Monday, October 16, 2023

Thomas á Kempis

Thomas á Kempis (1380–1471) is the author of the well-known devotional book The Imitation of Christ, which was anonymously published in Latin in the Netherlands in 1418. He was born in Kempen, near Dusseldorf, Germany. He received Holy Orders in 1413 and was made sub-prior of the Monastery of Mount St. Agnes in the Dutch city of Zwolle in 1429.

Thomas’s responsibilities included copying manuscripts ― he is said to have copied the entire Bible at least four times ― and in teaching novices. He wrote four booklets for this purpose, which were eventually compiled as The Imitation of Christ.

Christian History says of The Imitation of Christ, “Sir Thomas More…said it was one of the three books everybody ought to own. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, read a chapter a day from it and regularly gave away copies as gifts. Methodist founder John Wesley said it was the best summary of the Christian life he had ever read.” Many consider it the most influential Christian book, next to the Bible itself.

Oh, Love

O love, how deep, how broad, how high,
beyond all thought and fantasy,
that God, the Son of God, should take
our mortal form for mortals' sake!

He sent no angel to our race,
of higher or of lower place,
but wore the robe of human frame,
and to this world himself he came.

For us baptized, for us he bore
his holy fast and hungered sore;
for us temptation sharp he knew,
for us the tempter overthrew.

For us he prayed, for us he taught;
for us his daily works he wrought,
by words and signs and actions thus
still seeking not himself but us.

For us, by wicked men betrayed,
for us, in crown of thorns arrayed,
he bore the shameful cross and death;
for us he gave his dying breath.

For us he rose from death again,
for us he went on high to reign;
for us he sent his Spirit here
to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.

All glory to our Lord and God
for love so deep, so high, so broad,
the Trinity whom we adore
forever and forevermore.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.