5 tips for flourishing in adversity (Classic Wisdom from Thomas à Kempis)
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It is good for us sometimes to have troubles and adversities, for they cause us to look within and recognize that we too are exiles, whose hopes should not be centered on anything in this world. It is good that we sometimes suffer contradictions and that others have the wrong opinion of us, even when our intentions are good. These things are helpful to our humility. They keep us from becoming proud. Because of them we will seek God to witness to our conscience, since outwardly we are despised and not believed.
Therefore one should be so established in God that one has no need to seek many human consolations. When a person of good will is troubled or tempted or afflicted with evil thoughts, that person is better able to understand the need for God without whom no good can be done (see Jn 15:5). Often we complain and sigh and pray because of the miseries we suffer. We become weary of living longer; and wish for death in order to “depart and be with Christ” (Phil 1:23). Our thought is that perfect security and full peace cannot be found in this world.
—From Book I, Chapter 12 (nos. 1-2)
Excerpted from Solace in Suffering, Classic Wisdom from Thomas à Kempis.
Hail Holy Queen,
Mother of mercy,
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping
In this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy towards us.
And after this, our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement O loving O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us oh holy mother of God.
(This line is read by one person when the Hail Holy Queen
is being recited in a group setting.)
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
(This line is the response given by the group.)
We are indeed exiles from Paradise! Yet in Mary, we have a new Eve to help guide us on our earthly journey towards Heaven. St. Irenaeus once remarked that as Eve was seduced by a fallen angel (Lucifer) to flee from God, so Mary was led to receive God into her womb, obeying a good angel (Gabriel). She thus “repaired Eve’s disobedience” as St. Alphonsus Liguori once wrote.
In doing so she also became, as we say in the Hail Holy Queen, our “most gracious advocate,” with God’s advocate, His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!
1) What was your gut reaction when reading the first sentence above from Thomas à Kempis's Imitation of Christ. Did you judge yourself for your reaction or congratulate yourself (depending upon whether it was negative or positive)? There is one line in the reading that gives Kempis's little piece of advice in the midst of our sufferings. Can you find it?
2) What do you think Mary felt when Jesus was born in a stable, or lost in the Temple, or beneath the cross? What concrete difference in my life can her role as advocate make?