IMITATION OF CHRIST.

USEFUL ADMONITIONS FOR A SPIRITUAL LIFE.

OF HAVING A HUMBLE OPINION OF ONE SELF:

      EVERY MAN NATURALLY DESIRES TO KNOW BUT WHAT DOES KNOWLEDGE AVAIL WITHOUT THE FEAR OF GOD?

      INDEED A HUMBLE FARMER WHO SERVES GOD, IS BETTER THAN A PROUD PHILOSOPHER, WHO, NEGLECTING HIMSELF, CONSIDERS THE COURSE OF THE HEAVENS.

      HE WHO KNOWS HIMSELF WELL, IS VILE IN HIS OWN EYES, AND IS NOT PLEASED WITH THE PRAISES OF MEN.

      IF I SHOULD KNOW ALL THINGS THAT ARE IN THE WORLD, AND SHOULD NOT HAVE CHARITY, WHAT WOULD IT AVAIL ME IN THE SIGHT OF GOD, WHO WILL JUDGE ME BY MY DEEDS?

2. CALM THAT EXCESSIVE DESIRE OF KNOWING: BECAUSE THERE IS FOUND THEREIN MUCH DISTRACTION AND DECEIT.

      THEY WHO ARE LEARNED, ARE DESIROUS TO APPEAR, AND TO BE CALLED WISE.

THEY WHO ARE LEARNED IN WORLDLY MATTERS DESIRE TO APPEAR WISE AND BE HONORED AND PAID FOR IT, BUT THEY WHO ARE LEARNED IN SPIRITUAL MATTERS HAVE THE WISDOM TO KNOW THEY ARE NOTHING, AND THAT IT IS VAIN TO SPEAK OR DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE REVEALED WILL OF GOD.

      THERE ARE MANY THINGS, THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHICH IS OF LITTLE OR NO USE TO THE SOUL.

      AND HE IS VERY UNWISE WHO ATTENDS TO CERTAIN THINGS WHICH DO NOT SERVE FOR HIS SALVATION.

      MANY WORDS DO NOT SATISFY THE SOUL; BUT A GOOD LIFE GIVES REST TO THE MIND; AND A PURE CONSCIENCE AFFORDS A GREAT CONFIDENCE IN GOD.

3. THE MORE AND THE BETTER YOU KNOW, THE HEAVIER WILL BE YOUR JUDGMENT UNLESS YOUR LIFE BE ALSO MORE HOLY.

      BE NOT, THEREFORE, PUFFED UP WITH ANY ART OR SCIENCE: BUT RATHER FEAR ON ACCOUNT OF THE KNOWLEDGE WHICH IS GIVEN YOU.

      IF IT SEEMS TO YOU THAT YOU KNOW MANY THINGS, AND UNDERSTAND THEM WELL ENOUGH, KNOW AT THE SAME TIME, THAT THERE ARE MANY MORE THINGS OF WHICH YOU ARE IGNORANT.

      BE NOT HIGH-MINDED, BUT RATHER ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR IGNORANCE. WHY WOULD YOU PREFER YOURSELF TO OTHERS, WHEN THERE ARE MANY MORE LEARNED AND SKILLED IN THE LAW THAN YOURSELF?

      IF YOU WOULD KNOW AND LEARN ANYTHING TO THE PURPOSE, LOVE TO BE UNKNOWN AND ESTEEMED AS NOTHING.

Here we may have a translation problem regarding the use of the word "purpose." There are many ways the above text could be worded to make it more understandable, but suffice it to say: 'IF YOU WOULD KNOW AND LEARN ANYTHING FOR THE PURPOSE OF SERVING CHRIST, LOVE TO BE UNKNOWN AND ESTEEMED AS NOTHING."


4. THIS IS THE HIGHEST AND MOST PROFITABLE LESSON: TRULY TO KNOW AND DESPISE OURSELVES.

      TO HAVE NO OPINION OF OURSELVES, AND TO THINK ALWAYS WELL AND HIGHLY OF OTHERS, IS GREAT WISDOM AND HIGH PERFECTION.

      IF YOU SHOULD SEE ANOTHER OPENLY SIN, OR COMMIT GRAVE FAULTS, YOU OUGHT NOT ESTEEM YOURSELF BETTER: BECAUSE YOU KNOW NOT HOW LONG YOU MAY REMAIN IN A GOOD STATE.

      WE ARE ALL FRAIL: BUT THINK NO ONE MORE FRAIL THAN YOURSELF.




REFLECTION:

      THIS CHAPTER IS CLEARLY SUMMED UP IN THE WORDS OF ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE: "KNOWLEDGE PUFFS UP, BUT CHARITY EDIFIES. IF ANYONE THINKS THAT HE KNOWS ANYTHING, HE HAS NOT YET KNOWN AS HE OUGHT TO KNOW. BUT IF ANYONE LOVES GOD, THE SAME IS KNOWN AND LOVED BY GOD". THE BETTER ONE KNOWS ONESELF, THE MORE HUMBLE ONE IS. AND SINCE HUMILITY IS THE FOUNDATION OF ALL VIRTUES, OUR SANCTIFICATION AND GROWTH IN PERFECTION WILL DEPEND ON THE DEPTH OF OUR HUMILITY.



PRAYER:

      MY JESUS, CURE ME OF THE DESIRE OF WISHING TO KNOW EVERYTHING. INFUSE IN ME, A GREAT CARE FOR MY ETERNAL SALVATION. FOR YOU WILL JUDGE ME ON WHAT I HAVE DONE TOWARDS MY SALVATION AND NOT ON WHETHER I HAVE A PERFECT KNOWLEDBGE OF THE ARTS AND HUMAN SCIENCES, O LORD, GIVE TO ME AND TO ALL THE FAITHFUL THE GRACE TO KNOW, TO ESTEEM, TO LOVE AND TO PRACTICE THE VIRTUE OF HUMILITY. AMEN.