CONSIDER the lively examples set us by the saints, who possessed the light of true perfection and religion, and you will see how little, how nearly nothing, we do. What, alas, is our life, compared with theirs? The saints and friends of Christ served the Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, in work and fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in prayers and holy meditations, in persecutions and many afflictions. How many and severe were the trials they suffered—the Apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and all the rest who willed to follow in the footsteps of Christ! They hated their lives on earth that they might have life in eternity.
How strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led in the desert! What long and grave temptations they suffered! How often were they beset by the enemy! What frequent and ardent prayers they offered to God! What rigorous fasts they observed! How great their zeal and their love for spiritual perfection! How brave the fight they waged to master their evil habits! What pure and straightforward purpose they showed toward God! By day they labored and by night they spent themselves in long prayers. Even at work they did not cease from mental prayer. They used all their time profitably; every hour seemed too short for serving God, and in the great sweetness of contemplation, they forgot even their bodily needs.
To Be Continued Next Week
The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, is a Christian devotional book first composed in Medieval Latin as De Imitatione Christi (c. 1418–1427). The devotional text is divided into four books of detailed spiritual instructions. The devotional approach of The Imitation of Christ emphasizes the interior life and withdrawal from the mundanities of the world, as opposed to the active imitation of Christ practiced by other friars. The Imitation is perhaps the most widely read Christian devotional work after the Bible, and is regarded as a devotional and religious classic. The book was written anonymously in Latin in the Netherlands c. 1418–1427. Its popularity was immediate, and after the first printed edition in 1471-72, it was printed in 745 editions before 1650. Apart from the Bible, no book had been translated into more languages than the Imitation of Christ at the time.