BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 17: OF THE MONASTIC LIFE
THOU must learn to beat down self in many things, if thou wouldst live in peace and concord with others. It is no small thing to dwell in monasteries, or in a congregation, and to live there without complaint, and to persevere faithfully even unto death.
Blessed is he who shall have lived there well, and there happily ended.
If thou wouldst persevere dutifully and advance, look on thyself as an exile and a pilgrim upon earth.
Thou must become a fool for Christ's sake, if thou wishest to lead the life of a religious.
2. The habit and the tonsure make but little alteration; but the moral change and the entire mortification of the passions make a true religious.
He that seeketh anything else but simply God, and the salvation of his soul, will find nothing but trouble and sorrow.
And he who doth not strive to be the least, and subject to all, cannot long remain in peace.
3. Thou hast come to serve, not to govern; know thy vocation is to suffer and to labor, not to pass thy time in idleness or vain conversation.
Here, therefore, men are tried, as gold is in the furnace.
Here no man can abide, except he be ready with all his heart to humble himself for the love of God.
IN order to live happily and contented in a community or religious house, and to labor effectually for the attainment of perfection and salvation, we must endure much, and restrain and conquer ourselves upon many occasions. As the dispositions of those with whom we live are often contrary to our own, grace must preserve peace and charity, by enabling us to suffer and to bear with a contrariety of tempers, as nature preserves the order of the universe by reconciling a contrariety of elements. We shall never find true repose of conscience, nor acquire an assured hope of salvation, but by the practice of interior mortification and true humility of heart, by which we bear all things and refuse the soul its desires.
As Thou hast commanded me, O Jesus, to seek peace, and to keep it with all men, and as I cannot enjoy this advantage but by humbly bearing with others, and by giving them no cause of uneasiness on my own account, command in this respect what Thou pleasest, and give me what Thou commandest; for how can I bring the pride and haughtiness of my mind to bear and accept willingly the repulses, contempt, and humiliations which so frequently befall me, if Thou assist me not, O Lord, with the all-powerful aid of Thy grace? And how shall I stifle the feelings and sallies of my heart under contradictions, if Thou arrest them not? Grant therefore, O God, that on occasions of repulses or contradictions, influenced by the respect that is due to Thy holy presence, and by the submission which I ought to render to Thy blessed Will, I may calm all troubles within me, and bring all to give place to Thy love. Amen.