Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis

This is one of my favorite Christian books. The Imitation of Christ is a Christian devotional book by Thomas à Kempis, first composed in Latin (as De Imitatione Christi) ca. 1418–1427. (Wikipedia)

Despite being written centuries ago, many of the words still apply perfectly. Human nature hasn’t changed over thousands of years. I find the book particularly suitable for those facing troubles, depression, or problems in life.

Some Quotes:

  • “When a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill at ease. A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace.”
  • “Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble obedience to the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected from change and different places have deceived many.”
  • “So long as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation.”
  • “If man had but a spark of true charity he would surely sense that all the things of earth are full of vanity!”
  • “Be not troubled about those who are with you or against you, but take care that God be with you in everything you do. Keep your conscience clear and God will protect you, for the malice of man cannot harm one whom God wishes to help.”

Summary

For five hundred years, this gentle book, filled with the spirit of the love of God, has brought understanding and comfort to millions of readers in over fifty languages, and provided them with a source of heart-felt personal prayer. These meditations on the life and teachings of Jesus, written in times even more troubled and dangerous than our own, have become second only to the Bible as a guide and inspiration. It is now available in a modern translation that retains the flavor of the original English translation.

Free Download of Imitation of Christ Book

There is a free download of the book here: https://www.ccel.org/ccel/kempis/imitation.html

There is also a Chinese translation available for free, in HTML format. I did check briefly that the translation seems fine.


For a printed leather bound version, check out the book on Amazon below.

The Imitation of Christ

The Spiritual & Humanitarian Aspects Of The Gospel – Homily by Archbishop William Goh

For the complete Mass recording go to: https://youtu.be/IzXhGM2QB8Q

The Church must never forget the priority of providing spiritual food to the People of God. This is critical and can never be replaced by mere humanitarian services. This was precisely what the early Christians did. They did not simply do humanitarian works when they cared for the poor and the widows. Their goal was ultimately spiritual. The works of mercy that they did were in continuation of Jesus’ works of mercy. They were meant to reveal the Father’s mercy and love for them. The gospel cannot be proclaimed without the works of charity, otherwise, it will merely be words. People need to see Christ and encounter His love and mercy concretely in their lives.

Worry Doesn’t Solve Anything

Source: Pastor Rick Warren

BY RICK WARREN — MARCH 31, 2020

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

Worry is essentially a control issue. It’s trying to control the uncontrollable. We can’t control the economy, so we worry about the economy. We can’t control our children, so we worry about our children. We can’t control the future, so we worry about the future.But worry never solves anything! It’s stewing without doing.

Jesus actually gives four reasons you don’t need to worry in his Sermon on the Mount.

1. Worry is unreasonable.
Matthew 6:25 says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (NIV).

Jesus is saying, if it’s not going to last, don’t worry about it. To worry about something you can change is foolish. To worry about something you can’t change is useless. Either way, it’s unreasonable to worry.

2. Worry is unnatural.
Jesus gives us an illustration from nature in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (NIV).

There’s only one thing in all of God’s creation that worries: human beings. We’re the only things God has created that don’t trust him, and God says this is unnatural.

3. Worry is unhelpful.
It doesn’t change anything. Matthew 6:27 says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (NIV). When you worry about a problem, it doesn’t bring you one inch closer to the solution. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair—a lot of activity, energy, and motion, but no progress. Worry doesn’t change anything except you. It makes you miserable!

4. Worry is unnecessary.
Matthew 6:30 says, “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (NIV). If you trust in God, you don’t need to worry. Why? Because he has promised to take care of all your needs: “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV).

That includes your bills, relational conflicts, dreams, goals, ambitions, and health issues you don’t know what to do with. God will meet all your needs in Christ.

Don’t worry about it!

No human being, however great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish

” No human being, however great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish”
– John Ruskin

The full context can be found here: https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/ruskin/liberty_and_restraint.htm

Romans 6:19-20
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh…


You hear every day greater numbers of foolish people speaking about liberty, as if it were such an honourable thing; so far from being that, it is, on the whole, and in the broadest sense, dishonourable, and an attribute of the lower creatures. No human being, however great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish. There is always something that he must or must not do; while the fish may do whatever he likes. All the kingdoms of the world put together are not half so large as the sea, and all the railroads and wheels that ever were or will be invented, are not so easy as fins. You will find, on fairly thinking of it, that it is his restraint which is honourable to man, not his liberty; and, what is more, it is restraint which is honourable even in the lower animals. A butterfly is more free than a bee, but you honour the bee more just because it is subject to certain laws which fit it for orderly function in bee society. And throughout the world, of the two abstract things, liberty and restraint, restraint is always the more honourable. It is true, indeed, that in these and all other matters you never can reason finally from the abstraction, for both liberty and restraint are good when they are nobly chosen, and both are bad when they are badly chosen; but of the two, I repeat, it is restraint which characterises the higher creature, and betters the lower creature; and from the ministering of the archangel to the labour of the insect, from the poising of the planets to the gravitation of a grain of dust — the power and glory of all creatures and all matter consist in their obedience, not in their freedom. The sun has no liberty, a dead leaf has much. The dust of which you are formed has no liberty. Its liberty will come — with its corruption.

(J. Ruskin.)

Book of Wisdom

1 Wis 7:7-11 (Book of Wisdom or “Wisdom of Solomon”)

I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.

I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.

mire – deep mud

Biological evidence that Jesus actually was born in December

The type of sheep in Israel is the “Awassi” sheep, a type of desert sheep. In Israel, the principal lambing season is December through January. It makes sense, since the winter in Israel is around 8 degrees Celsius, which is not too freezing cold. Something interesting to know!

Source: Aleteia

Long ago, I accepted the idea that December 25 was probably not the actual date of Christ’s birth, that the real date was unknown but probably in the spring. Knowing the exact date doesn’t really impact the liturgical celebration, after all. It was just one more sad thing about being an adult, one more little bit of wonder gone from life.

Since then, I’ve become well acquainted with the historical evidence in favor of a date of December 25. The date can be derived historically from the dating of Zechariah’s entry into the temple to burn incense. It can also be derived theologically from the ancient tradition that a great prophet entered and left the world on the same calendar day. Thus, the Annunciation was determined to have occurred on the same day as the crucifixion, March 25. December 25 naturally follows nine months later. They are good arguments, held to strict standards of historical research and logic, within their own fields.

But neither ever quite satisfied my desire for something really concrete. One continual objection was that the shepherds in the fields at night were presumed to be attending to the dropping of lambs. And lambs didn’t drop in December. Lambs dropped in the spring, not the winter.

So, when yet another person asked “Why do we celebrate Christmas in December if lambs are born in the spring?” instead of explaining the significance of March 25, I suddenly wondered: ARE lambs actually born in the spring in Israel? Can I find out?

The Awassi sheep is a desert sheep, a fat-tailed breed that has existed in the Middle East for an estimated 5,000 years. It is the only indigenous breed of sheep in Israel. They are raised for wool, meat, and milk. Awassi sheep breed in the summer and drop lambs in the winter, when there is sufficient pasture for the ewes in milk. In Israel, the principal lambing season is December through January.

This is practical, I thought. This is fact. This is biology.

The scientist nuns: In pursuit of faith and reason

Source: Aleteia

Making a career out of science, just like joining a religious order, requires dedication and discipline. Some tireless souls have managed to do both.

In 1965, Mary Kenneth Keller became the first woman to obtain a PhD in Computer Science. She was also a nun.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1913, Keller entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1932. Eight years later, she professed her vows, before obtaining B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from DePaul University in Chicago, where she became fascinated by the incipient field of computer science.

As a graduate student, she spent semesters at other schools, including New Hampshire’s Ivy League college Dartmouth, which at that time was not coeducational. For her, however, the school relaxed its policy on gender, and she worked in the computer center, where she contributed to the development of the BASIC programming language that became so instrumental to the early generation of programmers.

Read more at: https://aleteia.org/2017/08/05/3-scientist-nuns-you-might-not-know-about/?utm_campaign=NL_en&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_en

How do you overcome the fear of the future? Pope Francis provides the keys

Source: http://aleteia.org/2017/04/26/how-do-you-overcome-the-fear-of-the-future-pope-francis-provides-the-keys/

Have you ever been gripped by a fear of the future that left you walking in circles or paralyzed from moving forward? Today, Pope Francis provided a deeper answer to this common human fear, urging Christians to remember that faith is the anchor that keeps our lives moored to the heart of God, amid every storm and difficulty.

Speaking to faithful and pilgrims at today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pope reminded them that, wherever we go, God’s love goes before us.

“There will never be a day in our lives when we will cease being a concern for the heart of God,” he said, as he continued his series on Christian hope.

“I am with you”

Reflecting on St. Matthew’s Gospel, Pope Francis observed that it begins with the birth of Jesus as Emmanuel — “God is with us” — and concludes with the Risen Lord’s promise to his disciples: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). He said:

The whole gospel is enclosed in these two quotations, words that communicate the mystery of a God whose name, whose identity is ‘to be with,’ in particular, to be with us, with the human creature. Ours is not an absent God … He is a God who is “passionately” in love with man, and so tender a lover that he is incapable of separating Himself from him. We humans are able to break bonds and bridges. He is not. If our heart cools, his remains incandescent. Our God always accompanies us, even if we unfortunately forgot about Him. […] Christians especially do not feel abandoned, because Jesus promises not to only wait for us at the end of our long journey, but to accompany us during each of our days.

Prayer of St Thomas Aquinas for Students (English and Latin)

Source: http://www.aquinascollege.edu/prayer-before-study-exams-spring-2013/

A Prayer Before Study

Ineffable Creator,
Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom,
have established three hierarchies of angels,
have arrayed them in marvelous order
above the fiery heavens,
and have marshaled the regions
of the universe with such artful skill,

You are proclaimed
the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin
raised high beyond all things.

Pour forth a ray of Your brightness
into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul
the twofold darkness
into which I was born:
sin and ignorance.

You make eloquent the tongues of infants.
refine my speech
and pour forth upon my lips
The goodness of Your blessing.

Grant to me
keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.

May You
guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion.

You Who are true God and true Man,
who live and reign, world without end.

Amen.

Ante Studium

Creator ineffabilis,
qui de thesauris sapientiae tuae
tres Angelorum hierarchias designasti,
et eas super caelum empyreum
miro ordine collocasti,
atque universi partes elegantissime disposuisti,

tu inquam qui
verus fons
luminis et sapientiae diceris
ac supereminens principium

infundere digneris
super intellectus mei tenebras
tuae radium claritatis,
duplices in quibus natus sum
a me removens tenebras,
peccatum scilicet et ignorantiam.

Tu, qui linguas infantium facis disertas,
linguam meam erudias
atque in labiis meis gratiam
tuae benedictionis infundas.

Da mihi
intelligendi acumen,
retinendi capacitatem,
addiscendi modum et facilitatem,
interpretandi subtilitatem,
loquendi gratiam copiosam.

Ingressum instruas,
progressum dirigas,
egressum compleas.

Tu, qui es verus Deus et homo,
qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.

Amen.

Love Jesus in all who suffer, pope says on Palm Sunday

Source: https://cnstopstories.com/2017/04/09/love-jesus-in-all-who-suffer-pope-says-on-palm-sunday/

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus does not ask that people only contemplate his image, but that they also recognize and love him concretely in all people who suffer like he did, Pope Francis said.

Jesus is “present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own — they suffer from slave labor, from family tragedies, from diseases. They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike,” the pope said April 9 as he celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass of the Lord’s Passion.

In his noon Angelus address, the pope also decried recent terrorist attacks in Sweden and Egypt, calling on “those who sow terror, violence and death,” including arms’ manufacturers and dealers, to change their ways.

In his prayers for those affected by the attacks, the pope also expressed his deepest condolences to “my dear brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros, the Coptic church and the entire beloved Egyptian nation,” which the pope was scheduled to visit April 28-29.

At least 15 people were killed and dozens more injured April 9 in an Orthodox church north of Cairo as Coptic Christians gathered for Palm Sunday Mass; the attack in Sweden occurred two days earlier when a truck ran through a crowd outside a busy department store in central Stockholm, killing four and injuring 15 others.

The pope also prayed for all people affected by war, which he called, a “disgrace of humanity.”

Tens of thousands of people carrying palms and olive branches joined the pope during a solemn procession in St. Peter’s Square under a bright, warm sun for the beginning of Holy Week.

Nothing Worthwhile Is Ever Easy

Pastor Rick Warren has a gift of applying Christian principles in teaching lessons in real life scenarios. This is one of them.

Source: http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english%2fnothing-worthwhile-is-ever-easy1?roi=echo7-27662529651-48607434-ac7d2bec278bdcfcc6c26fe1a409387d&

“Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9 NLT, second edition).

There are many things that work to keep us from completing our life missions. Over the years, I’ve debated whether the worst enemy is procrastination or discouragement. If Satan can’t get us to put off our life missions, then he’ll try to get us to quit altogether.

The apostle Paul teaches that we need to resist discouragement: “Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9 NLT, second edition).

Do you ever get tired of doing what’s right? I think we all do. Sometimes it seems easier to do the wrong thing than the right thing.

When we’re discouraged, we become ineffective. When we’re discouraged, we work against our own faith.

When we’re discouraged, we’re saying, “It can’t be done.” That’s the exact opposite of saying, “I know God can do it because he said …”

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I handle failure?
  • When things don’t go my way, do I get grumpy?
  • When things don’t go my way, do I get frustrated?
  • When things don’t go my way, do I start complaining?
  • Do I finish what I start?
  • How would I rate on persistence?

If you’re discouraged, don’t give up without a fight. Nothing worthwhile ever happens without endurance and energy.

When an artist creates a sculpture, he has to keep chipping away. He doesn’t hit the chisel with the hammer once, and suddenly all the excess stone falls away revealing a beautiful masterpiece. He keeps hitting it and hitting it, chipping away at the stone.

And that’s true of life, too. Nothing really worthwhile ever comes easy in life. You keep hitting it and going after it, and little by little your life becomes a masterpiece of God’s grace.

The fact is, great people are really just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination. Great people don’t know how to quit.

By Pastor Rick Warren

Motivational: Failure is never final. You’re never a failure until you quit, and it’s always too soon to quit!

Yet another motivational sermon by Pastor Rick Warren.

Source: http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/full-post/what-will-you-do-today-that-requires-faith

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV).

Failure is never final. You’re never a failure until you quit, and it’s always too soon to quit! You don’t determine a person’s greatness by his talent, his wealth, or his education. You determine a person’s greatness by what it takes to discourage him.

So what does it take to discourage you from going after your dream? It may be as simple as a friend or relative or family member telling you, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

The Bible says in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (NIV). You want to know how many times I wanted to resign from Saddleback Church? Just every Monday morning when I think, “God, surely somebody could have done a better job than I did yesterday. This thing is too big for any one person.”

God says, “Just keep on keeping on.” I may not be real bright sometimes, but I don’t know how to quit. I don’t know how to give up.

God works in your life according to your faith. The Bible says, “Without faith it’s impossible to please God” and “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” and “According to your faith it will be done unto you.” So what are you doing in faith? You need to ask yourself every day when you get up, “God, what can I do today that will require faith?” That’s an important question, because that’s what’s going to please God.

There are a lot of things in your life you don’t have control over. You didn’t control who your parents were, when you were born, where you were born, or what your race or nationality is. You didn’t control what gifts and talents you were given. You didn’t decide how you look.

But you do have complete control over how much you choose to believe God. God uses people who expect him to act, who never give up, who take risks in faith, who get his dream and go after it. It’s your choice whether you want to be the kind of person God uses to accomplish his purpose.

It’s Time to Redefine Failure BY RICK WARREN

Excellent sermon by Pastor Rick Warren.

Source: http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english%2fit-s-time-to-redefine-failure1?roi=echo7-27381882358-48417402-f0ce079160f08ffc23a2aef23c6680d7&

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe”(Proverbs 29:25 NIV).

Satan’s favorite tool to diminish your faith is the fear of failure. But you cannot serve God and be constantly worried about what other people think. You have to move forward. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (NIV).

So how do you get rid of the fear of failure?

One way is to redefine failure. What is failure? Failure is not failing to reach your goal. Failure is not having a goal. Failure is not failing to hit your target. Failure is not having a target. Failure is not falling down. Failure is refusing to get back up. You’re never a failure until you quit. So if you’re attempting something for the glory of God, that’s a good thing. Failure is not trying and not accomplishing anything. Failure is failing to try.

Another way to get rid of the fear of failure is to never compare yourself to anybody else. You’re always going to find somebody who’s doing a better job, and you get discouraged. And, you’re always going to find somebody who’s not doing as good a job as you are, and you become full of pride. Both of them will mess up your life. Discouragement and pride will keep you from serving God’s purpose for your life.

The Bible says in Galatians 6:4, “Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others” (GW)

Did you notice that the Bible says there is a legitimate pride? There’s a good kind of pride and there’s a bad kind of pride. The bad kind of pride is comparing: “I’m better than so and so!” The good kind of pride is, “God, I’m proud of what you’re doing in my family, my business, my life, my walk of faith.” That’s the good kind of pride.

When you get to Heaven, God isn’t going to say, “Why weren’t you more like so and so?” He’s going to say, “Why weren’t you who I made you to be?”

Let go of your fear of failure, because anything you’re attempting for God in faith is a good thing, regardless of the results.

To Reduce Your Fear of Failure, Redefine It

This is a post by Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?“. He is a very good author of Christian books.

(Source: http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/to-reduce-your-fear-of-failure-redefine-it)


“No matter how often honest people fall, they always get up again.” (Proverbs 24:16a TEV)

Never forget this truth: Failure probably won’t kill you.

We vastly exaggerate the effects of failure. We blow the prospects of failing all out of proportion. Failing is not the end of the world. The fear of failure is far more damaging than failure.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “No matter how often honest people fall, they always get up again” (TEV). Even good guys stumble. They make mistakes, blow it, and stub their toes.

Successful people are not people who never fail. They’re people who get up again and keep going. Successful people just don’t know how to quit.

Ever heard of these famous failures?

  • George Washington lost two-thirds of all the battles he fought. But he won the Revolutionary War and later became the first U.S. president.
  • Napoleon graduated 42nd in a class of 43. Then he went out and conquered Europe!
  • In 21 years Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, but he struck out 1,330 times. He struck out nearly twice as often as he hit a home run.
  • The famous novelist John Creasey received 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.
  • Rowland Hussey Macy failed seven times at retailing before starting Macy’s department store.

Great people are simply ordinary people who have an extraordinary amount of determination. They just keep on going. They realize they’re never a failure until they quit.

That’s how you reduce your fear of failure. You redefine it.

You don’t fail by not reaching a specific goal. Instead, failure is not having a goal. Failure is refusing to get back up again once you fall. It’s refusing to try.

On the first day of kindergarten, I got in the wrong line and then into the wrong classroom. Can you imagine me going home to my mom and dad and saying, “I’m a failure at education! This school thing just doesn’t work”? Of course not.

You keep going. If at first you don’t succeed, it’s no big deal. You’re never a failure until you give up.

The Serenity Prayer

This is a wonderful prayer attributed to theologian Reinhold Neibuhr:

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world

As it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right

If I surrender to His Will;

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life

And supremely happy with Him

Forever and ever in the next.

Amen.

PDF File that can be printed (A4 size): the_serenity_prayer

Taken from http://www.lords-prayer-words.com/famous_prayers/god_grant_me_the_serenity.html

Image (JPEG): the_serenity_prayer