BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 43: AGAINST VAIN AND WORLDLY LEARNING
SON, let not the beautiful and subtle sayings of men affect thee; for the kingdom of God consisteth not in speech, but in virtue.
Attend to My words, which inflame hearts and enlighten minds, which excite to compunction and afford manifold consolation.
Never read anything in order that thou mayst appear more learned or more wise.
Study the mortification of thy vices; for this will more avail thee than the knowledge of many difficult questions.
2. When thou shalt have read and shalt know many things, thou must always revert to the one beginning.
I am He Who teacheth men knowledge, and Who giveth a more clear understanding to little ones than can be taught by man.
He to whom I speak will quickly be wise and will profit greatly in spirit.
Woe to them that inquire after many curious things of men, and are little curious of the way to serve Me.
The time will come, when Christ the Master of masters, the Lord of Angels, shall appear to hear the lessons of all men-----that is, to examine the conscience of everyone.
And then will He search Jerusalem with lamps, and the hidden things of darkness shall be brought to light, and the argument of tongues shall be silent.
3. I am He that in an instant elevateth the humble mind to comprehend more reasons of the eternal truth than if anyone had studied ten years in the schools.
I teach without noise of words, without confusion of opinions, without ambition of honor, without strife of arguments.
I am He Who teacheth to despise earthly things, to loathe things present, to seek the things eternal, to relish the things eternal, to fly honors, to endure scandals, to repose all hope in Me, to desire nothing out of Me, and above all things ardently to love Me.
4. For a certain person, by loving Me intimately, learned things Divine and spoke wonders.
He profited more by forsaking all things than by studying subtleties.
But to some I speak things common, to others things more particular; to some I sweetly appear in signs and figures, to others in great light I reveal mysteries.
One is the voice of books, but it teacheth not all men alike, because I within am the Teacher of truth, the Searcher of the heart, the Understander of thoughts, the Mover of actions, distributing to everyone as I judge fitting.
GOD scarcely communicates Himself at all to proud and presumptuous souls who
entertain a vain complacency in themselves; because they rob Him of that glory which belongs to Himself alone. But to the humble He communicates His most enlivening and efficacious graces; because they confide not in themselves, but, from a sense of their own misery and sinfulness, depend solely upon Him Who alone can make them worthy of His love.
What will it avail a Christian to know the duties of religion, unless he practice them? What will it avail him to dispute upon the efficacy and the operations of grace, if he be not faithful in corresponding with it, and in punctually following the inspirations of the Holy Spirit? "Not every one," says Jesus Christ, "that saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven: but he that doth the will of My Father, Who is in Heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven." We hear this declaration, and why does it not influence our conduct?
COME, O Holy Spirit! Enlighten the minds of all with Thy sacred light, and inflame
their hearts with the fire of Thy love. Teach us what we are to believe, and engage us to practice it. For, alas! what will it avail us to know what is required of us, in order to be saved, if we do not endeavor to reduce it to practice?
Suffer not our faith to condemn us at the last day, by bearing witness to what we ought to have done to gain Heaven, and to our having neglected to perform it; but grant that both our minds and our hearts by belief and practice may equally conspire to prepare us to eternal bliss. Amen.