My cousin Julie, found a book that belonged to my dad among some my Aunt Eileen's possessions when she was cleaning some drawers. It is called The Imitation of Christ, and Julie asked me if I’d like to have it. Of course I was thrilled to say, “Yes!” I do like having memorabilia of my loved ones. Thank you, thank you, Julie!
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis is a Catholic classic about the Christian life. Next to the Bible, this book is the most popular guide to living the Christian way of life. I, myself, have a copy that my best friend gave me when I had graduated from high school. Because it is a classic, it is still in print and widely available. It has also been translated into modern English to make it more palatable to modern readers. Dad’s copy and mine retain the old English. So there are sentences like this, “He that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, saith the Lord (John, viii. 12).
In dad’s copy there are some inscriptions. Some are in English and some are in Latin.
English Inscription #1 on inside of back cover:
Calvert Book Store
Nov. 25, 1939
Dad would have been 20 years of age at that time.
There are also some numbers, which I surmise are page numbers, perhaps passages that were important to Dad. I looked up those pages. On one page he penciled a box around these words, “It is better for thee to have less than much, which may puff thee up with pride.”
English Inscription #2 on page facing inside cover:
First, Dad wrote his name as follows: Robert Keller. That’s not too significant except most of the time he included his middle initial, which he didn’t do here.
Below dad’s name are these words, “What will God think?” As soon as I read that I thought of a modern saying that has gained popularity, “What would Jesus do?” Dad was ahead of his time. ☺
My Latin is very rusty, so I found a Dominican priest who offered to translate. He said he's not a Latin scholar, but the following translations are his.
Latin Inscription #1 on inside of front cover:
Loquere, Domine, quia audit servis tuus. Da mihi intellectum, et scrutabor legem tuam, et custodiam illam in toto corde meo."
Translation: "O Lord, who hears as Thy servants speak, grant that as my mind studies Thy laws, I retain all of them in my heart."
Latin Inscription #2 on page facing inside back cover:
Dad wrote: "Praesta, quaesumus Domine, auxilium gratiae tuae, ut quae, te docente, facienda cognovimus, te adjuvante, impleamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen."
Translation: "Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord, that by the help of Thy grace we come to knowledge of Thy teachings and move according to Thy direction. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen."
I think all this gives a glimpse of my dad and what he was like as a young man.
Photo: An old family photo of my dad that was taken when he was in his early 20s. I think he worked at Sears.