in our actions nor stubbornly maintain our private opinions. It is also a part of wisdom neither to believe everything we hear, nor to pour it immediately into another’s ear.

Seek counsel from one who is wise and honest and ask instruction from one you esteem; do not follow your own devices. A good life makes us wise in the eyes of God and makes us knowledgable in many things. The more humble you are in heart and the more you submit yourself to God, the wiser will you be in everything, and greater peace will be yours.

The Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter 4

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