BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 5: OF THE WONDERFUL EFFECT OF DIVINE LOVE
I BLESS Thee, O heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, because Thou hast vouchsafed to be mindful of me, poor as I am.
O Father of mercies, and God of all consolation, I give thanks to Thee, that sometimes Thou art pleased to cherish with Thy consolation me, who am unworthy of any consolation.
I bless and glorify Thee ever more, together with Thine only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, forever and ever.
O Lord, God, my holy Lover, when Thou shalt come into my heart, all that is within me shall be filled with joy.
Thou art my glory and the exultation of my heart.
Thou art my hope and my refuge in the day of my tribulation.
2. But because I am yet as weak in love and imperfect in virtue, therefore do I stand in need of being strengthened and comforted by Thee.
Wherefore do Thou visit me often, and instruct me in Thy holy discipline.
Free me from evil passions, and cure my heart of all disorderly affections; so that inwardly healed and well purified, I may become apt to love, courageous to suffer, and steadfast to persevere.
3. A great thing is love-----a great good every way; which alone lighteneth all that is burdensome, and beareth equally all that is unequal.
For it carrieth a burden without being burdened, and maketh all else that is bitter sweet and savory.
The noble love of Jesus impelleth us to do great things, and exciteth us always to desire that which is the more perfect.
Love will tend upwards, and not be detained by things beneath.
Love will be at liberty, and free from all worldly affection, that its interior vision be not hindered; that it suffer itself not to be entangled with any temporal interest, or cast down by misfortune.
Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in Heaven or in earth; for love is born of God, and cannot rest but in God, above all created things.
4. The lover flieth, runneth, and rejoiceth; he is free, and cannot be restrained.
He giveth all for all, and hath all in all; because he resteth in one sovereign Good above all, from Whom all good floweth and proceedeth.
He looketh not at the gifts, but turneth himself, above all goods, to the Giver.
Love often knoweth no measure, but groweth fervent above all measure.
Love feeleth no burden, thinketh nothing of labors, would willingly do more than it can, complaineth not of impossibility, because it conceiveth that it may and can do all things.
It can achieve anything; and it doth perform and effect many things, where he that loveth not fainteth and falleth prostrate.
5. Love watcheth, and sleeping slumbereth not.
When weary it is not tired; when straitened is not constrained; when frightened is not disturbed; but, like a vivid flame and a burning torch, it mounteth upwards, and securely passeth through all.
Whosoever loveth knoweth the cry of this voice.
A loud cry in the ears of God is that ardent affection of the soul which saith: O my God, my Love, Thou art all mine, and I am all Thine.
6. Enlarge Thou me in love, that I may learn to taste with the interior mouth of the heart how sweet it is to love, and to be dissolved and to bathe in love.
Let me be possessed by love, mounting up above myself through excess of fervor and ecstasy.
Let me sing the canticle of love, let me follow Thee, my Beloved, on high, let my soul quite lose herself in Thy praises, jubilant in Thy love.
Let me love Thee more than myself, and myself only for Thee, and all others in Thee, who truly love Thee, as the law of love commandeth, which shineth forth from Thee.
7. Love is swift, sincere, pious, pleasant, and delightful; strong, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, courageous, and never seeking itself.
For where a man seeketh himself, there he falleth from love.
Love is circumspect, humble, upright; not soft, not light, nor intent upon vain things; is sober, chaste, steadfast, quiet, and keepeth a guard over all the senses.
Love is submissive and obedient to superiors; in its own eyes mean and contemptible, devout and thankful to God, always trusting and hoping in Him, even when it tasteth not the relish of God's sweetness; for there is no living in love without some sorrow.
8. Whosoever is not ready to suffer all things, and to stand resigned to the will of his Beloved, is not worthy to be called a lover.
He that loveth must willingly embrace all that is hard and bitter for the sake of his Beloved, and never suffer himself to be turned away from Him by any contrary occurrences whatsoever.
WHO shall ever conceive or explain the wonderful effects of the love of God in a soul that is faithful to its impressions, and firm in the time of trial? It is much better to feel them than to speak of them; and it is more perfect to practice them than to feel them. What does not the love of God effect when it is active, solid, and constant, in a soul that is captivated with the beauty and goodness of its God, and inflamed with the ardor of His holy charity! It often thinks of Him, for we cannot forget what we love; it does all to please Him; it suffers all for His sake; it carefully avoids the slightest faults; for how can we love God and be willing to offend Him? It desires for God all the good which He is and possesses; it would that all the hearts of men were but one, and this the heart of a seraph; it rejoices in all the glory that is given to Him in Heaven and on earth; it invites all creatures to love and praise Him; it would procure for Him, at the expense of its very life and being, if it were possible, any addition of happiness and delight; it cannot be consoled for His absence; it sighs incessantly for the happiness of seeing Him; it considers this life an exile, which the will of God alone makes supportable; it looks upon death with joy, as being the only means of coming to the possession of Him, and of no more offending Him; it burns with a secret fire, which with lively ardor consumes it before God, in God, and for God; it lives no longer for itself, but for Him Whom it loves more than itself; it seeks, it finds, it beholds everywhere its God. Its joy and its felicity in this world is to suffer, to renounce, and to annihilate itself; and to die to all sensible objects in order to gain the love of Jesus. It believes, it hopes, it loves with a sovereign love, through the respect, esteem, and attachment which it has for the Author of its faith, hope, and charity. God exists, it says, and that is enough for my happiness, my consolation, and my joy. God deserves to be served; He wills that I should do or suffer this for Him; Jesus Christ was most willing to do and to suffer all for me. It is not satisfied with submitting itself in everything to the orders of its God; it seeks but to know His inclinations, and His good pleasure is its law. In a word, a soul that loves its God no longer lives by its own life, but it is God Who lives within it.
Is it possible, O Lord, that Thou Who art infinitely amiable, and Who lovest us with an infinite love, shouldst find in us so little love for Thee? Revive in our hearts that fire of Divine charity which Thou, my Savior, didst bring from Heaven upon the earth, and which Thou desirest should grow within us, Grant that, becoming insensible and indifferent to all creatures, we may feel neither ardor nor attachment but for Thee alone; and that, being ever disposed to suffer all, and to lose all, rather than Thy love but for one moment, we may love Thee in preference to all things else and esteem our whole self of infinitely less consideration than Thee. Preserve us in that habitual love of Thee which is sanctifying grace; inspire us with an active love to animate us in all our actions. Give us that perpetual love which, causing us to do all for and by Thee, may procure for us the happiness of dying in the exercise of Thy love, to continue it throughout a blessed eternity. Amen.