This is my most favourite book, to which I turn time and time again…for inspiration, for comfort, for challenge and exhortation. And here follows the treasure of Book One, chapter one:
The First Chapter Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth
HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.
The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.
What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?
Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone. This is the greatest wisdom–to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come.
It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides. Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing.”  Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God.
Thomas a Kempis
I try to reflect on the writings of the Saints, and am constantly amazed at how their wisdom is so relevant to me as I stumble along, day to day, trying to follow the narrow and difficult path.
I note how articulate most other bloggers are, and am going to start off on the blogging journey simply sharing short meditations by the Saints and famous spiritual writers, opening up with a Saint who shared my fondness for the humble potatoe!
ON BAD COMPANY
“My dear brethren, I call that man bad company who is without religion, who does not concern himself with either the commandments of God or those of the Church, who does not recognise Lent or Easter, who seldom comes to church or, if he does come, then only to scandalise others by his irreligious ways.
You ought to shun his company; otherwise you will not be long in becoming like him without your even noticing it. He will teach you, with his bad talk as much as by his bad example, to despise the holiest things and to neglect your own most sacred duties. He will begin to turn your devotion into ridicule, to make some jokes about religion and its ministers.
He will speak to you at length, in scandalous terms, about the priests or about Confession to such effect that he will cause you to lose entirely your taste for the frequent reception of the Sacraments. He will discuss the instructions of your pastors only in order to turn them into ridicule, and you can be quite certain that if you keep company with him for any length of time, you will see that, without even realising it, you will begin to lose all taste for anything which is profitable towards the salvation of your soul. I call bad company, my dear brethren, this young or this old slanderer who has nothing but bad and foul words in his mouth.
Take good care, my children, for this type of person has a poison of his own! If you frequent his company, you may be quite certain that you will imbibe it and that, without a miracle of grace, you will die spiritually. The Devil will make good use of this wretch to sully your imagination and to corrupt your heart. I would call that person bad company, my dear brethren, who is curious or restless or backbiting, who wants to know all that goes on in other people’s houses, and who is always ready to form judgments about what he does not see at all. The Holy Ghosts tells us that these people are not only hateful to the whole world but are also accursed of God. Fly from them, my dear brethren; otherwise you will become like them. You yourselves will perish with them.”
St John Vianney