Thomas à Kempis (1380 – July 25, 1471) was a Renaissance Roman Catholic monk and author of Imitation of Christ, one of the best known Christian books on devotion.He was born at Kempen, Germany (40 miles northwest of Cologne) in 1380 and died near Zwolle (52 miles east-north-east of Amsterdam) in 1471. His paternal name was Hemerken or Hämmerlein, “little hammer.”Thomas à Kempis belonged to the school of mystics who were scattered along the Rhine from Switzerland to Strasburg and Cologne and in the Netherlands. He was a follower of Geert Groote and Florentius Radewijns, the founders of the Brethren of the Common Life.
What can the world offer you, without Jesus? To be without Jesus is hell most grievous; to be with Jesus is to know the sweetness of heaven. If Jesus is with you, no enemy can harm you. Whoever finds Jesus, finds a rich treasure, and a good above every good. He who loses Jesus, loses much indeed, and more that the whole world. Poorest of all men is he who lives without Jesus, and richest of all is he who stands in favor with Jesus. It is great art to know how to hold converse with Jesus, and to know how to keep Jesus is wisdom indeed. Be humble and a man of peace, and Jesus will abide with you. But if you turn aside to worldly things, you will soon cause Jesus to leave you, and you will lose his grace. And if you drive him away and lose him, with whom may you take refuge, and whom will you seek for your friend? Without a friend, you cannot live happily, and if Jesus is not your best friend, you will be exceedingly sad and lonely; so it is foolish to trust or delight in any other. It is better to have the whole world as your enemy, than offend Jesus. Therefore, of all dear friends, let Jesus be loved first and above all. Love all men for Jesus’ sake, but Jesus for himself
Be thankful for the smallest blessing, and you will deserve to receive greater. Value the least gifts no loess than the greatest, and simple graces as especial favors. If you remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the most high God. Even if he awards punishment and pain, accept them gladly, for whatever he allows to befall us is always for our salvation.
There was once a man who was very anxious, and wavered between fear and hope. One day, overcome with sadness, he lay prostrate in prayer before the altar in church, and pondering these matters in his mind, said, ‘Oh, if only I knew that I should always persevere!’ then he heard in his heart an answer form God: ‘if you knew this, what would you do? Do now what you would then, and all will be well.’ So, comforted and strengthened, he committed himself to the will of God, and his anxious uncertainty vanished. Nor did he wish any longer to inquire into what would happen to him, but strove the more earnestly to learn the perfect and acceptable will of God, whenever he began or undertook any good work.
There is no other way to life and to true inner peace, than the way of the Cross, and of daily self-denial. Go where you will, seek what you will; you will find no higher way above nor safer way below than the road of the Holy Cross. Arrange and order all things to your own ideas and wishes, yet you will still find suffering to endure, whether you will or not; so you will always find the Cross…if you bear the Cross willingly, it will bear you and lead you to your desired goal, where pain shall be no more; but it will not be in this life. If you bear the cross unwillingly, you make it a burden, and load yourself more heavily; but you must bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will certainly find another, and perhaps a heavier… so long as suffering is grievous to you and you seek to escape it, so long will it go ill with you, for the trouble you try to escape will pursue you everywhere…be assured of this, that you must live a dying life. And the more completely a man dies to self, the more he begins to live to God.
whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,” says the Lord. By these words Christ advises us to imitate his life and habits if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our primary effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.
A man must strive long and mightily within himself, before he can learn fully to master himself.
Yet we must be watchful, especially in the beginning of the temptation, for the enemy is then more easily overcome, if he is not suffered to enter the door of our hearts, but is resisted without the gate at his first knock
A man is blessed if he is able to keep the hour of his death continually before his eyes, and every day to hold himself in readiness for death.
Always be ready; always live in such a way that death can never find you unprepared
Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”
There is no order so holy, no place so secret…where there will be no temptation
Jesus now has many lovers of his heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of his cross.
If we would endeavor, like men of courage, to stand in the battle, surely we would feel the favorable assistance of God from heaven. For he who giveth us occasion to fight, to the end we may get the victory, is ready to succor those who fight manfully, and do trust in his grace.
As Thomas a Kempis writes in The Imitation of Christ, “To many the saying, ‘Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow Me,’ seems hard, but it will be much harder to hear that final word: ‘Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.'” We will find that the cost demanded of us is no less than a radical submission to the exclusive lordship of Jesus. However, the reward comes when we find our house still standing after the final storm leaves and when the sun breaks through again.