Category Archives: Imitation of Christ

Faith in the Face of Mystery

galaxies_hubbleJust read this from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A’ Kempis (a modern translation by William Creasy).  It’s from the last chapter in his classic book, including the very last words.

“God can do more than you can understand… Blessed is that simplicity that leaves the difficult paths of questioning and walks along the plain and firm road of God’s commandments… It is faith and a genuine, honest life that is required of you, not a lofty, intellect nor a deep understanding of God’s mysteries… Commit to almighty God all that you cannot understand…If God’s works were such that human reason could easily figure them out, they could not be said to be wonderful, nor would they be far too marvelous for words to express.”

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An Old Prayer to Pray on a New Day

PrayingHandsLet me share with you portions of a prayer of Thomas A’ Kempis (500 years ago, William Creasy paraphrase) which I read yesterday.  Though first prayed by him 500 years ago it’s still relevant for us today.

“O most sweet and loving Lord… you know my weaknesses and my needs.  You know how many bad habits and vices I have.  You know how often I am burdened, tempted, shaken and stained by sin.  I come to you for healing.  I pray to you for comfort and support.  I speak to you, who know all things, to whom all my inmost thoughts are evident.  You alone can adequately comfort me and help me.  You know what good things I need most, and you know how poor I am in virtue.

Make all that leads me from you not worth thinking about.  Make me forget it all… From now on, you will be my only delight, for you alone are my food and drink, my love and joy, my sweetness and my whole good.”

Amen!

Keeping First What Should be First

ChristDuotoneA prayer of Thomas A’ Kempis (500 years ago, William Creasy paraphrase)

“Everything that is not you I find frail and unstable. Having many friends will be of no help to me nor can powerful associates aid me. Prudent advisors cannot help me nor can learned books comfort me. Wealth cannot ransom me nor can any hidden place keep me safe. None of this will help if you yourself do not aid, comfort, console, teach and care for me. All things that seem to be for our peace and happiness are nothing without you. Truly, they bring us no happiness at all.”(p. 161)

The Center of Our Life

crossinmexicosmallHere’s a good thought from that great Christian thinker Thomas A Kempis.  He lived over 500 years ago but his book The Imitation of Christ is still a best seller.  The following words are from the paraphrase by William C. Creasy.

“Look upon the whole world as nothing without God, and prefer God to anything else… If you keep God at the center of your life, you will easily overcome all other things… All that must be radically overcome is rooted in this vice of making yourself the center of your own world.” (pp. 149-150)

Thoughts from Thomas A’ Kempis — “Feelings”

“Do not trust the way you feel at the moment, for your feelings will soon change.  All your life you are subject to change, even if you do not want to be.  Sometimes you are happy, sometimes you are sad; sometimes you are calm, sometimes restless; now full of devotion, now not; now studious, now lazy; now solemn, now lighthearted.

“The person who is wise and well instructed in spiritual things is above these changes, not paying attention to his own feelings or to which way the wind blows.  Instead, he directs his full attention toward reaching his desired goal.”

(The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A’ Kempis, A Timeless Classic for Contemporary Readers by William C. Creasy, pp. 124-125)

Thoughts from Thomas A’ Kempis — “No Comparing”

christduotone1I read the following thought this morning from Thomas A’ Kempis’ classic The Imitation of Christ, modern version by William C. Creasy.  It has to do with the whole issue of comparing ourselves to others.  I’ve had my share of struggles with this issue and, in fact, have written a book on the subject called The Comparison Game.  Here’s Kempis’ thoughts —

“Lord,… All that we have in soul and in body and whatever outward or inward, natural or supernatural qualities we possess, they are your blessings and they celebrate your bounty, mercy, and goodness; from you we have received all good things.

“One who has received more should not boast of his own merit nor lift himself above others nor look down on those having less…

“One who has received less ought not to become dejected nor indignant nor envy the someone who has received more.  Instead, he should turn to you and greatly praise your goodness, because you bestow your gifts so abundantly, so willingly, so freely, without considering a person’s rank or worth… Why this person has less and that person has more is not our business but yours…

“Nothing, therefore, ought so to delight one who loves you and knows your kindnesses than that your will and your eternal purposes be accomplished in him…

“He is as cheerful being ignored and rejected, devoid of name and reputation, as another is when he is thought to be full of honor and greatness.

“Your will and the love of your honor ought to take first place above all else.  They should please and comfort a person better than all the blessings which one has or ever will have.”

Thoughts from Thomas A’ Kempis — “God’s Concern for Me”

christduotoneThomas A’ Kempis gives us a prayer that I want to be able to pray, though it requires a lot of faith to pray!  Here it is.

“Lord,…Your concern for me is greater than any concern that I can have for myself….Lord, as long as my will remains firm and strong toward you, do with me whatever pleases you, for whatever you do with me cannot be other than good….With equal readiness I wish to receive from your hand good and evil, sweet and bitter, joy and sorrow, and I wish to thank you for all that happens to me.”

(From Thomas A’ Kempis, Imitation of Christ, A Timeless Classic for Modern Readers, a contemporary translation by William C. Creasy, pp.104-105)

Thoughts from Thomas A’ Kempis — “Faith Beyond Feelings”

christduotone1I’m continuing my daily reading through the classic  work of Thomas A’ Kempis.  Just wanted to share a few sentences from this morning’s reading with you.

“That good and sweet feeling which you sometimes experience is the result of grace being present, a little sample of your heavenly home.  Do not depend on it too much, for it comes and goes…

“Such feelings are not illusions.  Enjoy them when you feel them, and be thankful for them, but do not seek them out.  Chasing after such feelings can consume you.”  The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A’ Kempis, modern translation/interpretation by William C. Creasy.

I like feeling good.  I’d like to have a “sweet feeling” all the time, but Thomas A’ Kempis reminds me that this is not to be.  If being near to God always manifested itself with a “sweet feeling”  then I likely would start to desire the feeling more than God Himself.  Desiring God, and knowing, by faith, that He is near, even when I don’t have the “sweet feeling” shows God (and me too) that I truly do desire Him, that I’m not making feelings my god.

Thoughts from Thomas A’ Kempis — “Obedience Is Success”

christduotones“Where shall we find a person who is willing to serve God without receiving something in return?… Let him not be deluded when others praise him, but let him admit in all honesty that he is only a humble servant of God.” (The Imitation of Christ, Thomas A’ Kempis, translation/interpretation by William C. Creasy, pp. 77-78)

The world around me emphasizes results.  We’re told that the “bottom line” needs to be good.

I’ve also heard it said that we are not called to be successful but faithful.  In my better moments I almost believe this.  I want to have more better moments!

As a follower of Jesus Christ my calling from Him must always take precedence over my accomplishments in the world.  It’s nice when they merge, but they don’t always.  When results aren’t what I’d like, it can either drive me to discouragement with myself and the situation or dependence on God.  Thomas A’ Kempis’ words above, which I read this morning, reminded me of this fact.

Thoughts from Thomas A’ Kempis — “Humble with Knowledge”

christduotoneI’m reading the nearly six hundred year-old (1441) Christian classic The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A’ Kempis, a Dutch monk.  I thought I’d share some of his thoughts occasionally.  Enjoy, in the best sense of that word!
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“Calm that excessive thirst for knowledge, for there is great discord and deception in it.  People who have great learning are often eager to appear wise, and they often wish others to recognize them as wise people.  There are many things that you can know about, though, that are of little or no use to the soul, and a person is exceedingly foolish who reaches for anything that does not lead toward salvation…

“So do not think highly of yourself because of what you know about any art or science, but rather respect the knowledge that has been entrusted to you.  If it seems to you that you know many things and that you are an expert in them, recognize nevertheless that there are many things that you do not know…

“If you want to learn something that will really help you, learn to see yourself as God sees you and not as you see yourself in the distorted mirror of your own self-importance.”

The Imitation of Christ, A Timeless Classic for Contemporary Readers, translated by William C. Creasy, pp. 31-32