Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 40

Man has no Good in Himself and can Glory in Nothing

Disciple

LORD, what is man that Thou are mindful of him; or the son of man that Thou visit him? (Ps 8:3)

What has man deserved that Thou should give him Thy grace? Lord, what cause have I to complain if Thou forsake me? or what can I justly allege if Thou refuse to grant my petition? This, indeed, I may truly think and say, Lord, I am nothing, I can do nothing, I have nothing of myself that is good; but I fail and am defective in all things, and ever tend to nothing. And unless I am supported and interiorly instructed by Thee, I become quite tepid and dissolute.

2. But Thou, O Lord, art always the same and endurest forever; always good, just, and holy; doing all things well, justly, and holily; and disposing them in wisdom. (Wis 12:13) But I, who am more inclined to go back than to advance, continue not always in one state; for seven different seasons are changed over me. (Dan 4:15)

Yet it quickly becomes better when it pleases Thee, and Thou stretch out Thy helping hand; for Thou alone without man’s aid can assist me, and so strengthen me that my countenance shall be no more changed in various ways, but my heart shall be converted and take its rest in Thee alone.

3. Wherefore, if I did but well know how to cast away from me all human comfort, either for the sake of devotion, or through the necessity of seeking Thee, because there is no man that can comfort me, then might I justly depend on Thy grace, and rejoice in the gift of new consolation.

4. Thanks be to Thee, from whom all proceeds, as often as it goes well with me.

But, for my part, I am but mere vanity, and nothing in Thy sight; an inconstant and weak man.

What have I then to glory in? or why do I desire to be esteemed? Is it not for nothing? and this is most vain. Truly vainglory is an evil plague, a very great vanity, because it draws us away from true glory, and robs us of heavenly grace. For while a man takes complacency in himself, he displeases Thee; while he seeks after the praises of men, he is deprived of true virtues.

5. But true glory and holy joy is to glory in Thee and not in one’s self; to rejoice in Thy name, and not to be delighted in one’s own virtue, nor in any creature, save only for Thy sake. Let Thy name be praised, not mine; let Thy work be extolled, not mine; let Thy holy name be blessed, but to me let nothing be attributed of the praises of men.

Thou art my glory, Thou art the joy of my heart. In Thee will I glory and rejoice all the day; but for myself I will glory in nothing but in my infirmities. (2 Cor 12:5)

6. Let the Jews seek the glory which one man receives from another; I will seek that which is from God alone. (John 5:44) All human glory, all temporal honor, all worldly grandeur, compared to Thine eternal glory is but vanity and foolishness. O my truth and my mercy, O my God, O blessed Trinity! to Thee alone be all praise, honor, power, and glory, for endless ages of ages. (Deut 26:19)

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