BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 1: OF INTERIOR CONVERSATION
THE kingdom of God is within you, saith the Lord.
Turn thee unto the Lord with thy whole heart, and quit this miserable
world, and thy soul shall find rest.
Learn to slight exterior things, and to give thyself to interior
things, and thou shalt see the kingdom of God come within thee.
The kingdom of God is peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; which is not
given to the wicked.
Christ will come to thee, and discover His consolation to thee, if thou
wilt prepare for Him a fit dwelling within thee.
All His glory and beauty are from within; and there it is that He
Many are His visits to the man of interior life, and sweet the
conversation that He holdeth with him; plenteous His consolation, His
peace, and His familiarity.
2. Come, then, faithful soul, make thy heart ready for this Spouse, so
that He may vouchsafe to come to thee and to dwell within thee.
For so He saith: "If any man love
Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him; We will come to
him, and make Our abode with him."
Give admittance, therefore, to Christ, and refuse entrance to
When thou hast Christ, thou art rich, and He is sufficient for thee.
He will provide for thee, and be thy faithful procurator in all things;
so that thou needest not to trust in men.
For men soon change, and they quickly fail; but Christ abideth forever,
and standeth by us firmly to the end.
3. No great confidence must we place in frail and mortal man, useful
though he be, and dearly beloved; nor shouldst thou be much grieved if
he sometimes oppose and contradict thee.
They that today are with thee, tomorrow may be against thee; and they
often change to the contrary, like the wind.
Put thy whole trust in God, and let Him be thy fear and thy love.
He will answer for thee, and will graciously do for thee as shall be
Here thou hast no abiding city; and wherever thou shalt be, thou
art a stranger and a pilgrim; nor wilt thou ever have rest, except thou
be interiorly united with Christ.
4. Why dost thou stand looking about thee here, since this is not the
place of thy rest?
Thine abode must be in Heaven, and thou shouldst look upon all earthly
things as it were in passing.
All things pass away, and thou too, along with them.
See thou cleave not to them, lest thou be ensnared, and perish.
Let thy thoughts be with the Most High, and let thy prayers be sent
forth without ceasing unto Christ.
If thou knowest not how to meditate on high and heavenly things, rest
in the Passion of Christ, and love to dwell within His sacred Wounds.
For if thou devoutly betake thyself to the Wounds and precious stigmas
of Jesus, thou shalt feel great comfort in tribulation; thou wilt not
care much for being slighted by men, and wilt easily bear the speeches
5. Christ also was despised by men in the world, and in His greatest
need He was, by His acquaintance and His friends, forsaken amidst
insults. Christ was willing to suffer and to be despised, and darest
thou complain of aught?
Christ had enemies and detractors, and wouldst thou have all to be thy
friends and benefactors?
Whence shall thy patience be crowned, if thou meet with no adversity?
If thou wilt suffer no contradiction, how canst thou be the friend of
Endure with Christ, and for Christ, if thou wouldst reign with Christ.
6. If thou hadst once perfectly entered into the interior of Jesus, and
tasted a little of His ardent love; then wouldst thou care but little
for thine own convenience or inconvenience; but wouldst rather rejoice
at reproach; for the love of Jesus maketh a man despise himself.
A lover of Jesus and the truth, a true interior person, who is free
from inordinate affections, can freely turn himself to God, elevate
himself above himself in spirit, and enjoy a delightful repose.
7. He whose taste discerneth all things as they are, and not as
they are said or accounted to be, is truly a wise man, and taught
rather of God than of men.
He that knoweth how to walk interiorly, and to make but little account
of things exteriorly, doth not look for places nor wait for seasons to
perform exercises of devotion.
The man of interior life soon recollecteth himself, because he never
wholly poureth forth himself upon exterior things.
Exterior labor is no prejudice to him, nor any employment necessary for
the time; but as things happen, so he accommodateth himself to them.
He who is well disposed and orderly in his interior is not concerned
about the strange and perverse doings of men.
Just so much is a man hindered and distracted in proportion as he draws
things to himself.
8. If all were right within thee, and thou wert well purified, all
things would tend to thy good and thy profit.
The reason why many things displease thee, and oftentimes disturb thee,
is, that thou art not yet perfectly dead to thyself, nor detached from
There is nothIng that so defileth and entangleth the heart of man as an
impure attachment to created things.
If thou wilt refuse exterior consolations, then shalt thou be able to
apply thy mind to heavenly things, and experience frequent interior
"CONVERT thyself with thy whole heart
to the Lord. Learn to despise the exterior things, and give thyself to
These words teach us that the true happiness and only merit of this
life consist in retirement and recollection in God, which are
maintained by means of a respectful remembrance of His presence, and a
continual turning of souls towards Him. A recollected mind and a
faithful heart form the character of an interior man who adores God in
spirit and in truth-----that is, who pays Him that
interior homage which becometh His sovereign greatness, and is so
necessary for a soul whose sole business is to live in God and for God.
It is this abiding of God in the soul, this establishment of the soul
in God, by raising itself up to Him in sighs and lamentations, and by
casting its whole self upon Him, which enables it to live an interior
life, a life of merit, and above nature, which is heaven upon earth,
and an anticipated possession of the felicity of God. I am resolved,
therefore, to mortify my senses, to banish from my mind all vain and
useless reflections, and to keep a strict guard over my heart, that
nothing may enter therein but what will promote the fear and love of
Jesus Christ. Everything else shall be to me as though it were not; and
I will endeavor, above all things, to know, love and imitate my
Redeemer, content to suffer all for Him and in Him, that I may one day
reign with Him! O my soul! breathe only His love, live only to please
Him, sigh only for the happiness of possessing Him.
O MY most amiable Savior! the life of my soul, the only object of my
hope, and the assurance of my salvation! Come, take possession of my
heart, which is already Thine, infuse into it the spirit of Thy
mysteries, Thine interior dispositions, and the virtues which Thou
didst practice. Grant that, animated by Thy Spirit, living in and by
Thee, and, as it were, clothed with Thy justice, I may become more
Thine than my own. Mayst Thou live in me: and may I, by a happy
transmutation, yielding myself entirely to Thee, act only from the
influences of Thy love. Amen.
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