Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just for Today, An Introduction

Beginning in a few days, another set of meditations/reflections will be available. These are from a booklet, titled

"Just For Today,"
compiled and translated from the writings of
St Teresa of Lisieux
with selections from the
Imitation of Christ
a Benedictine of Stanbook, Worcester

This Introduction is by The Right Reverend Monsignor Ronald Knox

The compiler of this anthology has been happily inspir­ed to sit between two treasure-chests, dealing out to us a jewel first from this, then from that, like matched pearls. One is the Imitation of Christ; the other, the writings of St Teresa of Lisieux. Just five centuries divide them in date. Your first impression, when you see the pearls so well matched, is to exclaim at the resemblance; your second, that after all Christian piety does not alter with the ages, and there are certain rock-bottom truths which need constant reassertion, rather because our wills are so weak than because our memory has let the tradition slide. And indeed, the Imitation was a favourite book with Sister Therese, as it has been with so many ardent natures.

The author of the Imitation was a voice crying in the wilderness; a voice so well content to be anonymous that scholars can still wrangle over his identity. He warns us that we are not to care who said this, but to pay attention to the thing said. The case is otherwise at Lisieux; there, the personality of the Saint, the very lineaments of her features, are the public property of mankind; it is her message that is in danger of being forgotten. Put a card of the Little Flower in your copy of the Imitation, and it will cease to be anonymous; she did not write it, but, much more importantly, she lived it.

Our minds tend to confuse what is simple with what is easy. Look up what day you will in this accusing calendar, and you will find something which is so simple that you could have thought of it for yourself; so far from easy, that you have spent a lifetime not doing it. It is a very Newgate Calendar of our infidelities. Out of the mouth of two witnesses every word shall stand; and here are two witnesses, faithful as those of the Apocalypse, to brush away our feeble excuses with their pitiless realism. Let the phrases be copy-book phrases, if you will; they have been traced in laborious copper­plate, by a fifteenth-century ascetic, and retraced, God knows how laboriously, by a childish hand, contemporary with ourselves.

Day to day utters speech, and night to night shows forth knowledge. This is a book to keep by your bed­side, so that you can turn to it before you make your examination of conscience, and read in it the diary of what you have left undone. May it reveal the thoughts of many hearts, and rekindle in them the love of Jesus Cbrist. ­
- R. A. Knox

List of Abbreviations Used in the book Imitation of Christ.
C.= Conseils et Souvenirs.
E.= Esprit de Sainte Therese.
H.= The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme) :La Bienheureuse Therese de l'Enfant Jesus. Published in 1923.
L.= Letters.
N.V.= Novissima Verba.
P.= Poems.
Pr.= Prayers.
Sum.= Summarium.

Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

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