Posted by: liturgicalyear | January 13, 2011

In Imitation of Christ

After writing my last post, I pondered my own suggestion about approaching this ordinary time between seasons with a plan so that the time is fruitful.  As a result, I decided to go back and re-read In Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis.  I poked around the book, which is written in four volumes, and decided to start, crazy as it might sound, at the beginning with Book One, Chapter One. 

Having read it, I walked away with two clear directives for this ordinary time:  to “study the life of Jesus Christ” and to grow in humility.  Studying the life of Christ is the easy part.  Growing in humility will, no doubt, be painful.  God knows where I most need to exercise humility and that only He can make that change in me.  My job is to pray and submit.  I found a Litany of Humility written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X, which I will make my daily prayer.  I pray in confidence that Holy Spirit will guide me in each moment to turn my gaze and my thoughts to Jesus, whose yoke is easy and burden light.

I invite you to read these words with me, meditate on them, and take them to heart as you move through your day and through this ordinary season.

May God bless you and keep you, Anne

 

BOOK ONE

THOUGHTS HELPFUL IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL

The First Chapter

IMITATING CHRIST AND DESPISING ALL VANITIES ON EARTH

“HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord.  By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.

The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.

This is the greatest wisdom — to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides.

Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing.” Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God.

 

LITANY OF HUMILITY

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
         Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

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