Today is the feast day of Thomas à Kempis (1379-1471) in the Episcopal Church's calendar.
The German-Dutch spiritual writer was a member of a strict religious community that reacted against the corruption of the medieval church. He lived quietly, spending his time in prayer, writing and copying – Thomas copied the whole Bible four times, one of them still preserved at Darmstadt in Germany.
One of his jobs was to instruct novices in the community. He wrote four booklets between 1420 and 1427 which were published under the title The Imitation of Christ. It's extraordinarily rich in insight and wisdom, focusing on devotion to Christ rather than on controversy or dogmatic theology, and is one of the best-selling books of all time. Among its devotees was John Wesley, who read it and commented, 'The nature and extent of Inward Religion, the religion of the heart, now appeared to me in a stronger light than ever it had done before.'
Here are quotes from The Imitation of Christ.
1. He who loves with purity considers not the gift of the lover, but the love of the giver.
2. At the Day of Judgment, we shall be asked not what we have read, but what we have done.
3. If you will receive profit, read with humility, simplicity, and faith, and seek not at any time the fame of being learned.
4. Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; without the life, there is no living.
5. Man proposes, but God disposes.
6. Of two evils, the lesser is always to be chosen.
7. Be assured, if you knew all, you would pardon all.
8. Jesus has now many lovers of the heavenly kingdom but few bearers of His cross.
9. Remember that lost time does not return.
10. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility.
11. For a small reward, a man will hurry away on a long journey; while for eternal life, many will hardly take a single step.