Friday, April 24, 2015

On Thomas Merton

A comtemplative Thomas Merton
"Perhaps the central theme of all of Merton’s writings is contemplation.  What he stressed over and again in regard to this crucial practice is that it is not the exclusive preserve of spiritual athletes, but rather something that belongs to all the baptized and that stands at the heart of Christian life.  For contemplation is, in his language, 'to find the place in you where you are here and now being created by God.'  It is consciously to discover a new center in God and hence at the same time to discover the point of connection to everyone and everything else in the cosmos.  Following the French spiritual masters, Merton called this le point vierge, the virginal point, or to put it in the language of the fourth Gospel, 'water bubbling up in you to eternal life.'” - Father Barron

There are many Merton quotes that provide a gateway into contemplation and yet he is the first to warn us that very few come to true contemplation in isolation or where great stress has been placed on self, whether that is self-acceptance or self-esteem. It is not about feeling good about oneself nor finding your own way on your own terms. The following is from the chapter, Freedom Under Obedience in, Seeds of Contemplation:
The most dangerous man in the world is the contemplative who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attractions of an interior voice, but will not listen to other men. He identifies the will of God with anything that makes him feel, within his own heart, a big, warm, sweet interior glow. The sweeter and the warmer the feeling, the more he is convinced of his own infallibility. And if the sheer force of his own self-confidence communicates itself to other people and gives them the impression that he really is a saint, such a man can wreck a whole city or a religious order or even a nation. The world is covered with scars that have been left in its flesh by visionaries like these.

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