BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 1: OF THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
AND THE CONTEMPT OF THE WORLD
"HE that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness," saith the Lord.
These are the words of Christ, whereby we are admonished how we must imitate His life and conversation, if we would be truly enlightened and delivered from all blindness of heart.
Let it, then, be our chief study to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.
2. The teaching of Christ surpasseth all the teachings of the Saints and he that hath His Spirit will find therein a hidden manna.
But it happeneth that many, from the frequent hearing of the Gospel, feel little emotion, because they have not the Spirit of Christ.
But he that would fully and with relish understand the words of Christ, must study to conform his whole life to Him.
3. What doth it profit thee to dispute deeply about the Trinity, if thou be wanting in humility, and so be displeasing to the Trinity?
In truth, sublime words make not a Saint and a just man; but it is a virtuous life that maketh one dear to God.
I would rather feel compunction, than know how to define it.
If thou didst know the whole Bible outwardly, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would it all profit thee without charity and the grace of
Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity, but to love God and serve Him alone.
This is the highest wisdom, by despising the world, to make progress towards the kingdom of Heaven.
4. It is vanity, therefore, to seek perishing riches, and to trust in them.
Vanity also it is, to court honors, and to lift up one's self on high.
Vanity is it to follow the desires of the flesh, and to desire that for which hereafter there must be a heavy penalty.
Vanity is it to wish a long life, and take but little pains about a good life.
Vanity is it to attend only to the present life, and not to look forward to the things that are to come.
It is vanity to love what is passing away with all speed, and not to be hastening thither where endless joy abideth.
5. Oftentimes call to mind the proverb: "The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing."
Study, therefore, to wean thy heart from love of visible things, and to betake thee to the things unseen; for they that follow the pleasures of their senses sully their conscience and lose the grace of God.
IF WE would really honor Jesus Christ, we must apply ourselves to know Him, to love Him, and to follow Him in the practice of every Christian virtue. This is absolutely necessary for salvation, as we cannot become true Christians but by knowing, loving, and following Christ. To pretend to please our Blessed Savior by a profound knowledge of His Divinity, without endeavoring to follow His example, without living as He lived, would be most dangerously to delude ourselves.
WHAT will it avail me, O Jesus, to study and to know in part Thy supreme greatness, and the most sublime of Thy mysteries, if I endeavor not to derive advantage and merit from them, by cherishing Thy disposition and copying Thy virtues-----since, to save my soul, I must not only know, but practice what Thou hast taught me by Thy word and manifested in Thy life for my imitation-----I must know and practice my religion? This, my Savior, is the grace which I now ask of Thee, with a firm hope that Thou wilt grant my petition. Amen.