MY IMITATION OF CHRIST
Thomas à Kempis
Translated from the Latin into modern English
No claim of literary excellence over the many English versions now extant is here
advanced, nor any attempt to solve in further confusion the problem of the book's
authorship. Theories most popular at the moment ascribe two or three men, members of
the Brethren of the Common Life, an association of priests organized in the Netherlands in
the latter half of the fourteenth century. That Thomas Hemerken of Kempen, or Thomas á
Kempis as he is now known, later translated a composite of their writings, essentially a
spiritual diary, from the original Netherlandish into Latin is generally admitted by
scholars. This Thomas, born about the year 1380, was educated by the Brethren of the
Common Life, was moved to join their community, and was ordained priest. His career
thereafter was devoted to practicing the counsels of spiritual perfection and to copying
books for the schools. From both pursuits evolved the spiritual work
It is his edition that is here rendered into English, without deletion of chapters or parts of them because doubts exist as to their authorship, or because of variants in style, or for any of the other more or less valid reasons. There is but one major change. The treatise on Holy Communion, which Kempis places as Book Three, is here titled Book Four. The move makes the order of the whole more logical and agrees with the thought of most editors. The Translators are Aloysius Croft and Harold Bolton.
THOUGHTS HELPFUL IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL
|1 Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth||14 Avoiding Rash Judgment|
THE INTERIOR LIFE
|1 Meditation||7 Loving Jesus Above All Things|
|1 The Inward Conversation of Christ with the Faithful Soul||32 Self-Denial and the Renunciation of Evil Appetites|
AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION
|1 The Great Reverence With Which We Should Receive Christ||11 The Body of Christ and Sacred Scripture Are Most Necessary to a Faithful Soul|
 John 8:12.  Eccles. 1:8.  Job 7:1.  Luke 12:43, 44.  Ps. 79:6.  Ps. 24:17.  Ps. 36:3.  Luke 17:21.  John 14:23.  Isa. 48:22.  2 Cor. 10:18.  Isa. 15:6.  John 11:28.  Ps. 29:7-12.  Job 7:18.  Apoc. 2:7.  Luke 17:10.  Ps. 24:16.  Matt. 16:24.  Matt. 25:41.  Luke 24:46, 26.  Acts 9:16.  Luke 9:23.  Ps. 84:9.  1 Kings 3:9.  Ps. 118:125.  Ps. 118:36.  Deut. 32:2.  Exod. 20:19.  John 6:69.  Ps. 93:12.  Isa. 23:4.  Ps. 36:4.  John 14:27.  Ps. 54:7.  Apoc. 3:18.  Matt. 16:41.  St. Agatha.  Peter 2:11.  Ps. 118:137.  Ps. 18:10.  Matt. 18:3, 4.  Matt. 11:28.  John 6:52.  1 Cor. 11:24.  John 6:57.  John 6:64.  Matt. 11:28.  Matt. 15:32.  Ezek. 33:11.  Luke 14:33.  Luke 1:38.  John 3:29.
SOURCE: HUMAN LIFE INTERNATIONAL: PRO-LIFE LIBRARY/COMPACT DISC. HLI WEB SITE: http://www.hli.org
How to Use This Book
Like the Bible and the missal, the Imitation of Christ is never finished. We can never say: "I have finished the Imitation --- what's next?" Like a prayer, it goes on and on. Over the years it grow richer, and new vistas of help and hope are opened with every reading.
But the Imitation must be taken in little doses. It is so rich that gulps at a time could cause spiritual indigestion. A page a day is sufficient to strengthen the soul each twenty-four hours.
Your "page a day" must be read slowly, to permit each word and each grace to penetrate the blood stream of the soul. There are spiritual vitamins in each page for those who read each page very slowly.
The Imitation of Christ is the most universal of books; it is written for all and satisfies all. For the mystics, it is mystical, and for the ascetics it is ascetical. The learned call it a classic, and the simple call it "the grandest book I've ever read." The Imitation satisfies every longing as water satisfies every thirst.
When it is read under the piercing light of the Holy Ghost, the Imitation of Christ receives a pwer that forces its message deeper into the soul. The Holy Ghost should be invoked before every reading. Just the words "Come, Holy Ghost," are sufficient. He needs only an invitation and He comes with His light and guidance ---with a spiritual blast of penetration and realization that shocks the soul into a new and better way of living. The Holy Ghost is the "Master Mind" behind this little book. When called upon, He comes forth from the words with a power that stumps the worldly wise.
It is good to hear of those who are giving the Imitation of Christ as graduation presents and goodwill gifts; those who are passing them out to employees, Catholic and non-Catholic alike; those who are checking the public libraries and offering them new and attractive editons; those who are placing them on church pamphlet racks and in the down-town book stores; and those who are willing to direct their form of Catholic Action to "talking up" this greatest of spiritual books.
Those who have never read the Imitation of Christ have a new experience awating them. Those who have read it have a renewed experience in store--an experience that should become so much a part of their lives that death will be only the blending of the Imitaiton of Christ into the possesion of Christ for all eternity in Heaven.
Rev. B. J. O'Brien
(Excerpt from Information Magazine)