Monday, June 25, 2012

How to begin each day the Thomas a Kempis Way



Thumbing through my pocket-sized version of St Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ last night at the end of a long and weary day, I came across the following few lines:


Everyday we ought to renew our purpose, and stir ourselves up to fervour, as if it were the first day of our conversion. 


And to say: Help me, O Lord God, in my good purpose, and in they holy service, and grant that I may this day begin indeed, since what I have done hitherto is nothing. 


As our purpose is, so will our progress be.
XIX: 1,2


What an excellent way for each of us to begin the day. Most of us, I think, are soothed by an unmerited complacency about our progress as followers of Christ. We are content to judge ourselves as being 'not too bad.' But we measure ourselves according to some sort of self-created cosmic scale, where on the 'bad' end we place the worst criminals we can think of: murderers, rapists, child-abusers. And by that standard we are indeed 'not too bad.' 


But at the other end of the scale, if we are to be consistent, are the saints. And the saints, like St Thomas, know we can never afford to be complacent. We must fight against self-satisfaction, being pleased with ourselves, with thinking we are good enough. We must struggle and strive daily. And what better way to remind ourselves of how much more we have to do than to begin each day with words to the effect: forgive me for all my past failings, Lord; help me to do better today.


St Thomas and saints like him felt they could not do otherwise. How much more should we?


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