Tuesday, May 4, 2021

A New Way of Reading The Imitation of Christ

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis is criticized by many as not Gospel, breeding a hatred of the world and a do-it-yourself kind of spirituality. It is a devotional book that has helped many of our ancestors in the faith. It was written for clergy and despite its minuses which are always present in what is humanly made, we can discern easily  the great help that it contains for the believers.


Entering the Easter Season a pastor writing in the Eyes of the Believer column of the Catholic Times describes his project of getting The Imitation of Christ read and transcribed by the parishioners of his parish. He bought 500 hundred of the books, sold them within two weeks, didn't have enough, and went to the other booksellers in the country to buy the last 100. He did wonder whether the Corona 19 would dampen the interest but that all proved to be baseless. 


Perhaps many wanted to read this devotional Catholic classic but never found the time but since the parish allowed them to read and write with other believers this became an attractive challenge to many in the community. It is a four-month project, so if you read and write only one chapter a day, you can finish it without any great burden.

Reading is the act of receiving information from reading aloud or by silent reading. Along with reading, writing has the advantage of not only seeing it with the eyes but also learning information by stimulation of hands helping what's written to become fixed and definite in the mind. 


Believers have also long realized the value of writing by hand, nurturing their faith life and gaining peace of mind by transcribing the Bible. Believers who have transcribed the Bible speak in unison: "The more I write, the more I want to write, the happier I am while writing." Recently, more and more cases of transcribing not only the Bible but also spiritual books are seen.


Originally written for monks, it has been read by many people over the years and has had a great influence after the Bible on believers. "The Imitation of Christ" was loved by St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Teresa the Little Flower both kept the book close to them.

At the end of the Middle Ages, this book at the beginning of the Renaissance and humanistic thinking, represented a rejection of speculative and mystical spirituality with a focus on prayer and spiritual training. It played a key role in developing into a spiritual life movement to meditate on Christ's person and emulate Jesus' holy virtues, rather than using the intellect it concentrated on the will.

He hopes that the project of reading and writing The Imitation of Christ in the parish will be successfully completed. It is not easy to read and transcribe one page every day, so I hope the conditions will be followed. 


First of all, you have to read the section assigned properly. Writing without reading can be said to be like eating uncooked food. It is wise to read the portion of the day, meditate enough on making it your own, and then move on to transcribing. 


Secondly, you have to do the portion assigned for that day otherwise when postponed to the next day the burden will become too much. 


Thirdly, to read and write, one must have a quiet environment and be at peace that will allow time to meditate. It is difficult to read, meditate, and focus on writing in a noisy state with music, TV, or other disturbances. If there is a space or study that is not used by anyone, you have the ideal situation.


Devotional books such as "The Imitation of Christ" ultimately give rise to prayer, so they need careful internal preparation and the help of the Holy Spirit to lead the faithful in the direction that God desires. He strongly recommends the challenge of reading and transcribing "The Imitation of Christ".

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