Thomas à Kempis, (c. 1380 – 25 July 1471) was a Dutch canon regular of the late medieval period and the author of The Imitation of Christ, one of the most popular and best known Christian books on devotion. Some quotes given here show why the book has become such a touchstone of wisdom:
'If you cannot recollect yourself continuously, do so once a day at least, in the morning or in the evening. In the morning make a resolution and in the evening examine yourself on what you have said this day, what you have done and thought, for in these things perhaps you have often offended God and those about you.'
‘Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.'
'On the day of judgment, it will be demanded of us not what we have read, but what we have done.'
'If God were our one and only desire we would not be so easily upset when our opinions do not find outside acceptance.'
'He is not truly patient who will only suffer as far as seems right to him and from whom he pleases. The truly patient man considers not by whom he is tried, one above him, or by an equal, or by an inferior, whether by a good and holy man or by a perverse and unworthy, but from every creature. He gratefully accepts all from the hand of God and counts it gain.'
'A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.'
'Look at our fathers in the old days, living masterpieces as they are and shining examples of true religion; and see how feeble our own achievement is, almost nothing. Heaven help us, what is our life in comparison with theirs?'
'It is not really a small thing when in small things we resist self.'
'At the least, bear patiently, if thou canst not joyfully. And although thou be very unwilling to hear it, and feel indignation, yet check thyself, and suffer no unadvised word to come forth from thy lips, whereby the little ones may be offended. Soon the storm which hath been raised shall be stilled, and inward grief shall be sweetened by returning grace.'
'Wherever you go, there you are.'
'I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.'
'All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace.'
'As long as you live, you will be subject to change, whether you will it or not - now glad, now sorrowful; now pleased, now displeased; now devout, now undevout; now vigorous, now slothful; now gloomy, now merry. But a wise man who is well taught in spiritual labour stands unshaken in all such things, and heeds little what he feels, or from what side the wind of instability blows.'
'Jesus has now many lovers of the heavenly kingdom but few bearers of His cross.'
'Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit.'
'God hath thus ordered it, that we may learn to bear one another’s burdens; for no man is without fault, no man without his burden, no man sufficient of himself, no man wise enough of himself; but we ought to bear with one another, comfort one another, help, instruct, and admonish one another.'
'Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (Thus passes the glory of the world).'
'By two wings is man lifted above earthly things, even by simplicity and purity. Simplicity ought to be in the intention, purity in the affection.'
'It is good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory.'
'Learned arguments do not make a man holy and righteous, whereas a good life makes him dear to God.'
'Hence we must support one another, console one another, mutually help, counsel, and advise, for the measure of every man’s virtue is best revealed in time of adversity — adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.'
'The Lord bestows his blessings there, where he finds the vessels empty.'
'Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or wider, nothing is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing better in heaven or on earth, for love is born of God and cannot rest except in God, Who is created above all things.'
'God often grants in a moment what He has long denied.'
'Let temporal things be in the use, eternal things in the desire.'
'If you wish to draw profit, read with humility, simplicity, and faith, and never with the design of gaining a reputation for learning.'