A Terrible Interior Revolution – 12 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – What is Contemplation?

by Mark Votava

41JN6ZhM3vL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_1. Desire is the most important thing

“But desire is the most important thing in the contemplative life.  Without desire we will never receive the great gifts of God…”

2. The joys of contemplation come only by experience

“The only way to find out anything about the joys of contemplation is by experience…”

3. The slightest movement of God’s love

“It is this delicate instinct to yield to the slightest movement of God’s love that makes the true contemplative…”

4. Love, humility, attentiveness

“Above all, active contemplation prepares the way for love.  It teaches obedience and humility…  It makes the soul attentive to God’s presence…  It shows us how to trust God…”

5. The very embodiment of contemplation

“Jesus is Himself the very embodiment of contemplation – a human nature united in one Person with the infinite Truth and Splendor of God…”

6. Mystical contemplation

“Mystical contemplation is an intuition of God born of pure love.  It is a gift of God that absolutely transcends all the natural capacities of the soul and which no man can acquire by any effort of his own…”

7. The very act of loving

“The very act of loving is the greatest reward of love…”

8. A terrible interior revolution

“…contemplation, then, sooner or later brings with it a terrible interior revolution.  Gone is the sweetness of prayer.  Meditation becomes impossible, even hateful.  Liturgical functions seem to be an insupportable burden.  The mind cannot think.  The will seems unable to love.  The interior life is filled with darkness and dryness and pain.  The soul is tempted to think that all is over, and that, in punishment for its infidelities, all spiritual life has come to an end.”

9. In this darkness

“The soul one day begins to realize, in a manner completely unexpected and surprising, that in this darkness it has found the living God…  At that instant, there is no other important reality but God, infinite Love.  Nothing else matters.  The darkness remains as dark as ever and yet, somehow, it seems to have become brighter than the brightest day.  The soul has entered a new world, a world of rich experience that transcends the level of all natural knowledge and all natural love.”

10. Completely simple

“Although externally sufferings and difficulties and labors may be multiplied, the soul’s interior life has become completely simple.  It consists of one thought, one love: God alone…”  

11. The threshold

“The most important thing of all is to get some realization of what God is doing in your soul.  Learn the tremendous value of this obscure and sometimes crucifying light of faith which darkens and empties your mind with respect to all natural convictions and leads you into realms without evidence in order to bring you to the threshold of an actual experimental contact with the living God…”

12. Seek solitude as much as you can

“Do what you do quietly and without fuss.  Seek solitude as much as you can, dwell in the silence of your own soul and rest there in the simple and satisfying light which God has infused into you.  Do not make the mistake of aspiring to the spectacular ‘experiences’ that you read about in the lives of the great mystics.  None of those graces… can sanctify you nearly as well as this obscure and purifying light and love of God…”

Which quote do you like the most?

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