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"The Imitation of Christ"

These pearls of wisdom, which inspire us and which move us to reflection, set us on the right path
that always lead us back to the heart of faith. They help us to grow in the love of God and of neighbor.
Here then is the program of this astonishing little book, "The Imitation of Christ".
Published first in Latin in the seventeenth century, it remains a classic of the spiritual life
Translation courtesy of Daniel Bonner - January 2007

I. 14. Against Rash Judgments.
Turn your eyes within yourself and take care not to judge the actions of others. In judging others, one labors in vain, most often making a fool of oneself and liable to grave sin. It is always a fruitful discipline to examine your own conscience and to judge yourself.
I. 19. The Exercises of a Christian.
The life of a true Christian must be a continuing quest for virtue, with the aim to be such interiorly as he appears to be before men. Indeed, he must be better interiorly than he appears to the world, for he lives in the sight of God who sees all things.

II. 10. Gratitude for God's Grace.
Why do you seek rest, seeing that you must labor? Be ready rather to bear the cross than to be merry. Who in this life would refuse the sweetness of spiritual blessings if it were possible to enjoy them continuously? For those blessings surpass all the delights of the world and all its carnal pleasures.
III. 43. Against Vain and Worldly Learning.
Do not be moved by the beauty and subtlety of men's discourse, "for the kingdom of God is not in words but in power."(I Cor. 4:20)
Attend to my words, which embrace hearts and purify spirits and inspire kindness and consolation in diverse ways.
III. 31. What is more profoundly peaceful than the simple gaze directed to Christ himself?
And what person is more free that him who desires nothing else on earth? By self-denial, a man rises above worldly concerns and can thenceforth ever contemplate God the Creator, whose rule is universal. He who is detached from worldliness dwells in blissful contemplation of the Lord. Those who are bound to any earthly goal whatsoever will be unable to devote themselves freely to the service of God.

II. 12. The Royal Way of the Holy Cross.
Renounce thyself, take up thy cross and follow Jesus. (Luke, 9:23). This language can seem harsh, but far harder will it be to hear these last words: "Begone from me, ye accursed, into eternal fire." In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection against our enemies, in the cross is the source of eternal happiness.

III. 43. (Continued from above section)
Never read to seem wiser or more learned; but study to mortify your passions, for this will be more useful than the knowledge of many difficult questions.

III. 31. (Continued from above section)
Few are the contemplatives in any age, for few strive to draw themselves wholly away from swiftly passing worldly pursuits. Great grace is necessary to lift a soul and bear it beyond itself. Thus it is, that for anyone not so raised up in spirit, perfectly united to God, all that he can know or possess amounts to nothing.
IV. 15. The grace of devotion is obtained by the practice of humility and self-abnegation. To obtain this grace of devotion, seek it with ardor, pray for it without ceasing, wait patiently and confidently on God's time to visit you. Welcome it with gratitude when it comes, and then sustain it with humility and vigilance.
III. 43.(Continued from above section)
After having read and learned much, you must always return to this one principle: "It is I who give wisdom to mankind" (PS. XCIII. 10) and who imparts to children more sublime knowledge than man can give. Those to whom I speak will soon be wise and they will advance far into the life of the spirit.
III. 57. Do not become downcast if at times
you should fall.

You know how much better are patience and humility in adversity than consolation and devotion in times of prosperity. Indeed, in the good times, you come to the help of others, finding words of comfort for them. But should misfortune strike you suddenly, you may lose your power to console. You know well your extreme fragility and you often experience it in matters of least importance; yet all such things happen for your own good.
II. 6. The Joy of a Good Conscience.
Herein is the glory of a good man, and the witness of a good conscience. Have a good conscience and you will always be joyful. A good conscience can well sustain many burdens and with it one can rejoice even under adversity. An evil conscience is always ill at ease and unquiet. If your heart never reproaches you, you will find enduring peace. You will only have happiness when you lives virtuously. Evildoers are never truly joyful and never experience inner peace, for "There is no joy for the impious." (IS. XLVIII. 22)


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