Offer Yourself

From The Imitation of Christ, IV.8 (ca. 1418-1427)

As I offered myself willingly to God the Father for your sins with hands outstretched and body naked on the cross, so that nothing remained in me that had not become a complete sacrifice to appease the divine wrath, so ought you to be willing to offer yourself to me day by day… all your faculties and affections, with as much inward devotion as you can.

What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to me? I care not for anything else you may give me, for I seek not your gift but you. Just as it would not be enough for you to have everything if you did not have me, so whatever you give cannot please me if you do not give yourself.

Offer yourself to me, therefore, and give yourself entirely for God—your offering will be accepted. Behold, I offered myself wholly to the Father for you, I even gave my whole body and blood for food that I might be all yours, and you mine forever. But if you rely upon self, and do not offer your free will to mine, your offering will be incomplete and the union between us imperfect.

Hence, if you desire to attain grace and freedom of heart, let the free offering of yourself into the hands of God precede your every action. This is why so few are inwardly free and enlightened—they know not how to renounce themselves entirely. My word stands: “Everyone of you that does not renounce all that he possesses, cannot be my disciple.” If, therefore, you wish to be my disciple, offer yourself to me with all your heart.

Thomas a Kempis (ca. 1389-1471) was a German priest and spiritual writer. He served as prior of house of the Brethren of the Common Life, a religious community devoted to simplicity and education. He is remembered for The Imitation of Christ, a manual of advice for laypeople, which is one of the most widely read and cherished books of Western Christian spirituality. He is commemorated in some churches on July 24.


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