A Deeply Mystical Life – 12 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Life and Holiness

by Mark Votava

thomas-mertonE (1)1. The commandment to love

“The will of God is therefore manifested to the Christian above all in the commandment to love.  Jesus Christ our Lord said to his disciples in the most solemn of all his discourses that those who would love him would keep his commandments to love one another as he has loved us.”

2. Bear one another’s burdens

“Hence the true nature of the Church is that of a body in which all the members ‘bear one another’s burdens’ and act as instruments of divine providence in regard to one another…”

3. Heroic humility

“Our whole Christian life is then a life of union with the Holy Spirit and fidelity to the divine will in the depths of our being.  Therefore it is a life of truth, of utter spiritual sincerity, and by that token it implies heroic humility…”

4. Every new development of faith

“Every new development of faith, every new increment of supernatural light, even though we may be earnestly working to acquire it, remains a pure gift of God.”

5. Love one another as our own selves

“To be one in Christ, we must all love one another as our own selves.  To love another as oneself means to treat him as oneself, to desire for him everything that one desires for oneself.  This desire has no meaning unless one is willing to take definite steps to help someone else…”

6. A great collaboration effort

“We have seen that Christian holiness can no longer be considered a matter purely of individual and isolated acts of virtue.  It must also be seen as part of a great collaboration effort for spiritual and cultural renewal in society, to produce conditions in which all men can work and enjoy the just fruits of their labor in peace.” 

7. Human and social concern

“There is no genuine holiness without this dimension of human and social concern…  We are obliged to take an active part in the solution of urgent problems affecting the whole of our society and of our world.”

8. The will of Christ

“The will of Christ is above all that we love one another…”

9. The most important, real, and lasting work

“The most important, the most real, and lasting work of the Christian is accomplished in the depths of his own soul.  It cannot be seen by anyone, even by himself.  It is known only to God…”

10. A deeply mystical life

“To be a Christian then is to be committed to a deeply mystical life, for Christianity is pre-eminently a mystical religion…”

11. To live justly and productively in community

“Holiness is not and never has been a mere escape from responsibility and from participation in the… task of man to live justly and productively in community with his fellow men.”

12. Are we really seriously supposed to be saints?

“We are supposed to be the light of the world.  We are supposed to be a light to ourselves and to others.  That may well be what accounts for the fact that the world is in darkness!  What then is meant by the light of Christ in our lives?  What is ‘holiness’?  What is divine sonship?  Are we really seriously supposed to be saints?  Can a man even desire such a thing without making a complete fool of himself in the eyes of everyone else?  Is it not presumptuous?  Is such a thing even possible at all?…”  

What is your favorite quote?

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