"This is my hope, my only consolation, to flee unto thee in every tribulation, to trust in thee, to call upon thee from my heart, and to wait patiently for thy consolation."
The second of my four books for spiritual formation is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. The introduction to my copy starts off by saying that 21st century readers may wonder why they are bothering, which hardly seems like a recommendation! I have to admit I finished it with a certain sense of relief, but there were some hidden gems along the way. It's rather like reading the book of Proverbs. There's no story or explanation of a theme, but there are astute observations, honest prayers, the occasional flash of humour, and quite a lot of repetition.
Thomas à Kempis was a priest in an Augustinian monastery in the 1400s. Presumably his life conditions favoured the silence and solitude that he advocates for in The Imitation of Christ, but also gave him opportunities to observe conflict in the community, which he writes about too. His deep love for Jesus shines through the book, but so do his constant worry about his own spiritual condition, and his grief at the state of the world.
The Imitation of Christ is divided into four books, with numbered chapters within each book, so I will refer to Book 3, chapter 24 as 3:24, for example.
What are the main themes of this book?
What did you like about the book?
What did you find difficult?
Did you learn something new?
Will you do something differently since reading this book?
What is one thing you will remember?
- Endeavour rather to do the will of another than thine own.
- Choose always to have less rather than more.
- Seek always the lowest place, and to be inferior to every one.
- Wish always, and pray, that the will of God may be wholly fulfilled in thee.