Christ: My Son, hear My words, words most sweet, exceeding all the learning of the philosophers and of the wise men of this world. My words are spirit and life (John 6:69), and not to be estimated by the sense of man. They are not intended to gratify a vain self-complacency, but are to be heard in silence and received with all humility and great affection.
Disciple: And I said: “Blessed is the man whom thou shalt instruct, O Lord, and shalt teach him thy law, that thou mayst give him rest from the evil days” (Ps. 93:12-13) and that he may not be desolate upon earth.
Christ: It is I who have taught the prophets from the beginning and even till now I cease not to speak to all, but many are deaf to My voice and hard. The greater number listen more willingly to the world than to God, and more readily follow the desire of the flesh than the good will of God. The world promises things temporal and of small value and is served with great eagerness; I promise things most excellent and everlasting and men’s hearts are not moved. Who is there that serves and obeys Me in all things with that great care with which the world and its lords are served? “Be thou ashamed, O Sidon,” saith the sea. (Is. 23:4).
And if thou ask why, hear the reason. For a small living men run a great way, for eternal life many will scarce move a single foot from the ground. An inconsiderable gain is sought after; for one penny sometimes men shamefully quarrel, they are not afraid to toil day and night for a trifle or some slight promise.
But, alas, for an unchangeable good, for an inestimable reward, for the highest honor and never-ending glory they are unwilling to take the least pains. Be ashamed then thou slothful servant who art so apt to complain, seeing that they are more ready to labor for death than thou for life. They rejoice more in running after vanity than thou in the pursuit of truth. And indeed they are sometimes frustrated of their hopes, but My promise deceives no man nor sends away empty him that trusts in Me. What I have promised I will give, what I have said I will make good, provided a man continue to the end faithful in My love. I am the rewarder of all the good and the strong trier of all the devout.
Write My words in thy heart and think diligently on them, for they will be very necessary in the time of temptation. What thou understandest not when thou readest thou shalt know in the day of visitation. I am accustomed to visit My elect in two ways, that is by trial and by comfort. And I read them daily two lessons, one to rebuke their vices, the other to exhort them to the increase of virtues. He that hath My words and slighteth them, hath that which shall condemn him at the last day. (John 12:48).
A Prayer to Impose the Grace of Devotion
O Lord, my God, Thou art all my good, and who am I that I should dare speak to Thee?
I am Thy most poor servant and a wretched little worm, much more poor and contemptible than I can conceive or dare express. Yet remember, O Lord, I am nothing, I have nothing can do nothing. (2 Cor. 12:11). Thou alone art good, just and holy; Thou canst do all things; Thou givest all things; Thou fillest all things, leaving only the sinner empty. Remember Thy tender mercies and fill my heart with Thy grace, Thou Who wilt not have Thy works to be empty.
How can I support myself in this wretched life, unless Thy mercy and grace strengthen me?
Turn not Thy face from me; delay not Thy visitation; withdraw not Thy comfort, lest my soul become as earth without water unto Thee. (Ps. 142:6). O Lord, teach me to do Thy will (Ps. 142:10), teach me to converse worthily and humbly in Thy sight, for Thou art my Wisdom, Who knowest me in truth and didst know me before the world was made and before I was born in the world. (Ps. 138:16).
This article is taken from a chapter in The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, which is available from TAN Books.