A Tremendous Grace – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – New Seeds of Contemplation

by Mark Votava

download (9)1. A tremendous grace

“It is a tremendous grace, then, and a great privilege when a person living in the world we have to live in suddenly loses his interest in the things that absorb that world, and discovers in his own soul an appetite for poverty and solitude. And the most precious of all the gifts of nature or grace is the desire to be hidden and vanish from the sight of men and be accounted as nothing by the world and to disappear from one’s own self-conscious consideration and vanish into nothingness in the immense poverty that is the adoration of God.”

2. Interior contemplation and external activity

“Far from being essentially opposed to each other, interior contemplation and external activity are two aspects of the same love of God.”

3. Interior peace and recollection

“You will never be able to have perfect interior peace and recollection unless you are detached even from the desire of peace and recollection…”

4. The moment we demand anything

“The moment we demand anything for ourselves or even trust in any action of our own to procure a deeper intensification of this pure and serene rest in God, we defile and dissipate the perfect gift…”

5. The balanced life

“The ‘spiritual life’ is then the perfectly balanced life in which the body with its passions and instincts, the mind with its reasoning and its obedience to principle and the spirit with its passive illumination by the Light and Love of God form one complete man who is in God with God and from God and for God…”

6. Hurry ruins saints as well as artists

“Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success and they are in such haste to get it that they cannot take time to be true to themselves. And when the madness is upon them they argue that their very haste is a species of integrity.”

7. To hope is to risk frustration

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

8. Never attempts anything

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

9. A living and perpetual revolution

“The biggest paradox about the Church is that she is at the same time essentially traditional and essentially revolutionary. But that is not as much of a paradox as it seems, because Christian tradition, unlike all others, is a living and perpetual revolution.”

10. False psychology of mysticism

“It is the duty of anyone who has even the faintest glimpse of God’s love to protest against an inhumanly cruel and false psychology of mysticism, this psychology which presents ‘sanctity’ and ‘contemplation’ under the guises of riches to be acquired. As if sanctity and mysticism were ‘goods’ that one must have in order to be acceptable in the Kingdom of God – just as one must have a new car every two years, a ranch house and a TV set in order to be acceptable in the cities of men. The new car and all that goes with it seem to indicate that one is not a bum or a slacker. That one is faithful to all the acceptable standards. So too, spiritual consolations and very obvious virtues are supposed to be the sign that one has worked loyally in the service of God.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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