Imitation of Christ – Book 1, Ch.13-16, pt.1

This Tuesday evening we are continuing our discussion of Thomas a Kempis’ book The Imitation of Christ. This week we will be reading chapters 13 through 16 of Book 1. As you read through each of these meditations, please take your time to talk with God, read the chapter, listen to God, and be led by the Spirit into imitating Christ.

As you read through Chapter 13 on Resisting Temptation think through the nature of temptation and whether and when your temptations arise internally from a bent and rebellious will or from external forces.  If you remember back to our study last year of Archbishop Sheen’s discussion of the seven capital sins, six of these sins (sloth excluded) arise from a misdirection of the love that we owe to God. The sins of pride, envy, and wrath have their root in the inordinate love of oneself, whereas greed, lust, and gluttony are the inordinate love of things.  In this way, temptation arises within us and is part of our fallen human nature. Alternatively, sin can be seen as arising externally. In his letter to Augustine of Canterbury (the first ABC), Pope Gregory the Great writes “For all sin is fulfilled in three ways, viz., by suggestion, by delight, and by consent. Suggestion is occasioned by the Devil, delight is from the flesh, and consent from the mind. For the serpent suggested the first offence; and Eve, as flesh was delighted with it; but Adam consented, as the spirit, or mind.” Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Bk 1, ch.27).  As you read through this chapter, contemplate the nature and source of the temptation that leads you into sin.

Within chapter 14, á Kempis warns us from judging others.  This isn’t a commandment to keep, as if we could simply will ourselves not to judge; but rather it is the fruit of a humble heart turned towards God and with love towards your neighbor.  In the Orthodox liturgy, the pre-communion prayer (similar to the Prayer of Humble Access in the BCP) begins with the statement “I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” See, 1 Tim 1:15.  The key to avoiding hasty judgment against others is simply to always regard others as better than yourself. Phil. 2:3.  In his treatise On Repentance, Ambrose of Milan writes “Grant me to have compassion every time that I witness the fall of a sinner. Let me not arrogantly reprove him, but let me suffer and weep with him. Do thou cause me when I weep for my neighbour to weep for myself as well, and to apply to myself the words: ‘the harlot is more righteous than I.’” (Bk 2, ch 73).

Dinner at is 6. The menu is pesto fettuccini. Discussion about 6:45. Please bring a friend. Hope to see you here.

If you rely more upon your intelligence or industry than upon the virtue of submission to Jesus Christ, you will hardly, and in any case, slowly, become an enlightened man. God wants us to be completely subject to Him and, through ardent love, to rise above all human wisdom.

Book 1, chapter 14.

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