Category Archives: Thomas a’Kempis

Thomas à Kempis (ca. 1380-1471), priest, monk and writer. Thomas wrote a number of sermons, letters, hymns, and information about the lives of the saints. He reflected the mystical spirituality of his times, the sense of being absorbed in God. The most famous of his works by far is The Imitation of Christ, a charming instruction on how to love God. This small book, free from intellectual pretensions, has had great appeal to anyone interested in probing beneath the surface of life. “A poor peasant who serves God,” Thomas wrote in it, “is better than a proud philosopher who … ponders the courses of the stars.” The book advised the ordering of one’s priorities along religious lines. “Vain and brief is all human comfort. Blessed and true is that comfort which is derived inwardly from the Truth.” Thomas advised where to look for happiness. “The glory of the good is in their own consciences, and not in the mouths of men.” The Imitation of Christ has come to be, after the Bible, the most widely translated book in Christian literature. Thomas died in the same monastic obscurity in which he had lived, on Aug. 8, 1471.

The Royal Road

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There will always be many who love Christ’s heavenly kingdom, but few who will bear his cross. Jesus has many who desire consolation, but few who care for adversity. He finds many to share his table, but few who will join him in fasting. Many are eager to be happy with him; few wish to suffer anything for him. Many will follow him as far as the breaking of bread, but few will remain to drink from his passion. Many are awed by his miracles, few accept the shame of his cross.
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Man Sees the Face

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“Man sees the face, but God sees into the heart” (1 Kings 16:7). Man considers the actions, but God instead examines the intentions. To do always well, and to consider oneself as nothing is the sign of a humble soul. Not seeking consolation from any created thing is the sign of great purity and interior confidence.

You Are Not More Holy

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He who has a pure conscience will easily be content and in peace. You are not more holy if you are praised nor the worse if you are blamed. What you are, that you are; nor can you be said to be greater than what God sees you to be. If you consider well what you are interiorly, you will not care what men will say of you.

That Glory is Brief

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That glory is brief which is given to and received from men. The glory of this world is always accompanied by sadness. The glory of good men is in their own conscience and not in the mouths of men. The joy of the just comes from God and is in God, and their rejoicing is in the truth. He who desires true and eternal glory does not care for that which is temporal. And he, who seeks temporal glory, or does not despise it with his whole heart, shows that he has little love for heavenly glory. That man has great tranquility of heart who does not care for praises or blame.

Never Rejoice Except…

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Never rejoice except when you have done well. The wicked never have true joy, neither do they enjoy interior peace, because “there is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord (Is 48:22). And if they were to say: We are in peace, no evil will befall us, and who will dare to harm us? Do not believe them, because the wrath of God will arise suddenly and their deeds will be wiped out and their projects will be confused.

A Good Conscience

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The glory of a good man is the testimony of a good conscience. Have a good conscience and you shall always have joy. A good conscience can bear many things, and it is always joyful in the midst of adversity. A bad conscience instead is always fearful and uneasy. You will rest sweetly if your heart does not reprehend you.

A Peaceable Man

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“FIRST keep thyself in peace, and then shalt thou be able to be a peacemaker towards others. A peaceable man doth more good than a well-learned. A passionate man turneth even good into evil and easily believeth evil; a good, peaceable man converteth all things into good. He who dwelleth in peace is suspicious of none, but he who is discontented and restless is tossed with many suspicions, and is neither quiet himself nor suffereth others to be quiet. He often saith what he ought not to say, and omitteth what it were more expedient for him to do. He considereth to what duties others are bound, and neglecteth those to which he is bound himself. Therefore be zealous first over thyself, and then mayest thou righteously be zealous concerning thy neighbour.”