A Mystical Awareness – 14 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Bread in the Wilderness

by Mark Votava

download (15)1. The gift of ourselves

“The secret of contemplation is the gift of ourselves to God…”

2. In the midst of a discovery

“We are transformed in the midst of a discovery…”

3. A living and active part in the Mystery of Christ

“The Church must take a living and active part in the Mystery of Christ…”

4. Our growth in Christ is growth in charity

“Our growth in Christ is growth in charity.  Charity is created and strengthened within us by the action of the Holy Spirit – most of all in times of trial and sacrifice, because it is then that we are pressed and compelled, by circumstances, to make heroic choices that confirm our union with Christ…  For Christ without the cross is not Christ…”

5. Love is what makes us saints

“Sanctity and love are not born in us by the love of pain for pain’s own sake.  Suffering is not the cause of holiness but only its occasion.  Love, expressed in sacrifice, is what makes us saints.  We are made saints not by undergoing pain but by overcoming it.”

6. The great paradox of charity

“This is the great paradox of charity: that unless we are selfish enough to desire to become perfectly unselfish, we have not charity.  And unless we love ourselves enough to seek perfect happiness in the total forgetfulness of ourselves, we will never find happiness.  Charity is a self-interest which seeks fulfillment in the renunciation of all its interests.  If I have charity I will seek my highest good in God…”

7. All men seek God

“All men seek God, whether they know it or not…”

8. The mystic

“The… mystic seeks above all the mind and truth of God…”

9. The language of revelation

“The language of revelation is mysterious not in order that its meaning may be concealed from us, but in order that we may be moved to seek it with a more fervent love…”

10. Gentleness, humility and love

“Just as Jesus patiently suffered injustice, calumny, abuse and physical torture, so too we must make an effort to accept the hardships and pains and trials and misfortunes of life, and even to embrace voluntary privations and sacrifices, with something of His gentleness, humility and love…”

11. Charity and mystical transformation

“Charity is the only power, the only ‘Law’ that can effect this mystical transformation…  Charity is our only deliverance from human limitations…”

12. A gift of God

“Contemplation, is a gift of God…”

13. A mystical awareness

“Ultimately, the spiritual understanding of Scripture leads to a mystical awareness of the Spirit of God… living and working in our own souls…”

14. A movement of love

“In actual fact, then, ‘living faith’ is a faith that obscurely responds to the reality of God by a movement of love.  Faith is penetrated with love.  It only establishes a living contact between the soul and God in so far as it is vitalized by charity.  But the more intense is the love that moves us to seek God beneath the analogical formulas for revealed truth, the more vital will be the grasp of our faith on the hidden reality of God.  So, in the experience of living faith our ‘eyes our held’ in so far as the intellect is in darkness and assents without intrinsic evidence to the truths proposed to us.  We do not realize how close God is to us, and yet ‘our hearts burn within us’ because of the ardor of our love.”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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