Thursday, November 6, 2014

That it is sweet to despise the world and to serve God. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 3, Chapter 10


Chapter 10: That it is sweet to despise the world and to serve God.

Now will I speak again, O my Lord, and hold not my peace; I will
say in the ears of my God, my Lord, and my King, who is exalted
above all, Oh how plentiful is Thy goodness which Thou hast laid
up for them that fear Thee! But what art Thou to those who
love Thee? What to those who serve Thee with their whole heart?
Truly unspeakable is the sweetness of the contemplation of Thee,
which Thou bestowest upon those who love Thee. In this, most of
all, Thou hast showed me the sweetness of Thy charity, that when I
was not, Thou madest me, and when I wandered far from Thee, Thou
broughtest me back that I might serve Thee, and commandedst me to
love Thee.
O Fountain of perpetual love, what shall I say concerning
Thee? How shall I be unmindful of Thee, who didst vouchsafe to
remember me, even after I pined away and perished? Thou hast had
mercy beyond all hope upon Thy servant, and hast showed Thy grace
and friendship beyond all deserving. What reward shall I render
Thee for this Thy grace? For it is not given unto all to
renounce this world and its affairs, and to take up a religious
life. For is it a great thing that I should serve Thee, whom
every creature ought to serve? It ought not to seem a great
thing to me to serve Thee; but rather this appeareth to me a
great and wonderful thing, that Thou vouchsafest to receive as
Thy servant one so poor and unworthy, and to join him unto Thy
chosen servants.
Behold all things which I have are Thine, and with them I
serve Thee. And yet verily it is Thou who servest me, rather
than I Thee. Behold the heaven and the earth which Thou hast
created for the service of men; they are at Thy bidding, and
perform daily whatsoever Thou dost command. Yea, and this is
little; for Thou hast even ordained the Angels for the service of
man. But it surpasseth even all these things, that Thou Thyself
didst vouchsafe to minister unto man, and didst promise that Thou
wouldest give Thyself unto him.
What shall I render unto Thee for all these Thy manifold
mercies? Oh that I were able to serve Thee all the days of my
life! Oh that even for one day I were enabled to do Thee service
worthy of Thyself! For verily Thou art worthy of all service,
all honour, and praise without end. Verily Thou art my God, and
I am Thy poor servant, who am bound to serve Thee with all my
strength, nor ought I ever to grow weary of Thy praise. This is
my wish, this is my exceeding great desire, and whatsoever is
lacking to me, vouchsafe Thou to supply.
It is great honour, great glory to serve Thee, and to despise
all for Thy sake. For they shall have great grace who of their
own will shall submit themselves to Thy most holy service. They
who for Thy love have cast away every carnal delight shall find
the sweetest consolation of the Holy Ghost. They who enter the
narrow way of life for Thy Name’s sake, and have put away all
worldly cares, shall attain great liberty of spirit.
Oh grateful and delightsome service of God, whereby man is
made truly free and holy! Oh sacred condition of the religious
servant, which maketh man equal to the Angels, well-pleasing unto
God, terrible to evil spirits, and acceptable to all faithful
ones! Oh service to be embraced and ever desired, in which the
highest good is promised, and joy is gained which shall remain
for evermore!

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