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Author Topic: Question about the book "The Imitation of Christ"  (Read 2146 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: May 28, 2007, 02:29:33 AM »


 Hi Everyone,

 Has anyone ever read the book by Thomas A Kempis called "The Imitation of Christ"? I haven't read all of it, yet the parts I have read (mainly the first 4-5 chapters) really impresses me. I asked my priest if it were OK to read it and he said he hadn't ever heard of it so I showed it to him. After reading the back cover (I have the Vintage Spiritual Classics edition), he said he thought there were much better books but that it would be fine if I read it. He also said that because it was post-schism, I should be careful.
 I certainly would not go against my priest, but because he gave me the go-ahead, I wondered if any of y'all have read it and what you thought.
 One caveat before you reply: I don't mean to be disrespectful or exclusivistic but because I am EO, I'm only interested in what other EO's think. Again, I don't mean to come off as disrespectful or hurtful. Please accept my sincerest apology if this request is hurtful. Wink

 In Christ,

 Gabriel
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2007, 09:41:02 AM »

You're not being disrespectful. It's not a good idea to read too many non Orthodox spiritual writers. Thomas A Kempis lived close enough to the schism though that he probably wasn't that far off. I thought the things I read in the book were good. He's not even a saint in the RCC if I recall correctly though so his work is not really authoritative for anyone. If you want to read it, fine, but make sure you get the majority of your spiritual feeding from standard Orthodox works (we can recommend them if you need them).
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2007, 10:19:51 AM »

A good substitution for an Imitastion of Christ is St John of Kronstadt's "My Life in Christ".

Thomas
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2007, 10:58:08 AM »

Gabriel,
I have read the Imitation of Christ, and I agree with what Anastasios has said. However, I would add that a spiritual work is not automatically rejected outright by the Orthodox Church simply because it is a post-Schism Roman Catholic work. One of the well known and well loved Orthodox Spiritual Classics is St. Nikodemos' "Unseen Warfare". However, St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain is the editor of the work. The original author was one Lorenzo Scupoli, a 16th century Roman Catholic Priest. St. Nikodemos merely adapted Scupoli's work to reflect Orthodox theology and spirituality.
I'm not sure that anyone has done this with "The Imitation of Christ" yet, so I would echo Anastasios' suggestion to tread carefully.

George
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2007, 11:37:10 AM »

Being one of "those" Latins I do recommend Unseen Warfare, in fact I aquired mine from a Benedictine Abbey...

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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2007, 08:20:47 PM »

He's not even a saint in the RCC if I recall correctly though so his work is not really authoritative for anyone.

It certainly has been a hugely influential book over the last 600 years, being published in at least 1,000 editions. John Paul II was said to have had it in his hands when he died. It's part of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and is one of those Catholic books that Protestants often read.

It is true that he has not been canonized. I read somewhere that his cause was opened, but when he was exhumed, they discovered scratches all over the roof of the coffin and clumps of his hair in his hands. I guess he had been buried alive accidentally, and the powers that be assumed that he despaired, something saints aren't supposed to do.

It sounds awfully apocryphal to me, and I doubt we need a fantastic story to explain it. It took 400 years for St. Thomas More to be canonized, after all.

I think the book is worth reading.
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GabrieltheCelt
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2007, 08:31:47 PM »


 Thanks to all who replied; even you Latins  Wink

If you want to read it, fine, but make sure you get the majority of your spiritual feeding from standard Orthodox works (we can recommend them if you need them).

 Thank you Anastasios, I would like some recommendations. I'm wanting to read "The Path to Salvation" by St. Theophan the Recluse.

 Gabriel
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« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2013, 09:56:44 PM »

FWIW, I've recently discovered that in her book The Ascetic of Love, Gerontissa Gabriela recommended The Imitation of Christ for Orthodox Christians.  I believe it was the only non-Orthodox book on her short list of edifying books to read.  I've read a few chapters and haven't found anything 'questionable'.  But of course, if there's question, ask your priest/spiritual father.
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2013, 10:23:10 PM »

I remember a parish retreat during which my priest read significant portions of The Imitation, fwiw. 
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2013, 11:03:14 PM »

I love The Imitation of Christ.  It is probably the most Orthodox writing written by a Roman Catholic ever written.
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2013, 11:07:20 PM »

Found it online .  If y'all have time, give it a look.
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