First published anonymously in 1418, The Imitation of Christ is a spiritual classic, second only to the Bible in popularity. (The prayer we feature below is a prayer from The Imitation of Christ.) Thomas a Kempis (1379-1471) is the author of this book which teaches its readers the fundamental principles of the spiritual life.
The Imitation of Christ, which was originally written in Latin, is divided into four parts:
- Useful Admonitions for a Spiritual Life
- Admonitions Concerning Spiritual Things
- Of Interior Consolation
- Of the Blessed Sacrament
The late Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. commented: “The Imitation has come to be seen as the major work of the devotio moderna, which was characterized by psychological insight and an orderly study of the path to contemplation and the love of God. If we could construct a composite picture of all great Christians—Catholic or non-Catholic—of the last five hundred years who found The Imitation substantially beneficial, enlightening, and inspiring, we would need no further proof that familiarity with this great classic is an integral part of a mature spiritual life and even a path to holiness.”
Spiritual Gems from The Imitation of Christ
“We must be watchful, especially in the beginning of temptation, because then the enemy is more easily overcome if he is not allowed to come in at all at the door of the soul, but is kept out and resisted at his first knock.”
“Jesus Christ must be loved alone with a special love for He alone, of all friends, is good and faithful. For Him and in Him you must love friends and foes alike, and pray to Him that all may know and love Him.”
“Calmly await the will of God and bear whatever befalls [you] in praise of Jesus Christ, for after winter comes summer, after night, the day, and after the storm, a great calm.”
“Jesus has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him.”
This is written as if Jesus is saying it:
“Consider, my child, the fruit of these labors, how soon they will end and how greatly they will be rewarded, and you will not be saddened by them, but your patience will receive the strongest consolation.”
The Prayer from The Imitation of Christ gives thanks and praise to our Heavenly Father. Everything good we have comes from Him (cf. James 1:17), and it is our blessed privilege and duty to praise God. Maybe this prayer will become one of your favorite prayers!
Thomas a Kempis Prayer (Prayer from The Imitation of Christ)
O Lord God, holy Father, be You now and forever blessed. For as You will, so it has been done; and what You do is good. Let Your servant rejoice in You, not in myself or in any other. You alone are my true joy. You are my hope and my crown. You are my gladness and my honor. O Lord, what has Your servant but what has been received from You without deserving it? Yours are all things that You have given and have made. Amen.