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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

I TO my beloved: and His turning is towards me. Between friends mutual discourse gives delight, and private counsel is held dear: such as also often takes place between the devout soul and Jesus crucified. She therefore says: “I to my Beloved am what I am: and beside Him I heed no other.” On Him alone I long to gaze: to Him wholly I commend myself; for He has care of me: and His turning doubtless is towards me. I will not then that my eyes be turned aside elsewhere; but that my whole heart be turned unto my Beloved: Who suffered and died for me: yea, through love was wholly torn and pierced with wounds. Formerly, I sought Him an infant wailing in the crib: but now I desire to behold Him hanging on the gibbet. For as then I turned me to worship the new-born child: so now also I turn me to Him to mourn Him, delivered to death for me. In all these my Beloved is to me, Who was given wholly to me: for me was truly born, for me truly afflicted and sacrificed. Once He shed tears of pity: but now He gives His precious blood. Lo, how He loved me: Who delivered Himself to death, to deliver me from death. Should I not justly turn myself to seek, hold and embrace this Beloved to the neglect of all else; Whose unspeakable love unceasingly looks to me? But His turning is towards me in a special manner: when He arouses me with the interior goads of love to renew the memory of His Passion, and demands that I thank Him, and be conformed to Him within: for in nothing did He toil so much for me. There He unveils to me the mystery of redemption: and more fully instructs me to savour of the things of God. For this wisdom, which comes from above, is beyond man: teaching and urging not to glory save in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ: in Whom is my whole salvation and redemption. By Whom also the world is crucified to me and I to the world; that I may delight to say to Him with confidence: ‘I to my Beloved and His turning is towards me.’ Much sweetness seems to me hidden in this word; and if I do not take all: still I do not give up hope of receiving some, if only a very little. Let but the Beloved be turned towards me, and say whatever He please: I know, that He will not speak in vain.

“Tell me, beloved Jesus, the word of Thy mystery: the word of Thy Passion and cross, which Thou hast openly borne in the flesh. For all do not take the word of the cross; which to some indeed seems a scandal, and to others is foolishness: but to me is the power and wisdom of God, the salvation also of the world and life eternal. If any man think otherwise, he is an infidel and foolish: and the judgement of God will go against him.”

“My Passion,” saith the beloved, “is as some precious aromatic herb of most excellent perfume and sweetest taste; which carefully pondered in the heart, as if well crushed in a mortar, diffuses a most powerful odour: healing every disease and sickness of vice. Herein truly thou shalt find the medicine of the soul; and full comfort of every grief. But it behoves that thou OFT exercise thyself THEREIN: and WITH ALL THY HEART STRIVE TO CONFORM THYSELF THERETO. For then thou shalt begin to live religiously, and shalt truly progress in virtue, and die in peace: if in life and death thou dost imitate Me by the Passion and cross. But, alack, I am an abject in My own house: and one cast aside. For I seem truly a stranger and shut out from the hearts of many, for whom My life has no savour; whom My Passion does not touch, or attract, or reach their heart as it should: but, they are entangled in things vain and superfluous. They anxiously consider their own daily misery and want; and study to avoid temporal evils: yet how much I suffered for them, they think but seldom or little. Wretched they are and pitiable, full of cares and complaints: who can suffer little for Me; but are eager to do much for their own will: yea even, for the fulfilment of their own desire, are sensible almost of no toil. Alas, such do not draw saving fruit from My Passion; but because of their excessive softness which they bear towards themselves: they risk great harm to their soul. For if they would be perfectly cured, and freed from passions: with all humility they should take refuge in the true remedies of the soul concealed in My Passion; and by the merit and power of My Passion they would become more strong: and would learn to bear all adversities with patience. My Passion hath no taste, save for them that long and seriously meditate it: and fervently desire to imitate the same. It is the tree of life to them that grasp it: and who follows it well, he shall be blessed in his deed. For he shall gain in the present greater grace: and in the time to come fuller glory.”

“Collect therefore thy senses, and abide with thyself: shutting out all tumult. Then take up a little portion of My Passion, and diligently think it over according to the time and season. For this, brought back to memory each day: will more and more savour, strengthen and inflame him that meditates. For all spiritual progress and perfection will be found therein: but these good things are not tasted, save by them that love and desire to imitate it. To the carnal and worldly it seems bitter and hard: but to the pious and devout sweet and comforting. For who aim at honours, or at gaining earthly possessions, everywhere seeking their own interests; these are not in agreement with My Passion: nor can they attain its internal sweetness. But who seeks to despise the world, and to crucify his flesh with its vices and concupiscences: he discovers the greatest consolation: and he shall experience singular devotion in My Passion. For to such a soul I speak: ‘My dove in the clefts of the rock: in the hollow places of the wall.’ To her also I frequently address those words: which I said to a certain beloved disciple: ‘Bring thy hand hither, and see the place of My nails; and be not cowardly and fearful: but strong and great-souled in imitating My sufferings.’ He also shall have his singular refuge in the open wound of My right side: whosoever strives to deny himself: and to strip himself of all affection for creatures. He shall also become the more free to visit Me in the deep wound of love: the less now he troubles himself of any created comfort. For I draw all his interior to Myself: so that he feels not himself, who feels My wounded heart. Make thyself then a stranger to every earthly occupation: put aside empty anxieties, retire from friends and acquaintance; keep thyself pure and free from all things: that thou mayest enter to thy Beloved through the door of the wounded side. Steep thyself in affection such as the holy women had, who looked upon Me hanging on the cross: and most bitterly mourned Me as their only-begotten child. For then shalt thou truly be able to realize and taste how powerful My Passion is in the heart of the lover, if thou puttest on the bowels of My beloved mother: if thou resolvest with thy whole heart that there is nothing to be loved as I: because from greatness of love, is drawn greatness of compassion.”

“Well and very well Thy words please me, Lord Jesus Christ. Whence I beg Thee, that although I be not able perfectly to imitate Thee in all things: Thou grant me at least a little to compassionate Thee. I will uplift therefore the eyes of my heart to my Lord hanging naked on the cross; I will attentively consider each wound and piercing of Thy body: and with special devotion I will embrace and kiss the wounded hands and the transpierced feet with their nails. Then also I will enter into the open wound of Thy side, as into the chamber of my Beloved sleeping; where I will live in secret, and shall be guarded from all harm: and will rest with happy repose. I will not fear whatever evils are inflicted upon me; nor whatever things can be said or felt in contempt of me, if only Thou art with me and abidest with me. I will put all trust in Thee: and in Thy side day and night will I tarry. Thou art a more faithful friend than all this world: Thou art a wall stronger for defence, than all the host of the angels. And therefore never should I be forgetful of Thee: but as much as my faculty and frailty permit: sorrowing I will be mindful of Thy most bitter Passion. Of which nevertheless no creature is fully and fitly able to think, speak or write enough, even if all should give their time to nothing else; for it is beyond all the comprehension of a creature, that Thou, God, the Creator of all, didst deign to become man and to die for men.”

“I therefore suppliantly pray Thee, Lord, mercifully to look upon me a sinner; and by Thy grace inwardly to enlighten, frequently to visit: to water with tears, to crush and cleanse with compunction; so that whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy precious blood: Thou mayest renew and enkindle by the earnest meditation of Thy Passion. Grant me devoutly to progress therein: and ever to gather thence wholesome remedies for all my passions. Would that it more and more deeply touched my heart than it has hitherto: and affected and instructed me in such manner, as it has often enkindled and touched many holy men and women; so that in my life also the likeness of Thy death might result by the working of the spirit and the mortification of the flesh: and that I might be able to say that memorable word of the Apostle, ‘With Christ I am nailed to the cross.’ And to proclaim also that most loving word against all the carnal and vain-speaking wiseacres of the world: ‘From henceforth let no man be troublesome to me: for I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body.’ The blessed Apostle Paul bore Thy glorious and precious scars in his body: when, besides the daily memory of Thy Passion, with all the affection of his heart, he rejoiced to be afflicted externally, and to be esteemed of no account for Thy name; and whatever he felt grievous in the body, or troublesome in the soul: all this he deemed light and easily bearable from the loving contemplation of Thy wounds. And therefore he exhorted all Thy faithful lovers saying: ‘Let us always bear about in our body the mortification of Jesus: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.’ Strive thou also, my soul, now to do this same, especially these days, wherein the venerable memory of the Passion of the Lord is celebrated in the Church; and with mournful mind and devout attention direct thither the eye of contemplation: where thou knowest Jesus suffered for thee in more grievous pains. Say lovingly with the spouse, mindful ever of thy Spouse crucified from love: ‘I to my Beloved: and His turning is towards me.’ ”

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