The Mystery of Christ – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – New Seeds of Contemplation

by Mark Votava

download (9)1. An idea of Christ that is limited and incomplete

“Every one of us forms an idea of Christ that is limited and incomplete. It is cut according to our own measure. We tend to create for ourselves a Christ in our own image, a projection of our own aspirations, desires and ideals. We find in Him what we want to find. We make Him not only the incarnation of God but also the incarnation of the things we and our society and our part of society happen to live for.”

2. The normal way to contemplation

“The normal way to contemplation is a belief in Christ that is born of thoughtful consideration of His life and His teaching…”

3. The source of all contemplation

“Faith in Christ, and in the mysteries of His life and death, is the foundation of the Christian life and the source of all contemplation: and about this there can be no issue…”

4. Abandon the humanity of Christ

“The supposed ‘problem’ as to whether in contemplation one should abandon the humanity of Christ in order to go directly to His divinity arises from a too superficial grasp of dogma. And this is one of the cases where ignorance of theology has disastrous effects in the interior life…”

5. Separate the humanity and divinity of Christ

“If in our contemplation we so separate the humanity and divinity of Christ that we ‘pass beyond the humanity,’ to ‘rest in the divinity,’ we will tend to divide Christ into ‘A Man’ and ‘A Divine Person,’ whereas in actuality God and man in Him are completely indivisible and inseparable in the Unity of His person.”

6. Supremely personalistic

“But Christian contemplation is supremely personalistic. Our love and knowledge of Christ do not terminate in His human nature or in Hs divine nature but in His person. To love Him merely as a nature would be like loving a human friend for his money or his conviviality. We do not love Christ for what He has but for Who He Is.”

7. Loving awareness

“This loving awareness is a thing more real and more valuable by far than anything we can arrive at by our interior senses alone… For Jesus Himself causes this love to spring up within us by a direct and personal effect of His will. When He touches our souls with His love, He affects us even more directly and intimately than a material object moves and affects our eyes and other senses…”

8. The Christ who dwells in our souls

“We read the Gospels not merely to get a picture or an idea of Christ but to enter in and pass through the words of revelation to establish, by faith, a vital contact with the Christ Who dwells in our souls…”

9. Some kind of pious charade

“For if we depend on our own ideas, our own judgement and our own efforts to reproduce the life of Christ, we will only act out some kind of pious charade which will ultimately scare everybody we meet because it will be so stiff and artificial and so dead.”

How have we formed an image of Christ that is limited and incomplete?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist