BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
32: OF SELF-ABNEGATION, AND THE RENUNCIATION OF ALL CUPIDITY
SON, thou canst not possess perfect liberty, unless thou wholly deny
All self-seekers and self-lovers are bound in fetters; full of desires,
full of cares, ever unsettled, and seeking always their own ease, not
the things of Jesus Christ; but oftentimes devising and framing that
which shall not stand.
For all shall perish that cometh not of God.
Hold fast this short and perfect word: "Forsake all, and thou shalt find all;
relinquish desire, and thou shalt find rest.
Consider this well, and when thou hast put it in practice, thou shalt
understand all things.
2. Lord, this is not the work of one day, nor children's sport; yea, in
this short sentence is included all the perfection of religious.
Son, thou oughtest not to be turned back, nor presently cast down, when
thou hearest what is the way of the perfect; but be drawn the more
onwards towards its lofty heights, or at least aspire ardently for
I would it were so with thee, and that thou wert come so far that thou
wert no longer a lover of thyself, but didst simply wait My bidding and
his whom I have appointed father over thee; then wouldst thou
exceedingly please Me, and all thy life would pass in joy and peace.
Thou hast yet many things to forsake, which unless thou give them up to
Me without reserve, thou shalt not obtain that for which thou prayest.
I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayst
that is, heavenly wisdom, which treadeth
under foot all things below.
Lay aside earthly wisdom-----
that is, all human and
3. I have said, buy for thyself things most contemptible for such as
are precious and most valued in human estimation.
For very mean and contemptible, and almost forgotten amongst men, seems
that wisdom which is true and heavenly, not teaching high notions of
self, nor seeking to be magnified upon earth; which many praise in
words, while in their life they are far from it; yet this same is that
precious pearl which is hidden from many.
WHAT is it to quit all things? It is, first, to renounce and to
die to ourselves; secondly, to mortify the senses, the mind, and the
heart; thirdly, to detach ourselves from everything that affords us
pleasure, and to receive with willingness and submission whatever gives
us pain; fourthly, to love our friends in God, our enemies for God, and
to hate only ourselves; fifthly, to attach ourselves only to God, to
our duties, and to our salvation; sixthly, to direct all the energies
of our hearts towards God and against ourselves; seventhly, to desire
nothing but to please Him, and to fear nothing but to offend Him;
eighthly, to make it our happiness and our merit to gain the light of
His countenance, and to become worthy of His love.
How easy to say, I desire to quit all and to belong entirely to God!
But how difficult to perform, unless we withdraw ourselves with fixed
determination from everything which does not lead us to Him! A small
degree of Divine love makes this dedication and sacrifice of ourselves
to God possible and easy. We should constantly desire it, and ask for
it, and practice it.
SUFFER not my heart, O Lord, which was created to love and to
possess Thee, to be attached to creatures or to itself, preferably to
Thee. Thou alone canst satisfy it, and make it happy; to Thee,
therefore, should it solely and constantly adhere. O my God, I can
indeed sin without Thee; but I cannot rise again without Thee, nor
withdraw myself from anything that would seduce my mind and corrupt my
unsteady heart. Succor, support, and strengthen me in the combats which
I am obliged to sustain with myself, in my endeavors to renounce all,
that in all I may seek and find Thee. How it distresses me to behold
myself the slave of my passions, and the victim of my wayward humors!
Break asunder my chains, O Lord, and grant that, detaching myself from
all things else, I may adhere only to Thee. Amen.