Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas À Kempis

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas À Kempis is one of the greatest books in Christianity. Written in the 15th century by the cloistered monk Thomas À Kempis, it expounds profound wisdom that resonates today just as it did back then. The book has been hailed as the greatest book of Christian wisdom right after the Holy Bible. I believe it is also the second most popular book of all time, again, after the Holy Bible.
Basically it is a manual on how to live a holy life by sanctifying yourself in word and action in every way. I myself am not a big 'spiritual' kind of Christian in the most strictest and narrow sense of the word, but I would highly recommend this book to every scholar, philosopher, regular-joe, layman, and religious alike.
Many saints have drawn, and given credit to, inspiration from this magnificent book of spiritual wisdom. This is a cornerstone of our faith that anyone wanting to learn more about devoting one's life to God should read this book.
Its author, Thomas À Kempis (1380-1471), had a wide knowledge of the Scriptures and classical philosophy, and although most of his life was spent in a Dutch monastery, he also possessed a deep understanding of human nature. His acquired wisdom convinced him of man's complete dependence on God's love and the empty futility of life without it. The book has exercised a profound influence for over 500 years, and Thomas More, Ignatius Loyola and John Wesley are among the many who have acknowledged their debt to it.
Here are some excerpts from this incredible book:
CHRIST. . . . Some are sorely tempted about faith and the Sacraments, but this is due to the Devil rather than to themselves. Do not be anxious; do not fight your thoughts, or attempt to answer any doubts that the Devil suggest: trust in God's word, believe His Saints and Prophets, and the wicked enemy will flee from you (James 4:7). Often it is very profitable that the servant of God should experience such doubts, since the Devil does not tempt unbelievers and sinners who are already his own; but he tempts and vexes the faithful and devout in every way he can. CHRIST. My son, you will be able to enter into Me in so far as you are prepared to forsake yourself. And as the absence of craving for material things makes for inner peace, so does the forsaking of self unite man's heart to God. I wish you to learn perfect self-surrender, and to accept My will without argument or complaint. Follow me,(Matt.9:9) who am the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) Without the Way, there is no progress ; without the Truth, there is no knowledge; without the Life, there is no living. I am the Way you must follow; the Truth you must believe; the Life for which you must hope. I am the imperishable Way, the infallible Truth, the eternal Life. I am the most noble Way, the ultimate Truth, the true Life, blessed and uncreated. If you remain in My Way, you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free, (John 8:32) and you shall lay hold on eternal Life.(John 8:12; I Tim. 6:12) If you wish to enter into Life, keep My Commandments.(Matt.19:17) If you wish to know the Truth, believe Me. If you wish to be perfect, sell everything.(Matt.19:21) If you wish to be My disciple, deny yourself.(Matt.16:24) If you wish to possess the blessed Life, despise this present life. If you wish to be exalted in Heaven, be humble in this world. If you wish to reign with Me, bear the cross with Me ; for none but the servants of the Cross discover the Way of blessedness and true light.
I could list more but I think you get the picture. I have links below to previous postings of excerpts from this fine book. To read previous postings about this click here, here, here, and here. To read the book itself click here.

5 comments:

Ben said...

I would also reccommend the Ignatius press edition as translated by the wonderful Ronald Knox. It's really an attractive and well made volume, with four woodcut illustrations from Albrect Durer, which I find ironic/appropriate.

If you have any interest in the devotio moderna, of which the Imitation is both a product and an influence, you should check out this book, which really puts to rest the idea that the devotio moderna was somehow a proto-Protestantism.

Esther said...

Thanks for the reminder to read this treasure of a book.

Tito said...

Ben,

Thanks for the infor!

Esther,

You're welcome.

Tito

Mark said...

The Imitation, a wonderful book, is the 2nd most published book after the bible.

Number 3 is the Sinners Guide, by Ven Louis of Granada.

read it next here:

http://catholictradition.org/Classics/sinners-guide.htm

Tito said...

Mark,

That looks like a good book to read. Thanks for the link.

I'm almost done reading my backlog of books and I'll be adding this to my queue.

God bless,

Tito

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