Saturday, July 21, 2007

Read a Medieval Monk

A while back, I found the book Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis on line. I printed most of it and read it. I was awed. It is a wonderful book and one that every Christian would do well to read as a devotional.

I few months back I went to the local Catholic bookstore to find a copy of this book. I thought that since Thomas was a medieval monk a Catholic bookstore would be the most likely place to find a copy on the shelf. They didn't have it in stock so I ordered it.

I did this to give it to a friend who is struggling with many things in this life. After giving the copy away, I decided to get my own copy. I went back to the same store and bought a copy for my own library. It is like a owning a precious jewel.

This morning I woke as Lisa was getting ready for work. I watched a little C-span as I ate breakfast. I then made a pot of French press coffee and went on the porch to read and drink my coffee. First I read the Scriptures; this morning I was reading in St. Paul’s Epistles to the Romans.

Then I took up my new copy of the Imitation of Christ to read as my morning devotion. Thomas was a learned man and wrote a good deal. He did not despise learning, though it would be easy to misquote him and pretend that he does, because Thomas does believe that learning, apart from a godly life, was worse than useless to the soul of man, and on that point he is obviously correct.

In chapter one, of book one he makes this point very clear. He writes, “Of what uses is it to discourse on the Trinity, if you lack humility and thereby displease the Trinity? Lofty words do not make a man just or holy; but a good life makes him dear to God. I would rather feel contrition than be able to define it.

In chapter two he writes, “A humble countryman who serves God is more pleasing to Him than a conceited intellectual who knows the course of the stars, but neglects his own soul. A man who truly knows himself realises his own worthlessness and takes no pleasure in the praise of men.” Thomas paraphrases our Lord when he says. “The more complete and excellent your knowledge, the more severe will be God’s judgement on you, unless your life be the more holy.”

Read Imitations of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. It was written nearly six hundred years ago and it contains many insights and much wisdom that is sorely needed today.

Coram Deo,

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