“Leave vain things to vain people, but look to the things which God has commanded you.” (IC 1,20,8) | “[T]oday the LORD is making this agreement with you: … provided you keep all his commandments, he will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory” (Dt 26:18,19)

Chapter XX of Book I of The Imitation of Christ (IC 1,20), one of its lengthier chapters,  lauds solitude and silence as the way to grow ever closer to God.  Above, the attraction of vanity is decried, so solitude is a safeguard against being too caught up in the world and oneself.

Moses, in today’s short excerpt from Deuteronomy (26:16-19), continues to be a mouthpiece for the Lord to the Chosen People just recently freed from exile in Egypt.  He conveys to them the nature of the covenant God has made with them: they will be set apart and be widely praised, renowned, and glorified if they keep the commandments that Moses has conveyed to them for most of this fifth book of the Torah.  They adopted many evil ways from pagan Egypt while they were in bondage there, but God requires a complete renunciation of their former ways and a whole-hearted turning to Him.  We know, as we read on in Scripture, as challenging (miraculous, really) as it was to free the Israelites, taking them out of Egypt turned out to be much easier still than taking Egypt out of them.  Their vanity, their lack of humility, their idolatry, thinking they knew best, would be their downfall time and time again as they failed consistently to “look to the things which God has commanded.”

The message from Kempis and Scripture apply just as well to us today.  Does self-interest and modern-day idolatry (holding material possessions and secular desires above God) deter us from fully keeping the commandments or even knowing what they are?  We have no excuse for being ignorant of Scripture (thus being ignorant of Christ, as St. Jerome wrote).  The gift of the Church provides a sure guide to help us, as well.  Make this Lent a special time to read the Bibleand the Catechism of the Catholic Church daily, a practice that would be well worth keeping throughout the year.

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