BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 18: THAT TEMPORAL MISERIES ARE TO BE BORNE WITH EQUANIMITY, AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST
SON, I came down from Heaven for thy salvation; I took upon Me thy miseries, not of necessity, but moved thereto by charity; that thou mightest learn patience, and bear without repining temporal miseries.
For from the hour of My birth until I expired upon the Cross, I was not without the endurance of grief; moreover, I suffered great want of all earthly things.
I frequently heard many complaints against Me; I meekly bore disgrace and reproaches; for benefits I received ingratitude; for miracles, blasphemies; for heavenly doctrine, reproofs.
2. Lord, because Thou wast patient in Thy lifetime, herein especially fulfilling the commandment of Thy Father, it is fitting that I, a wretched sinner, should, according to Thy will, bear myself patiently, and, as long as Thou pleasest, support the burden of this corruptible life, in order to gain my salvation.
For though this present life is felt to be burdensome, yet it is now rendered, through Thy grace, very meritorious; and by Thine example and the footsteps of Thy Saints, more bright and supportable to the weak.
It is also much more full of consolation than it was formerly under the law, when the gate of Heaven remained shut; and even the way to Heaven seemed more obscure, when so few concerned themselves to seek the kingdom of Heaven.
Moreover, too, they who were then just, and to be saved, could not enter into Thy heavenly kingdom before Thy Passion, and the payment of our debt by Thy sacred death.
3. Oh, what great thanks am I bound to render unto Thee, for having vouchsafed to show me and all the faithful a right and good way to Thine everlasting kingdom!
For Thy life is our way; and by holy patience we walk on to Thee, Who art our crown.
If Thou hadst not gone before and instructed us, who would have cared to follow?
Alas, how many would have stayed afar off and a great way behind, had they not before their eyes Thy glorious example!
Behold, we are still tepid, nothwithstanding all Thy miracles and instructions which we have heard; what, then, would it be if we had not so great light to follow Thee?
To animate ourselves to suffer in a proper manner we should often think of the Passion of Jesus Christ, Who suffered the punishment due to our sins. The afflictions, which God sends us are intended either to prove our fidelity or to punish us for our offenses. We should, therefore, receive them with humble submission, and in a truly penitential spirit; happy in being allowed to satisfy the justice of God in time, that we may contemplate His bounty for eternity. Our greatest trials are from ourselves. The rebellions of our passions, the bitterness of our hearts, our constitutional fretfulness, the wanderings of our imagination, and the whole man so opposite to God, would be insupportable did we not frequently think of the patience with which God waits for us, and endeavor to imitate Him Who bears with our infirmities. Let us, then, be patient under sufferings, that so, at the last hour, we may enjoy the consolation of having sanctified the evils of this life by a spirit of patience, and thus rendered them most available to salvation.
CAN we behold Thee, O Jesus, suffer so much for us and yet be unwilling to suffer anything for Thee? Can we believe that we must suffer with Thee on earth, if we would reign with Thee in Heaven, and yet resist Thy chastisements or bear them with impatience? Dearest Savior, give us strength to suffer, and grant that the patience which Thou impartest to us may make us worthy of those eternal rewards which Thou hast promised us in the kingdom of Heaven. Amen.