Questions – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – The Courage for Truth: Letters to Writers edited by Christine M. Bochen

by Mark Votava

4004384-M1. Choosing solitude

“It is not a question of my choosing solitude, it is she who has chosen me…”

2. Do not push too hard with the work

“Do not push too hard with the work, God will take care of everything, and will give you strength to do all that needs to be done…”

3. Love has been twisted out of shape in us and beaten down

“The great tragedy is that we feel so keenly that love has been twisted out of shape in us and beaten down and crippled…”

4. Love has an infinite power

“…love has an infinite power, and its power, once released, can in an instant destroy and swallow up all hatred, all evil, all injustice, all that is diabolical…”

5. Lost the ability to see what is right in front of us

“When I see advertisements I want to curse they make me so sick, and I do curse them.  I have never seen TV, that is, never watched it.  Once when I did happen to pass in front of a set I saw the commercial that was on: two little figures were dancing around worshipping a roll of toilet paper, chanting a hymn in its honor.  I think this is symbolic enough, isn’t it?  We have simply lot the ability to see what is right in front of us: things like this need no comment…”

6. We have to regain our sense of being

“We have to regain our sense of being, our confidence in reality, not in words…”

7. Bear your solitude

“Bear you solitude.  It is a great pain for you & there is great strength in it if you can continue to find & accept it…”

8. Questions cause one to be nauseated by answers

“There is something wrong with the questions that are supposed to be disposed of by answers.  That is the trouble with the squares.  They think that when you have answers you no longer have questions.  And they want the greatest possible number of answers, the smallest number of questions.  The ideal is to have no more questions.  Then when you have no questions you have ‘peace.’  On the other hand, the more you simply stand with the questions all sticking in your throat at once, the more you unsettle the ‘peace’ of those who think they have swallowed all the answers.  The questions cause one to be nauseated by answers.  This is a healthy state, but it is not acceptable.  Hence I am nauseated by answers and nauseated by optimism.  There is an optimism which cheapens Christianity and makes it absurd, empties it.  It is a silly, petty optimism which consists in being secure because one knows the right answers.”

9. Devout Christians solve no problems for anyone

“…there have always been devout Christians, but frankly they solve no problems for anyone, least of all for the world.  Christ did not die on the Cross so that there might be devout Christians…”

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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