Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: No Man Is An Island

A Solitude Of Our Own – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Evasion is the answer of superstition

“This discovery of Christ is never genuine if it is nothing but a flight from ourselves. On the contrary, it cannot be an escape… I cannot discover God in myself… unless I have the courage to face myself exactly as I am, with all my limitations, and to accept others as they are, with all their limitations… Evasion is the answer of superstition.”

2. Be true to the ones we love and to ourselves

“Love, then, must be true to the ones we love and to ourselves, and also to its own laws. I cannot be true to myself if I pretend to have more in common than I actually have with someone whom I may like for a selfish and unworthy reason.”

3. Happiness consists in

“Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the ‘one necessary thing’ may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.”

4. Everyone has a vocation: to be themselves

“Every man has a vocation to be someone: but he must understand clearly that in order to fulfill this vocation he can only be one person: himself.”

5. Sharing in the common good

“There are plenty of men who will give up their interests for the sake of ‘society,’ but cannot stand any of the people they live with. As long as we regard other men as obstacles to our own happiness we are the enemies of society and we have only a very small capacity for sharing in the common good.”

6. More than a mere turning inward upon ourselves

“Recollection is more than a mere turning inward upon ourselves, and it does not necessarily mean the denial or exclusion of exterior things. Sometimes we are more recollected, quieter, simple and pure, when we see through exterior things and see God in them than when we turn away from them to shut them out of our minds. Recollection does not deny sensible things, it sets them in order. Either they are significant to it, and it sees their significance, or else they have no special meaning, their meaninglessness remains innocent and neutral…”

7. The infinite solitude of God dwelling within us

“Recollection is almost the same thing as interior solitude. It is in recollection that we discover the finite solitude of our own heart, and the infinite solitude of God dwelling within us. Unless these vast horizons have opened out in the center of our lives, we can hardly see things in perspective. Our judgements are not in proportion with things as they are…”

8. A solitude of our own

“A person is a person insofar as he has a secret and is a solitude of his own that cannot be communicated to anyone else. If I love a person, I will love that which most makes him a person: the secrecy, the hiddenness, the solitude of his own individual being…”

Have you created and discovered a solitude of your own?

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Defending An Illusion – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. What we actually experience as “life”

“For the subconscious mind is a storehouse of images and symbols, I might also say of ‘experiences’ which provide us with more than half the material of what we actually experience as ‘life.’ Without our knowing it, we see reality through glasses colored by our subconscious memory of previous experiences.”

2. A spiritual revaluation of all that is in us

“Dark things come out of the depths of our souls, and we have to consider them and recognize them for our own… And while we face them, and cannot get rid of them, we realize more clearly than ever before our great need for God… Then begins a spiritual revaluation of all that is in us. We begin to ask ourselves what is and is not real in our ideals!”

3. Spiritually mature

“When action and contemplation dwell together, filling our whole life because we are moved in all things by the Spirit of God, then we are spiritually mature. Our intentions are habitually pure…”

4. Enables Christ to suffer in us

“If we love God, suffering does not matter… Pain does not cease to be pain, but we can be glad of it because it enables Christ to suffer in us…”

5. Do not really believe in their own existence

“The reason why men are so anxious to see themselves, instead of being content to be themselves, is that they do not really believe in their own existence. And they do not fully believe that they exist because they do not believe in God. This is equally true of those who say they believe in God (without actually putting their faith into practice) and of those who do not even pretend to have any faith.”

6. Convention is completely unoriginal

“…tradition is creative. Always original, it always opens out new horizons for an old journey. Convention, on the other hand, is completely unoriginal. It is slavish imitation. It is closed in upon itself and leads to complete sterility.”

7. Desiring to grow in love

“It is by desiring to grow in love that we receive the Holy Spirit, and the thirst for more charity is the effect of this more abundant reception.”

8. Interior purity and exterior attention

“We fail to balance interior purity and exterior attention when, in one way or another, we seek ourselves instead of God. If we seek only our own interests in our work, we will not be able to keep our hearts pure and recollected…”

9. Defending an illusion

“I cannot find God unless I renounce this useless activity, and I cannot renounce this activity unless I let go of the illusion it defends. And I cannot get rid of an illusion unless I recognize it for an illusion.”

10. Gratitude for life

“For the full fruitfulness of spiritual life begins in gratitude for life, in the consent to live…”

Do we practice gratitude for life?

Purchase No Man Is An Island

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

Humility and Compassion – 11 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Conscience is the light

“Our free acts must not only have a purpose, they must have the right purpose. And we must have a conscience that teaches us how to choose the right purposes. Conscience is the light by which we interpret the will of God in our own lives.”

2. The purpose of my existence

“If I am to know the will of God, I must have the right attitude toward life. I must first of all know what life is, and to know the purpose of my existence.”

3. Suffering without faith

“Useless and hateful in itself, suffering without faith is a curse.”

4. Peace of soul

“Peace of soul does not, therefore, depend on physical inactivity. On the contrary, there are some people who are perfectly capable of tasting true spiritual peace in an active life but who would go crazy if they had to keep themselves still in absolute solitude and silence for any length of time.”

5. Frustrated need for human affection

“You cannot live alone if you cannot stand loneliness. And you cannot stand loneliness if your desire for ‘solitude’ is built on frustrated need for human affection…”

6. A beginning of love

“The first thing we must do when we recognize the presence of God’s grace in our hearts is to desire more charity. The desire for love is itself a beginning of love, and from the moment we desire more we already have more: and our desire is itself the pledge of even more to come…”

7. Sincerity

“Sincerity in the fullest sense is a divine gift, a clarity of spirit…”

8. Humility and compassion

“Do you want to know God? Then learn to understand the weaknesses and imperfections of other men. But how can you understand the weaknesses of others unless you understand your own?… It is not sufficient to forgive others: we must forgive them with humility and compassion. If we forgive them without humility, our forgiveness is a mockery: it presupposes that we are better than they…”

9. Confines the spirit in a prison

“Recollection without faith confines the spirit in a prison without light or air. Interior asceticism should not end by locking us in such a prison. It would only defeat all the purposes of God’s grace by doing so. Faith establishes us in recollection not by setting limits to the activity of the soul, but by removing all the limitations of our natural intelligence and will…”

10. The very essence of personality

“Secrecy and solitude are values that belong to the very essence of personality.”

11. True solitude

“True solitude separates one man from the rest in order that he may freely develop the good that is his own, and then fulfill his true destiny by putting himself at the service of everyone else. False solitude separates man from his brothers in such a way that he can no longer effectively give them anything or receive anything from them in his own spirit. It establishes him in a state of indigence, misery, blindness, torment, and despair. Maddened by his own insufficiency, the proud man shamelessly seizes upon satisfactions and possessions that are not due to him, that can never satisfy him, and that he will never really need. Because he has never learned to distinguish what is really his, he desperately seeks to possess what can never belong to him.”

Have you been pursuing true solitude with humility?

Purchase No Man Is An Island

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

Some Mysterious Vocation – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The full discovery

“What every man looks for in life is his own salvation and the salvation of the men he lives with. By salvation I mean first of all the full discovery of who he himself really is. Then I mean something of the fulfillment of his own God-given powers, in the love of others and of God. I mean also the discovery that he cannot find himself in himself alone, but that he must find himself in and through others…”

2. No interested in the truth

“To love another is to will what is really good for him. Such love must be based on truth… To love blindly is to love selfishly, because the goal of such love is not the real advantage of the beloved but only the exercise of love in our own souls. Such love cannot seem to be love unless it pretends to seek the good of the one loved. But since it actually cares nothing for the truth, and never considers that it may go astray, it proves itself to be selfish. It does not seek the true advantage of the beloved or even our own. It is not interested in the truth, but only in itself. It proclaims itself content with an apparent good: which is the exercise of love for its own sake, without any consideration of the good or bad effects of loving.”

3. Some mysterious vocation

“There is something in the depths of our being that hungers for wholeness and finality. Because we are made for eternal life, we are made for an act that gathers up all the powers and capacities of our being and offers them simultaneously and forever to God. The blind spiritual instinct that tells us obscurely that our own lives have a particular importance and purpose, and which urges us to find out our vocation, seeks in so doing to bring us to a decision that will dedicate our lives irrevocably to their true purpose. The man who loses this sense of his own personal destiny, and who renounces all hope of having any kind of vocation in life has either lost all hope of happiness or else has entered upon some mysterious vocation that God alone can understand.”

4. The meaning of the “common good”

“If I do not love other men, I will never discover the meaning of the ‘common good.’ Love is, itself, the common good.”

5. Gain possession of ourselves

“We must, therefore, gain possession of ourselves, by asceticism, in order that we may be able to give ourselves to God. No inspiration of the Spirit of God will ever move us to cast off the body as if it were evil, or to destroy its faculties as if they were the implacable enemies of God…”

6. Turns us in upon ourselves

“When is suffering useless? When it only turns us in upon ourselves, when it only makes us sorry for ourselves, when it changes love into hatred, when it reduces all things to fear…”

Have we turned in upon ourselves when we suffer or have we been broken open to deeper compassion and love?

Purchase No Man Is An Island

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

The Subconscious Mind – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The subconscious mind

“The subconscious mind plays a very important part in the interior life, even though it remains behind the scenes. Just as a good play depends on the scene, the lighting, and all the rest, so too our interior life owes much of its character to the setting and lighting and background and atmosphere which are provided, without any deliberate action of our own, by our subconscious mind.”

2. Hope is the gateway to contemplation

“Hope is the gateway to contemplation, because contemplation is an experience of divine things and we cannot experience what we do not in some way possess…”

3. The gift of love

“The gift of love is the gift of the power and the capacity to love, and, therefore, to give love with full effect is also to receive it. So, love can only be kept by being given away, and it can only be given perfectly when it is also received.”

4. Really leading an interior life

“What is hard is not the business of putting forth physical effort, but the work of really leading an interior life… underneath all the externals.”

5. What you think of yourself

“Your idea of me is fabricated with materials you have borrowed from other people and from yourself. What you think of me depends on what you think of yourself. Perhaps you create your idea of me out of material that you would like to eliminate from your own idea of yourself. Perhaps your idea of me is a reflection of what other people think of you. Or perhaps what you think of me is simply what you think I think of you.”

6. A life without love and without mercy

“What is the value of a virtuous life, if it be a life without love and without mercy?…”

7. Practical and alive

“The truth I love in loving my brother cannot be something merely philosophical and abstract. It must be at the same time supernatural and concrete, practical and alive. And I mean these words in no metaphorical sense… I must seek the life of the Spirit of God breathing in him. And I can only discern and follow the mysterious life by the action of the same Holy Spirit living and acting in the depths of my own heart.”

8. Created in the image of God

“This respect for the deepest values hidden in another’s personality is more than an obligation of charity. It is a debt we owe in justice to every being, but especially to those who, like ourselves, are created in the image of God.”

9. Some of the charity, that is in ourselves

“Some people never reveal any of the good that is hidden in them until we give them some of the good, that is to say, some of the charity, that is in ourselves.”

10. We must be ourselves

“We must be ourselves by being Christ. For a man, to be is to live. A man only lives as a man when he knows the truth and loves what he knows and acts according to what he loves. In this way he becomes the truth that he loves. So we ‘become’ Christ by knowledge and by love.”

Are you aware of how the subconscious mind plays an important part in the interior life?

Purchase No Man Is An Island

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

The Disorganization Inside Our Souls – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island 

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. If we love one another truly

“If we love one another truly, our love will be graced with a clear-sighted prudence which sees and respects the designs of God upon each separate soul. Our love for one another must be rooted in a deep devotion to Divine Providence, a devotion that abandons our own limited plans into the hands of God… For love must not only seek the truth in the lives of those around us; it must find it there. But when we find the truth that shapes our lives we have found more than an idea…”  

2. Action and contemplation

“Action and contemplation now grow together into one life and one unity. They become two aspects of the same thing. Action is charity looking outward to other men, and contemplation is charity drawn inward to its own divine source. Action is the stream, and contemplation is the spring. The spring remains more important than the stream, for the only thing that really matters is for love to spring up inexhaustibly from the infinite abyss of Christ and of God.”

3. We cannot suffer well

“We cannot suffer well unless we see Christ everywhere – both in suffering and in the charity of those who come to the aid of our affliction.”

4. Not limited by fear

“Love is perfect in proportion to its freedom. It is free in proportion to its purity. We act most freely when we act purely in response to the love of God. But the purest love of God is not servile, not blind, not limited by fear. Pure charity is fully aware of the power of its own freedom…”

5. No true intimacy

“But there is no true intimacy between souls who do not know how to respect one another’s solitude. I cannot be united in love with a person whose very personality my love tends to obscure, to absorb, and to destroy. Nor can I awaken true love in a person who is invited, by my love, to be drowned in the act of drowning me with love.”

6. The disorganization inside our souls

“Our wills are not true, because they refuse to accept the laws of our own being: they fail to work along the lines demanded by our own reality. Our wills are plunged in false values, and they have dragged our minds along with them, and our restless tongues bear constant witness to the disorganization inside our souls…”

7. Our capacity for sincere love

“Our ability to be sincere with ourselves, with God, and with other men is really proportionate to our capacity for sincere love. And the sincerity of our love depends in large measure upon our capacity to believe ourselves loved. Most of the moral and mental and even religious complexities of our time go back to our desperate fear that we are not and can never be really loved by anyone.”

Are you aware of the disorganization inside your soul?

Purchase No Man Is An Island

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

Beauty in Ordinary Things – 13 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Without hope

“Nothing created is of any ultimate use without hope. To place your trust in visible things is to live in despair.”

2. The right attitude toward life

“If I am to know the will of God, I must have the right attitude toward life. I must first of all know what life is, and to know the purpose of my existence.”

3. A divine paradox

“Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the ‘one necessary thing’ may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinguishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.”

4. A capacity for love

“Both the poverty and the nobility of our inmost being consists in the fact that it is a capacity for love…”

5. True recollection

“True recollection is known by its effects: peace, interior silence, tranquility of heart…”

6. We can hardly see things in perspective

“Recollection is almost the same thing as interior solitude. It is in recollection that we discover the finite solitude of our own heart, and the infinite solitude of God dwelling within us. Unless these vast horizons have opened out in the center of our lives, we can hardly see things in perspective…”

7. Renounce this useless activity

“I cannot find God unless I renounce this useless activity, and I cannot renounce this activity unless I let go of the illusion it defends. And I cannot get rid of an illusion unless I recognize it for an illusion.”

8. God, Who is everywhere

“God, Who is everywhere, never leaves us…”

9. Gratitude for life

“For the full fruitfulness of the spiritual life begins in gratitude for life, in the consent to live…”

10. The value of our own loneliness

“If a man does not know the value of his own loneliness, how can he respect another’s solitude?”

11. Trying to run away from material things

“We cannot become saints merely by trying to run away from material things. To have a spiritual life is to have a life that is spiritual in all its wholeness – a life in which the actions of the body are holy because of the soul, and the soul is holy because of God dwelling and acting in it…”

12. We do not always know the will of God

“It is true that we do not always know what the will of God for us really is. Perhaps we know it far less often than we imagine. That does not mean that we must not seek to know it…”

13. To see the value and beauty in ordinary things

“One of the most important – and most neglected – elements in the beginnings of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the splendor that is all around us in the creatures of God. We do not see these things because we have withdrawn from them…”

Have we withdrawn from seeing the value and the beauty in ordinary things?

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

Our Own Noise – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. A solitude that cannot be communicated to anyone else

“A person is a person insofar as he has a secret and is a solitude of his own that cannot be communicated to anyone else. If I love a person, I will love that which most makes him a person: the secrecy, the hiddenness, the solitude of his own individual being, which God alone can penetrate and understand.”

2. Created in the image of God

“This respect for the deepest values hidden in another’s personality is more than an obligation of charity. It is a debt we own in justice to every being, but especially to those who, like ourselves, are created in the image of God.”

3. Those who love their own noise

“Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else. They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea. They bore through silent nature in every direction with their machines, for fear that the calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness. The urgency of their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by pretending to have a purpose. The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength. The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone. The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart. It is the silence of the world that is real. Our noise, our business, our purposes, and all out fatuous statements about our purposes, our business, and our noise: these are the illusion.”

4. If we fill our lives with silence

“If we fill our lives with silence, then we live in hope, and Christ lives in us and gives our virtues much substance…”

5. Exhausted ourselves in speech

“If our life is poured out in useless words we will never hear anything in the depths of our hearts, where Christ lives and speaks in silence. We will never be anything, and in the end, when the time comes for us to declare who and what we are, we shall be found speechless at the moment of the crucial decision: for we shall have said everything and exhausted ourselves in speech before we had anything to say.”

6. Frequently think about death

“If at the moment of our death, death comes to us as an unwelcome stranger, it will be because Christ also has always been an unwelcome stranger… Those who love true life, therefore, frequently think about their death. Their life is full of a silence that is an anticipated victory over death. Silence, indeed, makes death our servant and even our friend. Thoughts and prayers that grow up out of the silent thought of death are like trees growing where there is water. They are strong thoughts, that overcome the fear of misfortune… They turn the face of our soul, in constant desire, toward the face of Christ.”

Have we been entangled in our own noise?

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

Gratitude for Life – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man is an Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The gift of love

“The gift of love is the gift of the power and the capacity to love, and, therefore, to give love with full effect is also to receive it.  So, love can only be kept by being given away, and it can only be given perfectly when it is also received.”

2. When action and contemplation dwell together

“When action and contemplation dwell together, filling our whole life because we are moved in all things by the Spirit of God, then we are spiritually mature…”

3. Mistakes are a part of our life

“Mistakes are part of our life, and not the least important part…  It is by making mistakes that we gain experience, not only for ourselves but for others.  And though our experience prevents neither ourselves nor others from making the same mistake many times, the repeated experience still has a positive value.”

4. A capacity for love

“Both the poverty and the nobility of our inmost being consists in the fact that it is a capacity for love…”

5. Present to ourselves

“Recollection should be seen not as an absence, but as a presence.  It makes us, first of all, present to ourselves.  It makes us present to whatever reality is most significant in the moment of time in which we are living.  And it makes us present to God…”

6. The infinite solitude of God dwelling within us

“Recollection is almost the same thing as interior solitude.  It is in recollection that we discover the finite solitude of our own heart, and the infinite solitude of God dwelling within us.  Unless these vast horizons have opened out in the center of our lives, we can hardly see things in perspective…”

7. Gratitude for life

“For the full fruitfulness of the spiritual life begins in gratitude for life, in the consent to live…”

8. The secrecy, the hiddenness, the solitude of our own individual being

“A person is a person insofar as he has a secret and is a solitude of his own that cannot be communicated to anyone else.  If I love a person, I will love that which most makes him a person: the secrecy, the hiddenness, the solitude of his own individual being, which God alone can… understand.”

9. The secret resources of our own incommunicable personality

“When human society fulfills its true function the persons who form it grow more and more in their individual freedom and personal integrity.  And the more each individual develops and discovers the secret resources of his own incommunicable personality, the more he can contribute to the life and the weal of the whole.  Solitude is as necessary for society as silence is for language and air for the lungs and food for the body.”

10. Where Christ lives and speaks

“If our life is poured out in useless words we will never hear anything in the depths of our hearts, where Christ lives and speaks in silence.  We will never be anything, and in the end, when the time comes for us to declare who and what we are, we shall be found speechless at the moment of the crucial decision: for we shall have said everything and exhausted ourselves in speech before we had anything to say.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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

Having Nothing But God – 11 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Some of the charity that is in ourselves

“Some people never reveal any of the good that is hidden in them until we give them some of the good, that is to say, some of the charity, that is in ourselves.”

2. Not as something to own and manipulate

“The saint must see the truth as something to serve, not as something to own and manipulate according to his own good pleasure.”

3. Detached from the results of our work

“We must be detached from the results of our work, in order to deliver ourselves from the anxiety that makes us plunge into action without restraint…”

4. To see the value and the beauty in ordinary things

“One of the most important – and most neglected – elements in the beginnings of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the splendor that is all around us in the creatures of God…”

5. True happiness is found in unselfish love

“There is a false and monetary happiness in self-satisfaction, but it always leads to sorrow because it narrows and deadens our spirit.  True happiness is found in unselfish love, a love which increases in proportion as it is shared.  There is no end to the sharing of love, and, therefore, the potential happiness of such love is without limit…”

6. Hope is the gateway to contemplation

“Hope is the gateway to contemplation, because contemplation is an experience of divine things and we cannot experience what we do not in some way possess…”

7. The purpose of my existence

“If I am to know the will of God, I must have the right attitude toward life.  I must first of all know what life is, and to know the purpose of my existence.”

8. The supreme poverty of having nothing but God

“Our intention cannot be completely simple unless it is completely poor.  It seeks and desires nothing but the supreme poverty of having nothing but God…”

9. Suffer without hate

“Suffer without reflection, without hate, suffer with no hope of revenge or compensation, suffer without being impatient for the end of suffering.”

10. The actions of the body

“We cannot become saints merely by trying to run away from material things.  To have a spiritual life is to have a life that is spiritual in all its wholeness – a life in which the actions of the body are holy because of the soul, and the soul is holy because of God dwelling and acting in it.  When we live such a life, the actions of our body are directed to God…”  

11. To defend ourselves against agitation

“In order to defend ourselves against agitation, we must be detached not only from the immediate results of our work – and this detachment is difficult and rare – but from the whole complex of aims that govern our earthly lives.  We have to be detached from health and security, from pleasures and possessions, from people and places and conditions and things…”

Which quote stands out to you the most?

Some other posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.