New Beginnings – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s writings – Choosing to Love the World edited by Jonathan Montaldo

by Mark Votava

51xCsV9q73L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)1. Crossing the abyss that separates us from ourselves

“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we cannot cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?”

2. Our actual fear of genuine freedom

“If individualism and subjectivism are so widely suspect among us, there is perhaps a very good reason for it.  We live in a climate of individualism.  But our individualism is in decay.  Our tradition of freedom which, as a matter of fact, is rooted in a deeply Christian soil, and which in itself is worthy of the highest respect and loyalty, has begun to lose its genuine vitality.  It is becoming more and more a verbal convention rather than a spiritual conviction.  The tendency to substitute words about freedom for the reality of freedom itself has brought us to a state of ambivalent spiritual servitude.  The noise with which we protest our love of freedom tends to be proportionate to our actual fear of genuine freedom, and our guilt at our unconscious refusal to pay the price of freedom…”

3. God’s hidden action

“The victory of… humility is the full acceptance of God’s hidden action in the weakness and ordinariness and unsatisfactoriness of our own everyday lives…”

4. The silence of God

“To be ravished from the world of men by the silence of God means, in the end, not that one finds a new and mysterious universe to live in, but that the old, ordinary universe, with all its everyday poverty and charm, while remaining perfectly ordinary, perfectly real, perfectly poor, becomes transfigured from within by a silence which is the supreme and infinite ‘poverty’ of an infinitely rich and generous God!” 

5. Life is only understood by being lived

“And life is inexplicable, irreducible to systematic terms.  It is only understood by being lived.”

6. Divisions and clichés

“Paradoxically, I have found peace because I have always been dissatisfied.  My moments of depression and despair turn out to be renewals, new beginnings.  If I were once to settle down and be satisfied with the surface of life, with its divisions and its clichés, it would be time to call in the undertaker…  So, then, this dissatisfaction which sometimes used to worry me and has certainly, I know worried others, has helped me in fact to move freely and even gaily with the stream of life…”

7. An extreme intensification of conscious awareness

“Though this contemplative union is an extreme intensification of conscious awareness, a kind of total awareness, it is not properly contained or signified in any particular vision, but rather in non-vision which attains the totality of meaning beyond all limiting conceptions, by the surrender of love…”

8. The true way of unity and peace

“The mission of the contemplative in this world of massive conflict and collective unreason is to seek the true way of unity and peace, without succumbing to the illusion of withdrawing into a realm of abstraction from which unpleasant realities are simply excluded by the force of will.  In facing the world with a totally different viewpoint, the contemplative maintains alive in the world the presence of a spiritual and intelligent consciousness which is the root of true peace and true unity… “

Which quote do you like the most?

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