Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 10

To Despise the World and Serve God is Sweet

Disciple

Now will I speak, O Lord, and will not be silent; I will say in the hearing of my God, my Lord and my King that is on high.

Oh, how great is the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou hast hidden for them that fear Thee. (Ps 30:20) But what art Thou to those that love Thee? What to those that serve Thee with their whole heart?

Unspeakable indeed in the sweetness of Thy contemplation, which Thou bestowest on those that love Thee.

In this most of all hast Thou shown me the sweetness of Thy love, that when I had no being Thou hast made me, and when I strayed far from Thee Thous hast brought me back again, that I might serve Thee, and Thou has commanded me to love Thee.

2. O Fountain of everlasting love, what shall I say of Thee?

How can I ever forget Thee who hast vouchsafed to remember me, even after I was corrupted and lost.

Thou hast, beyond all hope, showed mercy to Thy servant, and beyond all my desert bestowed Thy grace and friendship upon me.

What returns shall I make to Thee for this favor? for it is a favor not granted to all to forsake all things and renounce the world and choose a monastic life.

Can it be much to serve Thee whom the whole creation is bound to serve?

It ought not to seem much to serve Thee, but this seems rather great and wonderful to me, that Thou vouchsafest to receive one so wretched and unworthy into Thy service and to associate him to Thy beloved servants.

3. Behold all things are Thine which I have and with which I serve Thee.

Although, on the contrary, Thou dost rather serve me than I thee.

Lo! Heaven and earth, which Thou hast created for the service of man, are ready at Thy beck and daily do whatever Thou hast commanded them.

And this is yet but little, for Thou hast also appointed the angels for the service of man. (Heb 1:14)

But what is above all this is that Thou Thyself has vouchsafed to serve man and hast promised that Thou wilt give him Thyself.

4. What shall I give Thee for so many thousands of favors? Oh, that I could serve Thee all the days of my life!

Oh, that I were able, if it were but for one day, to serve Thee worthily!

Indeed Thou art worthy of all service, of all honor, and of eternal praise!

Thou art truly my Lord and I am Thy poor servant, who am bound with all my strength to serve Thee and ought never to grow weary of praising Thee.

This is my will, this is my desire, and whatever is wanting to me do Thou vouchsafe to supply.

5. It is a great honor, a great glory to serve Thee and to despise all things for Thee.

For they who willingly subject themselves to Thy most holy service shall have great grace.

They shall find the most sweet consolations of the Holy Ghost who, for the love of Thee, have cast away all carnal delights.

They shall gain great freedom of mind who, for Thy name, enter upon the narrow way and neglect all worldly care.

6. O pleasant and delightful service of God, which makes a man truly free and holy!

O sacred state of religious bondage, which makes men equal to angels, pleasing to God, terrible to the devils and commendable to all the faithful.

O service worthy to be embraced and always wished for, which leads to the supreme good and procures a joy that will never end.

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