BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 45: THAT WE MAY NOT BELIEVE ALL,
AND HOW EASILY WE ERR IN SPEECH
GRANT me help, O Lord, in my tribulation, for vain is the aid of man.
How often have I not found faithfulness there where I thought I might depend upon it.
And how often have I there found it where I the less expected it!
Vain therefore is hope in man; but the salvation of the just is in Thee, O God.
Blessed be Thou, O Lord my God, in all things that befall us.
We are weak and unsteadfast; we are easily deceived and changed.
2. Who is the man that is able to keep himself so warily and so circumspectly in all things, as not sometimes to fall into delusion or perplexity?
But he that trusteth in Thee, O Lord, and seeketh Thee with a simple heart, doth not so easily fall.
And should he perchance fall into some tribulation, how entangled soever he be therewith, he will the sooner be rescued or comforted by Thee; for Thou wilt not finally forsake him that trusteth in Thee.
Rare indeed is a faithful friend who will persevere in all the pressing necessities of his friend.
Thou, O Lord, Thou alone art most faithful in all things, and besides Thee, there is no other such.
3. Oh, how wise was that holy soul that said: "My mind is solidly established in and grounded upon Christ!" [Life of St. Agatha]
Were it but so with me, human fear would not so easily give me anxiety, nor the arrows of men's words move me.
Who is sufficient to foresee all things? Who to provide against future evils?
If things foreseen do yet often hurt us, how can things unlooked for otherwise than grievously wound us? But why have I not better provided for my wretched self?
Why also have I so easily placed confidence in others?
But we are men: and no other indeed than frail men, although by many we are esteemed and called angels.
To whom shall I give credit, O Lord?
Whom shall I believe but Thee? Thou art the Truth, which canst neither deceive nor be deceived.
And again: Every man is a liar, weak, unstable, and subject to fail, especially in words; so that we ought not readily to believe even that which in appearance seemeth to sound well.
4. How wisely didst Thou forewarn us to take heed of men, and that a man's enemies are those of his own household; that we are not to believe: if anyone should say: Behold here, or behold there.
I have been taught to my cost, and I wish it may serve to make me more cautious, and not increase my folly.
Be wary, saith a certain one; be wary, keep to thyself what I tell thee.
And whilst I keep silence, and believe the matter to be secret, he himself cannot keep the secret which he desireth me to keep, but presently betrayeth both me and himself, and goeth his way.
From such foolish speech and such unwary people defend me, O Lord, that I may not fall into their hands, nor ever commit the like.
Give to my mouth truth and constancy in my words, and remove far from me a crafty tongue.
What I am not willing to suffer I ought by all means to shun.
5. Oh, how good and how peaceful is it to be silent about others, and not to believe all that is said, nor easily to report what one has heard; To lay one's self open to few; always to seek Thee, the Beholder of the heart:
And not to be carried about with every wind of words; but to wish that all things, both within and without us, may be accomplished according to the pleasure of Thy will!
How secure is it for the preservation of heavenly grace, to fly the human appearance, not to seek those things that seem to cause admiration abroad, but with all diligence to follow those things which bring amendment of life and fervor!
To how many hath it been hurtful to have their virtue known, and over hastily praised!
How indeed hath grace profited when kept with silence during this frail life! The whole of which is declared to be a temptation and a warfare.
WHAT is it to be "strongly settled and grounded upon Christ?" (St. Agatha).
It is, first, to rely only upon Him, and trust but little to the promises of men; secondly, it is to prefer His grace and love before the friendship and consideration of all mankind besides; for there is no true good but in being well with God; thirdly, it is to treat with Him with all the earnestness of our souls, confidently to have recourse to Him in all our necessities, and to oblige our hearts to love Him, that at the moment of death, when we shall appear before Him, He may show Himself to us as a Father of mercy, and as a Savior Whom we have long known and loved, and not as a strange God and terribly just Judge, saying to us; You would not endeavor to know Me and love Me in time; now will I not know you for eternity; you shall not be Mine forever.
GRANT me, O Jesus, to know what Thou art in Thyself, and what Thou art to
me, that my heart may be penetrated with Thy holy fear and love. Shall I be so ungrateful and so unjust as to give my heart to any other but Thee, my God, or to rely on any creature in preference to Thee? Were I to act thus, how justly should I deserve to be miserable both for time and eternity! What, Lord! I suffice for Thee, and shouldst not Thou suffice for me? No, blessed Jesus, it shall not be thus: I desire only Thee and the accomplishment of Thy holy will, as my happiness for time and eternity. Amen.