I’ve read that the book The Imitation of Christ by Thomas `a Kempis is the most widely read devotional next to the Bible. I acquired this book several years ago in what I think is a most unusual place: the Southeast Community College Bookstore in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was among the required reading for an English course taught at the college. I’m not a Literature expert by any means, but I’m thinking it was selected by the instructor not because of its deep Catholic theological messages but because it is a classic literary work. I thought it might be useful to look at today because it may generate some good MTT for Lent, which began yesterday, February 10. It did not disappoint. I have selected an excerpt here for your Lenten meditation.
“It is good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory. When to all outward appearances, men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men.”
I think we can all relate. How many times have friends or co-workers misjudged you “even though we do well and mean well.” This has happened to me on several occasions in my life and caused extreme stress to this day, even though it happened years ago. Was I inclined to seek God? Yes! Each time, I ran to a local chapel and prayed and prayed. Was I humbled? Yes, and shielded from extreme self-pride and boastfulness (vainglory)! Though far from perfect today, I find myself "firmly rooted in God" such that I don’t often care anymore what others think of me. And I think that that is a great grace.