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Kempis on: Imitating Christ & Despising All Vanities on Earth


Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves; each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.

 

It seems that if I were to write a book about the virtue of humility I would dive right in by defining it and then expounding on why it is a virtue. That is, if I wrote it. But Kempis seems to take a much a wiser direction by first explaining vainglory. Think about it, we are all vain in some form or another. Some of us are extreme, others are subtle. Not many of us are humble. When I refer to humility, I really mean Jesus Christ humility. That said, I'll allow Kempis to do the majority of the explaining.


Kempis:


Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.
Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ. Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone. (my emphasis)

I concluded two things from the above quote.

  1. I realized many years ago I was not an intellectual that could interpret philosophy and theology like Doctors of the church. After reading Holy Scripture I realized it would be best for me to pray for wisdom. Until he was of old age, it worked for Solomon. I pray through the intercession of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, every night, for wisdom.

  2. Referring back to item #1, I'm not an intellectual so explaining Holy Scripture is difficult. This is exactly why I began to rely on "Imitation of Christ". This book is the study of Jesus. I compare this summation to the 2 Greatest Commandments. If we follow these 2 commandments by the letter, we really don't have to be concerned about the 10 listed in Exodus. Think about it, if I truly love God with all my heart, soul, mind and with all my strength, TRULY LOVE HIM, would I want to intentionally miss Holy Mass, say His name in vain, or deny Him in any way? No. If I truly love you, do I want any harm to come to you, speak ill of you, spread rumors or steal from you? No.The same thing with "Imitation of Christ". If I study Jesus and walk in His footsteps, there are many parts of Scripture I don't need to be concerned about explaining. I hope I explained that well enough.


James 3:13: Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom.


Kempis:

What vanity is:
  1. to seek and trust in riches that perish.

  2. to court honor and to be puffed up with pride.

  3. to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come.

  4. to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides.

  5. to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life.

  6. to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come.

Often recall the proverb: "The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing." Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God. (my emphasis)

I know of no human that can be made happy and stay happy. There is nothing on earth that can maintain the level of happiness we will experience in Heaven. Everything on earth has an expiration date. Momento Mori! When I once cared about how people thought of me, I no longer. What is important to me is going to heaven, by, hopefully if I live my life accordingly, bypassing purgatory. It is possible. It takes hard work, dedication to our Lord and prayer; which makes it probable.


James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.


To walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we must adopt Jesus-like humility. It's not an option.


God Bless you

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