This smorgasbord of devotional thought reflects the ever-constant human condition--in need of God.
The kingdom of God is within you," says the Lord. Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Learn to devote yourself to the gifts of God's kingdom. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest.
Since Christ comes to you offering His consolation, prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart.
He takes delight in the beauty and glory of a man's heart, and His visits with the inward man are frequent. His communion is sweet and full of consolation, His peace great and His intimacy wonderful indeed.
Therefore prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you. He says of Himself: "If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him" (see John 14:15-20).
You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a pilgrim and no rest will come until you are wholly united with Christ.
Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your repose? Dwell rather upon heaven. Give but a passing glance to all earthly things.
They all pass away--and you together with them. So lest you be entrapped and perish, fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ.
A Man's Peace
Keep peace with yourself; then you will be able to bring peace to others. Peace is better than even knowledge.
Whereas a passionate man turns even good to evil and is quick to believe evil, the peaceful man, being good himself, turns all things to good.
A man at perfect ease is never suspicious, but a disturbed and discontented spirit is upset by many suspicions.
He neither rests nor permits others to do so. He often says what ought not to be said and leaves undone what ought to be done.
Direct your zeal, therefore, first upon yourself.
It is no great thing to associate with the good and gentle, for such association is naturally pleasing. Everyone enjoys a peaceful life and prefers persons of congenial habits.
But to be able to live at peace with perverse men or with the undisciplined and those who irritate us is a great grace, a praiseworthy and manly thing.
Now, all our peace in this miserable life is found in humbly enduring suffering rather than in being free from it.
He who knows how to suffer will enjoy peace, because he is the conqueror of himself, the master of the world, a friend of Christ and an heir of heaven.
There must be simplicity in a man's intention and purity in his desires. Simplicity leads to God; purity embraces and enjoys Him.
If your heart is free from ill-ordered affection, no good deed will be difficult for you.
If you aim at and seek after nothing but the pleasure of God and the welfare of your neighbor, you will enjoy freedom within.
If your heart were right, then every created thing would be a mirror of life for you and a book of holy teaching, for there is no creature so small and worthless that it does not show forth the goodness of God.
As iron cast into fire loses its rust and becomes glowing white, so he who turns completely to God is stripped of his sluggishness and changed into a new man.
When a man begins to grow lax, he fears a little toil and welcomes external comfort, but when he begins perfectly to conquer himself and to walk bravely in the ways of God, then he thinks those things less difficult which he thought so hard before.
Loving Christ Above All Things
Blessed is he who appreciates what it is to love Jesus and who despises himself for the sake of Jesus. Give up all other love for His, since He wishes to be loved alone above all things.
Love Him then and keep Him as a friend. He will not leave you as others do or let you suffer lasting death. Sometime, whether you will or not, you will have to part with everything.
Cling, therefore, to Jesus in life and death; trust yourself to the glory of Him who alone can help you when all others fail.
You will find, apart from Him, that nearly all the trust you place in men is a total loss. For "all flesh is grass" and all its glory, like the flowers of the field, will fade into oblivion (see 1 Pet. 1:24).
If, however, you seek Jesus in all things, you will surely find Him. Likewise, if you seek yourself, you will find yourself--to your own ruin. For the man who does not seek Jesus does himself much greater harm than the whole world and all his enemies could ever do.
An Eternal Friendship
When Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult. When He is absent, all is hard. When Jesus does not speak within, all other comfort is empty, but if He says only a word, it brings great consolation.
Did not Mary rise at once from her weeping when Martha said to her: "The Master is come, and calls for thee" (see John 11:28)? Happy is the hour when Jesus calls one from tears to joy of spirit.
How dry and hard you are without the friendship of Jesus Christ!
How foolish and vain if you desire anything but Him!
Is it not a greater loss than losing the whole world?
For what, without Jesus, can the world give you?
Life without Him is a relentless hell, but living with Him is a sweet paradise. If Jesus be with you, no enemy can harm you.
He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good above every good, whereas he who loses Him loses more than the whole world.
The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor, whereas no one is so rich as one who lives in His grace.
It is a great art to converse with Jesus and great wisdom to keep Him. Be humble and peaceful, and He will be with you. Be devout and calm, and He will remain with you.
Choose the opposition of the whole world rather than offend Jesus. Of all those who are dear to you, let Him be your special love. Let all things be loved only in His own sake.
Jesus Christ must be loved alone with a special love for He alone, of all friends, is good and faithful. For Him and in Him you must love friends and foes alike, and pray to Him that all may know and love Him.
Never desire special praise, for that belongs to God alone who has no equal. Be pure and free within, unentangled with any creature. Let Jesus be in you and in every good man.
Be pure and free from within, long for the eternal in everything. You must bring to God a clean and open heart if you wish to attend and see how sweet the Lord is.
Truly you will never attain this happiness unless His grace prepares you and draws you on so that you may forsake all things to be united with Him alone.
When God's grace comes, a man can do all things. But when it leaves him he becomes poor and weak, abandoned to affliction. Yet, in this condition he should not despair.
On the contrary, he should await the will of God and bear whatever befalls with praise for Jesus Christ.
For after winter comes summer, after night, the day, and after the storm, a great calm.
Thomas Á. Kempis (1379-1471) was a German monk and a member of the Brothers of the Common Life in the Netherlands, founded by Gerald Groote in 1376. The congregation focused on simplicity and a return to apostolic zeal. Kempis wrote devotionals and biographies, and kept the chronicle at Mount St. Agnes' monastery.