Every Moment and Every Event – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – An Invitation to the Contemplative Life edited by Wayne Simsic

by Mark Votava

21YJgT2f8BL._BO1,204,203,200_1. Callous and disillusioned

“Man in modern technological society has begun to be callous and disillusioned.  He has learned to suspect what claims to be new, to doubt all the ‘latest’ in everything.  He is drawn instinctively to the new, and yet he sees in it nothing but the same old sham.  The specious glitter of newness, the pretended creativity of a society in which youthfulness is commercialized and the young are old before they are twenty, fills some hearts with utter despair.  There seems to be no way to find change…”

2. The contemplative life

“The contemplative life isn’t something objective that is ‘there’ and to which, after fumbling around, you finally gain access.  The contemplative life is a dimension of our subjective existence.  Discovering the contemplative life is a new self-discovery.  One might say it is the flowering of a deeper identity on an entirely different plane from mere psychological discovery, a paradoxical new identity that is found only in loss of self.  To find one’s self by losing one’s self: that is part of ‘contemplation’…”

3. The hidden, inner person

“We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real and which lives by a shadowy autonomy for the brief moment of earthly existence, and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists.  It is this inner self that is taken up into the mystery of Christ…”

4. Like a very shy wild animal

“The inner self is precisely that self which cannot be tricked or manipulated by anyone…  He is like a very shy wild animal that never appears at all whenever an alien presence is at hand, and comes out only when all is perfectly peaceful, in silence, when he is untroubled and alone.  He cannot be lured by anyone or anything, because he responds to no lure except that of the divine freedom.”

5. Every moment and every event

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men.  Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such good seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity, and love.” 

6. The truest solitude

“The truest solitude is not something outside you, not an absence of men or of sound around you; it is an abyss opening up in the center of your own soul.”

7. Our secret despair of inner reconciliation

“If we are afraid of being alone, afraid of silence, it is perhaps because of our secret despair of inner reconciliation.  If we have no hope of being at peace with ourselves in our own personal loneliness and silence, we will never be able to face ourselves at all: we will keep running and never stop.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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

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