Saturday, October 24, 2015

QOTM…*: Thomas à Kempis -- Imitating Christ, Discipleship through Nature

(*Quote of the Month)

If indeed thy heart is right, then 
every creature be to thee a mirror 
of life and a book of holy doctrine.
                    ~~ Thomas à Kempis, 15th C.      

Thomas à Kempis (Thomas of Kempen) was a German monk, priest and scholar, author of The Imitation of Christ, who lived from 1380 to 1471. Devout from a very young age and schooled in a monastery of which his older brother was prior, he entered the monastery of Mount St. Agnes in Holland as a nineteen-year-old, living there for seventy-two years until his death. Members of his monastic order, the Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life, were devoted to love for God, prayer and simplicity; they were also forbidden to beg and required to earn a living with their hands. Thomas’ pursuit of support as a tutor of the young and a copyist, an extremely tedious and disciplined profession, was typical of the clerics of the house. Yet in these things he not only excelled above his peers, but the study it all required guided his commitment to devotional writings on issues of basic, whole-hearted Christian discipleship.

Imitation is considered one of the most popular and treasured of devotional books in all Christian history, second in translation numbers only to the Bible itself. It is actually a very brief work consisting of several ‘booklets’ he wrote for students over the course of seven years in the 1420’s, and then compiled into the larger book, the title being derived from the first chapter of the first booklet. Its simple, winsome focus? How to love God. Devoid of scholarly language and pretensions, it reads like fireside advice from a Godly grandparent. Another quote worth remembering – “Without the Way, there is no going; without the Truth, there is no knowing; without the Life, there is no living,” derived, of course, from John 14:6. The book is in the public domain, so may be freely downloaded or read online at this link.

Numerous other writers of devotional classics, as I have written before, make reference to nature as the book of God, a ‘book’ often used by Christ himself. I enjoyed coming across this quote this week, and pray you do, too.

~~ RGM, October 23, 2015

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