Thursday, April 30, 2015

Your reward is in heaven

"Do what you can to please Him and He will reward you well for your good will.  Do not trust your own cleverness nor that of any person; rather, put your trust in the grace of God, Who gives aid to the humble but humiliates the presumptuous." 

The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Seven

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Put all your confidence in God...

"It is foolish to put your trust in humans--or in any creature for that matter.  Why should you mind serving others or being poor in the eyes of the world, as long as you do it for the love of Jesus Christ?  Put all your confidence in God, but do not trust yourself."

The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Seven

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wasted time...

Concerning inordinate affections, continued

"If they give in to themselves, then they suffer remorse of conscience because they have yielded to temptation and do not find the peace of mind they desired.  We find our peace only by resisting our passions, not by giving in to them.  

Peace is at the heart of the devout and fervent, not in those who are carnal and give themselves to outward things."

The Imitation of Christ, Chapter One, Book Six

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Concerning Inordinate Affections

"It is difficult for people to withdraw themselves from worldly desires when their spirits are still weak and inclined to the things of sense.  While in this state their hearts are heavy when they try to detach themselves and they are quickly angered by those who oppress them."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Six

How to maintain peace of soul...

"When people desire anything to an excessive degree, they immediately lose their peace of soul.  The proud and avaricious are always perturbed; while the humble and the poor in spirit live in peace and contentment.  Those who are not mortified are easily overcome by small temptations."

The Imitation of Christ, Book One, chapter six

Saturday, April 25, 2015

On reading Sacred Scripture

"Humans soon pass away; the truth of the Lord remains forever (Ps 117:2).  Through the Scripture God speaks to us in many ways, regardless of those He uses as instruments.   Too often we are led by curiosity to read Holy Scripture and want to understand and argue passages we should simply pass over." 

If you wish to profit by the reading of Scripture, then do so with humility, simplicity and faith and never try to acquire a reputation for being a scholar.  Inquire, and then listen meekly to what the Saints tell you.  Do not be critical of the sayings of the Ancient Fathers, for they were not written without reason."

The Imitation of Christ, Book One, chapter five

Friday, April 24, 2015

Seek truth in what you read...

"It is truth that must be sought in Holy Scripture, not beauty of expression.  It should be read with the same good spirit in which it was written.  We must seek the good of our soul rather than literary style, and just as gladly read simple and devout books as those of deep and subtle learning."

Be concerned with only the pure truth in what you read and not with the greatness or lack of learning of the author.  Think more of what is said than of the one who said it."

The Imitation of Christ, Book One, chapter five

Thursday, April 23, 2015

On seeking wise counsel...

"It is wise to act slowly, not to trust entirely our own opinions, or to accept every tale and quickly pass it along to the next one.  Seek advice from a wise person of good conscience and be instructed by that person rather than follow your own way.  A good life will make you wise in the ways of God and will broaden your experience.  If you are humble and submissive to God's will you will have peace in all you do."

The Imitation of Christ, Book One, chapter four

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

On being Prudent...

"It is not good to be taken in by every word or impulse that comes our way, but consider the thing prudently and thoughtfully in order not to offend God.  Because we are frail we are always ready to believe the worst of people.  Those who seek perfection realize that human nature is weak and prone to spread the evil word."

The Imitation of Christ, Book One, chapter four

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

…and the greatest of these is love

"Those who abound in charity are truly great; and those are also great who are little in their own estimation and regard all worldly honors as nothing.  How wise are those who look upon worldly pleasures as dung in order to gain Christ.  They are truly learned who forsake their own will to follow the will of God."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, chapter three)

Monday, April 20, 2015

On pursuing the life God desires us to live...

"How quickly the glory of this world passes, with its deceptive pleasures!  If only their life had been on par with their learning, then all their study and reading would have been to a good end.  Many there are who care little for a good life in the service of God, because they give themselves up to useless pursuits.  They prefer to be great in this world than to be humble, and therefore their illusions go up in smoke."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, chapter three)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

On judgment day...

"On the day of judgment we will not be asked what we have read, 
but what we have done; 
neither will we be asked how well we have spoken, 
but how devoutly we have lived.  
Where are all the Doctors and learned people who were famous in their day?  
They are now supplanted by others.  
In their lifetime they enjoyed fame, but now they are scarcely remembered."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book OneChapter Three) 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On directing our energy...

"If only people would use as much energy in avoiding sin and cultivating virtues as they do in disputing questions, there would not be so much evil in the world, nor bad example given, nor would there be so much laxity in religion!"

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Four)

Friday, April 17, 2015

More on learning...

"It is not wrong to pursue learning, for since it comes from God it is good as far as it goes; but it is far better to have a clean conscience and lead a virtuous life.  Because some prefer to be learned than to be virtuous, they make many mistakes and produce little or no fruit."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Four)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Humble self-knowledge

"There is no absolute perfection in this life, for there is always some imperfection attached to it; likewise there is no knowledge in this world that is not mixed with some ignorance. Therefore, a humble self-knowledge is a surer way to God than a search after deeper learning."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Four)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On having a plan of life...

"An unmortified spirit is your greatest hindrance.  Good and devout people first plan inwardly the works they are to do outwardly; in this way they are not led to evil inclinations, but bend their wills to the rule of right reason.  Who has a greater struggle than those who labor to overcome themselves?  This should be our daily labor: self-conquest, so as to make steady progress in the spiritual life."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Three)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

On having a simple heart

"The more we are united within ourselves and are joined to You in the simplicity of our hearts, the more effortlessly we understand the deep things, for the light of understanding comes to us from above. A pure, simple and stable heart is not bogged down by a multitude of tasks because it does all for the honor of God, and since it is not self-seeking, it is not eager to follow its own will."

The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Three

Monday, April 13, 2015

"What need have we to be concerned with unessentials?  He to whom the Eternal Word (Who is Jesus) speaks is freed of useless opinions. From the Word all things proceed and all creation cries out that He is God--the same Who is the Beginning Who speaks to us.  No one can understand the truth nor make right judgments without Him.  Only those to whom all things are One, who draws all things to One and who see all things in One, may be strong in heart and rest peacefully in God.  

O my God, You are Truth; unite my to Yourself in perfect love.  I am so weary of all I read and hear and see, for only in You is all that I will or can desire.  Let all the learned be silent in Your presence and let all creatures be still and do You, Lord, alone speak to my soul."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Three)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

On the teaching of truth...

"Persons who are taught by truth and not by symbols or deceitful words are really blessed and happy, for they learn truth in itself.  Our own opinions and lack of knowledge often lead us astray, because we do not know the truth as it is.  

What good will it do us to learn many things, the knowledge of which will not help us on judgment day, nor hurt us if we do not know them?  It is foolish not to learn those things which are necessary for us and to waste our time on those that merely satisfy our curiosity and hurt us in the end.  For if we do so, we have eyes but cannot see."

The Imitation of Christ, Chapter Three

Saturday, April 11, 2015

"Nothing is so beneficial as true knowledge of ourselves, which produces a wholesome self-contempt.  Always think kindly of others while holding yourself as nothing:  this is true wisdom and leads to perfection.  If you see another commit a grievous sin, or whose faults are flagrant, do not regard yourself as better, for you do not know what you would do if similarly tempted.  You are in good disposition now, but you do not know how long you will persevere in it.  Always keep in mind that all are frail, but none so frail as yourself."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Two)

Friday, April 10, 2015

On holding ourselves in too much esteem...

"Why have an exalted opinion of yourself when you know there are many, even in your own field, whose knowledge surpasses yours?  If you want to learn anything worthwhile, seek rather to be unknown and to be thought of as nothing."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Two)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

On knowledge and judgment

"Remember, the more you know, the more severely you will be judged.  So do not be proud of any skill or knowledge you may have, for such is an awesome responsibility.  No matter how much you know, realize how much there is that you do not know.  Do not be afraid to acknowledge your own ignorance."

(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Two)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

On being learned...

"An overweening desire for knowledge brings many distractions and much delusion.  Many like to be considered learned and to be praised for their wisdom; how much knowledge there is which adds nothing to the good of the soul!  To spend yourself on worldly pursuits which do nothing to further your eternal salvation is unwise.  

It is useless to spend much time in talking; only a holy life and a good conscience will ease your mind and satisfy your soul, enabling you to face God with confidence." 
(The Imitation of Christ, Book One, chapter two)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Who are you learning for, God or you?

"Knowledge is a natural desire in all people.  But knowledge for its own sake is useless unless you fear God.  An unlearned peasant, whose contentment is the service of God, is far better than the learned and the clever, whose pride in their knowledge leads them to neglect their souls while fixing their attention on the stars.

True self-knowledge makes you aware of your own worthlessness and you will take no pleasure in the praises of others.  If your knowledge encompasses the universe and the love of God is not in you, what good will it do you in God's sight?  He will judge you according to your actions."
(Chapter 2, Imitation of Christ)

Monday, April 6, 2015

For what should I hunger?

"Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing.”1 Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God." (The Imitation of Christ, Book One). 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Seek the Kingdom of Heaven

"This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides."  
(Imitation of Christ, Book One). 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Knowledge and humility

Today I wanted to share with you not only a passage from the Imitation of Christ, but also one of my favorite readings from the Divine Office.  It is an Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday that is a beautiful reminder of God's love for His creatures--for us.

from the Imitation of Christ: 

"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone" (The Imitation of Christ, Book One).

…and from the Divine Office

An ancient homily on Holy Saturday

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.  


Friday, April 3, 2015

Listening to the Master Teacher

"The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ." (The Imitation of Christ, Book One)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

We have entered the most holy days of the liturgical year, the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  As I look back on the past weeks of Lent I see a lot of personal misses and also a number of "gems" which Our Lord has pointed out to me.  I have been reminded that holiness is found in the mundane: fidelity to our vocation, our commitments, our day. Some of the nuggets that have stuck with me are "do the next right thing" (Matthew Kelly, Dynamic Catholic) and "our God is a God of second chances" (Father Robert Barron, Lent Reflections).

The close of Lent should not be seen as an end to penance and sacrifice, but rather as an opportunity to look forward, to see what it was in these past days that needed to change, not for a while, but for good.  

Over the coming weeks I will be sharing excerpts from "The Imitation of Christ".  Written in the 15th Century, it contains timeless advice and admonitions for the spiritual life.  Read each day's selection slowly.  Let it percolate in your heart, challenging you to strive for the holiness God desires for you.  There are no "bench warmers" on the road to sanctity.

When our days on this earth are complete, may we be blessed with hearing: "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master." (Mt 25:21).

I will be praying for you,


The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis
Book One

Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth

He who follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord. John 8:12. By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.