BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
31: OF THE CONTEMPT OF EVERYTHING CREATED,
IN ORDER TO FIND THE CREATOR
DISCIPLE. Lord, I stand much in need of a grace yet greater, if I must
arrive so far that it may not be in the power of any man nor anything
created to hinder me.
For as long as anything holds me back, I cannot freely fly to Thee.
He was desirous to fly freely to Thee who said: "Who will give me wings like a dove, and I
will fly and be at rest
What can be more at rest than a single eye?
And what can be more free than he who desires nothing upon earth?
A man ought, therefore, to soar above everything created, and perfectly
to forsake himself, and in ecstasy of mind to stand and see that Thou,
the Creator of all, hast nothing like to Thee among creatures.
And unless a man be disengaged from all things created, he cannot
freely attend to things Divine.
And this is the reason why there are found so few contemplative
persons, because there are few that know how to sequester themselves
entirely from perishable creatures.
2. For this a great grace is required, such as may elevate the soul,
and lift her up above herself.
And unless a man be elevated in spirit, and freed from attachment to
all creatures, and wholly united to God, whatever he knows, and
whatever he has, is of no great importance.
For a long time shall he be little, and lie groveling beneath, who
esteems anything great but only the one, immense, eternal good.
And whatsoever is not God is nothing, and ought to be accounted as
There is a great difference between the wisdom of an illuminated and
devout man, and the knowledge of a learned and studious cleric.
Far more noble is that learning which flows from above from the Divine
influence, than that which is laboriously acquired by the industry of
3. Many are found to desire contemplation, but they are not careful to
practice those things which are required for its attainment.
It is also a great impediment, that we rest so much upon signs and
sensible things, and have but little of perfect mortification.
I know not what it is, by what spirit we are led, or what we pretend
to, who seem to be called spiritual persons, that we take so much pains
and are so full of anxiety for transitory and mean things, and seldom
if ever think with all recollection of mind on our own inward
4. Alas, after a slight recollection, we presently break forth again;
neither do we weigh well our works by a strict examination.
Where our affections lie, we take no notice; and how impure is our
every action, we do not deplore.
Because all flesh had corrupted its way, therefore the great deluge
Since, therefore, our interior affection is much corrupted, it must
needs be that the action which follows, which is a testimony of the
want of inward vigor, should also be corrupted.
From a pure heart proceedeth the fruit of a good life.
5. How much a man hath done is inquired into; but with how much virtue
he hath acted is not so studiously weighed.
We ask whether he be strong, rich, handsome, clever, a good writer, a
good singer, or a good workman; but how poor he is in spirit, how
patient and meek, how devout and internal, is what few speak of.
Nature looketh upon the exterior of a man; but grace turneth itself to
Nature is often in error; but grace hath her trust in God, that so she
may not be deceived.
NOTHING is worthy of a Christian's affection but what is
eternal; he should never love anything but what he may love forever.
Wherefore let us endeavor, in the first place, to prefer the will of
God to all other satisfactions; secondly, to seek in all things to
please Him; thirdly, to receive, as coming from His hands, with humble
submission, whatever He is pleased to send us; fourthly, to recollect
ourselves frequently in His presence, and depend upon Him in all
Why should we be busied about trifles, with vain reflections about
ourselves, and disquietude about others, while God is residing within
us, and expecting from us the homage of our hearts, and the dedication
of our whole selves to Him?
We know how dangerous it is to neglect the grace of God, and yet
we make small account of the losses we sustain by yielding to a spirit
of dissipation, paying but little attention to what God requires of us.
O MY God and my all! O amiable and most loving God! how little
attention do I pay to Thy presence, how unfaithful am I to Thy grace,
and how little courage do I evince for the sacrifice of all
satisfaction to Thee! And yet Thou art the God of my heart, and, as I
hope, my portion forever. To become worthy of this happiness, I desire
to keep my mind constantly fixed on Thee, to sacrifice to Thy love
everything which may divert me from Thee, and neither to say nor to do
anything but in order to gain Heaven.
Grant, O Lord, that I may avoid whatever is offensive to Thee,
and love and practice that only which is well pleasing in Thy sight;
and that, frequently recollecting myself in Thee, I may apply my whole
self to Thy presence, and do Thy holy will in all things. Amen.