BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 11: OF ACQUIRING PEACE
WE might have much peace, if we would not busy ourselves with the sayings and doings of other people, and with things which concern us not.
How can he long abide in peace who entangleth himself with other people's concerns; who seeketh occasions abroad; who little or seldom recollecteth himself interiorly?
Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace.
2. What is the reason why some of the Saints were so perfect and contemplative?
Because their whole study was to mortify themselves wholly from all earthly desires; and so they were able to cleave to God with all their inmost heart, and freely to attend to themselves.
But we are too much taken up with our own passions, and too solicitous about transitory things.
Seldom do we perfectly overcome one single fault; nor do we ardently desire to make daily progress; therefore we remain cold and lukewarm.
3. If we were perfectly dead to ourselves and no way involved in earthly pursuits, then we could taste the savor of Divine things, and experience something of heavenly contemplation.
The whole hindrance and a very great one is, that we are not free from passions and lusts, and strive not to walk in the perfect way of the Saints.
When we are met by even a little adversity, we are too soon cast down, and seek after human consolation.
4. If we strove like valiant men to stand in the battle, verily we should see the Lord from Heaven assisting us.
For He is ready to help them that fight, trusting in His grace; Who Himself provideth us occasions to fight, in order that we may overcome.
If we place our religious progress in outward observances only, our devotion will soon come to an end.
But let us lay the axe to the root, that being purged of passions, we may possess our minds in peace.
5. If every year we rooted out one fault, we should soon become perfect men.
But now we often feel, on the contrary, that we may find ourselves to have been better and more pure in the beginning of our conversion, than after many years of our profession.
Our fervor and progress ought to increase daily; but now it is esteemed a great thing if anyone can retain something of his first fervor.
If we would do ourselves a little violence in the beginning, afterwards we should be able to do all things with ease and joy.
6. It is hard to give up what we are accustomed to, but harder to go contrary to our own will.
But if thou overcome not little and easy things, how wilt thou surmount greater difficulties?
Resist thine inclination in the beginning, and break off evil habits; lest, by little and little, the difficulty increase upon thee.
Oh, if thou didst consider what peace thou wouldst procure for thyself, and what joy for others, by well-doing, I think thou wouldst be more solicitous for thy spiritual progress.
As nothing is more opposite to true peace, to the happiness and comfort of this life, and to an assured hope of salvation hereafter, than to abandon ourselves to our passions and submit to be their slaves and victims, so nothing is more capable of establishing within us true repose of conscience and of obtaining merit and happiness in this life, and eternal salvation in the next, than ever to resist and conquer our evil inclinations, and to refuse our hearts, on all occasions, the gratification of their irregular desires. Endeavor, therefore, seriously to die to thyself, to overcome thy repugnance to do good, to subdue the ardor of thy desires, and to renounce thine own will in all things: for this alone will make thee happy in time and eternity. There is no true peace of conscience, nor hope of future reward, but in doing all for God, and in opposition to thyself.
HOW happy should I be, my Savior, how content and how sure of salvation, did I but strive as much to satisfy Thy justice by penance, and Thy love by fidelity, as I do to satisfy my passions and the demands of self-love! Suffer me not, O Lord, to serve any other master than Thee. Break my chains asunder, deliver me from the unjust and cruel servitude of my passions. My heart is made for Thee. Permit not vanity,
self-love, sensuality, idleness, and anger, like strange gods, to divide it, or rather rob it, of the empire of Thy love. Not to give Thee my whole heart, is to withdraw it from Thee, Who wilt have all or none. O my God and my all! O God of my heart! be Thou my portion forever. Amen.