If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.
From: Thomas Merton
. . . prayer, especially meditation and contemplative prayer, is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in him whom we have found, who loves us, who is near to us, who comes to us to draw us to himself.
From: Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
The liturgy cannot fulfill this function if we misunderstand or underestimate the essentially spiritual value of Christian public prayer. If we cling to immature and limited notions of “privacy,” we will never be able to free ourselves from the bonds of individualism. We will never realize how the Church delivers us from ourselves by public worship, the very public character of which tends to hide us “in the secret of God’s face.”
From: Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration, p. 27.
Sunrise is an event that calls forth solemn music in the very depths of our nature, as if one’s whole being had to attune itself to the cosmos and praise God for the new day, praise him in the name of all the creatures that ever were or ever will be. I look at the rising sun and feel that now upon me falls the responsibility of seeing what all my ancestors have seen, in the Stone Age and even before it, praising God before me. Whether or not they praised him then, for themselves, they must praise him now in me. When the sun rises each one of us is summoned by the living and the dead to praise God.
From: Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
This gift, this mercy, this unbounded love of God for us has been lavished upon us as a result of Christ’s victory. To taste this love is to share in His victory. To realize our freedom, to exult in our liberation from death, from sin and from the Law, is to sing the Alleluia which truly glorifies God in this world and in the world to come.
From: Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration, page 157)
But now the power of Easter has burst upon us with the resurrection of Christ. Now we find in ourselves a strength which is not our own, and which is freely given to us whenever we need it, raising us above the Law, giving us a new law which is hidden in Christ: the law of his merciful love for us. Now we no longer strive to be good because we have to, because it is a duty, but because our joy is to please him who has given all his love to us! Now our life is full of meaning!
From: Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.
From: Thomas Merton
Please visit Discipleswalk.org
“Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience.”
From: Thomas Merton
“In one sense we are always traveling, and traveling as if we did not know where we were going. In another sense we have already arrived. We cannot arrive at the perfect possession of God in this life, and that is why we are traveling and in darkness. But we already possess Him by grace, and therefore, in that sense, we have arrived and are dwelling in the light. But oh! How far have I to go to find You in Whom I have already arrived!”
~~~ Thomas Merton in The Seven Storey Mountain
This Ash Wednesday I have been drawn to a well known prayer of Thomas Merton –
My Lord, God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But, I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart for that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost in the shadow of death
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
It strikes that perhaps our Lenten journey should begin with the honesty, humility and trust that Merton exhibits.
Blessings on your Lenten journey.