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The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis






The First Chapter

The Inward Conversation of Christ with the Faithful Soul

I WILL hear what the Lord God will speak in me.” [25]

Blessed is the soul who hears the Lord speaking within her, who receives the
word of consolation from His lips. Blessed are the ears that catch the
accents of divine whispering, and pay no heed to the murmurings of this
world. Blessed indeed are the ears that listen, not to the voice which
sounds without, but to the truth which teaches within. Blessed are the eyes
which are closed to exterior things and are fixed upon those which are
interior. Blessed are they who penetrate inwardly, who try daily to prepare
themselves more and more to understand mysteries. Blessed are they who long
to give their time to God, and who cut themselves off from the hindrances of
the world.

Consider these things, my soul, and close the door of your senses, so that
you can hear what the Lord your God speaks within you. “I am your
salvation,” says your Beloved. “I am your peace and your life. Remain with
Me and you will find peace. Dismiss all passing things and seek the eternal.
What are all temporal things but snares? And what help will all creatures be
able to give you if you are deserted by the Creator?” Leave all these
things, therefore, and make yourself pleasing and faithful to your Creator
so that you may attain to true happiness.


[25] Ps. 84:9.


The Second Chapter

Truth Speaks Inwardly Without the Sound of Words

The Disciple

SPEAK, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” [26] “I am Thy servant. Give me
understanding that I may know Thine ordinances [27] . . . Incline my heart
to Thine ordinances [28] . . . Let Thy speech distil as the dew.” [29]

The children of Israel once said to Moses: “Speak thou to us and we will
hear thee: let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die.” [30]

Not so, Lord, not so do I pray. Rather with Samuel the prophet I entreat
humbly and earnestly: “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” Do not let
Moses or any of the prophets speak to me; but You speak, O Lord God, Who
inspired and enlightened all the prophets; for You alone, without them, can
instruct me perfectly, whereas they, without You, can do nothing. They,
indeed, utter fine words, but they cannot impart the spirit. They do indeed
speak beautifully, but if You remain silent they cannot inflame the heart.
They deliver the message; You lay bare the sense. They place before us
mysteries, but You unlock their meaning. They proclaim commandments; You
help us to keep them. They point out the way; You give strength for the
journey. They work only outwardly; You instruct and enlighten our hearts.
They water on the outside; You give the increase.

They cry out words; You give understanding to the hearer.

Let not Moses speak to me, therefore, but You, the Lord my God, everlasting
truth, speak lest I die and prove barren if I am merely given outward advice
and am not inflamed within; lest the word heard and not kept, known and not
loved, believed and not obeyed, rise up in judgment against me.

Speak, therefore, Lord, for Your servant listens. “Thou hast the words of
eternal life.” [31] Speak to me for the comfort of my soul and for the
amendment of my life, for Your praise, Your glory, and Your everlasting


[26] 1 Kings 3:9.

[27] Ps. 118:125.

[28] Ps. 118:36.

[29] Deut. 32:2.

[30] Exod. 20:19.

[31] John 6:69.


The Third Chapter

Listen Humbly to the Words of God. Many Do Not Heed Them

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, hear My words, words of greatest sweetness surpassing all the
knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of earth. My words are spirit and
life, and they are not to be weighed by man’s understanding. They are not to
be invoked in vanity but are to be heard in silence, and accepted with all
humility and with great affection.

The Disciple

“Happy is the man whom Thou admonishest, O Lord, and teachest out of Thy
law, to give him peace from the days of evil,” [32] and that he be not
desolate on earth.

The Voice of Christ

I taught the prophets from the beginning, and even to this day I continue to
speak to all men. But many are hardened. Many are deaf to My voice. Most men
listen more willingly to the world than to God. They are more ready to
follow the appetite of their flesh than the good pleasure of God. The world,
which promises small and passing things, is served with great eagerness: I
promise great and eternal things and the hearts of men grow dull. Who is
there that serves and obeys Me in all things with as great care as that with
which the world and its masters are served?

“Be thou ashamed, O Sidon, for the sea speaketh.” [33] And if you ask why,
listen to the cause: for a small gain they travel far; for eternal life many
will scarcely lift a foot from the ground. They seek a petty reward, and
sometimes fight shamefully in law courts for a single piece of money. They
are not afraid to work day and night for a trifle or an empty promise. But,
for an unchanging good, for a reward beyond estimate, for the greatest honor
and for glory everlasting, it must be said to their shame that men begrudge
even the least fatigue. Be ashamed, then, lazy and complaining servant, that
they should be found more eager for perdition than you are for life, that
they rejoice more in vanity than you in truth.

Sometimes indeed their expectations fail them, but My promise never
deceives, nor does it send away empty-handed him who trusts in Me. What I
have promised I will give. What I have said I will fulfill, if only a man
remain faithful in My love to the end. I am the rewarder of all the good,
the strong approver of all who are devoted to Me.

Write My words in your heart and meditate on them earnestly, for in time of
temptation they will be very necessary. What you do not understand when you
read, you will learn in the day of visitation. I am wont to visit My elect
in two ways—by temptation and by consolation. To them I read two lessons
daily—one reproving their vices, the other exhorting them to progress in
virtue. He who has My words and despises them has that which shall condemn
him on the last day.

A Prayer for the Grace of Devotion

O Lord my God, You are all my good. And who am I that I should dare to speak
to You? I am Your poorest and meanest servant, a vile worm, much more poor
and contemptible than I know or dare to say. Yet remember me, Lord, because
I am nothing, I have nothing, and I can do nothing. You alone are good,
just, and holy. You can do all things, You give all things, You fill all
things: only the sinner do You leave empty-handed. Remember Your tender
mercies and fill my heart with Your grace, You Who will not allow Your works
to be in vain. How can I bear this life of misery unless You comfort me with
Your mercy and grace? Do not turn Your face from me. Do not delay Your
visitation. Do not withdraw Your consolation, lest in Your sight my soul
become as desert land. Teach me, Lord, to do Your will. Teach me to live
worthily and humbly in Your sight, for You are my wisdom Who know me truly,
and Who knew me even before the world was made and before I was born into


[32] Ps. 93:12.

[33] Isa. 23:4.


The Fourth Chapter

We Must Walk Before God in Humility and Truth

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, walk before Me in truth, and seek Me always in the simplicity of
your heart. He who walks before Me in truth shall be defended from the
attacks of evil, and the truth shall free him from seducers and from the
slanders of wicked men. For if the truth has made you free, then you shall
be free indeed, and you shall not care for the vain words of men.

The Disciple

O Lord, it is true. I ask that it be with me as You say. Let your truth
teach me. Let it guard me, and keep me safe to the end. Let it free me from
all evil affection and badly ordered love, and I shall walk with You in
great freedom of heart.

The Voice of Christ

I shall teach you those things which are right and pleasing to Me. Consider
your sins with great displeasure and sorrow, and never think yourself to be
someone because of your good works. You are truly a sinner. You are subject
to many passions and entangled in them. Of yourself you always tend to
nothing. You fall quickly, are quickly overcome, quickly troubled, and
quickly undone. You have nothing in which you can glory, but you have many
things for which you should think yourself vile, for you are much weaker
than you can comprehend. Hence, let none of the things you do seem great to
you. Let nothing seem important or precious or desirable except that which
is everlasting. Let the eternal truth please you above all things, and let
your extreme unworthiness always displease you. Fear nothing, abhor nothing,
and fly nothing as you do your own vices and sins; these should be more
unpleasant for you than any material losses.

Some men walk before Me without sincerity. Led on by a certain curiosity and
arrogance, they wish to know My secrets and to understand the high things of
God, to the neglect of themselves and their own salvation. Through their own
pride and curiosity, and because I am against them, such men often fall into
great temptations and sins.

Fear the judgments of God! Dread the wrath of the Almighty! Do not discuss
the works of the Most High, but examine your sins—in what serious things you
have offended and how many good things you have neglected.

Some carry their devotion only in books, some in pictures, some in outward
signs and figures. Some have Me on their lips when there is little of Me in
their hearts. Others, indeed, with enlightened understanding and purified
affections, constantly long for everlasting things; they are unwilling to
hear of earthly affairs and only with reluctance do they serve the
necessities of nature. These sense what the Spirit of truth speaks within
them: for He teaches them to despise earthly things and to love those of
heaven, to neglect the world, and each day and night to desire heaven.


The Fifth Chapter

The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love

The Disciple

I BLESS You, O heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, for having
condescended to remember me, a poor creature. Thanks to You, O Father of
mercies, God of all consolation, Who with Your comfort sometimes refresh me,
who am not worthy of it. I bless You always and glorify You with Your
only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, forever and ever.

Ah, Lord God, my holy Lover, when You come into my heart, all that is within
me will rejoice. You are my glory and the exultation of my heart. You are my
hope and refuge in the day of my tribulation. But because my love is as yet
weak and my virtue imperfect, I must be strengthened and comforted by You.
Visit me often, therefore, and teach me Your holy discipline. Free me from
evil passions and cleanse my heart of all disorderly affection so that,
healed and purified within, I may be fit to love, strong to suffer, and firm
to persevere.

Love is an excellent thing, a very great blessing, indeed. It makes every
difficulty easy, and bears all wrongs with equanimity. For it bears a burden
without being weighted and renders sweet all that is bitter. The noble love
of Jesus spurs to great deeds and excites longing for that which is more
perfect. Love tends upward; it will not be held down by anything low. Love
wishes to be free and estranged from all worldly affections, lest its inward
sight be obstructed, lest it be entangled in any temporal interest and
overcome by adversity.

Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or wider; nothing
is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing better in heaven or on earth,
for love is born of God and cannot rest except in God, Who is above all
created things.

One who is in love flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free, not bound. He
gives all for all and possesses all in all, because he rests in the one
sovereign Good, Who is above all things, and from Whom every good flows and
proceeds. He does not look to the gift but turns himself above all gifts to
the Giver.

Love often knows no limits but overflows all bounds. Love feels no burden,
thinks nothing of troubles, attempts more than it is able, and does not
plead impossibility, because it believes that it may and can do all things.
For this reason, it is able to do all, performing and effecting much where
he who does not love fails and falls.

Love is watchful. Sleeping, it does not slumber. Wearied, it is not tired.
Pressed, it is not straitened. Alarmed, it is not confused, but like a
living flame, a burning torch, it forces its way upward and passes unharmed
through every obstacle.

If a man loves, he will know the sound of this voice. For this warm
affection of soul is a loud voice crying in the ears of God, and it says:
“My God, my love, You are all mine and I am all Yours. Give me an increase
of love, that I may learn to taste with the inward lips of my heart how
sweet it is to love, how sweet to be dissolved in love and bathe in it. Let
me be rapt in love. Let me rise above self in great fervor and wonder. Let
me sing the hymn of love, and let me follow You, my Love, to the heights.
Let my soul exhaust itself in praising You, rejoicing out of love. Let me
love You more than myself, and let me not love myself except for Your sake.
In You let me love all those who truly love You, as the law of love, which
shines forth from You, commands.”

Love is swift, sincere, kind, pleasant, and delightful. Love is strong,
patient and faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and manly. Love is never
self-seeking, for in whatever a person seeks himself there he falls from
love. Love is circumspect, humble, and upright. It is neither soft nor
light, nor intent upon vain things. It is sober and chaste, firm and quiet,
guarded in all the senses. Love is subject and obedient to superiors. It is
mean and contemptible in its own eyes, devoted and thankful to God; always
trusting and hoping in Him even when He is distasteful to it, for there is
no living in love without sorrow. He who is not ready to suffer all things
and to stand resigned to the will of the Beloved is not worthy to be called
a lover. A lover must embrace willingly all that is difficult and bitter for
the sake of the Beloved, and he should not turn away from Him because of


The Sixth Chapter

The Proving of a True Lover

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, you are not yet a brave and wise lover.

The Disciple

Why, Lord?

The Voice of Christ

Because, on account of a slight difficulty you give up what you have
undertaken and are too eager to seek consolation.

The brave lover stands firm in temptations and pays no heed to the crafty
persuasions of the enemy. As I please him in prosperity, so in adversity I
am not displeasing to him. The wise lover regards not so much the gift of
Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives. He regards the affection of the
Giver rather than the value of the gift, and sets his Beloved above all
gifts. The noble lover does not rest in the gift but in Me Who am above
every gift.

All is not lost, then, if you sometimes feel less devout than you wish
toward Me or My saints. That good and sweet feeling which you sometimes have
is the effect of present grace and a certain foretaste of your heavenly
home. You must not lean upon it too much, because it comes and goes. But to
fight against evil thoughts which attack you is a sign of virtue and great
merit. Do not, therefore, let strange fantasies disturb you, no matter what
they concern. Hold strongly to your resolution and keep a right intention
toward God.

It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy and then
quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. For these are evils
which you suffer rather than commit; and so long as they displease you and
you struggle against them, it is a matter of merit and not a loss.

You must know that the old enemy tries by all means in his power to hinder
your desire for good and to turn you from every devotional practice,
especially from the veneration of the saints, from devout meditation on My
passion, and from your firm purpose of advancing in virtue. He suggests many
evil thoughts that he may cause you weariness and horror, and thus draw you
away from prayer and holy reading. A humble confession displeases him and,
if he could, he would make you omit Holy Communion.

Do not believe him or heed him, even though he often sets traps to deceive
you. When he suggests evil, unclean things, accuse him. Say to him: “Away,
unclean spirit! Shame, miserable creature! You are but filth to bring such
things to my ears. Begone, most wretched seducer! You shall have no part in
me, for Jesus will be my strength, and you shall be confounded. I would
rather die and suffer all torments than consent to you. Be still! Be silent!
Though you bring many troubles upon me I will have none of you. The Lord is
my light, my salvation. Whom shall I fear? Though armies unite against me,
my heart will not fear, for the Lord is my Helper, my Redeemer.”

Fight like a good soldier and if you sometimes fall through weakness, rise
again with greater strength than before, trusting in My most abundant grace.
But beware of vain complacency and pride. For many are led into error
through these faults and sometimes fall into almost perpetual blindness. Let
the fall of these, who proudly presume on self, be a warning to you and a
constant incentive to humility.


The Seventh Chapter

Grace Must Be Hidden Under the Mantle of Humility

The Voice of Christ

IT IS better and safer for you to conceal the grace of devotion, not to be
elated by it, not to speak or think much of it, and instead to humble
yourself and fear lest it is being given to one unworthy of it. Do not cling
too closely to this affection, for it may quickly be changed to its
opposite. When you are in grace, think how miserable and needy you are
without it. Your progress in spiritual life does not consist in having the
grace of consolation, but in enduring its withdrawal with humility,
resignation, and patience, so that you neither become listless in prayer nor
neglect your other duties in the least; but on the contrary do what you can
do as well as you know how, and do not neglect yourself completely because
of your dryness or anxiety of mind.

There are many, indeed, who immediately become impatient and lazy when
things do not go well with them. The way of man, however, does not always
lie in his own power. It is God’s prerogative to give grace and to console
when He wishes, as much as He wishes, and whom He wishes, as it shall please
Him and no more.

Some careless persons, misusing the grace of devotion, have destroyed
themselves because they wished to do more than they were able. They failed
to take account of their own weakness, and followed the desire of their
heart rather than the judgment of their reason. Then, because they presumed
to greater things than pleased God they quickly lost His grace. They who had
built their homes in heaven became helpless, vile outcasts, humbled and
impoverished, that they might learn not to fly with their own wings but to
trust in Mine.

They who are still new and inexperienced in the way of the Lord may easily
be deceived and overthrown unless they guide themselves by the advice of
discreet persons. But if they wish to follow their own notions rather than
to trust in others who are more experienced, they will be in danger of a
sorry end, at least if they are unwilling to be drawn from their vanity.
Seldom do they who are wise in their own conceits bear humbly the guidance
of others. Yet a little knowledge humbly and meekly pursued is better than
great treasures of learning sought in vain complacency. It is better for you
to have little than to have much which may become the source of pride.

He who gives himself up entirely to enjoyment acts very unwisely, for he
forgets his former helplessness and that chastened fear of the Lord which
dreads to lose a proffered grace. Nor is he very brave or wise who becomes
too despondent in times of adversity and difficulty and thinks less
confidently of Me than he should. He who wishes to be too secure in time of
peace will often become too dejected and fearful in time of trial.

If you were wise enough to remain always humble and small in your own eyes,
and to restrain and rule your spirit well, you would not fall so quickly
into danger and offense.

When a spirit of fervor is enkindled within you, you may well meditate on
how you will feel when the fervor leaves. Then, when this happens, remember
that the light which I have withdrawn for a time as a warning to you and for
My own glory may again return. Such trials are often more beneficial than if
you had things always as you wish. For a man’s merits are not measured by
many visions or consolations, or by knowledge of the Scriptures, or by his
being in a higher position than others, but by the truth of his humility, by
his capacity for divine charity, by his constancy in seeking purely and
entirely the honor of God, by his disregard and positive contempt of self,
and more, by preferring to be despised and humiliated rather than honored by


The Eighth Chapter

Self-Abasement in the Sight of God

The Disciple

I WILL speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. If I consider myself
anything more than this, behold You stand against me, and my sins bear
witness to the truth which I cannot contradict. If I abase myself, however,
if I humble myself to nothingness, if I shrink from all self-esteem and
account myself as the dust which I am, Your grace will favor me, Your light
will enshroud my heart, and all self-esteem, no matter how little, will sink
in the depths of my nothingness to perish forever.

It is there You show me to myself—what I am, what I have been, and what I am
coming to; for I am nothing and I did not know it. Left to myself, I am
nothing but total weakness. But if You look upon me for an instant, I am at
once made strong and filled with new joy. Great wonder it is that I, who of
my own weight always sink to the depths, am so suddenly lifted up, and so
graciously embraced by You.

It is Your love that does this, graciously upholding me, supporting me in so
many necessities, guarding me from so many grave dangers, and snatching me,
as I may truly say, from evils without number. Indeed, by loving myself
badly I lost myself; by seeking only You and by truly loving You I have
found both myself and You, and by that love I have reduced myself more
profoundly to nothing. For You, O sweetest Lord, deal with me above all my
merits and above all that I dare to hope or ask.

May You be blessed, my God, for although I am unworthy of any benefits, yet
Your nobility and infinite goodness never cease to do good even for those
who are ungrateful and far from You. Convert us to You, that we may be
thankful, humble, and devout, for You are our salvation, our courage, and
our strength.


The Ninth Chapter

All Things should be Referred to God as their Last End

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I must be your supreme and last end, if you truly desire to be
blessed. With this intention your affections, which are too often perversely
inclined to self and to creatures, will be purified. For if you seek
yourself in anything, you immediately fail interiorly and become dry of

Refer all things principally to Me, therefore, for it is I Who have given
them all. Consider each thing as flowing from the highest good, and
therefore to Me, as to their highest source, must all things be brought

From Me the small and the great, the poor and the rich draw the water of
life as from a living fountain, and they who serve Me willingly and freely
shall receive grace upon grace. He who wishes to glory in things apart from
Me, however, or to delight in some good as his own, shall not be grounded in
true joy or gladdened in his heart, but shall be burdened and distressed in
many ways. Hence you ought not to attribute any good to yourself or ascribe
virtue to any man, but give all to God without Whom man has nothing.

I have given all things. I will that all be returned to Me again, and I
exact most strictly a return of thanks. This is the truth by which vainglory
is put to flight.

Where heavenly grace and true charity enter in, there neither envy nor
narrowness of heart nor self-love will have place. Divine love conquers all
and enlarges the powers of the soul.

If you are truly wise, you will rejoice only in Me, because no one is good
except God alone, Who is to be praised above all things and above all to be


The Tenth Chapter

To Despise the World and Serve God is Sweet

The Disciple

NOW again I will speak, Lord, and will not be silent. I will speak to the
hearing of my God, my Lord, and my King Who is in heaven. How great, O Lord,
is the multitude of Your mercies which You have stored up for those who love
You. But what are You to those who love You? What are You to those who serve
You with their whole heart?

Truly beyond the power of words is the sweetness of contemplation You give
to those who love You. To me You have shown the sweetness of Your charity,
especially in having made me when I did not exist, in having brought me back
to serve You when I had gone far astray from You, in having commanded me to
love You.

O Fountain of unceasing love, what shall I say of You? How can I forget You,
Who have been pleased to remember me even after I had wasted away and
perished? You have shown mercy to Your servant beyond all hope, and have
exhibited grace and friendship beyond his deserving.

What return shall I make to You for this grace? For it is not given every
man to forsake all things, to renounce the world, and undertake the
religious life. Is it anything great that I should serve You Whom every
creature is bound to serve? It should not seem much to me; instead it should
appear great and wonderful that You condescend to receive into Your service
one who is so poor and unworthy. Behold, all things are Yours, even those
which I have and by which I serve You. Behold, heaven and earth which You
created for the service of man, stand ready, and each day they do whatever
You command. But even this is little, for You have appointed angels also to
minister to man—yea more than all this—You Yourself have condescended to
serve man and have promised to give him Yourself.

What return shall I make for all these thousands of benefits? Would that I
could serve You all the days of my life! Would that for but one day I could
serve You worthily! Truly You are worthy of all service, all honor, and
everlasting praise. Truly You are my Lord, and I am Your poor servant, bound
to serve You with all my powers, praising You without ever becoming weary. I
wish to do this—this is my desire. Do You supply whatever is wanting in me.

It is a great honor, a great glory to serve You and to despise all things
for Your sake. They who give themselves gladly to Your most holy service
will possess great grace. They who cast aside all carnal delights for Your
love will find the most sweet consolation of the Holy Ghost. They who enter
upon the narrow way for Your name and cast aside all worldly care will
attain great freedom of mind.

O sweet and joyful service of God, which makes man truly free and holy! O
sacred state of religious bondage which makes man equal to the angels,
pleasing to God, terrible to the demons, and worthy of the commendation of
all the faithful! O service to be embraced and always desired, in which the
highest good is offered and joy is won which shall remain forever!


The Eleventh Chapter

The Longings of our Hearts Must Be Examined And Moderated

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, it is necessary for you to learn many things which you have not
yet learned well.

The Disciple

What are they, Lord?

The Voice of Christ

That you conform your desires entirely according to My good pleasure, and be
not a lover of self but an earnest doer of My will. Desires very often
inflame you and drive you madly on, but consider whether you act for My
honor, or for your own advantage. If I am the cause, you will be well
content with whatever I ordain. If, on the other hand, any self-seeking lurk
in you, it troubles you and weighs you down. Take care, then, that you do
not rely too much on preconceived desire that has no reference to Me, lest
you repent later on and be displeased with what at first pleased you and
which you desired as being for the best. Not every desire which seems good
should be followed immediately, nor, on the other hand, should every
contrary affection be at once rejected.

It is sometimes well to use a little restraint even in good desires and
inclinations, lest through too much eagerness you bring upon yourself
distraction of mind; lest through your lack of discipline you create scandal
for others; or lest you be suddenly upset and fall because of resistance
from others. Sometimes, however, you must use violence and resist your
sensual appetite bravely. You must pay no attention to what the flesh does
or does not desire, taking pains that it be subjected, even by force, to the
spirit. And it should be chastised and forced to remain in subjection until
it is prepared for anything and is taught to be satisfied with little, to
take pleasure in simple things, and not to murmur against inconveniences.


The Twelfth Chapter

Acquiring Patience in the Fight Against Concupiscence

The Disciple

PATIENCE, O Lord God, is very necessary for me, I see, because there are
many adversities in this life. No matter what plans I make for my own peace,
my life cannot be free from struggle and sorrow.

The Voice of Christ

My child, you are right, yet My wish is not that you seek that peace which
is free from temptations or meets with no opposition, but rather that you
consider yourself as having found peace when you have been tormented with
many tribulations and tried with many adversities.

If you say that you cannot suffer much, how will you endure the fire of
purgatory? Of two evils, the lesser is always to be chosen. Therefore, in
order that you may escape the everlasting punishments to come, try to bear
present evils patiently for the sake of God.

Do you think that men of the world have no suffering, or perhaps but little?
Ask even those who enjoy the most delights and you will learn otherwise.
“But,” you will say, “they enjoy many pleasures and follow their own wishes;
therefore they do not feel their troubles very much.” Granted that they do
have whatever they wish, how long do you think it will last? Behold, they
who prosper in the world shall perish as smoke, and there shall be no memory
of their past joys. Even in this life they do not find rest in these
pleasures without bitterness, weariness, and fear. For they often receive
the penalty of sorrow from the very thing whence they believe their
happiness comes. And it is just. Since they seek and follow after pleasures
without reason, they should not enjoy them without shame and bitterness.

How brief, how false, how unreasonable and shameful all these pleasures are!
Yet in their drunken blindness men do not understand this, but like brute
beasts incur death of soul for the miserly enjoyment of a corruptible life.

Therefore, My child, do not pursue your lusts, but turn away from your own
will. “Seek thy pleasure in the Lord and He will give thee thy heart’s
desires.” [34] If you wish to be truly delighted and more abundantly
comforted by Me, behold, in contempt of all worldly things and in the
cutting off of all base pleasures shall your blessing be, and great
consolation shall be given you. Further, the more you withdraw yourself from
any solace of creatures, the sweeter and stronger comfort will you find in

At first you will not gain these blessings without sadness and toil and
conflict. Habit already formed will resist you, but it shall be overcome by
a better habit. The flesh will murmur against you, but it will be bridled by
fervor of spirit. The old serpent will sting and trouble you, but prayer
will put him to flight and by steadfast, useful toil the way will be closed
to him.


[34] Ps. 36:4.


The Thirteenth Chapter

The Obedience of One Humbly Subject to the Example of Jesus Christ

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, he who attempts to escape obeying withdraws himself from grace.
Likewise he who seeks private benefits for himself loses those which are
common to all. He who does not submit himself freely and willingly to his
superior, shows that his flesh is not yet perfectly obedient but that it
often rebels and murmurs against him.

Learn quickly, then, to submit yourself to your superior if you wish to
conquer your own flesh. For the exterior enemy is more quickly overcome if
the inner man is not laid waste. There is no more troublesome, no worse
enemy of the soul than you yourself, if you are not in harmony with the
spirit. It is absolutely necessary that you conceive a true contempt for
yourself if you wish to be victorious over flesh and blood.

Because you still love yourself too inordinately, you are afraid to resign
yourself wholly to the will of others. Is it such a great matter if you, who
are but dust and nothingness, subject yourself to man for the sake of God,
when I, the All-Powerful, the Most High, Who created all things out of
nothing, humbly subjected Myself to man for your sake? I became the most
humble and the lowest of all men that you might overcome your pride with My

Learn to obey, you who are but dust! Learn to humble yourself, you who are
but earth and clay, and bow down under the foot of every man! Learn to break
your own will, to submit to all subjection! Be zealous against yourself!
Allow no pride to dwell in you, but prove yourself so humble and lowly that
all may walk over you and trample upon you as dust in the streets!

What have you, vain man, to complain of? What answer can you make, vile
sinner, to those who accuse you, you who have so often offended God and so
many times deserved hell? But My eye has spared you because your soul was
precious in My sight, so that you might know My love and always be thankful
for My benefits, so that you might give yourself continually to true
subjection and humility, and might patiently endure contempt.


The Fourteenth Chapter

Consider the Hidden Judgments of God Lest You Become Proud of Your Own Good

The Disciple

YOU thunder forth Your judgments over me, Lord. You shake all my bones with
fear and trembling, and my soul is very much afraid. I stand in awe as I
consider that the heavens are not pure in Your sight. If You found
wickedness in the angels and did not spare them, what will become of me?
Stars have fallen from heaven, and I—I who am but dust—how can I be
presumptuous? They whose deeds seemed worthy of praise have fallen into the
depths, and I have seen those who ate the bread of angels delighting
themselves with the husks of swine.

There is no holiness, then, if You withdraw Your hand, Lord. There is no
wisdom if You cease to guide, no courage if You cease to defend. No chastity
is secure if You do not guard it. Our vigilance avails nothing if Your holy
watchfulness does not protect us. Left to ourselves we sink and perish, but
visited by You we are lifted up and live. We are truly unstable, but You
make us strong. We grow lukewarm, but You inflame us.

Oh, how humbly and lowly should I consider myself! How very little should I
esteem anything that seems good in me! How profoundly should I submit to
Your unfathomable judgments, Lord, where I find myself to be but nothing!

O immeasurable weight! O impassable sea, where I find myself to be nothing
but bare nothingness! Where, then, is glory’s hiding place? Where can there
be any trust in my own virtue? All vainglory is swallowed up in the depths
of Your judgments upon me.

What is all flesh in Your sight? Shall the clay glory against Him that
formed it? How can he whose heart is truly subject to God be lifted up by
vainglory? The whole world will not make him proud whom truth has subjected
to itself. Nor shall he who has placed all his hope in God be moved by the
tongues of flatterers. For behold, even they who speak are nothing; they
will pass away with the sound of their words, but the truth of the Lord
remains forever.


The Fifteenth Chapter

How One Should Feel and Speak on Every Desirable Thing

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, this is the way you must speak on every occasion: “Lord, if it be
pleasing to You, so be it. If it be to Your honor, Lord, be it done in Your
name. Lord, if You see that it is expedient and profitable for me, then
grant that I may use it to Your honor. But if You know that it will be
harmful to me, and of no good benefit to the welfare of my soul, then take
this desire away from me.”

Not every desire is from the Holy Spirit, even though it may seem right and
good. It is difficult to be certain whether it is a good spirit or a bad one
that prompts one to this or that, and even to know whether you are being
moved by your own spirit. Many who seemed at first to be led by a good
spirit have been deceived in the end.

Whatever the mind sees as good, ask and desire in fear of God and humility
of heart. Above all, commit the whole matter to Me with true resignation,
and say: “Lord, You know what is better for me; let this be done or that be
done as You please. Grant what You will, as much as You will, when You will.
Do with me as You know best, as will most please You, and will be for Your
greater honor. Place me where You will and deal with me freely in all
things. I am in Your hand; turn me about whichever way You will. Behold, I
am Your servant, ready to obey in all things. Not for myself do I desire to
live, but for You—would that I could do this worthily and perfectly!”

A Prayer that the Will of God Be Done

Grant me Your grace, O most merciful Jesus, that it may be with me, and work
with me, and remain with me to the very end. Grant that I may always desire
and will that which is most acceptable and pleasing to You. Let Your will be
mine. Let my will always follow Yours and agree perfectly with it. Let my
will be one with Yours in willing and in not willing, and let me be unable
to will or not will anything but what You will or do not will. Grant that I
may die to all things in this world, and for Your sake love to be despised
and unknown in this life. Give me above all desires the desire to rest in
You, and in You let my heart have peace. You are true peace of heart. You
alone are its rest. Without You all things are difficult and troubled. In
this peace, the selfsame that is in You, the Most High, the everlasting
Good, I will sleep and take my rest. Amen.


The Sixteenth Chapter

True Comfort Is to Be Sought in God Alone

The Disciple

WHATEVER I can desire or imagine for my own comfort I look for not here but
hereafter. For if I alone should have all the world’s comforts and could
enjoy all its delights, it is certain that they could not long endure.
Therefore, my soul, you cannot enjoy full consolation or perfect delight
except in God, the Consoler of the poor and the Helper of the humble. Wait a
little, my soul, wait for the divine promise and you will have an abundance
of all good things in heaven. If you desire these present things too much,
you will lose those which are everlasting and heavenly. Use temporal things
but desire eternal things. You cannot be satisfied with any temporal goods
because you were not created to enjoy them.

Even if you possessed all created things you could not be happy and blessed;
for in God, Who created all these things, your whole blessedness and
happiness consists—not indeed such happiness as is seen and praised by
lovers of the world, but such as that for which the good and faithful
servants of Christ wait, and of which the spiritual and pure of heart, whose
conversation is in heaven, sometime have a foretaste.

Vain and brief is all human consolation. But that which is received inwardly
from the Truth is blessed and true. The devout man carries his Consoler,
Jesus, everywhere with him, and he says to Him: “Be with me, Lord Jesus, in
every place and at all times. Let this be my consolation, to be willing to
forego all human comforting. And if Your consolation be wanting to me, let
Your will and just trial of me be my greatest comfort. For You will not
always be angry, nor will You threaten forever.”


The Seventeenth Chapter

All Our Care is to Be Placed in God

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, allow me to do what I will with you. I know what is best for you.
You think as a man; you feel in many things as human affection persuades.

The Disciple

Lord, what You say is true. Your care for me is greater than all the care I
can take of myself. For he who does not cast all his care upon You stands
very unsafely. If only my will remain right and firm toward You, Lord, do
with me whatever pleases You. For whatever You shall do with me can only be

If You wish me to be in darkness, I shall bless You. And if You wish me to
be in light, again I shall bless You. If You stoop down to comfort me, I
shall bless You, and if You wish me to be afflicted, I shall bless You

The Voice of Christ

My child, this is the disposition which you should have if you wish to walk
with Me. You should be as ready to suffer as to enjoy. You should as
willingly be destitute and poor as rich and satisfied.

The Disciple

O Lord, I shall suffer willingly for Your sake whatever You wish to send me.
I am ready to accept from Your hand both good and evil alike, the sweet and
the bitter together, sorrow with joy; and for all that happens to me I am
grateful. Keep me from all sin and I will fear neither death nor hell. Do
not cast me out forever nor blot me out of the Book of Life, and whatever
tribulation befalls will not harm me.


The Eighteenth Chapter

Temporal Sufferings Should Be Borne Patiently, After the Example of Christ

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I came down from heaven for your salvation and took upon Myself
your miseries, not out of necessity but out of love, that you might learn to
be patient and bear the sufferings of this life without repining. From the
moment of My birth to My death on the cross, suffering did not leave Me. I
suffered great want of temporal goods. Often I heard many complaints against
Me. Disgrace and reviling I bore with patience. For My blessings I received
ingratitude, for My miracles blasphemies, and for My teaching scorn.

The Disciple

O Lord, because You were patient in life, especially in fulfilling the
design of the Father, it is fitting that I, a most miserable sinner, should
live patiently according to Your will, and, as long as You shall wish, bear
the burden of this corruptible body for the welfare of my soul. For though
this present life seems burdensome, yet by Your grace it becomes
meritorious, and it is made brighter and more endurable for the weak by Your
example and the pathways of the saints. But it has also more consolation
than formerly under the old law when the gates of heaven were closed, when
the way thereto seemed darker than now, and when so few cared to seek the
eternal kingdom. The just, the elect, could not enter heaven before Your
sufferings and sacred death had paid the debt.

Oh, what great thanks I owe You, Who have shown me and all the faithful the
good and right way to Your everlasting kingdom! Your life is our way and in
Your holy patience we come nearer to You Who are our crown. Had You not gone
before and taught us, who would have cared to follow? Alas, how many would
have remained far behind, had they not before their eyes Your holy example!
Behold, even we who have heard of Your many miracles and teachings are still
lukewarm; what would happen if we did not have such light by which to follow


The Nineteenth Chapter

True Patience in Suffering

The Voice of Christ

WHAT are you saying, My child? Think of My suffering and that of the saints,
and cease complaining. You have not yet resisted to the shedding of blood.
What you suffer is very little compared with the great things they suffered
who were so strongly tempted, so severely troubled, so tried and tormented
in many ways. Well may you remember, therefore, the very painful woes of
others, that you may bear your own little ones the more easily. And if they
do not seem so small to you, examine if perhaps your impatience is not the
cause of their apparent greatness; and whether they are great or small, try
to bear them all patiently. The better you dispose yourself to suffer, the
more wisely you act and the greater is the reward promised you. Thus you
will suffer more easily if your mind and habits are diligently trained to

Do not say: “I cannot bear this from such a man, nor should I suffer things
of this kind, for he has done me a great wrong. He has accused me of many
things of which I never thought. However, from someone else I will gladly
suffer as much as I think I should.”

Such a thought is foolish, for it does not consider the virtue of patience
or the One Who will reward it, but rather weighs the person and the offense
committed. The man who will suffer only as much as seems good to him, who
will accept suffering only from those from whom he is pleased to accept it,
is not truly patient. For the truly patient man does not consider from whom
the suffering comes, whether from a superior, an equal, or an inferior,
whether from a good and holy person or from a perverse and unworthy one; but
no matter how great an adversity befalls him, no matter how often it comes
or from whom it comes, he accepts it gratefully from the hand of God, and
counts it a great gain. For with God nothing that is suffered for His sake,
no matter how small, can pass without reward. Be prepared for the fight,
then, if you wish to gain the victory. Without struggle you cannot obtain
the crown of patience, and if you refuse to suffer you are refusing the
crown. But if you desire to be crowned, fight bravely and bear up patiently.
Without labor there is no rest, and without fighting, no victory.

The Disciple

O Lord, let that which seems naturally impossible to me become possible
through Your grace. You know that I can suffer very little, and that I am
quickly discouraged when any small adversity arises. Let the torment of
tribulation suffered for Your name be pleasant and desirable to me, since to
suffer and be troubled for Your sake is very beneficial for my soul.


The Twentieth Chapter

Confessing Our Weakness in the Miseries of Life

The Disciple

I WILL bring witness against myself to my injustice, and to You, O Lord, I
will confess my weakness.

Often it is a small thing that makes me downcast and sad. I propose to act
bravely, but when even a small temptation comes I find myself in great
straits. Sometimes it is the merest trifle which gives rise to grievous
temptations. When I think myself somewhat safe and when I am not expecting
it, I frequently find myself almost overcome by a slight wind. Look,
therefore, Lord, at my lowliness and frailty which You know so well. Have
mercy on me and snatch me out of the mire that I may not be caught in it and
may not remain forever utterly despondent.

That I am so prone to fall and so weak in resisting my passions oppresses me
frequently and confounds me in Your sight. While I do not fully consent to
them, still their assault is very troublesome and grievous to me, and it
wearies me exceedingly thus to live in daily strife. Yet from the fact that
abominable fancies rush in upon me much more easily than they leave, my
weakness becomes clear to me.

Oh that You, most mighty God of Israel, zealous Lover of faithful souls,
would consider the labor and sorrow of Your servant, and assist him in all
his undertakings! Strengthen me with heavenly courage lest the outer man,
the miserable flesh, against which I shall be obliged to fight so long as I
draw a breath in this wretched life and which is not yet subjected to the
spirit, prevail and dominate me.

Alas! What sort of life is this, from which troubles and miseries are never
absent, where all things are full of snares and enemies? For when one
trouble or temptation leaves, another comes. Indeed, even while the first
conflict is still raging, many others begin unexpectedly. How is it possible
to love a life that has such great bitterness, that is subject to so many
calamities and miseries? Indeed, how can it even be called life when it
begets so many deaths and plagues? And yet, it is loved, and many seek their
delight in it.

Many persons often blame the world for being false and vain, yet do not
readily give it up because the desires of the flesh have such great power.
Some things draw them to love the world, others make them despise it. The
lust of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life lead to
love, while the pains and miseries, which are the just consequences of those
things, beget hatred and weariness of the world.

Vicious pleasure overcomes the soul that is given to the world. She thinks
that there are delights beneath these thorns, because she has never seen or
tasted the sweetness of God or the internal delight of virtue. They, on the
other hand, who entirely despise the world and seek to live for God under
the rule of holy discipline, are not ignorant of the divine sweetness
promised to those who truly renounce the world. They see clearly how gravely
the world errs, and in how many ways it deceives.



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