A Growing and Evolving Present – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton edited by Patrick Hart

by Mark Votava

41gcy8uO2nL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. A cog in a machine

“Man has no right to alienate his own liberty to become a cog in a machine.  Man is of no use to man if he ceases to be a person and lets himself be reduced to the status of a ‘thing.’  A collectivity that reduces the members to the level of alienated objects is dooming both itself and its members to a sterile and futile existence to which no amount of speeches or parades can ever give a meaning…”

2. For twenty centuries

“For twenty centuries we have called ourselves Christians, without even beginning to understand one tenth of the Gospel…”

3. What is essentially a gift

“…most of the delusions and conflicts of modern life are generated by the myth that happiness comes with power over what is essentially a gift and therefore beyond our control.  We are happy… when we live within the measure of our true possibilities, do what we can, and allow the rest to be added as pure gift and ‘grace.’”

4. Integrated into a growing and evolving present

“By his work, man is integrated into a growing and evolving present, a world that is real and fully engaged in organic development.  By his work man grows with that world into what it is going to be: there is no other way for man to find himself.  What is to be sacrificed is then the idiosyncracy or the banal and dead conformity that bind him instead to what is dying….”

5. An uncompromising concern

“The mission of the Church in America is not purely and simply to get itself accepted by wearing an affluent expression and adopting the idiosyncracies of American business…  We are here to celebrate the mystery of salvation and of our unity in Christ.  But this celebration is meaningless unless it manifests itself in an uncompromising… concern for man and his society…”

6. So concerned with preserving power and influence

“Crudely stated… the question is this: when the church is faced with a critical choice between the most basic of all it moral laws, the law of love for God and for man, and the practical immediate options of power politics, is she now so accustomed to choosing the later that she is no longer able to see the former?  In other words, has the Church finally come to the point where she is so concerned with preserving power and influence that she identifies her duty to God and man with the duty to preserve her power at any cost?”

7. There is no revolution without a voice

“The deep elemental stirrings that lead to social change begin within the hearts of men whose thoughts have hitherto not been articulated or who have never gained a hearing, and whose needs are therefore ignored, suppressed, and treated as if they did not exist.  There is no revolution without a voice.  The passion of the oppressed must first of all make itself heard at least among themselves, in spite of the insistence of the privileged oppressor that such needs cannot be real, or just, or urgent.  The more the cry of the oppressed is ignored, the more it strengthens itself with a mysterious power that is to be gained from myth, symbol, and prophecy…”

Which quotes do you like the most?

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