BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 10: OF GRATITUDE FOR THE GRACE OF GOD
WHY seekest thou repose, since thou art born to labor?
Dispose thyself to patience, rather than to consolations; and to carrying the cross, rather than to gladness.
For who is there amongst those of the world that would not willingly receive comfort and spiritual joy, if he could obtain it at all times?
Spiritual consolations, indeed, exceed all the delights of the world and pleasures of the flesh.
For all worldly delights are either vain or impure; but spiritual delights alone are delightful and honorable, as they spring from virtue, and are infused by God into pure minds.
But these Divine consolations no man can always enjoy when he will, because the time of temptation is not long absent.
2. But what very much opposes these heavenly visits is a false liberty of mind, and a great confidence in one's self.
God doth well in giving the grace of consolation, but man doth ill in not returning it all to God with thanksgiving.
And this is the reason why the gifts of grace cannot flow in us, because we are ungrateful to the Giver, nor do we return all to the fountain-head.
For grace will be always given to him that duly returns thanks; and what is wont to be given to the humble, will be taken away from the proud.
3. I would not have any such consolation as robbeth me of compunction; nor do I wish to have such contemplation as leadeth to pride.
For all that is high is not holy; nor is every pleasant thing good; nor every desire pure; nor is everything that is dear to us pleasing to God.
I willingly accept of that grace which always maketh me more humble and fearful, and more ready to renounce myself.
He that hath been taught by the gift of grace, and instructed by the chastisement of its withdrawal, will not dare to attribute anything of good to himself, but will rather acknowledge himself to be poor and naked.
Give to God what is His, and ascribe to thyself what is thine-----that is, give thanks to God for His grace; but as to thyself, be sensible that nothing is to be attributed to thee but sin, and the punishment sin deserveth.
4. Put thyself always in the lowest place, and the highest shall be given thee; for the highest standeth not without the lowest.
The Saints that are the highest in the sight of God are the least in their own eyes; and the more glorious they are, the more humble are they in themselves.
Full of truth and heavenly glory, they are not covetous of vain glory.
Being grounded and established in God, they can by no means be proud.
And they who attribute to God whatsoever good they have received, seek not glory from one another, but that glory which is from God alone; and they desire above all things that God may be praised in themselves, and in all the Saints, and to this they are always tending.
5. Be grateful, then, for the least, and thou shalt be worthy to receive greater things.
Let the least be to thee as something very great, and the most contemptible as a special favor.
If thou considerest the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem little or too mean for thee. For that is not little which is given by the most high God.
Yea, though He give punishment and stripes, it ought to be acceptable; for whatever He suffereth to befall us, He always doth it for our salvation.
He that desireth to retain the grace of God, let him be thankful for grace when it is given, and patient when it is withdrawn.
Let him pray, that it may return; let him be cautious and humble, lest he lose it.
Do not exalt thyself on account of the gifts of God, which are often a help to
thy weakness, always the effect of His bounty, and ordinarily above thy deserts.
When in the act of offending Him, thou perceivest thy heart touched at the sight of thine ingratitude and infidelity, thou oughtest to humble thyself and be confounded before Him at seeing Him so full of goodness and thyself so replete with wickedness.
Penetrated with a lively sorrow for having offended God, Who seeks thee even when thou art fleeing away from Him, and loads thee with His graces, even when thou provest thyself unworthy of them, return to Him by true repentance; ask pardon for thy fault, and think only of avenging Him by punishing thyself.
O GOD, Whose bounty is infinite, and Whose mercies are proportioned to our miseries, permit us not to be so ungrateful as to forget Thy benefits, nor so unfaithful as to become unworthy of Thy graces. We acknowledge that we deserve only to be abandoned by Thee, we merit but Thy hatred and eternal torments; but we conjure Thee, O Savior, not to deal with us according to our deserts, but according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, which Thou art ever desirous of imparting to us. Amen.