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Quotes by Thomas a Kempis


Christ was despised on earth by men, and in his greatest need, amid insults, was abandoned by those who knew him and by friends; and you dare to complain of anyone? Christ had his adversaries and slanderers; and you wish to have everyone as friends and benefactors? Whence will your patience win its crown if it has encountered nothing of adversity?


We should always honor and reverence Him as if we were always in His bodily presence.


Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more a man dies to himself, the more he begins to live unto God.


To go beyond the bounds of moderation is to outrage humility.


No conflict is so severe as his who labors to subdue himself.


Do not open your heart to every man, but discuss your affairs with one who is wise and who fears God.


Habit is overcome by habit.


The measure of every man’s virtue is best revealed in time of adversity – adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.


Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience.


I can only assume that God looked down from heaven to find the smallest and most insignificant creature and seeing me, He took me up and used me.


Be desirous, my son, to do the will of another rather than thine own.


Oh, how great peace and quietness would he possess who should cut off all vain anxiety and place all his confidence in God.


When comfort is withdrawn, do not be cast down, but humbly and patiently await the visitation of God. He is able and powerful to give you more grace and more spiritual comfort than you first had.


When spiritual comfort is sent to you by God, take it humbly and give thanks meekly for it. But know for certain that it is the great goodness of God that sends it to you, and not because you deserve it.


When a man no longer seeks his comfort from any creature, then he first begins to enjoy God perfectly, and he will be well content with whatever befalls him. Then he will neither rejoice over having much, nor grieve over having little, but will commit himself fully and trustfully to God, who is all in all to him.


Do not say: “I cannot bear this from such a man, nor should I suffer things of this kind, for he has done me a great wrong. He has accused me of many things of which I never thought. However, from someone else I will gladly suffer as much as I think I should.” Such a thought is foolish, for it does not consider the virtue of patience or the One who will reward it, but rather weighs the person and the offense committed. The man who will suffer only as much as seems good to him, who will accept suffering only from those from whom he is pleased to accept it, is not truly patient.


Adversities do not make a man frail. They show what sort of man he is.


If thou didst know the whole Bible by heart…what would all that profit thee without the love of God and without His grace?


I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.


Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; without the life, there is no living (see John 14:6).


Let this be thy whole endeavor, this thy prayer, this thy desire – that thou may be stripped of all selfishness, and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.


I have never met a man so religious and devout that he has not experienced at some time a withdrawal of grace and felt a lessening of fervor.


He is truly great who is little in his own eyes and makes nothing of the highest honor.


Christ was willing to suffer and be despised, and darest thou complain of anything?


Man sees your actions, but God your motives.


Fire tries Iron, and temptation tries a just man.


Jesus hath many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross.


My son, say thou thus in everything: “Lord, if this be pleasing unto Thee, let it be so. Lord, if it be to Thy honor, in Thy name let this be done. Lord, if Thou seest it good, and allowest it to be profitable for me, then grant unto me that I may use this to Thine honor. But if Thou knowest it will be harmful unto me, and no profit to the health of my soul, take away any such desire from me.”


He has great tranquility of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men. He will easily be content and pacified, whose conscience is pure. You are not holier if you are praised, nor the more worthless if you are found fault with. What you are, that you are; neither by word can you be made greater than what you are in the sight of God.


My child, trust firmly in the Lord, and do not fear the judgment of men when conscience tells you that you are upright and innocent. For it is good and blessed to suffer such things, and they will not weigh heavily on the humble heart that trusts in God rather than itself. Many men say many things, and therefore little faith is to be put in them. Likewise, it is impossible to satisfy all men. Although Paul tried to please all in the Lord, and became all things to all men, yet he made little of their opinions. He labored abundantly for the edification and salvation of others, as much as lay in him and as much as he could, but he could not escape being sometimes judged and despised by others. Therefore, he committed all to God who knows all things.


A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.


Jesus has many who love his kingdom in heaven, but few who bear his cross. He has many who desire comfort, but few who desire suffering. He finds many to share his feast, but few his fasting. All desire to rejoice with him, but few are willing to suffer for his sake. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of his passion. Many admire the miracles but few follow him to the humiliation of his cross. Many love Jesus as long as no hardship touches them… They who love Jesus for His own sake, and not for the sake of the comfort for themselves, bless Him in every trial and anguish of heart, no less than in the greatest joy. And were He never willing to bestow comfort on them, they would still always praise Him and give Him thanks.