BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 19: OF SUPPORTING INJURIES; AND WHO IS PROVED TO BE TRULY PATIENT
WHAT is it thou sayest, My son? Cease to complain, and consider My Passion, and that of the other Saints. Thou hast not yet resisted unto blood.
Little is it that thou sufferest, in comparison with those who have suffered so much; who have been so strongly tempted, so grievously afflicted, so many ways tried and exercised.
Thou oughtest then, to call to mind the heaviest sufferings of others, that thou mayst the easier bear the very little things thou sufferest.
And if to thee they seem not little, take heed lest this also proceed from thine impatience. But whether they be little or great, strive to bear them all with patience.
2. The better thou disposest thyself for suffering, the more wisely dost thou act, and the more dost thou merit; and thou wilt bear it more easily if both in mind and by habit thou art diligently prepared thereto.
Do not say, I cannot endure these things from such a man, and things of this kind are not to be suffered by me, for he hath done me a great injury, and he upbraideth me with things I never thought of; but I will suffer willingly from another, and as far as I shall judge fitting for me to suffer.
Such a thought is foolish, which considereth not the virtue of patience, nor by whom it shall be crowned, but rather weigheth the persons, and the offenses committed.
3. He is not a truly patient man who will suffer nothing, only so much as he shall think fit, and from whom he pleaseth.
The truly patient man mindeth not by what manner of man it is he is exercised, whether by his own superior, whether by an equal, or an inferior; whether by a good and holy man, or by one that is perverse and unworthy.
But how much soever and how often soever any adversity happeneth to him from any creature, he taketh it all equally with thanksgiving as from the hand of God, and esteemeth it a great gain.
For with God not anything, how trifling soever, suffered for God's sake, shall go unrewarded.
4. Be thou, therefore, prepared to fight, if thou desirest to gain the victory.
Without conflict thou canst not attain the crown of patience.
If thou wilt not suffer, thou refusest to be crowned; but if thou desirest to be crowned, fight manfully, and endure patiently.
Without labor there is no coming to rest, nor without fighting do we arrive at victory.
5. Make, O Lord, that possible to me by grace, which seemeth impossible to me by nature.
Thou knowest how little I can bear, and that I am soon dejected when a small adversity ariseth.
Let all exercises of tribulation become lovely and most desirable to me for Thy Name's sake; for to suffer and to be afflicted for Thee is very healthful for my soul.
THE practice of patience consists, first, in receiving all misfortunes as coming from the hand of God; secondly, in bearing all things with resignation; thirdly, in never murmuring under contradictions; fourthly, in believing that, having deserved Hell, no one can do us wrong or injustice; fifthly, in complaining only of ourselves; sixthly, in not speaking when the heart is full; seventhly, in thanking God for evil as well as for good; in a word, in frequently saying with holy Job: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be His holy Name." Such is the practice of patience, which is so necessary for salvation, and yet so rare among Christians; for although there is no one but who suffers much, yet very few suffer as they ought.
Long and constant patience in our trials and difficulties is a penitential and powerful means of effacing sin, which, when God punishes in this life, we may hope He will not punish in the next.
GRANT, O my Savior, that Thy patience in bearing with me and suffering for me may be the model and principle of my patience in suffering for Thee; and that, entering into Thy designs for my salvation, which Thou wouldst secure for me by the good use I make of afflictions, I may receive all things with humble submission to Thy holy will. Amen.