Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Pilgrim's Musings: Contemplative Thomas Merton

The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but it one who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and, when he is “answered,” it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God. Thomas Merton The Climate of Monastic Prayer

High up in the summer sky I watch the silent flight of a vulture, and the day goes by in prayer. This solitude confirms my call to solitude. The more I am in it, the more I love it. One day it will possess me entirely and no man will ever see me again. Thomas Merton A Search for Solitude

Let me withdraw all my love from scattered, vain things—the desire to be read and praised as a writer, to be a successful teacher praised by my students, or to live at ease in some beautiful place—and let me place everything in Thee, where it will take root and live, instead of being spent in barrenness. Thomas Merton A Search for Solitude

My God, I pray better to you by breathing. I pray better to You by walking than by talking. Thomas Merton

O God, teach me to be satisfied with my own helplessness in the spiritual life. Teach me to be content with your grace that comes to me in darkness and that works things I cannot see. Teach me to be happy that I can depend on You. To depend on You should be enough for an eternity of joy. To depend on You by itself ought to be infinitely greater than any joy which my own intellectual appetite could desire.

God is in this room. He is my heart. So much so that it is difficult to read or write. Nevertheless, I’ll get busy on the Book of Isaias which is Your Word, O my God. May Your fire grow in me and may I find You in Your beautiful fire.

In solitude I have at last discovered that You desire the love of my heart, O my God, the love of my heart as it is—the love of my human heart. I have found and have known by Your great mercy that the love of a heart that is abandoned and broken and poor is most pleasing to You and attracts the gaze of Your pity. It is Your desire and Your consolation, O my Lord, to he very close to those who love You and call upon You as their Father. You have perhaps no greater consolation—if I may so speak—than to console Your afflicted children and those who come to You poor and empty handed, with nothing by their humanness, their limitations and their great trust in Your mercy. Thomas Merton A Search for Solitude
Almighty and merciful God, Father of all, Creator and Ruler of the Universe, Lord of History Whose designs are inscrutable, Whose glory is without blemish, Whose compassion for our errors is inexhaustible,in your will is our peace. Mercifully hear this prayer which rises to You from the tumult and desperation of a world in which You are forgotten, in which Your name is not invoked, Your laws are derided, Your presence is ignored.Because we do not know You, we have no peace. Help us to be the masters of the weapons that threaten to master us. Help us to use our science for peace and plenty, not for war and destruction. Show us how to use nuclear power to bless our children’s children and not to blight them.Resolve our inner contradictions that now grow beyond belief and beyond bearing. They are at once a torment and a blessing: for if you had not left us the light of conscience, we would not have to endure them. Teach us to be long-suffering in anguish and insecurity. Teach us to wait and trust. Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work for peace. (From a prayer read in the United States House of Representatives, Wednesday of Holy Week, April 12, 1962)

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. 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. And that is what makes all the difference.

If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men--you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead.
Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation

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