BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 46: OF HAVING CONFIDENCE IN GOD, WHEN ARROWS OF WORDS ARE AIMED AGAINST US
SON, stand firm, and trust in Me; for what are words, but words?
They fly through the air, but hurt not a stone.
If thou art guilty, think that thou wilt willingly amend thyself; if thou art not conscious to thyself of anything, think that thou wilt willingly suffer this for God's sake.
It is a small matter that thou shouldst sometimes bear with words, who art not able as yet to endure hard blows.
And why do such trifles go to thy heart, but because thou art yet carnal, and regardest men more than thou oughtest?
For because thou art afraid of being despised, thou art not willing to be reprehended for thy faults, and seekest shelter in excuses.
2. But look better into thyself, and thou shalt find that the world is still within thee, and a vain fondness for pleasing men.
For since thou refusest to be abased and confounded for thy defects, it is plain indeed thou art neither truly humble, nor dead to the world, nor the world crucified to thee.
But give ear to My word, and thou shalt not value ten thousand words of men.
Behold if all were said against thee which with the utmost malice could possibly be invented, what hurt could they do thee, if thou wouldst let them all pass, and value them no more than a straw?
Could they even so much as pluck one hair from thee?
3. But he who keepeth not his heart interiorly, nor God before his eyes, is easily moved with a word of dispraise.
Whereas he that trusteth in Me, and desireth not to stand by his own judgment, will be void of human fear.
For I am the Judge and Discerner of all secrets; I know how the matter passeth; I know both him that inflicteth the injury and him that suffereth it.
From Me went forth this word, by My permission it happened, that the thoughts out of many hearts might be revealed.
I will judge the guilty and the innocent; but by a secret judgment I would try them both beforehand.
4. The testimony of men oftentimes deceiveth; My judgment is true; it shall stand and not be overthrown.
It is for the most part hidden, and to few laid open in everything; yet it never erreth, nor can it err: though to the eyes of the unwise it may seem not right.
To Me, therefore, must thou run in every decision, and not depend upon thine own judgment.
For the just man will not be troubled, whatever happeneth to him from God.
And should even some unjust charge be preferred against him, he will not much care; yet neither will he vainly rejoice, if he be reasonably acquitted by others.
For he considereth that I am He Who searcheth the heart and the reins; Who judgeth not according to the face, nor according to human appearance.
For oftentimes that is found blameworthy in My eyes which in the judgment of men is esteemed commendable.
5. O Lord God, the just Judge, strong and patient, Who knowest the frailty and depravity of men, be Thou my strength and my entire confidence, for my own conscience sufficeth me not.
Thou knowest that which I know not; and therefore under every reprehension I ought to humble myself, and bear it with meekness.
Pardon me, therefore, propitiously, as often as I have not done thus; and give me in future the grace of greater long-suffering.
For better to me is Thine abundant mercy for the obtaining of pardon, than my own imaginary justice for the defending of my hidden conscience.
And although I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet I cannot hereby justify myself: for Thy mercy apart, no mart living shall in Thy sight be justified.
IT is difficult not to be troubled when we are blamed, reprimanded, or contemned.
But true Christian humility consists in not entertaining nor expressing the resentment we at first experience; that is, it consists, first, in not indulging ill-natured and contemptuous reflections upon those who despise us; secondly, in stifling the mortification they occasion us, and in offering it as a sacrifice to God; thirdly, in behaving kindly towards them, speaking to them and rendering them services as occasion may occur, and in doing them as much good as we think they have done us harm. But, alas, how few practice this true humility, and make good use of contradictions and contempt, although all believe that without true humility it is impossible to be saved!
HOW little, O God, is a true Christian affected, one who fears and loves Thee
above all things; how little is he affected by the judgments of men, and how much concerned as to the judgment Thou wilt one day pass upon him! When present before Thee, in the Most Holy Sacrament, I will ask: How do I stand with Thee? What am I in Thy sight? What will be my eternal lot? With such thoughts let me die to the desire of the esteem and to the fear of the contempt of men, that I may seek only to find favor with Thee. Amen.