Our Whole Life is a Mystery – 5 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – New Seeds of Contemplation

by Mark Votava

51LKHuSQTjL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The man who lives in division

“The man who lives in division is living in death. He cannot find himself because he is lost; he has ceased to be a reality. The person he believes himself to be is a bad dream. And when he dies he will discover that he long ago ceased to exist…”

2. Something deep in the soul

“As far as the accidentals of this life are concerned, humility can be quite content with whatever satisfies the general run of men. But that does not mean that the essence of humility consists in being just like everyone else. On the contrary, humility consists in being precisely the person you actually are before God, and since no two people are alike, if you have the humility to be yourself you will not be like anyone else in the whole universe. But this individuality will not necessarily assert itself on the surface of everyday life. It will not be a matter of mere appearances, or opinions, or tastes, or ways of doing things. It is something deep in the soul.”

3. Our whole life is a mystery

“What is the dimension of this depth? It is the incorporation of the unknown and of the unconscious into our daily life. Faith brings together the known and the unknown so that they overlap: or rather, so that we are aware of their overlapping. Actually, our whole life is a mystery of which very little comes to our conscious understanding. But when we accept only what we can consciously rationalize, our life is actually reduced to the most pitiful limitations, though we may think quite otherwise. (We have been brought up with the absurd prejudice that only what we can reduce to a rational and conscious formula is really understood and experienced in our life. When we can say what a thing is, or what we are doing, we think we fully grasp and experience it. In point of fact this verbalization – very often it is nothing more than verbalization – tends to cut us off from genuine experience and to obscure our understanding instead of increasing it.)”

4. To become attached to the “experience” of peace

“To become attached to the ‘experience’ of peace is to threaten the true and essential and vital union of our soul with God above sense and experience in the darkness of a pure and perfect love.”

5. The courage to risk everything

“What you most need in this dark journey is an unfaltering trust in the Divine guidance, as well as the courage to risk everything… In many ways the journey seems to be a foolish gamble. And you may well make many mistakes… 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…”

Do you experience your whole life as a mystery?

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