The Sacredness of Life – 13 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – New Seeds of Contemplation

by Mark Votava

download (9)1. If we believe in the Incarnation

“And indeed, if Christ become Man, it is because He wanted to be any man and every man.  If we believe in the Incarnation of the Son of God, there should be no one on earth in whom we are not prepared to see, in mystery, the presence of Christ.”

2. What matters in the contemplative life

“What matters in the contemplative life is not for you… to be always infallibly right, but for you to be heroically faithful to grace and to love…”

3. Very gradual steps

“It is more ordinary for the spirit to learn contemplation from God not in a sudden flash but imperceptibly, by very gradual steps.  As a matter of fact, without the groundwork of long and patient trial and slow progress in the darkness of pure faith, contemplation will never really be learned at all…”

4. The surest sign of strength

“Humility is the surest sign of strength.”

5. Rather than risk failure

“Do not be one of those who, rather than risk failure, never attempts anything.”

6. To hope is to risk frustration

“To hope is to risk frustration.  Therefore, make up your mind to risk frustration.”

7. Involves us in struggle

“A ‘faith’ that merely confirms us in opinionatedness and self-complacency may well be an expression of theological doubt.  True faith is never merely a source of spiritual comfort.  It may indeed bring peace, but before it does so it must involve us in struggle.  A ‘faith’ that avoids this struggle is really a temptation against true faith.”

8. It is dangerous to go into solitude

“…it is dangerous to go into solitude merely because you like to be alone.”

9. To live in communion

“Mere living alone does not isolate a man, mere living together does not bring men into communion.  The common life can either make one more of a person or less of a person, depending whether it is truly common life or merely life in a crowd.  To live in communion, in genuine dialogue with others is absolutely necessary if man is to remain human.  But to live in the midst of others, sharing nothing with them but the common noise and general distraction, isolates a man in the worst way, separates him from reality in a way that is almost painless.  It divides him off and separates him from other men and from his true self…”

10. To discover myself in discovering God

“Therefore there is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God…”

11. The love of God seeks us in every situation

“We must learn that the love of God seeks us in every situation, and seeks our good…”

12. Contemplation cannot be taught

“For contemplation cannot be taught.  It cannot even be clearly explained.  It can only be hinted at, suggested, pointed to, symbolized…”

13. The sacredness of life

“Contemplation is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life.  It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive.  It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being…”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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