Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 346
The Imitation of Christ is a devotional work by Thomas Hammerken, written as an instructional and encouraging explanation of practical ways to live the Christian life. The author uses a variety of narrative techniques and different methods to encourage the reader and direct them on their spiritual path.
A large majority of the work is directed intentionally at the reader, as it is essentially an instruction manual as well as an encouragement. The book discusses what practical steps are necessary to pursue God properly as well as the reasoning behind those steps and the necessity of pursuing Him. He discusses living humbly, not pursuing greed, remaining pure, loving others while also not being swayed by or overly attached to them, and much more. One of the main threads of reason throughout the entire book is that everything in this life is fleeting—to paraphrase both the book and scripture, the world and its desires pass away, but God is eternal. He encourages the reader to focus on spiritual things and embrace a life that will not fade, which is marked by humility, attentiveness to others' needs, and a devotion to God and His work.
Hammerken also spends time creating a dialogue between man and Christ to show the attention and love God has for his believers and to exemplify what it is like to worship him and devote oneself to him. During this lengthy exchange, he explains that many chase after the desires of the world since they are easily attainable, but Christ is enduring and his promises never perish. He uses all of this to motivate the reader to fully trust in Christ and attach themselves to his promises.
Being a Catholic document, Hammerken also spends a great deal of time discussing Communion, confession, and sacraments. He spends the entire fourth section of his book in discussing how to properly administer the sacrament and uses it to explain how important partaking in and uniting with Christ is, as well as purifying yourself to prepare for the sacrament as well as for service in the world.
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