The Disease of Constant Talking – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – Compassionate Fire: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Catherine de Hueck Doherty edited by Robert A. Wild

by Mark Votava

51L43CRqkCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. With my whole existence

“I don’t desire anything in the world, not writing, not teaching, not any kind of consolation or outward activity: I simply long with my whole existence to be completely consecrated to God in every gesture, every breath and every movement of my body and my mind…”

2. To let God work

“…it is good to be quiet enough to let God work…”

3. The only solution is Love

“In the end, though, the only solution is Love…  And love, it seems to me, implies the realization that perhaps already those subject to us know our failings very well, and accept them with love, and would not dream of holding them against us, because they know these things do not matter.  That is the great consolation: in the joy of being known and forgiven, we find it so much easier to forgive everything, even before it happens.”

4. A very salutary solitude

“However, no one is exempt from anguish…  I think this agony is simply the inevitable form our suffering takes at such a time.  We feel useless, bound, helpless…  We are stopped, blocked, tongue-tied.  When we open our mouths we run into so much contradiction that we wonder whether or not we can believe our own convictions…  It is a very salutary solitude, and one in which I for one think more and more that I will have to stop preaching or to preach only by silence, because no matter what you say, you seem to be saying yes to something you cannot in conscience approve of.”

5. The disease of constant talking

“What is wanted is love.  But love has been buried under words, noise, plans, projects, systems, and apostolic gimmicks.  And when we open our mouths to do something about it we add more words, noise, plans, etc.  We are afflicted with the disease of constant talking with almost nothing to say…  We have to be heroic in our obedience to God.  And that may mean cutting through a whole forest of empty talk and clichés and nonsense…  To obey always and not know for sure if we are really obeying.  That is not fun at all, and people like to get around the responsibility by entering into a routine of trivialities in which everything seems clear and noble and defined: but when you look at it honestly it falls apart, for it is riddled with absurdity from top to bottom…”

6. Resolved firmly to be perfectly silent

“So it is usually when I have just resolved firmly to be perfectly silent that I find I have to speak: and when I have resolved to speak out boldly, that I am reduced to silence…”

7. An almost infinite tolerance and compassion

“…I think what we need to learn is an almost infinite tolerance and compassion.  At least this is I think my great need, because negative thought gets us nowhere.  I am beginning to think that in our time we will correct almost nothing, and get almost nowhere: but if we can just prepare a compassionate and receptive soil for the future, we will have done a great work.  I feel at least that this is the turn my own life ought to take.”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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