Every more earnest person who knows what upbuilding is, everyone, whatever else he or she is, high or low, wise or simple, male or female, anyone who has ever felt built up and felt God as very present, will certainly agree with me unconditionally that it is impossible to build up or to be built up en masse, even more impossible than to “fall in love en quatre [in fours]” or en mass
A major theme in anchorite spirituality is freedom. Unlike more traditional monasticism, where the major theme is obedience, anchorites have the freedom to build their own spirituality alone. I think, in a way, this is how in a modern context, the ancient tradition can be lived. Built around prayer, meditation, and reading, the anchorite builds their life in freedom completely focused on Jesus.
So I found this quote from Merton that says it much better:
This means I must use my freedom in order to love, with full responsibility and authenticity, not merely receiving a form imposed on me by external forces, or forming my own life according to an approved social pattern, but directing my love to the personal reality of my brother, and embracing God’s will in its naked, often unpenetrable mystery. I cannot discover my “meaning” if I try to evade the dread which comes from first experiencing my meaninglessness!Contemplative Prayer
The god one can point to is an idol, and the religiousness that one can point to is an imperfect form of religiousness.Concluding Unscientific Postscript
The deed involves a sacrifice and a risk. The sacrifice: infinite possibility is surrendered on the altar of the form; all that but a moment ago floated playfully through one’s perspective has to be exterminated; none of it may penetrate into the work; the exclusiveness of such a confrontation demands this. The risk: the basic word can only be spoken with one’s whole being; whoever commits himself may not hold back part of himself; and the work does not permit me, as a tree or man might, to seek relaxation in the It-world; it is imperious: if I do not serve it properly, it breaks, or it breaks me.I and Thou
I have been reading Buber’s I and Thou. I have always thought of it as a book beyond me – it is way too philosophical for me to get near it. But I am very much enjoying and finding it very upbuilding. I feel like it is the flip-side of Kierkegaard’s Single Individual – my relationship to others and to God as You.
Anyway, I thought the above quote was worth reproducing here.
Christ is no play-actor, if I may say it this soberly; neither is he a merely historical person, since as the paradox he is an extremely unhistorical person. But this is the difference between poetry and actuality: contemporaneity. The difference between poetry and history is surely this, that history is what actually happened, whereas poetry is the possible, the imagined, the poetized. But that which has actually happened (the past) is still not, except in a certain sense (namely, in contrast to poetry), the actual. The qualification that is lacking—which is the qualification of truth (as inwardness) and of all religiousness is—for you. The past is not actuality—for me. Only the contemporary is actuality for me. That with which you are living simultaneously is actuality—for you. Thus every human being is able to become contemporary only with the time in which he is living—and then with one more, with Christ’s life upon earth, for Christ’s life upon earth, the sacred history, stands alone by itself, outside history.Practice in Christianity
The monastic movement is therefore a passionate decision, as is fitting in respect of the absolute τέλος, and it is to that extent preferable in its nobility to the wretched middleman-wisdom of mediation.Concluding Unscientific Postscript
The true knight of faith is a witness, never a teacher, and therein lies the deep humanity that is worth more than this frivolous concern for the welfare of other people that is extolled under the name of sympathy but is really nothing more than vanity.Fear and Trembling
When a person sets out on what in a certain sense is the hard way of the tragic hero, many will be able to advise him; the one who goes faith’s narrow way, him no one can advise, no one can understand. Faith is a miracle, and yet no human being is excluded from it, for that which unites all human life is passion, and faith is a passion.Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling
More classical than modern in his definition of passion. The way of faith is travelled alone – alone before God.
There is, namely, an infinite chasmic difference between God and man, and therefore it became clear in the situation of contemporaneity that to become a Christian (to be transformed into likeness with God) is, humanly speaking, an even greater torment and misery and pain than the greatest human torment, and in addition a crime in the eyes of one’s contemporaries. And so it will always prove to be if becoming a Christian truly comes to mean becoming contemporary with Christ. And if becoming a Christian does not come to mean this, then all this talk about becoming a Christian is futility and fancy and vanity…Practice in Christianity
I have always liked the above quote from Practice in Christianity. Yes, SK is very Lutheran/Augustinian in it but I think it says something about God: God’s transcendence in being and his imminence in action (in Jesus). It is about the King and the Servant, and love, and surrender.
I have been thinking for this coming Sunday’s gospel, Luke 13:1-9. Yes, repentance and fruit. But is there something deeper happening? Is it about the eternal now of faith – the moment of choice? That reminded me of one of my favourite SK quotes:
God is present in the moment of choice, not in order to watch but in order to be chosen. Therefore, each person must choose. Terrible is the battle, in a person’s innermost being, between God and the world. The crowning risk involved lies in the possession of choice.Kierkegaard
A number of great themes in the one quote: moment, choice, freedom, risk. All relate to faith. The moment of choice is that overwhelming point where the past is gone and the future is not yet. That moment between penitence and reward. It is the moment, the now, that is completely God’s and in which I must meet Jesus.
I like the image of God’s presence in the moment. Maybe that is contemporality – Jesus present in the moment of choice, ready to be chosen? But the point is: that moment is always the eternal now.