BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 27: THAT SELF-LOVE CHIEFLY KEEPETH US
BACK FROM THE SOVEREIGN GOOD
My son, thou must give all for all, and be nothing of thine own.
Know that the love of thyself is more hurtful to thee than anything of the world.
Everything, according to the love and inclination which thou hast to it, cleaveth to thee more or less.
If thy love be pure, simple, and well-ordered, thou shalt not be in captivity to anything.
Covet not that which thou mayst not have.
Seek not to have that which may embarrass thee and deprive thee of thine inward liberty.
It is wonderful that thou wilt not: from the very bottom of thy heart, commit thyself wholly to Me, with all things that thou canst desire or have.
2. Why dost thou pine away with vain grief? Why art thou so worn with superfluous cares?
Be resigned to My good pleasure, and thou shalt suffer no loss.
If thou seekest this or that, or wouldst be here or there for thine own interests' sake, and the more to indulge thine own will, thou wilt never be at rest, nor free from solicitude; for in everything there will be found some defect, and in every place there will be some one that will cross thee.
3. Thy welfare, therefore, lies not in obtaining and multiplying any external things, but rather in condemning them, and utterly rooting them out of the heart; which I would not have thee to understand only with regard to money and riches, but also with regard to the ambition of honor, and the desire of empty praise; an which things pass away with the world.
The place avails little, if the spirit of fervor be wanting; neither shall that peace stand long which is sought from without, if the state of the heart want the true foundation-----that is, if thou stand not in Me: thou mayst change, but shalt not better thyself.
For, when occasion offers and is laid hold of, thou shalt find that which thou didst fly from, and more.
A Prayer for the cleansing of the heart, and for heavenly wisdom.
4. Confirm me, O God, by the grace of Thy Holy Spirit. Grant me power to be strengthened in the inner man, and to cast out of my heart all unprofitable care and trouble; not to be drawn away with various desires of anything whatsoever, be it vile or precious, but to view all things as passing away, and myself also as passing with them.
For nothing is lasting under the sun, where all is vanity and affliction of spirit. Oh, how wise is he who thus judgeth!
5. Grant me, O Lord, celestial wisdom, that I may learn above all things to seek Thee and to find Thee; above all things to relish Thee and to love Thee, and to understand all other things as they are, according to the order of Thy wisdom.
Grant that I may prudently avoid him that flattereth me, and patiently bear with him that contradicteth me.
For this is great wisdom, not to be moved with every wind of words, nor to give ear to the wicked, flattering siren; for thus shall we go on securely in the way we have begun.
IF we would give ourselves unreservedly to God, we must, first, seek ourselves in nothing we present to Him; secondly, we must yield ourselves to Him on all occasions, and prefer His will to the suggestions of self-love; thirdly, we must not allow nor forgive ourselves anything we know to be displeasing to Him; fourthly, we must make Him the absolute master and proprietor of our whole hearts, so that He may dispose of all that we have and are according to His holy will; fifthly, we must live in a state of dependence and constant docility to the motions of His grace.
'To give ourselves thus to God without reserve is the true means of possessing Him and living in peace. But, alas! how few give themselves thus to Him! and how many are His only by halves-----divide their hearts between Him and creatures, and love themselves while they pretend to love Him, although they are well aware that all division is injurious to Him, and hinders Him from reigning absolutely in their hearts, of which He cannot be the master if He be not the sole possessor; nor reign as God within them, if He reign not alone and be preferred before all things else.
SUFFER not my heart, O Lord, which was made only for Thee, which is entirely the work of Thy hands, and the price of Thy Blood, to belong to any other but Thee, or to love anything equally or in preference to Thee. Thy delight is to be with the children of men, and why is not Thy presence my felicity? Why art Thou not more to me than all things else-----Thou Who art my only and sovereign Good? I am resolved henceforth absolutely to love Thee alone. I will be all Thine, seek to please Thee in all things, and breathe only Thy love. Amen.