BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 11: THAT THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART
ARE TO BE EXAMINED AND MODERATED
SON, it behooves thee still to learn many things, which thou hast not yet well learned.
2. What are these, Lord?
3. That thou conform in all things thy desire to My good pleasure: and that thou be not a lover of thyself, but earnestly zealous that My will may be done.
Desires often inflame thee, and vehemently impel thee: but consider whether it be for My honor or thine own interest that thou art most moved.
If I am the cause, thou wilt be well contented with whatever I shall ordain; but if there lurk in thee any self-seeking, behold, this it is that hindereth thee and weigheth thee down.
4. Take care, then, not to rely too much upon any preconceived desire before thou hast consulted Me; lest perhaps afterwards thou repent, or be displeased with that which at first pleased thee, and which thou wast zealous for as the best.
For not every inclination which appeareth good is therefore at once to be followed; nor is every contrary affection at once to be rejected.
Even in good intentions and desires it is expedient sometimes to use some restraint; lest by too much eagerness thou incur distractions of mind; lest for want of discipline thou generate scandal to others; or by opposition from others thou be suddenly disturbed and fall.
5. Sometimes, indeed, we must use violence and manfully resist the sensual appetite, and not regard what the flesh liketh or disliketh, but rather endeavor that, even against its will, it may be subject to the spirit.
And so long must it be chastised and kept under servitude, till it readily obey in all things, and learn to be content with a little, and to be pleased with simplicity, and not to murmur at any inconvenience.
OUR desires should be regulated by the will of God, moderated by the influence of His grace, and referred to His glory. True mortification of the heart consists in repressing the ardor of our desires, in turning their earnestness against self, and in directing them all to their proper object, which is God. The holy practice of self-renunciation, which is absolutely necessary for salvation, and which is included in the spirit of the Gospel, and the engagements of our Baptism, consists entirely in repressing our irregular desires, in raising our indifferent or natural inclinations to a supernatural end, and in grounding our hopes of salvation, through the merits of Christ, on the fulfillment of our good resolutions.
WHEN, O Lord, shall I become so wearied with my irregular and fruitless desires as to be induced to regulate them by Thy holy will, and to practice the good which I desire to perform? Shall I be satisfied with continually saying I desire earnestly to be all Thine, and to serve Thee faithfully, without doing it with constancy, or desiring it effectually? Alas I my God, I know that Hell is filled with good desires and resolutions, yet it is Hell. Can I be converted and gain salvation by only desiring it, as so many condemned Christians have desired, and do still desire it? Root out, O Lord, this inefficacy of my desires, which may lead me to perdition; and grant that I may ever unite to the desire the use of those means Thou affordest me of pleasing Thee and of saving my soul. Amen.