The Wounds of Division – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – Witness to Freedom: Letters in Times of Crisis edited by William H. Shannon

by Mark Votava

download (14)1. Broken through into a whole new region of life

“I think it is important to face the fact that modern man, whether he likes it or not, leads a life that is low in authenticity.  Things are decided for him, foisted on him, and even experienced for him by others.  His existence is more and more secondhand, and even his moments of truth tend to be fabricated for him.  That is the problem.  I would say that as a result of this, the real moments of truth that do obviously occur (since where there is life there is resistance to inauthenticity) appear at first to be quite other than they are.  In fact, rather than the dramatic confrontation with ‘reality’ or whatever you want to call the bull, one simply takes a new road without thinking too much about it, and discovers ten miles later that it is new and one has in fact broken through into a whole new region of life.  That is the way it generally is with me.  I seem to realize only later that a moment of truth was just that.”

2. Entering more authentically into direct contact with life

“I would say that there is one basic idea that should be kept in mind in all the changes we make in life, whether of career or anything else.  We should decide not in view of better pay, higher rank, ‘getting ahead,’ but in view of becoming more real, entering more authentically into direct contact with life, living more as a free and mature human person, able to give myself more to others, able to understand myself and the world better.”

3. Becoming uncharitable and ineffectual

“…by telling ourselves that we were not of this world we have actually made it easier for ourselves to be worldly in a manner that is very often not only uncharitable but also very ineffectual as well.”

4. Not so much concerned with burning social questions

“But on the whole the Church is too cautious, too inert, and too slow to have a really creative influence in social affairs.  She never leads.  She always follows, often with rather pathetic attempts to scramble onto the back of somebody else’s bandwagon.  One gets the feeling that she is not so much concerned with burning social questions as with showing the masses she is really on their side – while at the same time not antagonizing those in power…”

5. The wounds of division

“The Church is Christ, often a wounded and bleeding Christ, surely more often bleeding than glorious, in this age of history.  Let us be very careful and faithful about avoiding everything that makes the wounds of division bleed more…”

6. Without having to look over my shoulder

“All I am entitled to is my own particular direction, which is a straight line into the void and the wilderness without having to look over my shoulder and see whether anyone else is coming along…”

7. Can’t easily evade the embarrassment

“But I can’t easily evade the embarrassment that Church people cause in me perpetually.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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