Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 5

The Wonderful Effects of Divine Love

Disciple

I BLESS YOU, O heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ; because You have vouchsafed to be mindful of so poor a wretch as I am.

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, I give thanks to You, who sometimes are pleased to cherish with Your consolation, me who am unworthy of any comfort.

I bless You and glorify You forevermore, together with Your only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost, the Comforter to all eternity.

O Lord God, my holy Lover, when You shall come into my heart all that is within me will be filled with joy.

You are my Glory and the Joy of my heart.

You are my Hope and my Refuge in the day of my trouble.

2. But because I am as yet weak in love and imperfect in virtue, therefore do I stand in need of being strengthened and comforted by You. For this reason visit me often and instruct me in Your holy discipline.

Free me from evil passions and heal my heart of all disorderly affections, that being healed and well purified in my interior, I may become fit to love, courageous to suffer and constant to persevere.

3. Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed, which alone makes light all that is burdensome and equally bears all that is unequal.

For it carries a burden without being burdened and makes all that which is bitter sweet and savory.

The love of Jesus is noble and generous; it spurs us on to do great things and excites us to desire always that which is most perfect.

Love will tend upwards and is not to be detained by things beneath. Love will be at liberty and free from all worldly affections, lest its interior sight be hindered, lest it suffer itself to be entangled with any temporal interest or cast down by losses.

Nothing is sweeter than love; nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing more generous, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in Heaven or on earth; for love proceeds from God and cannot rest but in God above all things created.

4. The lover flies, runs and rejoices, he is free and not held.

He gives all for all and has all in all, because he rests in one sovereign good above all, from whom all good flows and proceeds.

He looks not at the gifts, but turns himself to the giver above all goods.

Love often knows no measure, but is inflamed above all measure.

Love feels no burden, values no labors, would willingly do more than it can; complains not of impossibility, because it conceives that it may and can do all things.

It is able therefore to do anything and it performs and effects many things where he that loves not faints and lies down.

5. Love watches, and sleeping, slumbers not.

When weary is not tired; when straitened is not constrained; when frightened is not disturbed, but like a lively flame and a torch all on fire it mounts upwards and securely passes through all opposition.

Whosoever loves knows the cry of this voice.

A loud cry in the ears of God is the ardent affection of the soul, which says, O my God, my love, You are all mine and I am all Yours.

6. Give increase to my love, that I may learn to taste with the interior mouth of the heart how sweet it is to love and to swim and to be dissolved in love.

Let me be possessed by love, going above myself through excess of fervor and ecstasy.

Let me sing the canticle of love, let me follow You my Beloved on high, let my soul lose herself in Your praises, rejoicing exceedingly in Your love.

Let me love You more than myself and myself only for You, and all others in You, who truly love You as the law of love commands, which shines forth from You.

7. Love is swift, sincere, pious, pleasant, and delightful; strong, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, courageous, and never seeking itself.

For where a man seeks himself there he falls from love.

Love is circumspect, humble, and upright, not soft, not light, not intent upon vain things; is sober, chaste, stable, quiet, and keeps a guard over all the senses.

Love is submissive and obedient to superiors, in its own eyes mean and contemptible, devout and thankful to God; always trusting and hoping in Him, even when it tastes not the relish of God’s sweetness, for there is no living in love without some pain or sorrow.

8. Whosoever is not ready to suffer all things and to stand resigned to the will of his Beloved, is not worthy to be called a lover.

He that loves must willingly embrace all that is hard and bitter, for the sake of his Beloved, and never suffer himself to be turned away from Him by any contrary occurrences whatsoever.

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