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The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis


The Seventeenth Chapter

Monastic Life

IF YOU wish peace and concord with others, you must learn to break your will
in many things. To live in monasteries or religious communities, to remain
there without complaint, and to persevere faithfully till death is no small
matter. Blessed indeed is he who there lives a good life and there ends his
days in happiness.

If you would persevere in seeking perfection, you must consider yourself a
pilgrim, an exile on earth. If you would become a religious, you must be
content to seem a fool for the sake of Christ. Habit and tonsure change a
man but little; it is the change of life, the complete mortification of
passions that endow a true religious.

He who seeks anything but God alone and the salvation of his soul will find
only trouble and grief, and he who does not try to become the least, the
servant of all, cannot remain at peace for long.

You have come to serve, not to rule. You must understand, too, that you have
been called to suffer and to work, not to idle and gossip away your time.
Here men are tried as gold in a furnace. Here no man can remain unless he
desires with all his heart to humble himself before God.


The Eighteenth Chapter

The Example Set Us by the Holy Fathers

CONSIDER the lively examples set us by the saints, who possessed the light
of true perfection and religion, and you will see how little, how nearly
nothing, we do. What, alas, is our life, compared with theirs? The saints
and friends of Christ served the Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and
nakedness, in work and fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in prayers and holy
meditations, in persecutions and many afflictions. How many and severe were
the trials they suffered—the Apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and all
the rest who willed to follow in the footsteps of Christ! They hated their
lives on earth that they might have life in eternity.

How strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led in the desert!
What long and grave temptations they suffered! How often were they beset by
the enemy! What frequent and ardent prayers they offered to God! What
rigorous fasts they observed! How great their zeal and their love for
spiritual perfection! How brave the fight they waged to master their evil
habits! What pure and straightforward purpose they showed toward God! By day
they labored and by night they spent themselves in long prayers. Even at
work they did not cease from mental prayer. They used all their time
profitably; every hour seemed too short for serving God, and in the great
sweetness of contemplation, they forgot even their bodily needs.

They renounced all riches, dignities, honors, friends, and associates. They
desired nothing of the world. They scarcely allowed themselves the
necessities of life, and the service of the body, even when necessary, was
irksome to them. They were poor in earthly things but rich in grace and
virtue. Outwardly destitute, inwardly they were full of grace and divine
consolation. Strangers to the world, they were close and intimate friends of
God. To themselves they seemed as nothing, and they were despised by the
world, but in the eyes of God they were precious and beloved. They lived in
true humility and simple obedience; they walked in charity and patience,
making progress daily on the pathway of spiritual life and obtaining great
favor with God.

They were given as an example for all religious, and their power to
stimulate us to perfection ought to be greater than that of the lukewarm to
tempt us to laxity.

How great was the fervor of all religious in the beginning of their holy
institution! How great their devotion in prayer and their rivalry for
virtue! What splendid discipline flourished among them! What great reverence
and obedience in all things under the rule of a superior! The footsteps they
left behind still bear witness that they indeed were holy and perfect men
who fought bravely and conquered the world.

Today, he who is not a transgressor and who can bear patiently the duties
which he has taken upon himself is considered great. How lukewarm and
negligent we are! We lose our original fervor very quickly and we even
become weary of life from laziness! Do not you, who have seen so many
examples of the devout, fall asleep in the pursuit of virtue!


The Nineteenth Chapter

The Practices of a Good Religious

THE life of a good religious ought to abound in every virtue so that he is
interiorly what to others he appears to be. With good reason there ought to
be much more within than appears on the outside, for He who sees within is
God, Whom we ought to reverence most highly wherever we are and in Whose
sight we ought to walk pure as the angels.

Each day we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse ourselves to fervor as
though it were the first day of our religious life. We ought to say: “Help
me, O Lord God, in my good resolution and in Your holy service. Grant me
now, this very day, to begin perfectly, for thus far I have done nothing.”

As our intention is, so will be our progress; and he who desires perfection
must be very diligent. If the strong-willed man fails frequently, what of
the man who makes up his mind seldom or half-heartedly? Many are the ways of
failing in our resolutions; even a slight omission of religious practice
entails a loss of some kind.

Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own wisdom in
keeping their resolutions. In Him they confide every undertaking, for man,
indeed, proposes but God disposes, and God’s way is not man’s. If a habitual
exercise is sometimes omitted out of piety or in the interests of another,
it can easily be resumed later. But if it be abandoned carelessly, through
weariness or neglect, then the fault is great and will prove hurtful. Much
as we try, we still fail too easily in many things. Yet we must always have
some fixed purpose, especially against things which beset us the most. Our
outward and inward lives alike must be closely watched and well ordered, for
both are important to perfection.

If you cannot recollect yourself continuously, do so once a day at least, in
the morning or in the evening. In the morning make a resolution and in the
evening examine yourself on what you have said this day, what you have done
and thought, for in these things perhaps you have often offended God and
those about you.

Arm yourself like a man against the devil’s assaults. Curb your appetite and
you will more easily curb every inclination of the flesh. Never be
completely unoccupied, but read or write or pray or meditate or do something
for the common good. Bodily discipline, however, must be undertaken with
discretion and is not to be practiced indiscriminately by everyone.

Devotions not common to all are not to be displayed in public, for such
personal things are better performed in private. Furthermore, beware of
indifference to community prayer through love of your own devotions. If,
however, after doing completely and faithfully all you are bound and
commanded to do, you then have leisure, use it as personal piety suggests.

Not everyone can have the same devotion. One exactly suits this person,
another that. Different exercises, likewise, are suitable for different
times, some for feast days and some again for weekdays. In time of
temptation we need certain devotions. For days of rest and peace we need
others. Some are suitable when we are sad, others when we are joyful in the

About the time of the principal feasts good devotions ought to be renewed
and the intercession of the saints more fervently implored. From one feast
day to the next we ought to fix our purpose as though we were then to pass
from this world and come to the eternal holyday.

During holy seasons, finally, we ought to prepare ourselves carefully, to
live holier lives, and to observe each rule more strictly, as though we were
soon to receive from God the reward of our labors. If this end be deferred,
let us believe that we are not well prepared and that we are not yet worthy
of the great glory that shall in due time be revealed to us. Let us try,
meanwhile, to prepare ourselves better for death.

“Blessed is the servant,” says Christ, “whom his master, when he cometh,
shall find watching. Amen I say to you: he shall make him ruler over all his
goods.” [5]


[5] Luke 12:43, 44.


The Twentieth Chapter

The Love of Solitude and Silence

SEEK a suitable time for leisure and meditate often on the favors of God.
Leave curiosities alone. Read such matters as bring sorrow to the heart
rather than occupation to the mind. If you withdraw yourself from
unnecessary talking and idle running about, from listening to gossip and
rumors, you will find enough time that is suitable for holy meditation.

Very many great saints avoided the company of men wherever possible and
chose to serve God in retirement. “As often as I have been among men,” said
one writer, “I have returned less a man.” We often find this to be true when
we take part in long conversations. It is easier to be silent altogether
than not to speak too much. To stay at home is easier than to be
sufficiently on guard while away. Anyone, then, who aims to live the inner
and spiritual life must go apart, with Jesus, from the crowd.

No man appears in safety before the public eye unless he first relishes
obscurity. No man is safe in speaking unless he loves to be silent. No man
rules safely unless he is willing to be ruled. No man commands safely unless
he has learned well how to obey. No man rejoices safely unless he has within
him the testimony of a good conscience.

More than this, the security of the saints was always enveloped in the fear
of God, nor were they less cautious and humble because they were conspicuous
for great virtues and graces. The security of the wicked, on the contrary,
springs from pride and presumption, and will end in their own deception.

Never promise yourself security in this life, even though you seem to be a
good religious, or a devout hermit. It happens very often that those whom
men esteem highly are more seriously endangered by their own excessive
confidence. Hence, for many it is better not to be too free from
temptations, but often to be tried lest they become too secure, too filled
with pride, or even too eager to fall back upon external comforts.

If only a man would never seek passing joys or entangle himself with worldly
affairs, what a good conscience he would have. What great peace and
tranquillity would be his, if he cut himself off from all empty care and
thought only of things divine, things helpful to his soul, and put all his
trust in God.

No man deserves the consolation of heaven unless he persistently arouses
himself to holy contrition. If you desire true sorrow of heart, seek the
privacy of your cell and shut out the uproar of the world, as it is written:
“In your chamber bewail your sins.” There you will find what too often you
lose abroad.

Your cell will become dear to you if you remain in it, but if you do not, it
will become wearisome. If in the beginning of your religious life, you live
within your cell and keep to it, it will soon become a special friend and a
very great comfort.

In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and learns the
hidden truths of Scripture. There she finds a flood of tears with which to
bathe and cleanse herself nightly, that she may become the more intimate
with her Creator the farther she withdraws from all the tumult of the world.
For God and His holy angels will draw near to him who withdraws from friends
and acquaintances.

It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend to his salvation than to
neglect it and work miracles. It is praiseworthy for a religious seldom to
go abroad, to flee the sight of men and have no wish to see them.

Why wish to see what you are not permitted to have? “The world passes away
and the concupiscence thereof.” Sensual craving sometimes entices you to
wander around, but when the moment is past, what do you bring back with you
save a disturbed conscience and heavy heart? A happy going often leads to a
sad return, a merry evening to a mournful dawn. Thus, all carnal joy begins
sweetly but in the end brings remorse and death.

What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here in your cell? Behold
heaven and earth and all the elements, for of these all things are made.
What can you see anywhere under the sun that will remain long? Perhaps you
think you will completely satisfy yourself, but you cannot do so, for if you
should see all existing things, what would they be but an empty vision?

Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because of your sins and
shortcomings. Leave vanity to the vain. Set yourself to the things which God
has commanded you to do. Close the door upon yourself and call to you Jesus,
your Beloved. Remain with Him in your cell, for nowhere else will you find
such peace. If you had not left it, and had not listened to idle gossip, you
would have remained in greater peace. But since you love, sometimes, to hear
news, it is only right that you should suffer sorrow of heart from it.


The Twenty-First Chapter

Sorrow of Heart

IF YOU wish to make progress in virtue, live in the fear of the Lord, do not
look for too much freedom, discipline your senses, and shun inane silliness.
Sorrow opens the door to many a blessing which dissoluteness usually

It is a wonder that any man who considers and meditates on his exiled state
and the many dangers to his soul, can ever be perfectly happy in this life.
Lighthearted and heedless of our defects, we do not feel the real sorrows of
our souls, but often indulge in empty laughter when we have good reason to
weep. No liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in the
fear of the Lord and a good conscience.

Happy is the man who can throw off the weight of every care and recollect
himself in holy contrition. Happy is the man who casts from him all that can
stain or burden his conscience.

Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit. If you leave men alone, they
will leave you alone to do what you have to do. Do not busy yourself about
the affairs of others and do not become entangled in the business of your
superiors. Keep an eye primarily on yourself and admonish yourself instead
of your friends.

If you do not enjoy the favor of men, do not let it sadden you; but consider
it a serious matter if you do not conduct yourself as well or as carefully
as is becoming for a servant of God and a devout religious.

It is often better and safer for us to have few consolations in this life,
especially comforts of the body. Yet if we do not have divine consolation or
experience it rarely, it is our own fault because we seek no sorrow of heart
and do not forsake vain outward satisfaction.

Consider yourself unworthy of divine solace and deserving rather of much
tribulation. When a man is perfectly contrite, the whole world is bitter and
wearisome to him.

A good man always finds enough over which to mourn and weep; whether he
thinks of himself or of his neighbor he knows that no one lives here without
suffering, and the closer he examines himself the more he grieves.

The sins and vices in which we are so entangled that we can rarely apply
ourselves to the contemplation of heaven are matters for just sorrow and
inner remorse.

I do not doubt that you would correct yourself more earnestly if you would
think more of an early death than of a long life. And if you pondered in
your heart the future pains of hell or of purgatory, I believe you would
willingly endure labor and trouble and would fear no hardship. But since
these thoughts never pierce the heart and since we are enamored of
flattering pleasure, we remain very cold and indifferent. Our wretched body
complains so easily because our soul is altogether too lifeless.

Pray humbly to the Lord, therefore, that He may give you the spirit of
contrition and say with the Prophet: “Feed me, Lord, with the bread of
mourning and give me to drink of tears in full measure.” [6]


[6] Ps. 79:6.


The Twenty-Second Chapter

Thoughts on the Misery of Man

WHEREVER you are, wherever you go, you are miserable unless you turn to God.
So why be dismayed when things do not happen as you wish and desire? Is
there anyone who has everything as he wishes? No—neither I, nor you, nor any
man on earth. There is no one in the world, be he Pope or king, who does not
suffer trial and anguish.

Who is the better off then? Surely, it is the man who will suffer something
for God. Many unstable and weak-minded people say: “See how well that man
lives, how rich, how great he is, how powerful and mighty.” But you must
lift up your eyes to the riches of heaven and realize that the material
goods of which they speak are nothing. These things are uncertain and very
burdensome because they are never possessed without anxiety and fear. Man’s
happiness does not consist in the possession of abundant goods; a very
little is enough.

Living on earth is truly a misery. The more a man desires spiritual life,
the more bitter the present becomes to him, because he understands better
and sees more clearly the defects, the corruption of human nature. To eat
and drink, to watch and sleep, to rest, to labor, and to be bound by other
human necessities is certainly a great misery and affliction to the devout
man, who would gladly be released from them and be free from all sin. Truly,
the inner man is greatly burdened in this world by the necessities of the
body, and for this reason the Prophet prayed that he might be as free from
them as possible, when he said: “From my necessities, O Lord, deliver me.”

But woe to those who know not their own misery, and greater woe to those who
love this miserable and corruptible life. Some, indeed, can scarcely procure
its necessities either by work or by begging; yet they love it so much that,
if they could live here always, they would care nothing for the kingdom of

How foolish and faithless of heart are those who are so engrossed in earthly
things as to relish nothing but what is carnal! Miserable men indeed, for in
the end they will see to their sorrow how cheap and worthless was the thing
they loved.

The saints of God and all devout friends of Christ did not look to what
pleases the body nor to the things that are popular from time to time. Their
whole hope and aim centered on the everlasting good. Their whole desire
pointed upward to the lasting and invisible realm, lest the love of what is
visible drag them down to lower things.

Do not lose heart, then, my brother, in pursuing your spiritual life. There
is yet time, and your hour is not past. Why delay your purpose? Arise! Begin
at once and say: “Now is the time to act, now is the time to fight, now is
the proper time to amend.”

When you are troubled and afflicted, that is the time to gain merit. You
must pass through water and fire before coming to rest. Unless you do
violence to yourself you will not overcome vice.

So long as we live in this fragile body, we can neither be free from sin nor
live without weariness and sorrow. Gladly would we rest from all misery, but
in losing innocence through sin we also lost true blessedness. Therefore, we
must have patience and await the mercy of God until this iniquity passes,
until mortality is swallowed up in life.

How great is the frailty of human nature which is ever prone to evil! Today
you confess your sins and tomorrow you again commit the sins which you
confessed. One moment you resolve to be careful, and yet after an hour you
act as though you had made no resolution.

We have cause, therefore, because of our frailty and feebleness, to humble
ourselves and never think anything great of ourselves. Through neglect we
may quickly lose that which by God’s grace we have acquired only through
long, hard labor. What, eventually, will become of us who so quickly grow
lukewarm? Woe to us if we presume to rest in peace and security when
actually there is no true holiness in our lives. It would be beneficial for
us, like good novices, to be instructed once more in the principles of a
good life, to see if there be hope of amendment and greater spiritual
progress in the future.


[7] Ps. 34:17.


The Twenty-Third Chapter

Thoughts on Death

VERY soon your life here will end; consider, then, what may be in store for
you elsewhere. Today we live; tomorrow we die and are quickly forgotten. Oh,
the dullness and hardness of a heart which looks only to the present instead
of preparing for that which is to come!

Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you were to die
this very day. If you had a good conscience you would not fear death very
much. It is better to avoid sin than to fear death. If you are not prepared
today, how will you be prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how
do you know you will have a tomorrow?

What good is it to live a long life when we amend that life so little?
Indeed, a long life does not always benefit us, but on the contrary,
frequently adds to our guilt. Would that in this world we had lived well
throughout one single day. Many count up the years they have spent in
religion but find their lives made little holier. If it is so terrifying to
die, it is nevertheless possible that to live longer is more dangerous.
Blessed is he who keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes and
prepares for it every day.

If you have ever seen a man die, remember that you, too, must go the same
way. In the morning consider that you may not live till evening, and when
evening comes do not dare to promise yourself the dawn. Be always ready,
therefore, and so live that death will never take you unprepared. Many die
suddenly and unexpectedly, for in the unexpected hour the Son of God will
come. When that last moment arrives you will begin to have a quite different
opinion of the life that is now entirely past and you will regret very much
that you were so careless and remiss.

How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what he wants to be
found in death. Perfect contempt of the world, a lively desire to advance in
virtue, a love for discipline, the works of penance, readiness to obey,
self-denial, and the endurance of every hardship for the love of Christ,
these will give a man great expectations of a happy death.

You can do many good works when in good health; what can you do when you are
ill? Few are made better by sickness. Likewise they who undertake many
pilgrimages seldom become holy.

Do not put your trust in friends and relatives, and do not put off the care
of your soul till later, for men will forget you more quickly than you
think. It is better to provide now, in time, and send some good account
ahead of you than to rely on the help of others. If you do not care for your
own welfare now, who will care when you are gone?

The present is very precious; these are the days of salvation; now is the
acceptable time. How sad that you do not spend the time in which you might
purchase everlasting life in a better way. The time will come when you will
want just one day, just one hour in which to make amends, and do you know
whether you will obtain it?

See, then, dearly beloved, the great danger from which you can free yourself
and the great fear from which you can be saved, if only you will always be
wary and mindful of death. Try to live now in such a manner that at the
moment of death you may be glad rather than fearful. Learn to die to the
world now, that then you may begin to live with Christ. Learn to spurn all
things now, that then you may freely go to Him. Chastise your body in
penance now, that then you may have the confidence born of certainty.

Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are not sure of
living even a day? How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away!
How often have you heard of persons being killed by drownings, by fatal
falls from high places, of persons dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the
sword, in pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of
everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a shadow.

Who will remember you when you are dead? Who will pray for you? Do now,
beloved, what you can, because you do not know when you will die, nor what
your fate will be after death. Gather for yourself the riches of immortality
while you have time. Think of nothing but your salvation. Care only for the
things of God. Make friends for yourself now by honoring the saints of God,
by imitating their actions, so that when you depart this life they may
receive you into everlasting dwellings.

Keep yourself as a stranger here on earth, a pilgrim whom its affairs do not
concern at all. Keep your heart free and raise it up to God, for you have
not here a lasting home. To Him direct your daily prayers, your sighs and
tears, that your soul may merit after death to pass in happiness to the


The Twenty-Fourth Chapter

Judgment and the Punishment of Sin

IN ALL things consider the end; how you shall stand before the strict Judge
from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce judgment in all justice,
accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And you, miserable and wretched
sinner, who fear even the countenance of an angry man, what answer will you
make to the God Who knows all your sins? Why do you not provide for yourself
against the day of judgment when no man can be excused or defended by
another because each will have enough to do to answer for himself? In this
life your work is profitable, your tears acceptable, your sighs audible,
your sorrow satisfying and purifying.

The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory when he grieves
more over the malice of one who harms him than for his own injury; when he
prays readily for his enemies and forgives offenses from his heart; when he
does not hesitate to ask pardon of others; when he is more easily moved to
pity than to anger; when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to
bring the body into complete subjection to the spirit.

It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than to keep them
for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive ourselves by our
ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that fire feed upon but our sins?
The more we spare ourselves now and the more we satisfy the flesh, the
harder will the reckoning be and the more we keep for the burning.

For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in which he has
sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning prongs, and gluttons
tormented with unspeakable hunger and thirst; the wanton and lust-loving
will be bathed in burning pitch and foul brimstone; the envious will howl in
their grief like mad dogs.

Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud will be faced with
every confusion and the avaricious pinched with the most abject want. One
hour of suffering there will be more bitter than a hundred years of the most
severe penance here. In this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy the
comfort of friends, but the damned have no rest or consolation.

You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so that on the
day of judgment you may rest secure with the blessed. For on that day the
just will stand firm against those who tortured and oppressed them, and he
who now submits humbly to the judgment of men will arise to pass judgment
upon them. The poor and humble will have great confidence, while the proud
will be struck with fear. He who learned to be a fool in this world and to
be scorned for Christ will then appear to have been wise.

In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing and the voice of
iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be glad; the irreligious will
mourn; and the mortified body will rejoice far more than if it had been
pampered with every pleasure. Then the cheap garment will shine with
splendor and the rich one become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be
more praised than the gilded palace. In that day persevering patience will
count more than all the power in this world; simple obedience will be
exalted above all worldly cleverness; a good and clean conscience will
gladden the heart of man far more than the philosophy of the learned; and
contempt for riches will be of more weight than every treasure on earth.

Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly than in having
fared daintily; you will be happy that you preferred silence to prolonged

Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair words; strictness of
life and hard penances will be more pleasing than all earthly delights.

Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not have to suffer
greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can bear hereafter. If you can
suffer only a little now, how will you be able to endure eternal torment? If
a little suffering makes you impatient now, what will hell fire do? In
truth, you cannot have two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this
world and afterward reign with Christ.

If your life to this moment had been full of honors and pleasures, what good
would it do if at this instant you should die? All is vanity, therefore,
except to love God and to serve Him alone.

He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or punishment or
judgment or hell, because perfect love assures access to God.

It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death and judgment.

It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet restrain you from
evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man who casts aside the fear of
God cannot continue long in goodness but will quickly fall into the snares
of the devil.


The Twenty-Fifth Chapter

Zeal in Amending our Lives

BE WATCHFUL and diligent in God’s service and often think of why you left
the world and came here. Was it not that you might live for God and become a
spiritual man? Strive earnestly for perfection, then, because in a short
time you will receive the reward of your labor, and neither fear nor sorrow
shall come upon you at the hour of death.

Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in truth, eternal
joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in doing, God will
undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding. Continue to have
reasonable hope of gaining salvation, but do not act as though you were
certain of it lest you grow indolent and proud.

One day when a certain man who wavered often and anxiously between hope and
fear was struck with sadness, he knelt in humble prayer before the altar of
a church. While meditating on these things, he said: “Oh if I but knew
whether I should persevere to the end!” Instantly he heard within the divine
answer: “If you knew this, what would you do? Do now what you would do then
and you will be quite secure.” Immediately consoled and comforted, he
resigned himself to the divine will and the anxious uncertainty ceased. His
curiosity no longer sought to know what the future held for him, and he
tried instead to find the perfect, the acceptable will of God in the
beginning and end of every good work.

“Trust thou in the Lord and do good,” says the Prophet; “dwell in the land
and thou shalt feed on its riches.” [8]

There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving their lives,
that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of battle. Certainly they who try
bravely to overcome the most difficult and unpleasant obstacles far outstrip
others in the pursuit of virtue. A man makes the most progress and merits
the most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the greatest
victories over self and most mortifies his will. True, each one has his own
difficulties to meet and conquer, but a diligent and sincere man will make
greater progress even though he have more passions than one who is more
even-tempered but less concerned about virtue.

Two things particularly further improvement—to withdraw oneself forcibly
from those vices to which nature is viciously inclined, and to work
fervently for those graces which are most needed.

Study also to guard against and to overcome the faults which in others very
frequently displease you. Make the best of every opportunity, so that if you
see or hear good example you may be moved to imitate it. On the other hand,
take care lest you be guilty of those things which you consider
reprehensible, or if you have ever been guilty of them, try to correct
yourself as soon as possible. As you see others, so they see you.

How pleasant and sweet to behold brethren fervent and devout, well mannered
and disciplined! How sad and painful to see them wandering in dissolution,
not practicing the things to which they are called! How hurtful it is to
neglect the purpose of their vocation and to attend to what is not their

Remember the purpose you have undertaken, and keep in mind the image of the
Crucified. Even though you may have walked for many years on the pathway to
God, you may well be ashamed if, with the image of Christ before you, you do
not try to make yourself still more like Him.

The religious who concerns himself intently and devoutly with our Lord’s
most holy life and passion will find there an abundance of all things useful
and necessary for him. He need not seek for anything better than Jesus.

If the Crucified should come to our hearts, how quickly and abundantly we
would learn!

A fervent religious accepts all the things that are commanded him and does
them well, but a negligent and lukewarm religious has trial upon trial, and
suffers anguish from every side because he has no consolation within and is
forbidden to seek it from without. The religious who does not live up to his
rule exposes himself to dreadful ruin, and he who wishes to be more free and
untrammeled will always be in trouble, for something or other will always
displease him.

How do so many other religious who are confined in cloistered discipline get
along? They seldom go out, they live in contemplation, their food is poor,
their clothing coarse, they work hard, they speak but little, keep long
vigils, rise early, pray much, read frequently, and subject themselves to
all sorts of discipline. Think of the Carthusians and the Cistercians, the
monks and nuns of different orders, how every night they rise to sing praise
to the Lord. It would be a shame if you should grow lazy in such holy
service when so many religious have already begun to rejoice in God.

If there were nothing else to do but praise the Lord God with all your heart
and voice, if you had never to eat, or drink, or sleep, but could praise God
always and occupy yourself solely with spiritual pursuits, how much happier
you would be than you are now, a slave to every necessity of the body! Would
that there were no such needs, but only the spiritual refreshments of the
soul which, sad to say, we taste too seldom!

When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any creature, then
he begins to relish God perfectly. Then also he will be content no matter
what may happen to him. He will neither rejoice over great things nor grieve
over small ones, but will place himself entirely and confidently in the
hands of God, Who for him is all in all, to Whom nothing ever perishes or
dies, for Whom all things live, and Whom they serve as He desires.

Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never returns.
Without care and diligence you will never acquire virtue. When you begin to
grow lukewarm, you are falling into the beginning of evil; but if you give
yourself to fervor, you will find peace and will experience less hardship
because of God’s grace and the love of virtue.

A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. It is greater work to
resist vices and passions than to sweat in physical toil. He who does not
overcome small faults, shall fall little by little into greater ones.

If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide.
Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn yourself, and regardless of what
becomes of others, do not neglect yourself. The more violence you do to
yourself, the more progress you will make.


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