The Voice of Christ:
My child, My grace is precious. It does not allow Itself to be mixed with external things or with earthly consolations. Cast away all obstacles to grace, therefore, if you wish to receive Its infusion.
Seek to retire within yourself. Love to dwell alone with yourself. Seek no man’s conversation, but rather pour forth devout prayer to God that you may keep your mind contrite and your heart pure.
Consider the whole world as nothing. Prefer attendance upon God to all outward occupation, for you cannot attend upon Me and at the same time take delight in external things. You must remove yourself from acquaintances and from dear friends, and keep your mind free of all temporal consolation. Thus is blessed Apostle St. Peter begs the faithful of Christ to keep themselves as strangers and pilgrims in the world (1 Peter 2:11).
– Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ, Book 3, Section 53
When I read this passage from Thomas a Kempis’ work, Imitation of Christ, one of my first thoughts regarding this section was that some people may think it unnecessarily harsh. This thought was soon followed by the question “why?”. Why would this passage be considered harsh?
It is commonly known that the demand of love is great. As a thought experiment, I tried reading this passage again but this time from a point of view of one lover to another. When I did this I realised that this passage is not harsh at all. Instead, I saw that it describes the requirements of a passionate love; a love desires absolute communion with the other, not out of need or desperation, but out of a sheer willingness to be a gift to the other.
Would we say that it is harsh to expect our spouse’s full attention when we’re out on a ‘date’ night with them? Would we think that it’s too much to ask for our spouse to have their hearts fixed on God and on us instead of desiring other women or pleasures of the earth? I certainly don’t think that it’s too much to ask, rather, it is the demand of love that is tenderly and passionately met.
I (try to) fix my gaze on my Lord first, my husband second, and my children (if I have any) third. Why? Because of a passionate love.