Our Deepest Self – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – The New Man

by Mark Votava


1. Beyond the surface of all that is actual

“…the mystic goes further still and plunges into the dynamic infinity of a Reality which not only IS, but which pours forth from its own inexhaustible depths the reality of everything else that is real.  The mystic, that is to say the contemplative, not only sees and touches what is real, but beyond the surface of all that is actual, he attains to communion with the Freedom Who is the source of all actuality…”

2. Grace is unity

“Grace is not a strange, magic substance which is subtly filtered in our souls to act as a kind of spiritual penicillin.  Grace is unity, oneness with ourselves, oneness with God…”

3. Awareness, thought, love

“The ‘image’ of God is found in the soul’s structure – awareness, thought, love…”

4. Entirely available to love

“On this readiness to change depends our whole supernatural destiny.  There are few true contemplatives in the world because there are few men who are completely lost to themselves and entirely available to love.  That is to say there are few who are able to renounce their own methods of self-support in the spiritual journey towards God…”

5. An inner transformation

“Jesus not only teaches us the Christian life, He creates it in our souls by the action of His Spirit.  Our life in Him is not a matter of mere ethical goodwill.  It is not a mere moral perfection.  It is an entirely new spiritual reality, an inner transformation.”

6. Free, spontaneous, sincere

“Christianity is a religion of love…  Love is impossible without obedience that unites the wills of the lover and the One loved.  But love is destroyed by a union of wills that is forced rather than spontaneous…  God does not want the worship of compulsion, but worship that is free, spontaneous, sincere, ‘in spirit and in truth.’  True, there must always be a limit where human weakness is protected against itself by a categorical command: ‘Thou shall not!’ There can be no love of God that ignores such commands.  However, a true and mature love obeys not because it is commanded, but because it loves.”

7. Realities, obstacles, difficulties

“Our love, left to itself, is not always either very pure or very strong.  To have strength, love must face realities.  It must confront obstacles.  It must accept difficulties.  It must make sacrifices.  It must be mature.  Too often the love which we believe to be charity is merely an evasion of reality and responsibilities.  It is the sentimental refuge to which we retire so as not to be bothered by the difficulties and hardships of life: a false sanctuary in which we are consoled by an imaginary Christ.”

8. Exercise of our own liberty

“Without the free and conscious and clearly realized exercise of our own liberty we cannot become, in the full sense, persons.”

9. Our deepest self

“The awakening of our spiritual liberty is impossible unless a movement of the loving and merciful will of Christ reaches out to touch and stir the depths of our own spirit.  The deep option that makes us free, and thereby brings to life our true, our deepest self, is a resurrection of Christ in our own lives.  It is the movement that our own will makes when it is mysteriously united with His, as if we were but one will, one person.”

Which quote do you enjoy the most?

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