#ThomasMerton May 1, 1961

I have been reading “Turning towards the World”, volume 4 of Thomas Merton’s journals. I always get much out of reading Merton, especially his journals. There is something very human about it all – the minor concerns and the major discussions all in a private context.

I read the above, from the entry for 1 May 1961, yesterday and was struck by the last sentence. I am exhausted from talking. And, yes, I have build an image of myself as someone who has something to say. But mostly I am exhausted because I want to talk to people about real things and not the weather or the latest specials at the supermarket. There is so much noise in the world that likes to parade as conversation but is really just space-fillers. So rather than talk for the sake of talking, I am silent. Maybe I am just rude?!

Merton and liturgy

I stumbled across this link on Twitter and was struck by these paragraphs:

The lesson Merton derives from the liturgy at Corpus Christi is that “it is not the style that matters but the spirit,” and he illustrates the difference between the old spirit and the new with a series of dichotomies: “Is Christian worship to be communion in correctness or communion in love? Oneness in Law or oneness in Christ? Sharing in valid sacraments or in the Spirit of life that is in the Risen Savior?” While the laws of the church are important, we must “learn to participate in a free, open, joyous communion of love and praise.”

Merton’s exhortation to love, and even more importantly, his example of liturgical openness to others rooted in an ecclesiology of communion, remains important today as we continue to squabble about the liturgy and about a myriad of other issues: “Let us frankly realize that our task is precisely this: to demonstrate our elementary charity and unselfishness – indeed our Christian maturity – by setting aside our own preferences (whether progressive or conservative) in order to arrive at some working formula by which we can all continue to worship as one in Christ.”

Communion of Love: Thomas Merton and Liturgical Reform by Gregory K. Hillis

A magnificent article to be printed and pondered.

Thomas Merton

Today, 31 January, is Thomas Merton’s birthday. He would have turned 104. So here is a quote:

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying [God]. It “consents,” so to speak, to [God’s] creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

New Seeds of Contemplation, 29

SK and Merton – winning!

I stumbled across this in my Reader:

It is said that one of the most terrifying things that can happen to us at the final judgement, when we stand before God, is that He asks us this one question:

“Why did you not become the person I had created you to be?”

This Is How Kierkegaard, Merton, And An Obscure Book On Spinoza Helped Me Become A Writer

Now the post has SK and Merton – so we are winning right from the start. But seeing my journey reflected in other people’s journey is always an amazing experience.

I would love to be a writer but I know deep down that I will never be one. Nothing to say! Yet the post has reminded me that other’s have struggled with the same things and they have come through to the other side. So keep going!

There is another post I will check out later:

This Heartfelt Letter From Merton To Jacques Maritain Will Make You A Better Writer, Artist, Human Being

born again?

There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves.

Thomas Merton (via Born Again = Imago Dei)

I appreciate in Merton that “faith” is a deepening of what I am not an abandonment. I wonder if it has something to say about our concept of sin and especially original sin. Again it is an emphases on the “Christ in us” and not the triumphalism of the “Christ for us”.

The article makes a deeper point yet: some of the rhetoric round the “born again” question is really a discussion about what it means to be in the image of God. Is every human being in the image of God? Or has the “fall” somehow smudged it only to be redrawn in the “choice of faith”?

Anyway, I would like to know the source of the above quote!

to be a saint

Some Merton for today:

tumblr_o1tnbnvEYd1qfvq9bo1_1280

I have always loved that quote. In the Prologue to No Man Is an Island, Merton expands upon the quote. For a person (like Merton) formed in the classical western Catholic tradition it is a strange place to start. Maybe a topic for another day!?

For me it is about living my identity as God-given – seeing the divine in my life and also in the life of others. Living the part of me that is undefinable, indescribable, the nothingness within me where I meet Being. And, if I am going to be honest, for most of my life I have run away from that part. In a desire to be heard, to be listened to, to be an authority, I have ignored “myself” and tried to define myself away from God. In reality God (and “me”) are completely beyond definition, completely other.

In Merton’s language I have tried to hide behind a “false self” by putting on masks to make myself acceptable to others so that they would listen to me.

merton

Most of the people in my life (apart from family) are in books. Whether a Danish thinker from the 1900s, or a monk from the 1950s, the people who most inspire me – and make me think – are people I meet in books.

So here is one: Thomas Merton.

I identify with his need for solitude. The Journals which were published after his death show a man “working out his salvation with fear and trembling”. We also have a number of his talks which show a man full of humour and insight.

So welcome Thomas Merton!