Story-day is for cultural exploration, puraanas and parables and finding out about leading lights in spiritual philosophy.
We have recently looked at the lives and works of two female spiritual leaders within the Christian tradition. Today let us look at a male 'light' of similar background.
THOMAS á KEMPIS.
Born in (or around)1380, died 25 July 1471. He became a 'canon regular' of the late medieval period - these canons were attached to a known order (eg. Benedictine) but were out ministering within the community.
In 1392 Thomas had followed his brother, Jan, to Deventer (Utrecht), in order to attend the noted Latin school. Whilst there, Thomas encountered the Brethren of the Common Life, followers of Gerard Groote's Modern Devotion. This, to all intents and purposes, resembled ashram-living according to the vedic tradition. Simple, communal living with only one focus; Jesus Christ. It emphasized self-improvement through education and stepped that education from the elementary subjects up through humanities (dealing with the world), philosophy (dealing with nature of Man) all the way through to dealing with 'God' (theology). [This well-populated network of schools flourished until the religious upheavals of the 16th century; by which time, also, universities had become the preferred educational form.]
After leaving school (1399), Thomas went to Zwolle to visit his brother again, after Jan had become the prior of the Monastery of Mount St. Agnes there. This community was founded by disciples of Groote in order to provide a way of life more in keeping with the norms of monastic life of the period. Thomas himself entered Mount St. Agnes in 1406. He was not ordained a priest, however, until almost a decade later. Thomas received Holy Orders in 1413 and was made sub-prior of the monastery in 1429.
Thomas's life was a quiet one, his time being spent between his own devotional exercises, writing original works and copying - scribing other works was the only way for books to be distributed as this was before the age of print. He copied the Bible no fewer than four times. In its teachings he was widely read and his own works are filled with Biblical quotations, especially from the New Testament.
Thomas not only copied the Bible voluminously, he also wrote the biographies of New Devotion members—Gerard Groote, Florens Randewijns, John van de Gronde and John Brinckerinck. His important works include a series of sermons to the novices of St. Augustine Monastery, including;
Prayers and Meditations on the Life of Christ,
Meditations on the Incarnation of Christ,
Of True Compunction of Heart,
Soliloquy of the Soul,
Garden of Roses,
Valley of Lilies,
and a Life of St. Lidwina of Schiedam.
Thomas á Kempis' most famous work, though, is that of The Imitation of Christ . Scholarly thinking is that this is more likely to have been a collaboration with others at Mount St Agnes, but due to Thomas being the principal copyist, editor and the one to have produced the Latin translation (from the local tongue), it is almost always singularly attributed to him.
there is no going,
Without the Truth,
there is no knowing,
Without the Life,
there is no living."
Thomas sought to practice what he preached. An example to illumine our path.