For more than five centuries, The Imitation of Christ has been acclaimed by people of every faith and belief as one of the greatest spiritual writings of all time. Next to the Bible, probably no other work has been so widely read nor has had such influence. Through periods of peace and war, pestilence and plague, panic and depression, good times and evil, The Imitation has provided inspiration and food for spiritual strength and consolation for people of every creed.
Only the Bible has been more influential as a source of Christian devotional reading than The Imitation of Christ. This meditation on the spiritual life has inspired readers from Thomas More and St. Ignatius Loyola to Thomas Merton and Pope John Paul II. Written by the Augustinian monk Thomas à Kempis between 1420 and 1427, it contains clear instructions for renouncing wordly vanities and locating eternal truths. No book has more explicitly and movingly described the Christian ideal: "My son, to the degree that you can leave yourself behind, to that degree will you be able to enter into Me." With a new Foreword by Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight and chief executive officer of the Knights of Columbus.
Thomas à Kempis (ca. 1380-1471) was an Augustinian monk in the Netherlands during the pre-Reformation period.
Carl Anderson is the Supreme Knight and chief executive officer of the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization with more than 1.7 million members. He is the author of Called to Love, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the New York Times bestseller A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World.
"God is our home but many of us have strayed from our native land. The venerable authors of these Spiritual Classics are expert guides--may we follow their directions home."--Archbishop Desmond TutuThe Vintage Spiritual Classics present the testimony of writers across the centuries who have pondered the mysterious ways, unfathomable mercies, and deep consolations afforded by God to those who call upon Him from out of the depths of their lives. These writers are our companions, even our champions, in a common effort to discern the meaning of God in personal experience.The questions, discussion topics, and background information that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading of the six works that make up the first series in Vintage Spiritual Classics. We hope they will provide you with a variety of ways of thinking and talking about these ancient and important texts.We offer this word about the act of reading these spiritual classics. From the very earliest accounts of monastic practice--dating back to the fourth century--it is evident that a form of reading called lectio divina ("divine" or "spiritual" reading) was essential to any deliberate spiritual life. This kind of reading is quite different from that of scanning a text for useful facts and bits of information, or advancing along an exciting plot line to a climax in the action. It is, rather, a meditative approach, by which the reader seeks to taste and savor the beauty and truth of every phrase and passage. There are four steps in lectio divina: first, to read, next to meditate, then to rest in the sense of God's nearness, and, ultimately, to resolve to govern one's actions in the light of new understanding. This kind of reading is itself an act of prayer. And, indeed, it is in prayer that God manifests His Presence to us.
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