Thomas à Kempis

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Thomas à Kempis (1380 - 1471) was a medieval Christian monk and author of Imitation of Christ, one of the most well-known Christian books on devotion.


Imitation of Christ (c.1418)

  • O quam cito transit gloria mundi.
    • Translation: How fast passes away the glory of this world.
    • Book I, ch. 3
    • Note: These words are used in the crowning of the pope.
  • Certe adveniente die judicii, non quæretur a nobis quid legimus, sed quid fecimus; nec quam bene diximus, sed quam religiose viximus.
    • At the Day of Judgement we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken, but how holy we have lived.
    • Book I, ch. 3
  • A humble knowledge of oneself is a surer road to God than a deep searching of the sciences. Yet learning itself is not to be blamed, or is the simple knowledge of anything whatsoever to be despised, for true learning is good in itself and ordained by God; but a good conscience and a holy life are always to be preferred. But because many are more eager to acquire much learning than to live well, they often go astray, and bear little or no fruit. If only such people were as diligent in the uprooting of vices and the panting of virtues as they are in the debating of problems, there would not be so many evils and scandals among the people, nor such laxity in communities. At the Day of Judgement, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done; not how eloquently we have spoken, but how holily we have lived. Tell me, where are now all those Masters and Doctors whom you knew so well in their lifetime in the full flower of their learning? Other men now sit in their seats, and they are hardly ever called to mind. In their lifetime they seemed of great account, but now no one speaks of them
    • Book I, ch. 3
  • Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.
    • Book I, ch. 16
  • Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit.
    • Translation: Man proposes, but God disposes.
    • Book I, ch. 19
  • What canst thou see elsewhere which thou canst not see here? Behold the heaven and the earth and all the elements; for of these are all things created.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • It is easier not to speak a word at all than to speak more words than we should.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • No man ruleth safely but that he is willingly ruled.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • And when he is out of sight, quickly also is he out of mind.
    • Book I, ch. 23
  • First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.
    • Book II, ch. 3
  • Love is swift, sincere, pious, pleasant, gentle, strong, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, manly and never seeking her own; for whosoever a man seeketh his own, there he falleth from love.
    • Book III, ch. 5
  • Of two evils, the less is always to be chosen.
    • Book III. ch. 12

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