BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 56: THAT WE OUGHT TO DENY OURSELVES,
AND IMITATE CROSS BY THE CROSS
SON, as much as thou canst go out of thyself, so much wilt thou be able to enter into Me.
As the desiring nothing exteriorly bringeth peace, so doth the relinquishing thyself interiorly unite thee unto God.
I will have thee learn the perfect renunciation of thyself, according to My will without contradiction or complaint.
Follow Me: I am the way, the truth, and the life.
Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; without the life, there is no living.
I am the way which thou must follow; the truth which thou must believe; the life which thou must hope for.
I am the way inviolable, the truth infallible, the life interminable.
I am the straightest way, the sovereign truth, the true life, the blessed life, the uncreated life.
If thou abide in My way, thou shalt know the truth, and the truth shall make thee free, and thou shalt attain life everlasting.
2. If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments.
If thou wilt know the truth, believe Me: if thou wilt be perfect, sell all.
If thou wilt be My disciple, deny thyself.
If thou wilt possess a blessed life, despise this present life.
If thou wilt be exalted in Heaven, humble thyself in this world.
If thou wilt reign with Me, bear the cross with Me.
For none but the servants of the cross find the way of bliss and true light.
3. Lord Jesus, for as much as Thy way is narrow, and despised by the world, grant that I may follow Thee with the world's contempt.
For the servant is not greater than his lord, neither is the disciple above his master.
Let Thy servant be exercised in Thy life, for there is my salvation and true sanctification.
Whatever beside this I read or hear doth neither recreate nor fully delight me.
4. Son, since thou knowest these things, and hast read them all, happier shalt thou be if thou do them.
He that hath My Commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me; and I will love him, and I will manifest Myself unto him, and I will make him sit with Me in the kingdom of My Father.
5. Lord Jesus, as Thou hast said and hast promised, so let it be indeed, and may it be my lot to merit it.
I have received, from Thy hand, the cross; I will bear it, and bear it even unto death, as Thou hast laid it upon me.
Truly, the life of the good religious is a cross; but it is also the guide to Paradise.
We have begun: we may not go back, nor may we leave off.
6. Take courage, brethren; let us go forward together; Jesus will be with us.
For the sake of Jesus, we have taken up this cross; for Jesus' sake, let us persevere in it.
He will be our Helper, Who is our Captain and our Forerunner.
Behold, our King marcheth before us, Who will fight for us.
Let us follow Him manfully, let no one fear terrors; let us be ready to die valiantly in battle; nor let us bring disgrace upon our glory by flying from the cross.
"IF any man will come after Me," says our Divine Redeemer, "let him deny himself, and let him take up his cross daily, and follow Me." In this is included the whole practice of a Christian life, and the way marked out by which we may securely go to eternal salvation, for Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; the way we must follow, thee truth we must believe, and the life we must hope for. To live as Christians, and to secure salvation, we must begin by renouncing and dying to ourselves; for this renunciation-----this spirit of self-denial-----is the first principle of the Gospel, the fundamental law of Christianity, our most essential duty, and the most effectual means of obtaining salvation. It is this interior mortification, this circumcision of the heart, this retrenchment of all criminal dangerous, or useless indulgences, which constitutes the difference between the elect and the reprobate. The character of our present sinful state should be that of penance, which is the end of Christianity and the assurance of salvation.
To carry our cross with Jesus Christ, is to suffer from all, while we are careful not to become the cause of suffering in others; it is to receive all pains of body and mind as coming from above; it is to endure with patience all the evils which happen to us from the justice of God or the injustice of man; it is to accept of contempt as our due, and to consider it our greatest misfortune to suffer nothing for God, but our sovereign happiness to suffer always for His love.
O DIVINE Savior, how few are willing to be with Thee on Calvary, yet how gladly would all accompany Thee on Thabor and in Heaven! Whilst each one desires and seeks exemption from the cross, to live in tranquillity and ease, no one chooses to suffer for Thee; although the only sure proof we can give Thee of our love, is to be willing to suffer with Thee, and to copy Thy painful example.
O cross of Jesus! how patiently do we bear thy sorrows in our hearts! How shall I be able to behold thee with confidence at the last day, if now I look upon thee with horror? How shall I be able to give up my soul in the embraces of the crucifix, if now I live an enemy to that emblem of mercy? Permit it not, O Jesus; and since Thou hast saved me by the Cross, grant that I may be ever willing to live in its practice, that I may die in its salvation. Amen.