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The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis


The Twenty-first Chapter

Above All Goods and All Gifts We Must Rest in God

The Disciple

ABOVE all things and in all things, O my soul, rest always in God, for He is
the everlasting rest of the saints.

Grant, most sweet and loving Jesus, that I may seek my repose in You above
every creature; above all health and beauty; above every honor and glory;
every power and dignity; above all knowledge and cleverness, all riches and
arts, all joy and gladness; above all fame and praise, all sweetness and
consolation; above every hope and promise, every merit and desire; above all
the gifts and favors that You can give or pour down upon me; above all the
joy and exultation that the mind can receive and feel; and finally, above
the angels and archangels and all the heavenly host; above all things
visible and invisible; and may I seek my repose in You above everything that
is not You, my God.

For You, O Lord my God, are above all things the best. You alone are most
high, You alone most powerful. You alone are most sufficient and most
satisfying, You alone most sweet and consoling. You alone are most beautiful
and loving, You alone most noble and glorious above all things. In You is
every perfection that has been or ever will be. Therefore, whatever You give
me besides Yourself, whatever You reveal to me concerning Yourself, and
whatever You promise, is too small and insufficient when I do not see and
fully enjoy You alone. For my heart cannot rest or be fully content until,
rising above all gifts and every created thing, it rests in You. [35]

Who, O most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most pure Lover, Lord of all
creation, who shall give me the wings of true liberty that I may fly to rest
in You? When shall freedom be fully given me to see how sweet You are, O
Lord, my God? When shall I recollect myself entirely in You, so that because
of Your love I may feel, not myself, but You alone above all sense and
measure, in a manner known to none? But now I often lament and grieve over
my unhappiness, for many evils befall me in this vale of miseries, often
disturbing me, making me sad and overshadowing me, often hindering and
distracting me, alluring and entangling me so that I neither have free
access to You nor enjoy the sweet embraces which are ever ready for blessed
souls. Let my sighs and the manifold desolation here on earth move You.

O Jesus, Splendor of eternal glory, Consolation of the pilgrim soul, with
You my lips utter no sound and to You my silence speaks. How long will my
Lord delay His coming? Let Him come to His poor servant and make him happy.
Let Him put forth His hand and take this miserable creature from his
anguish. Come, O come, for without You there will be no happy day or hour,
because You are my happiness and without You my table is empty. I am
wretched, as it were imprisoned and weighted down with fetters, until You
fill me with the light of Your presence, restore me to liberty, and show me
a friendly countenance. Let others seek instead of You whatever they will,
but nothing pleases me or will please me but You, my God, my Hope, my
everlasting Salvation. I will not be silent, I will not cease praying until
Your grace returns to me and You speak inwardly to me, saying: “Behold, I am
here. Lo, I have come to you because you have called Me. Your tears and the
desire of your soul, your humility and contrition of heart have inclined Me
and brought Me to you.”

Lord, I have called You, and have desired You, and have been ready to spurn
all things for Your sake. For You first spurred me on to seek You. May You
be blessed, therefore, O Lord, for having shown this goodness to Your
servant according to the multitude of Your mercies.

What more is there for Your servant to say to You unless, with his iniquity
and vileness always in mind, he humbles himself before You? Nothing among
all the wonders of heaven and earth is like to You. Your works are
exceedingly good, Your judgments true, and Your providence rules the whole
universe. May You be praised and glorified, therefore, O Wisdom of the
Father. Let my lips and my soul and all created things unite to praise and
bless You.


[35] Augustine, Confessions, i. 1.


The Twenty-Second Chapter

Remember the Innumerable Gifts of God

The Disciple

OPEN my heart, O Lord, to Your law and teach me to walk in the way of Your
commandments. Let me understand Your will. Let me remember Your
blessings—all of them and each single one of them—with great reverence and
care so that henceforth I may return worthy thanks for them. I know that I
am unable to give due thanks for even the least of Your gifts. I am unworthy
of the benefits You have given me, and when I consider Your generosity my
spirit faints away before its greatness. All that we have of soul and body,
whatever we possess interiorly or exteriorly, by nature or by grace, are
Your gifts and they proclaim Your goodness and mercy from which we have
received all good things.

If one receives more and another less, yet all are Yours and without You
nothing can be received. He who receives greater things cannot glory in his
own merit or consider himself above others or behave insolently toward those
who receive less. He who attributes less to himself and is the more humble
and devout in returning thanks is indeed the greater and the better, while
he who considers himself lower than all men and judges himself to be the
least worthy, is the more fit to receive the greater blessing.

He, on the other hand, who has received fewer gifts should not be sad or
impatient or envious of the richer man. Instead he should turn his mind to
You and offer You the greatest praise because You give so bountifully, so
freely and willingly, without regard to persons. All things come from You;
therefore, You are to be praised in all things. You know what is good for
each of us; and why one should receive less and another more is not for us
to judge, but for You Who have marked every man’s merits.

Therefore, O Lord God, I consider it a great blessing not to have many
things which human judgment holds praiseworthy and glorious, for one who
realizes his own poverty and vileness should not be sad or downcast at it,
but rather consoled and happy because You, O God, have chosen the poor, the
humble, and the despised in this world to be Your friends and servants. The
truth of this is witnessed by Your Apostles, whom You made princes over all
the world. Yet they lived in this world without complaining, so humble and
simple, so free from malice and deceit, that they were happy even to suffer
reproach for Your name and to embrace with great affection that which the
world abhors.

A man who loves You and recognizes Your benefits, therefore, should be
gladdened by nothing so much as by Your will, by the good pleasure of Your
eternal decree. With this he should be so contented and consoled that he
would wish to be the least as others wish to be the greatest; that he would
be as peaceful and satisfied in the last place as in the first, and as
willing to be despised, unknown and forgotten, as to be honored by others
and to have more fame than they. He should prefer Your will and the love of
Your honor to all else, and it should comfort him more than all the benefits
which have been, or will be, given him.


The Twenty-Third Chapter

Four Things Which Bring Great Peace

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I will teach you now the way of peace and true liberty.

Seek, child, to do the will of others rather than your own.

Always choose to have less rather than more.

Look always for the last place and seek to be beneath all others.

Always wish and pray that the will of God be fully carried out in you.

Behold, such will enter into the realm of peace and rest.

The Disciple

O Lord, this brief discourse of Yours contains much perfection. It is short
in words but full of meaning and abounding in fruit. Certainly if I could
only keep it faithfully, I should not be so easily disturbed. For as often
as I find myself troubled and dejected, I find that I have departed from
this teaching. But You Who can do all things, and Who always love what is
for my soul’s welfare, give me increase of grace that I may keep Your words
and accomplish my salvation.

A Prayer Against Bad Thoughts

O Lord my God, be not far from me. O my God, hasten to help me, for varied
thoughts and great fears have risen up within me, afflicting my soul. How
shall I escape them unharmed? How shall I dispel them?

“I will go before you,” says the Lord, “and will humble the great ones of
earth. I will open the doors of the prison, and will reveal to you hidden

Do as You say, Lord, and let all evil thoughts fly from Your face. This is
my hope and my only comfort—to fly to You in all tribulation, to confide in
You, and to call on You from the depths of my heart and to await patiently
for Your consolation.

A Prayer for Enlightening the Mind

Enlighten me, good Jesus, with the brightness of internal light, and take
away all darkness from the habitation of my heart. Restrain my wandering
thoughts and suppress the temptations which attack me so violently. Fight
strongly for me, and vanquish these evil beasts—the alluring desires of the
flesh—so that peace may come through Your power and the fullness of Your
praise resound in the holy courts, which is a pure conscience. Command the
winds and the tempests; say to the sea: “Be still,” and to the north wind,
“Do not blow,” and there will be a great calm.

Send forth Your light and Your truth to shine on the earth, for I am as
earth, empty and formless until You illumine me. Pour out Your grace from
above. Shower my heart with heavenly dew. Open the springs of devotion to
water the earth, that it may produce the best of good fruits. Lift up my
heart pressed down by the weight of sins, and direct all my desires to
heavenly things, that having tasted the sweetness of supernal happiness, I
may find no pleasure in thinking of earthly things.

Snatch me up and deliver me from all the passing comfort of creatures, for
no created thing can fully quiet and satisfy my desires. Join me to Yourself
in an inseparable bond of love; because You alone can satisfy him who loves
You, and without You all things are worthless.


The Twenty-Fourth Chapter

Avoiding Curious Inquiry About the Lives of Others

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, do not be curious. Do not trouble yourself with idle cares. What
matters this or that to you? Follow Me. What is it to you if a man is such
and such, if another does or says this or that? You will not have to answer
for others, but you will have to give an account of yourself. Why, then, do
you meddle in their affairs?

Behold, I know all men. I see everything that is done under the sun, and I
know how matters stand with each—what is in his mind and what in his heart
and the end to which his intention is directed. Commit all things to Me,
therefore, and keep yourself in good peace. Let him who is disturbed be as
restless as he will. Whatever he has said or done will fall upon himself,
for he cannot deceive Me.

Do not be anxious for the shadow of a great name, for the close friendship
of many, or for the particular affection of men. These things cause
distraction and cast great darkness about the heart. I would willingly speak
My word and reveal My secrets to you, if you would watch diligently for My
coming and open your heart to Me. Be prudent, then. Watch in prayer, and in
all things humble yourself.


The Twenty-Fifth Chapter

The Basis of Firm Peace of Heart and True Progress

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I have said: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth, do I give unto you.” [36]

All men desire peace but all do not care for the things that go to make true
peace. My peace is with the humble and meek of heart: your peace will be in
much patience. If you hear Me and follow My voice, you will be able to enjoy
much peace.

The Disciple

What, then, shall I do, Lord?

The Voice of Christ

Watch yourself in all things, in what you do and what you say. Direct your
every intention toward pleasing Me alone, and desire nothing outside of Me.
Do not be rash in judging the deeds and words of others, and do not entangle
yourself in affairs that are not your own. Thus, it will come about that you
will be disturbed little and seldom.

Yet, never to experience any disturbance or to suffer any hurt in heart or
body does not belong to this present life, but rather to the state of
eternal rest. Do not think, therefore, that you have found true peace if you
feel no depression, or that all is well because you suffer no opposition. Do
not think that all is perfect if everything happens just as you wish. And do
not imagine yourself great or consider yourself especially beloved if you
are filled with great devotion and sweetness. For the true lover of virtue
is not known by these things, nor do the progress and perfection of a man
consist in them.

The Disciple

In what do they consist, Lord?

The Voice of Christ

They consist in offering yourself with all your heart to the divine will,
not seeking what is yours either in small matters or great ones, either in
temporal or eternal things, so that you will preserve equanimity and give
thanks in both prosperity and adversity, seeing all things in their proper

If you become so brave and long-suffering in hope that you can prepare your
heart to suffer still more even when all inward consolation is withdrawn,
and if you do not justify yourself as though you ought not be made to suffer
such great things, but acknowledge Me to be just in all My works and praise
My holy name—then you will walk in the true and right path of peace, then
you may have sure hope of seeing My face again in joy. If you attain to
complete contempt of self, then know that you will enjoy an abundance of
peace, as much as is possible in this earthly life.


[36] John 14:27.


The Twenty-Sixth Chapter

The Excellence of a Free Mind, Gained Through Prayer Rather Than By Study

The Disciple

IT IS the mark of a perfect man, Lord, never to let his mind relax in
attention to heavenly things, and to pass through many cares as though he
had none; not as an indolent man does, but having by the certain prerogative
of a free mind no disorderly affection for any created being.

Keep me, I beg You, most merciful God, from the cares of this life, lest I
be too much entangled in them. Keep me from many necessities of the body,
lest I be ensnared by pleasure. Keep me from all darkness of mind, lest I be
broken by troubles and overcome. I do not ask deliverance from those things
which worldly vanity desires so eagerly, but from those miseries which, by
the common curse of humankind, oppress the soul of Your servant in
punishment and keep him from entering into the liberty of spirit as often as
he would.

My God, Sweetness beyond words, make bitter all the carnal comfort that
draws me from love of the eternal and lures me to its evil self by the sight
of some delightful good in the present. Let it not overcome me, my God. Let
not flesh and blood conquer me. Let not the world and its brief glory
deceive me, nor the devil trip me by his craftiness. Give me courage to
resist, patience to endure, and constancy to persevere. Give me the soothing
unction of Your spirit rather than all the consolations of the world, and in
place of carnal love, infuse into me the love of Your name.

Behold, eating, drinking, clothing, and other necessities that sustain the
body are burdensome to the fervent soul. Grant me the grace to use such
comforts temperately and not to become entangled in too great a desire for
them. It is not lawful to cast them aside completely, for nature must be
sustained, but Your holy law forbids us to demand superfluous things and
things that are simply for pleasure, else the flesh would rebel against the
spirit. In these matters, I beg, let Your hand guide and direct me, so that
I may not overstep the law in any way.


The Twenty-Seventh Chapter

Self-Love is the Greatest Hindrance to the Highest Good

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, you should give all for all, and in no way belong to yourself. You
must know that self-love is more harmful to you than anything else in the
world. In proportion to the love and affection you have for a thing, it will
cling to you more or less. If your love is pure, simple, and well ordered,
you will not be a slave to anything. Do not covet what you may not have. Do
not possess anything that can hinder you or rob you of freedom.

It is strange that you do not commit yourself to Me with your whole heart,
together with all that you can desire or possess. Why are you consumed with
foolish sorrow? Why are you wearied with unnecessary care? Be resigned to My
will and you will suffer no loss.

If you seek this or that, if you wish to be in this place or that place, to
have more ease and pleasure, you will never rest or be free from care, for
some defect is found in everything and everywhere someone will vex you. To
obtain and multiply earthly goods, then, will not help you, but to despise
them and root them out of your heart will aid. This, understand, is true not
only of money and wealth, but also of ambition for honor and desire for
empty praise, all of which will pass away with this world.

The place matters little if the spirit of fervor is not there; nor will
peace be lasting if it is sought from the outside; if your heart has no true
foundation, that is, if you are not founded in Me, you may change, but you
will not better yourself. For when occasion arises and is accepted, you will
find that from which you fled and worse.

A Prayer for Cleansing the Heart and Obtaining Heavenly Wisdom

Strengthen me by the grace of Your holy spirit, O God. Give me the power to
be strengthened inwardly and to empty my heart of all vain care and anxiety,
so that I may not be drawn away by many desires, whether for precious things
or mean ones. Let me look upon everything as passing, and upon myself as
soon to pass away with them, because there is nothing lasting under the sun,
where all is vanity and affliction of spirit. How wise is he who thinks

Give me, Lord, heavenly wisdom to learn above all else to seek and find You,
to enjoy and love You more than anything, and to consider other things as
they are, as Your wisdom has ordered them. Grant me prudence to avoid the
flatterer and to bear patiently with him who disagrees with me. For it is
great wisdom not to be moved by the sound of words, nor to give ear to the
wicked, flattering siren. Then, I shall walk safely in the way I have begun.


The Twenty-Eighth Chapter

Strength Against Slander

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, do not take it to heart if some people think badly of you and say
unpleasant things about you. You ought to think worse things of yourself and
to believe that no one is weaker than yourself. Moreover, if you walk in the
spirit you will pay little heed to fleeting words. It is no small prudence
to remain silent in evil times, to turn inwardly to Me, and not to be
disturbed by human opinions. Do not let your peace depend on the words of
men. Their thinking well or badly of you does not make you different from
what you are. Where are true peace and glory? Are they not in Me? He who
neither cares to please men nor fears to displease them will enjoy great
peace, for all unrest and distraction of the senses arise out of disorderly
love and vain fear.


The Twenty-Ninth Chapter

How We Must Call Upon and Bless the Lord When Trouble Presses

The Disciple

BLESSED be Your name forever, O Lord, Who have willed that this temptation
and trouble come upon me. I cannot escape it, yet I must fly to You that You
may help me and turn it to my good. Now I am troubled, Lord, and my heart is
not at rest, for I am greatly afflicted by this present suffering.

Beloved Father, what shall I say? I am straitened in harsh ways. Save me
from this hour to which, however, I am come that You may be glorified when I
am deeply humbled and freed by You. May it please You, then, to deliver me,
Lord, for what can I, poor wretch that I am, do or where can I go without
You? Give me patience, Lord, even now. Help me, my God, and I will not be
afraid however much I may be distressed.

But here, in the midst of these troubles, what shall I say? Your will be
done, Lord. I have richly deserved to be troubled and distressed. But I must
bear it. Would that I could do so patiently, until the storm passes and calm
returns! Yet Your almighty hand can take this temptation from me, or lighten
its attack so that I do not altogether sink beneath it, as You, my God, my
Mercy, have very often done for me before. And the more difficult my plight,
the easier for You is this change of the right hand of the Most High.


The Thirtieth Chapter

The Quest of Divine Help and Confidence in Regaining Grace

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I am the Lord Who gives strength in the day of trouble. Come to Me
when all is not well with you. Your tardiness in turning to prayer is the
greatest obstacle to heavenly consolation, for before you pray earnestly to
Me you first seek many comforts and take pleasure in outward things. Thus,
all things are of little profit to you until you realize that I am the one
Who saves those who trust in Me, and that outside of Me there is no
worth-while help, or any useful counsel or lasting remedy.

But now, after the tempest, take courage, grow strong once more in the light
of My mercies; for I am near, says the Lord, to restore all things not only
to the full but with abundance and above measure. Is anything difficult for
Me? Or shall I be as one who promises and does not act? Where is your faith?
Stand firm and persevere. Be a man of endurance and courage, and consolation
will come to you in due time. Wait for Me; wait—and I will come to heal you.

It is only a temptation that troubles you, a vain fear that terrifies you.

Of what use is anxiety about the future? Does it bring you anything but
trouble upon trouble? Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. It is
foolish and useless to be either grieved or happy about future things which
perhaps may never happen. But it is human to be deluded by such
imaginations, and the sign of a weak soul to be led on by suggestions of the
enemy. For he does not care whether he overcomes you by love of the present
or fear of the future.

Let not your heart be troubled, therefore, nor let it be afraid. Believe in
Me and trust in My mercy. When you think you are far from Me, then often I
am very near you. When you judge that almost all is lost, then very often
you are in the way of gaining great merit.

All is not lost when things go contrary to your wishes. You ought not judge
according to present feelings, nor give in to any trouble whenever it comes,
or take it as though all hope of escape were lost. And do not consider
yourself forsaken if I send some temporary hardship, or withdraw the
consolation you desire. For this is the way to the kingdom of heaven, and
without doubt it is better for you and the rest of My servants to be tried
in adversities than to have all things as you wish. I know your secret
thoughts, and I know that it is profitable for your salvation to be left
sometimes in despondency lest perhaps you be puffed up by success and fancy
yourself to be what you are not.

What I have given, I can take away and restore when it pleases Me. What I
give remains Mine, and thus when I take it away I take nothing that is
yours, for every good gift and every perfect gift is Mine.

If I send you trouble and adversity, do not fret or let your heart be
downcast. I can raise you quickly up again and turn all your sorrow into
joy. I am no less just and worthy of great praise when I deal with you in
this way.

If you think aright and view things in their true light, you should never be
so dejected and saddened by adversity, but rather rejoice and give thanks,
considering it a matter of special joy that I afflict you with sorrow and do
not spare you. “As the Father hath loved Me, so also I love you,” I said to
My disciples, and I certainly did not send them out to temporal joys but
rather to great struggles, not to honors but to contempt, not to idleness,
but to labors, not to rest but to bring forth much fruit in patience. Do
you, My child, remember these words.


The Thirty-First Chapter

To Find the Creator, Forsake All Creatures

The Disciple

O LORD, I am in sore need still of greater grace if I am to arrive at the
point where no man and no created thing can be an obstacle to me. For as
long as anything holds me back, I cannot freely fly to You. He that said “Oh
that I had wings like a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest!” [37]
desired to fly freely to You. Who is more at rest than he who aims at
nothing but God? And who more free than the man who desires nothing on

It is well, then, to pass over all creation, perfectly to abandon self, and
to see in ecstasy of mind that You, the Creator of all, have no likeness
among all Your creatures, and that unless a man be freed from all creatures,
he cannot attend freely to the Divine. The reason why so few contemplative
persons are found, is that so few know how to separate themselves entirely
from what is transitory and created.

For this, indeed, great grace is needed, grace that will raise the soul and
lift it up above itself. Unless a man be elevated in spirit, free from all
creatures, and completely united to God, all his knowledge and possessions
are of little moment. He who considers anything great except the one,
immense, eternal good will long be little and lie groveling on the earth.
Whatever is not God is nothing and must be accounted as nothing.

There is great difference between the wisdom of an enlightened and devout
man and the learning of a well-read and brilliant scholar, for the knowledge
which flows down from divine sources is much nobler than that laboriously
acquired by human industry.

Many there are who desire contemplation, but who do not care to do the
things which contemplation requires. It is also a great obstacle to be
satisfied with externals and sensible things, and to have so little of
perfect mortification. I know not what it is, or by what spirit we are led,
or to what we pretend—we who wish to be called spiritual—that we spend so
much labor and even more anxiety on things that are transitory and mean,
while we seldom or never advert with full consciousness to our interior

Alas, after very little recollection we falter, not weighing our deeds by
strict examination. We pay no attention to where our affections lie, nor do
we deplore the fact that our actions are impure.

Remember that because all flesh had corrupted its course, the great deluge
followed. Since, then, our interior affection is corrupt, it must be that
the action which follows from it, the index as it were of our lack of inward
strength, is also corrupt. Out of a pure heart come the fruits of a good

People are wont to ask how much a man has done, but they think little of the
virtue with which he acts. They ask: Is he strong? rich? handsome? a good
writer? a good singer? or a good worker? They say little, however, about how
poor he is in spirit, how patient and meek, how devout and spiritual. Nature
looks to his outward appearance; grace turns to his inward being. The one
often errs, the other trusts in God and is not deceived.


[37] Ps. 54:7.


The Thirty-Second Chapter

Self-Denial and the Renunciation of Evil Appetites

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, you can never be perfectly free unless you completely renounce
self, for all who seek their own interest and who love themselves are bound
in fetters. They are unsettled by covetousness and curiosity, always
searching for ease and not for the things of Christ, often devising and
framing that which will not last, for anything that is not of God will fail

Hold to this short and perfect advice, therefore: give up your desires and
you will find rest. Think upon it in your heart, and when you have put it
into practice you will understand all things.

The Disciple

But this, Lord, is not the work of one day, nor is it mere child’s play;
indeed, in this brief sentence is included all the perfection of holy

The Voice of Christ

My child, you should not turn away or be downcast when you hear the way of
the perfect. Rather you ought to be spurred on the more toward their sublime
heights, or at least be moved to seek perfection.

I would this were the case with you—that you had progressed to the point
where you no longer loved self but simply awaited My bidding and his whom I
have placed as father over you. Then you would please Me very much, and your
whole life would pass in peace and joy. But you have yet many things which
you must give up, and unless you resign them entirely to Me you will not
obtain that which you ask.

“I counsel thee to buy of me gold, fire-tried, that thou mayest be made
rich” [38] —rich in heavenly wisdom which treads underfoot all that is low.
Put aside earthly wisdom, all human self-complacency.

I have said: exchange what is precious and valued among men for that which
is considered contemptible. For true heavenly wisdom—not to think highly of
self and not to seek glory on earth—does indeed seem mean and small and is
well-nigh forgotten, as many men praise it with their mouths but shy far
away from it in their lives. Yet this heavenly wisdom is a pearl of great
price, which is hidden from many.


[38] Apoc. 3:18.


The Thirty-Third Chapter

Restlessness of Soul—Directing Our Final Intention Toward God

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, do not trust in your present feeling, for it will soon give way to
another. As long as you live you will be subject to changeableness in spite
of yourself. You will become merry at one time and sad at another, now
peaceful but again disturbed, at one moment devout and the next indevout,
sometimes diligent while at other times lazy, now grave and again flippant.

But the man who is wise and whose spirit is well instructed stands superior
to these changes. He pays no attention to what he feels in himself or from
what quarter the wind of fickleness blows, so long as the whole intention of
his mind is conducive to his proper and desired end. For thus he can stand
undivided, unchanged, and unshaken, with the singleness of his intention
directed unwaveringly toward Me, even in the midst of so many changing
events. And the purer this singleness of intention is, with so much the more
constancy does he pass through many storms.

But in many ways the eye of pure intention grows dim, because it is
attracted to any delightful thing that it meets. Indeed, it is rare to find
one who is entirely free from all taint of self-seeking. The Jews of old,
for example, came to Bethany to Martha and Mary, not for Jesus’ sake alone,
but in order to see Lazarus.

The eye of your intention, therefore, must be cleansed so that it is single
and right. It must be directed toward Me, despite all the objects which may


The Thirty-Fourth Chapter

God is Sweet Above All Things and in All Things to Those Who Love Him

The Disciple

BEHOLD, my God and my all! What more do I wish for; what greater happiness
can I desire? O sweet and delicious word! But sweet only to him who loves
it, and not to the world or the things that are in the world.

My God and my all! These words are enough for him who understands, and for
him who loves it is a joy to repeat them often. For when You are present,
all things are delightful; when You are absent, all things become loathsome.
It is You Who give a heart tranquillity, great peace and festive joy. It is
You Who make us think well of all things, and praise You in all things.
Without You nothing can give pleasure for very long, for if it is to be
pleasing and tasteful, Your grace and the seasoning of Your wisdom must be
in it. What is there that can displease him whose happiness is in You? And,
on the contrary, what can satisfy him whose delight is not in You?

The wise men of the world, the men who lust for the flesh, are wanting in
Your wisdom, because in the world is found the utmost vanity, and in the
flesh is death. But they who follow You by disdaining worldly things and
mortifying the flesh are known to be truly wise, for they are transported
from vanity to truth, from flesh to spirit. By such as these God is
relished, and whatever good is found in creatures they turn to praise of the
Creator. But great—yes, very great, indeed—is the difference between delight
in the Creator and in the creature, in eternity and in time, in Light
uncreated and in the light that is reflected.

O Light eternal, surpassing all created brightness, flash forth the
lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses of my heart. Cleanse,
cheer, enlighten, and vivify my spirit with all its powers, that it may
cleave to You in ecstasies of joy. Oh, when will that happy and wished-for
hour come, that You may fill me with Your presence and become all in all to
me? So long as this is not given me, my joy will not be complete.

The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been entirely
crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts strongly against the
spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom of my soul in peace. But You, Who
can command the power of the sea and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and
help me. Scatter the nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight.
Show forth I beg, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified,
because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You, O Lord, my


The Thirty-Fifth Chapter

There is No Security from Temptation in This Life

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, in this life you are never safe, and as long as you live the
weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you. You dwell among
enemies. You are subject to attack from the right and the left. If,
therefore, you do not guard yourself from every quarter with the shield of
patience, you will not remain long unscathed.

Moreover, if you do not steadily set your heart on Me, with a firm will to
suffer everything for My sake, you will not be able to bear the heat of this
battle or to win the crown of the blessed. You ought, therefore, to pass
through all these things bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever
stands in your way. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given, while
for him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery.

If you look for rest in this life, how will you attain to everlasting rest?
Dispose yourself, then, not for much rest but for great patience. Seek true
peace, not on earth but in heaven; not in men or in other creatures but in
God alone. For love of God you should undergo all things cheerfully, all
labors and sorrows, temptations and trials, anxieties, weaknesses,
necessities, injuries, slanders, rebukes, humiliations, confusions,
corrections, and contempt. For these are helps to virtue. These are the
trials of Christ’s recruit. These form the heavenly crown. For a little
brief labor I will give an everlasting crown, and for passing confusion,
glory that is eternal.

Do you think that you will always have spiritual consolations as you desire?
My saints did not always have them. Instead, they had many afflictions,
temptations of various kinds, and great desolation. Yet they bore them all
patiently. They placed their confidence in God rather than in themselves,
knowing that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with
the glory that is to come. And you—do you wish to have at once that which
others have scarcely obtained after many tears and great labors?

Wait for the Lord, act bravely, and have courage. Do not lose trust. Do not
turn back but devote your body and soul constantly to God’s glory. I will
reward you most plentifully. I will be with you in every tribulation.


The Thirty-Sixth Chapter

The Vain Judgments of Men

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, trust firmly in the Lord, and do not fear the judgment of men when
conscience tells you that you are upright and innocent. For it is good and
blessed to suffer such things, and they will not weigh heavily on the humble
heart that trusts in God rather than in itself. Many men say many things,
and therefore little faith is to be put in them.

Likewise, it is impossible to satisfy all men. Although Paul tried to please
all in the Lord, and became all things to all men, yet he made little of
their opinions. He labored abundantly for the edification and salvation of
others, as much as lay in him and as much as he could, but he could not
escape being sometimes judged and despised by others. Therefore, he
committed all to God Who knows all things, and defended himself by his
patience and humility against the tongues of those who spoke unjustly or
thought foolish things and lies, or made accusations against him. Sometimes,
indeed, he did answer them, but only lest his silence scandalize the weak.

Who are you, then, that you should be afraid of mortal man? Today he is
here, tomorrow he is not seen. Fear God and you will not be afraid of the
terrors of men. What can anyone do to you by word or injury? He hurts
himself rather than you, and no matter who he may be he cannot escape the
judgment of God. Keep God before your eyes, therefore, and do not quarrel
with peevish words.

If it seems, then, that you are worsted and that you suffer undeserved
shame, do not repine over it and do not lessen your crown by impatience.
Look instead to heaven, to Me, Who have power to deliver you from all
disgrace and injury, and to render to everyone according to his works.


The Thirty-Seventh Chapter

Pure and Entire Resignation of Self to Obtain Freedom of Heart

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, renounce self and you shall find Me. Give up your own self-will,
your possessions, and you shall always gain. For once you resign yourself
irrevocably, greater grace will be given you.

The Disciple

How often, Lord, shall I resign myself? And in what shall I forsake myself?

The Voice of Christ

Always, at every hour, in small matters as well as great—I except nothing.
In all things I wish you to be stripped of self. How otherwise can you be
mine or I yours unless you be despoiled of your own will both inwardly and
outwardly? The sooner you do this the better it will be for you, and the
more fully and sincerely you do it the more you will please Me and the
greater gain you will merit.

Some there are who resign themselves, but with certain reservation; they do
not trust fully in God and therefore they try to provide for themselves.
Others, again, at first offer all, but afterward are assailed by temptation
and return to what they have renounced, thereby making no progress in
virtue. These will not reach the true liberty of a pure heart nor the grace
of happy friendship with Me unless they first make a full resignation and a
daily sacrifice of themselves. Without this no fruitful union lasts nor will

I have said to you very often, and now I say again: forsake yourself,
renounce yourself and you shall enjoy great inward peace. Give all for all.
Ask nothing, demand nothing in return. Trust purely and without hesitation
in Me, and you shall possess Me. You will be free of heart and darkness will
not overwhelm you.

Strive for this, pray for this, desire this—to be stripped of all
selfishness and naked to follow the naked Jesus, to die to self and live
forever for Me. Then all vain imaginations, all wicked disturbances and
superfluous cares will vanish. Then also immoderate fear will leave you and
inordinate love will die.


The Thirty-Eighth Chapter

The Right Ordering of External Affairs; Recourse to God in Dangers

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, you must strive diligently to be inwardly free, to have mastery
over yourself everywhere, in every external act and occupation, that all
things be subject to you and not you to them, that you be the master and
director of your actions, not a slave or a mere hired servant. You should be
rather a free man and a true Hebrew, arising to the status and freedom of
the children of God who stand above present things to contemplate those
which are eternal; who look upon passing affairs with the left eye and upon
those of heaven with the right; whom temporal things do not so attract that
they cling to them, but who rather put these things to such proper service
as is ordained and instituted by God, the great Workmaster, Who leaves
nothing unordered in His creation.

If, likewise, in every happening you are not content simply with outward
appearances, if you do not regard with carnal eyes things which you see and
hear, but whatever be the affair, enter with Moses into the tabernacle to
ask advice of the Lord, you will sometimes hear the divine answer and return
instructed in many things present and to come. For Moses always had recourse
to the tabernacle for the solution of doubts and questions, and fled to
prayer for support in dangers and the evil deeds of men. So you also should
take refuge in the secret chamber of your heart, begging earnestly for
divine aid.

For this reason, as we read, Joshua and the children of Israel were deceived
by the Gibeonites because they did not first seek counsel of the Lord, but
trusted too much in fair words and hence were deceived by false piety.


The Thirty-Ninth Chapter

A Man Should Not Be Unduly Solicitous About His Affairs

The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, always commit your cause to Me. I will dispose of it rightly in
good time. Await My ordering of it and it will be to your advantage.

The Disciple

Lord, I willingly commit all things to You, for my anxiety can profit me
little. But I would that I were not so concerned about the future, and
instead offered myself without hesitation to Your good pleasure.

The Voice of Christ

My child, it often happens that a man seeks ardently after something he
desires and then when he has attained it he begins to think that it is not
at all desirable; for affections do not remain fixed on the same thing, but
rather flit from one to another. It is no very small matter, therefore, for
a man to forsake himself even in things that are very small.

A man’s true progress consists in denying himself, and the man who has
denied himself is truly free and secure. The old enemy, however, setting
himself against all good, never ceases to tempt them, but day and night
plots dangerous snares to cast the unwary into the net of deceit. “Watch ye
and pray,” says the Lord, “that ye enter not into temptation.” [39]


[39] Matt. 16:41.



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