Christ the Beloved

Christ: MY SON, thou art not as yet a valiant and prudent lover.

Disciple: Why, O Lord?

Christ: Because thou fallest off from what thou hast begun, upon meeting with a little adversity and too greedily seekest after consolation. A valiant lover stands his ground in temptations and yields not to the crafty persuasions of the enemy. As he is pleased with Me in prosperity so I displease him not when I send adversity.

A prudent lover considers not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver. He looks more at the good will than the value, and prizes his Beloved above all His gifts. A generous lover rests not in the gift, but in Me above every gift. All is not lost if sometimes thou hast not that sense of devotion towards Me or My saints which thou wouldst have.

That good and delightful affection, which thou sometimes perceivest, is the effect of present grace and a certain foretaste of thy heavenly country, but thou must not rely too much upon it, because it goes and comes. But to fight against the evil motions of the mind which arise, and to despise the suggestions of the devil is a sign of virtue and of great merit.

Let not, therefore, strange fancies trouble thee, of what kind soever they be that are suggested to thee. Keep thy resolution firm and thine intention upright towards God. Neither is it an illusion that sometimes thou art rapt into an ecstasy and presently returnest to the accustomed weakness of thy heart. For these thou rather sufferest against thy will than procurest, and as long as thou art displeased with them and dost resist them it is merit and not loss.

Know that the old enemy strives by all means to hinder thy desire after good and to divert thee from every devout exercise, namely from the veneration of the saints, from the pious meditation of My Passion, from the profitable remembrance of thy sins, from keeping a guard upon thine own heart and from a firm purpose of advancing in virtue.

He suggests to thee many evil thoughts that he may weary thee out, and frighten thee that he may withdraw thee from prayer and the reading of devout books. He is displeased with humble confession, and if he could he would cause thee to omit Communion.

Give no credit to him, value him not, although he often lays his deceitful snares in thy way. Charge him with it when he suggests wicked and unclean things and say to him: Begone, unclean spirit; be ashamed, miserable wretch; thou art very filthy indeed to suggest such things as these to Me.

Depart from me, thou wicked imposter, thou shalt have no share in me, but my Jesus will be with me as a valiant warrior and thou shalt be confounded. I would rather die and undergo any torment whatsoever than yield to thy suggestions.

Be silent, I will hear no more of thee, although thou so often strivest to be troublesome to me. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 26:1).

“If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. The Lord is my helper and my Redeemer.” (Ps. 69:6).

Fight like a good soldier, and if sometimes thou fallest through frailty rise up again with greater strength than before, confiding in My more abundant grace, but take great care thou yield not to any vain complacency and pride. Through this many are led into error and sometimes fall into incurable blindness. Let this fall of the proud, who foolishly rely on their own strength, serve thee for a warning and keep thee always humble.

This article is taken from a chapter in The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, which is available from TAN Books.  

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