I did a post previously on my misunderstanding of “merit” in Catholic theology and how that misunderstanding bothered me when I first read The Imitation of Christ. Well, I’ve finally finished The Complete Imitation of Christ and was moved by this passage which I think is a beautiful summary of how a Catholic views God’s work in the life a believer: it’s all because of God.
It is I who made all the saints;
I bestowed the grace;
I revealed the glory.
I know the merits of each one.
I preceded them with the blessings of my sweetness.
I foreknew my beloved ones before time began;
I chose them out of the world,
they did not first choose me.
I called them by grace;
I attracted them by mercy;
I guided them through diverse temptations.
I poured on them splendid consolations;
I imparted perserverance;
I crowned their endurance.
I know them from first to last;
I embrace them all with inestimable love.
I am to be extolled through all my saints;
I am to be blessed above all and honored in each one,
whom I have praised gloriously and predestined without any previous merits of their own. (421)
I cannot say enough about this edition of The Imitation of Christ. If you are thinking of buying a copy do yourself a favor and pay the extra for this edition. The notes are very helpful and the translation is excellent. When I finished the last page I was sorry it came to an end. My love for Christ was strenghtened as I read this classic. What’s next? I’m going to go back and read sections over again. Ponder them and pray. Like this passage where Jesus is speaking:
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
Without the way, there is no going;
without the truth, there is no knowing;
without the life, there is no living.
I am the way that your should follow–
the truth that you should believe–
the life that your should hope for.
I am the way unchangeable;
I am the truth infallible;
I am life intermindable.
I am the straight way;
I am the highest truth;
I am the truest life, the blessed life, the uncreated life.
If you continue in my way, you shall know truth,
and the truth shall set you free,
and you shall grasp eternal life. (411)