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Thomas a Kempis "Imitation of Christ"

Chapter 42

On the Wonderful Effect of Divine Love

THE DISCIPLE. O Heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, blessed be Your Name for ever, for You have deigned to consider me, the poorest of Your servants. Father of mercies and God of all comfort,(2 Cor. 1:3) I thank You that, unworthy as I am, You sometimes refresh me with Your consolation. Blessing and glory to You, with Your sole-begotten Son and with the Holy Spirit the Comforter, now and through endless ages. You are my glory,( Ps. 3:3) and the joy of my heart;(Ps. 119:111) for You are my hope, and my refuge in time of trouble.(Ps 59:16)

As yet my love is weak, and my virtue imperfect, and I have great need of Your strength and comfort. Therefore, visit me often, I pray, and instruct me in Your holy laws. Set me free from evil passions, and heal my heart from all disorderly affections; that, healed and cleansed in spirit, I may grow able to love, strong to endure, and steadfast to persevere.

Love is a mighty power, a great and complete good; Love alone lightens every burden, and makes the rough places smooth. It bears every hardship as though it were nothing, and renders all bitterness sweet and acceptable. The love of Jesus is noble, and inspires us to great deeds; it moves us always to desire perfection. Love aspires to high things,and is held back by nothing base. Love longs to be free, a stranger to every worldly desire, lest its inner vision become dimmed, and lest worldly self-interest hinder it or ill fortune cast it down. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth; for love is born of God,( I John 4:7)and can rest only in God, above all created things.

Love flies, runs, and leaps for joy; it is free and unrestrained. Love gives all for all, resting in One who is highest above all things, from whom every good flows and proceeds. Love does not regard the gifts, but turns to the Giver of all good gifts. Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds. Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil, attempts things beyond its strength; love sees nothing as impossible, for it feels able to achieve all things. Love therefore does great things; it is strange and effective; while he who lacks love faints and fails.

Love is watchful, and while resting, never sleeps; weary, it is never exhausted; imprisoned, it is never in bonds; alarmed, it is never afraid; like a living flame and a burning torch, it surges upward and surely surmounts every obstacle. Whoever loves God knows well the sound of His voice. A loud cry in the ears of God is that burning love of the soul which exclaims, `My God and my love, You are all mine, and I am Yours.'Deepen Your love in me, O Lord, that I may learn in my inmost heart how sweet it is to love, to be dissolved, and to plunge myself into Your love. Let Your love possess and raise me above myself, with a fervour and wonder beyond imagination. Let me sing the song of love. (Isa. 5:1) Let me follow You, my Beloved, into the heights. Let my soul spend itselfin Your praise, rejoicing for love. Let me love You more than myself, and myself only for Your own sake. Let me love all men who truly love You, as the law of love commands, which shines out from You.

Love is swift, pure, tender, joyful, and pleasant. Love is strong, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, vigorous, and never self-seeking.(I Cor.13:4) For when a man is self-seeking he abandons love. Love is watchful, humble, and upright; Love is not fickle and sentimental, nor is it intent on vanities. It is sober, pure, steadfast, quiet, and guarded in all the senses. Love is submissive and obedient to superiors, mean and contemptible in its own sight, devoted and thankful to God, trusting and hoping in Him even when not enjoying His sweetness; for none can live in love without suffering.

Whoever is not prepared to endure everything, and to stand firmly by the will of the Beloved, is not worthy to be called a lover. A lover must willingly accept every hardship and bitterness for the sake of his Beloved, and must never desert Him because of adversity.

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