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The Imitation of Christ

April 18, 2011

Trevin Wax posts this excerpt from Thomas a Kempis’ classic The Imitation of Christ:

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.
I am your servant.
Give me understanding that I may know your ordinances.
Incline my heart to your commands.
Let your speech distill as the dew.

The children of Israel once said to Moses:
“Speak to us and we will hear you. Don’t let the Lord speak to us, lest we die.”

Not so, Lord, not so do I pray.
Rather with Samuel the prophet I entreat humbly and earnestly:
“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak to me;
but you speak, O Lord God, who inspired and enlightened all the prophets;
for you alone, without them, can instruct me perfectly,
whereas they, without you, can do nothing.
They, indeed, utter fine words,
but they cannot impart the spirit.
They do indeed speak beautifully,
but if you remain silent they cannot inflame the heart.
They deliver the message;
you lay bare the sense.
They place before us mysteries,
but you unlock their meaning.
They proclaim commandments;
you help us to keep them.
They point out the way;
you give strength for the journey.
They work only outwardly;
you instruct and enlighten our hearts.
They water on the outside;
you give the increase.
They cry out words;
You give understanding to the hearer.

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