Therefore the meditations in this book are intended to be at the same time traditional, and modern, and my own. I do not intend to divorce myself at any point from Catholic tradition. But neither do I intend to accept points of that tradition blindly, and without understanding, and without making them really my own. For it seems to me that the first responsibility of a man of faith is to make his faith really part of his own life, not by rationalizing it but by living it.Thomas Merton, No Man is An Island.
I am often amazed by Merton’s insights. I like him as a writer but I think somewhere underneath it all there is the Spirit of God speaking to a modern age. He has many points that I think Kierkegaard would agree and many points that he would disagree. Most of all by withdrawing from the world – first into the monastery and then into the hermitage – Merton entered the world more fully. Silence made him more human and closer to his fellow travellers.
I like the above quote from the Preface to No Man is An Island. Merton lays bare the facts: he is formed by a tradition but he has made that tradition his own life, and it is from this life that he writes. Not defending a theoretical theological position but expressing the living presence of God in his life.
I like theology. I read about Christology and biblical hermeneutics. But I do not write about them. I write about my life. When these are part of the living presence of Jesus, I reflect on them and what they mean for me. But I have no desire to define what it means to be a “person” without living that reality. Faith always draws me into the everyday – into the ordinary.
So, if I may be so bold, I place myself into that tradition, not defining it or defending it, but living it.