10 August 2008

To live well – Wisdom Sunday

What… gives more trouble and affliction than uncontrolled desires of the heart? A good and devout man arranges in his mind the things he has to do, not according to the whims of evil inclination but according to the dictates of 6 right reason. Who is forced to struggle more than he who tries to master himself? This ought to be our purpose, then: to conquer self, to become stronger each day, to advance in virtue. Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it and no learning of ours is without some darkness. Humble knowledge of self is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred. Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than to live well. – Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Bk. 1, Ch. 2.

If you ask anyone these days what it is to live well I doubt they’d come up with: To “conquer self, to become stronger each day, to advance in virtue.” We have no desire to conquer self. We want to indulge self. To live well, is to indulge self.

Not that the contrary is any easier. As he tells us, the one who struggles the most is the one “who tries to master himself”. It always seems a losing battle And no matter how much ground you gain during a day of battling the self, you begin the next day at square one.


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James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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