Words Lose Their Power – 5 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Spiritual Direction & Meditation

by Mark Votava

510UChsojLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Refection involves our whole being

“From the very start it must be made clear, however, that reflection here does not refer to a purely intellectual activity, and still less does it refer to mere reasoning.  Reflection involves not only the mind but also the heart, and indeed our whole being.  One who really meditates does not merely think, he also loves, and by his love – or at least by his sympathetic intuition into the reality upon which he reflects – he enters into that kind of reality and knows it so to speak from within, by a kind of identification.”

2. Tranquility and peace and balance

“The proper atmosphere of meditation is one of tranquility and peace and balance.  The mind should be able to give itself to simple and peaceful refection.  Intellectual brilliance is never required.  The will should find itself directed toward the good and strengthened in its desire for union with God.  It does not have to feel itself enkindled with raptures of ardent love.  A good meditation may well be quite ‘dry’ and ‘cold’ and ‘dark.’  It may even be considerably disturbed by involuntary distractions.  St. John of the Cross says somewhere that ‘The best fruit grows in land that is cold and dry.’  But this arid meditation nevertheless fills the soul with humility, peace, courage, and the determination to persevere in negotiating the obstacles to our spiritual progress.  Our mediations may be habitually quite prosaic and even a little dull.  That does not matter, if they succeed in bringing the depths of our intelligence and will into a direct focus upon the things of God, no matter how obscure our spiritual vision may happen to be.”

3. The function of mediation

“The function of meditation is first of all then to enable us to see and experience the mysteries of the life of Christ as real and present factors in our own spiritual experience.”

4. Our own life, our own experiences, our own duties and difficulties

“Our own life, our own experience, our own duties and difficulties, naturally enter into our mediations.  Actually, a lot of ‘distractions’ would vanish if we realized that we are not bound at all times to ignore the practical problems of our life…  On the contrary, sometimes these problems actually ought to be the subject of mediation.  After all, we have to meditate on our vocation, on our response to God’s will in our regard, on our charity towards other people, on our fidelity to grace.  This enters into our mediations on Christ and His life; for He desires and intends to live in us.  The Christ-life has, as its most important aspect for each of us, His actual presence and activity in our own lives.”

5. Words lose their power and concepts escape our grasp

“Let us never forget that the fruitful silence in which words lose their power and concepts escape our grasp is perhaps the perfection of mediation.  We need not fear and become restless when we are no longer able to ‘make acts.’  Rather we should rejoice and rest in the luminous darkness of faith…”

Which quotes do you like the best?

Here are some others posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.