Imitation of Christ – Book 3, Ch.1-5, pt.2

This evening we are beginning Book III of Thomas á Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ.  In this book, á Kempis leads us in the “Unitive Way” of becoming one with Christ.  For in becoming one with him, we participate in his divine nature and that perfect image of God is restored within us.  Our calling is to be united with Christ and become one with him. 1 Cor. 6:17.  Á Kempis emphasizes that the beginning of this unity is to listen for and to Jesus.  It is to be silent, not only with our lips but in our hearts, so that we may hear him call to us.  However, at least for me, this silence of the mind is difficult if not impossible.  Writing in the 7th century, St. Isaac of Nineveh addresses the issue of the wandering mind in the silence of contemplative prayer.   St. Isaac writes that we should not oppose the wanderings of the mind, which is impossible, but appropriately direct those wanderings:

When you are in prayer, do not ask to be entirely free of mental wandering, which is impossible, but seek to wander following something that is good. For even pure prayer consists in a wandering which follows something – but this wandering is excellent, seeing that the search for something good is excellent.

Wandering is bad when someone is distracted by empty thoughts or by pondering on something bad, and so he thinks evil thoughts when he is praying to God.

Wandering is good when the mind wanders on God during the entire extent of his prayer, on God’s glory and majesty, stemming from a recollection of the Scriptures, from an understanding of the divine utterances and holy words of the Spirit.

For we do not consider as alien to purity of prayer and detrimental to recollection of thoughts in prayer any profitable recollection that may spring up from the Writings of the Spirit, resulting in insights and spiritual understanding of the divine world during the time of prayer. For someone to examine and think in a recollected manner about the object of his supplication and the request of his prayer is an excellent kind of prayer, provided it is consistent with the intention of the Lord’s commandment. This kind of recollection of the mind is very good.

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

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:25-32

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