Posted by: fvbcdm | December 16, 2008

Feast of Saint Albina (16 Dec 2008)

About the year 1380, there was born in the town of Kempen in northwestern Germany, near the Dutch border, a man named Thomas Haemerken who became one of the most popularly read of all religious authors. He spent most of his adult life in Holland, became a priest and a member of a religious community called the Brothers of the Common Life. He is known to history as “Thomas a Kempis,” the Latin form of his birthplace.His great claim to fame is that he authored a book which we know as “The Imitation of Christ.” It is a beautiful book, breathing the simple and peaceful atmosphere of the gospels, and it has been printed countless times, translated into nearly every language on earth, and hailed by Christians of all the religious traditions: Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. I suspect that many non-Christians have also read and appreciated the Imitation of Christ. If you haven’t become familiar with this spiritual classic which the Church recommends highly, I urge you to get yourself a copy of it; you can get it in most libraries or buy it in paperback quite inexpensively.

I speak of this today because in the Office of Readings in today’s Liturgy of the Hours, the official daily prayer of the Church there is a selection from the Imitation. Listen to some of these lines that are so fine: “Do not care much who is with you and who is against you; but make it your greatest care that God is with you in everything you do.”

“Have a good conscience, and God will defend you securely; no one can hurt you if God wishes to help you. If you know how to suffer in silence, you will surely receive God’s help. Since he knows best the time and the way to set you free, resign yourself to him, for God helps you and frees you from all confusion.”

Those last words: ” . . . frees you from all confusion” remind me of the last words of the ancient hymn called the “Te Deum” which has been used in our divine worship for centuries. The Latin says: “In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum.” That means: “I have hoped in you, O Lord; may I not be confused forever.” Or, as a modern translation has it: “In you, Lord, is our hope, and we shall never hope in vain.”

There are times in the lives of all of us when we are uncertain about the present and the future; when we are frightened by the events or circumstances of our lives, when we feel a special need of God’s support, assistance, sacred presence. “Since he knows best … resign yourself to him for God helps you and frees you from all confusion.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.

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