BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 5: OF SELF-CONSIDERATION
WE may not trust too much to ourselves; for grace and understanding are often wanting to us.
There is in us but little light, and this we soon lose by negligence.
Oftentimes we are quite unconscious how interiorly blind we are.
We often do amiss, and do worse in excusing ourselves.
Sometimes we are moved by passion, and think it zeal.
We blame little things in others, and overlook great things in ourselves.
We are quick enough in perceiving and weighing what we bear from others; but we think little of what others have to bear from us.
He that should well and justly weigh his own doings would find little cause to judge harshly of another.
2. The interior man regardeth the care of himself before all other cares; and he that looketh diligently to himself findeth it not difficult to be silent about others.
Thou wilt never be interior and devout unless thou pass over in silence other men's affairs, and look especially to thyself.
If thou attend wholly to thyself and to God, what thou seest abroad will affect thee but little.
Where art thou when thou art absent from thyself?
And when thou hast run over all things, what hath it profited thee if thou hast neglected thyself?
If thou wouldst have true peace and perfect union, thou must cast all things else aside, and keep thine eyes upon thyself alone.
3. Thou wilt make great progress, if thou keep thyself free from every temporal anxiety.
Thou wilt fall back exceedingly, if thou make account of anything temporal.
Let there be nothing great, nothing high, nothing pleasant, nothing acceptable to thee but only God Himself, or what comes from God.
Think it all vanity, whatever consolation thou mayst meet with from any creature.
The soul that loveth God despiseth all things that are less than God.
God only, the eternal and infinite, Who filleth all things, is the solace of the soul and the true joy of the heart.
USELESS reflections upon ourselves and upon exterior things occasion us to lose much time, many graces, and much merit. Did we but endeavor to substitute a respectful remembrance of God, in place of a vain and hurtful attention to ourselves and to creatures, we should be always well employed. To consider God as within us, and ourselves as existing in God, to live under the eye of Jesus Christ by means of recollection, in His hands by resignation, and at His feet by humility and a sincere acknowledgment of our miseries, is to live really as Christians; for we can only be such in proportion as we are devoted to Jesus Christ. Why then are we so much and so frequently attracted by news, curiosities, and vanity, and so little interested in God, our duties, and our salvation? It is because we are indifferent to the things of eternity, and so much attached to those which pass away with time. Let us, therefore, begin to be now what we hope to be forever-----occupied only with God, in God, and for God.
CORRECT in me, O Lord, that indolence of mind in which I squander away my time with trifles, and that uselessness of thought which withdraws me from the enjoyment of Thy presence, and distracts my attention in the time of prayer; if, when I recite my prayers, I cannot always think of Thee, grant that my distractions may not be voluntary, so that whilst they divert my mind, they may never withdraw my heart from Thee. Teach me, O Lord, before prayer, to prepare my soul, that, urged by my many necessities, and by a desire of pleasing Thee, I may fulfill this important duty when a becoming sense of Thine awful presence, and of the subject on which I seek relief from Thy bounty and mercy. Amen.