795) The Imitation of Christ (i)

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

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Do not trust in your present feeling, for it will be quickly changed into another.  As long as you live you will be subject to such change in your emotions, even against your will.  You will become merry at one time and sad at another; now peaceful, but then disturbed; at one moment devout and the next vulgar; sometimes diligent while at other times lazy; now grave and then light-hearted.  But the man who is wise and well-instructed in the Spirit stands above these changes.  He pays no attention to what he feels in himself, or which way the wind of fickleness blows.  Rather, the whole intention of his mind is to make progress to his proper and desired end.  Thus, he will be able to stand undivided, unchanged, and unshaken, with his firm intention directed unwaveringly toward Christ, even in the midst of so many changing events and feelings.  And the purer this intention is, so much more the strength and stability he has to pass through many storms. 

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 Trust firmly in the Lord, and do not fear the judgment of men when conscience tells you that you are upright and innocent.  For it is good and blessed to suffer such things, and they will not weigh heavily on the humble heart that trusts in God rather than in itself.  Many men say many different things, and therefore little confidence is to be put in them.  Moreover, it is impossible to satisfy all men.  Although Paul tried to please all in the Lord, and became all things to all men (I Cor. 9:22), yet he made little of their opinions (I Cor. 4:3); and he committed all to God who knows all things.  Who are you, then, that you should be afraid of mortal man (Isaiah 51:12)?  Today he is here, tomorrow he is gone.  Fear God and you will not be afraid of the terrors of men.  What power does anyone over you by words or injuries?  He hurts himself rather than you, and no matter who he may be, he cannot escape the judgment of God.  Therefore, if you suffer undeserved abuse or shame, do not grieve or become impatient.  Look instead to heaven, to the One who has power to deliver you from all disgrace and injury.

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How good and how peaceful it is to be silent about others, to not believe all that is said, and to not report it further.  
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How is a man the better off for being thought greater by men?  The deceiver deceives the deceitful, the vain man deceives the vain, the blind deceives the blind, the weak deceives the weak as often as he extols them, and in truth his foolish praise shames them the more.  As St. Francis said, “Whatever anyone is in God’s sight, that he is and nothing more.” 
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Psalm 91:15  —  (The Lord says), “He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”
Isaiah 51:12-13a  — (The Lord says), “I, even I, am he who comforts you.  Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth?”

I Corinthians 4:3-5  —  I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.  My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.  It is the Lord who judges me.  Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.   He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.

Psalm 119:71  —  It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

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    To what have we come, Lord?  We bewail a temporal loss, and for a pitiful gain we toil and run; but dangers to the soul pass away into forgetfulness, and scarcely ever come to mind.  That which is of little or no value claims our attention, whereas that which is of highest necessity is neglected; all because we give ourselves so completely to outward things.  Unless we withdraw ourselves, we lie immersed in that which is perishing.  From this preserve us, dear Lord.  Keep us steadfast in our faith in you alone.  Amen.
–Thomas a Kempis
 
My God, the Father of mercies, to you I look, in you I trust.  Listen to the prayer of your poor servant exiled from you in the land of the shadow of death.  Protect and preserve my soul amidst the many dangers of this life, and by your grace, direct me to my native land of everlasting light.  What does it matter how much I suffer, if I eventually come to that haven of safety in your heavenly home?  Grant me a good end, O Lord.  Grant me a happy passage out of this world.  Remember me, my God, and lead me by the right way into your kingdom.  Amen.
–Thomas a Kempis
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