Friday, August 3, 2012

Morning Thoughts from Thomas Merton

I started to write these quotes in my journal but it was taking too long, so I decided to copy them here.  I copied them really more for me, since I am guessing not too many people want to read a string of quotes.  However, if you are into string-of-quote reading, these are some beautiful and moving quotes to read. 

From Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton

The desert is the home of despair.  And despair, now, is everywhere.  Let us not think that our interior solitude consists in the acceptance of defeat. We cannot escape anything by consenting tacitly to be defeated.  Despair is an abyss without bottom.  Do not think to close it by consenting to it and trying to forget you have consented. 
This, then, is our desert: to live facing despair, but not to consent.  To trample it down under hope in the Cross.  To wage war against despair unceasingly.  That war is our wilderness.  If we wage it courageously, we will find Christ at our side.  If we cannot face it, we will never find Him (8).

It would be absurd to suppose that because emotion sometimes interferes with reason, that it therefore has no place in the spiritual life.  Christianity is not stoicism.  The Cross does not sanctify us by destroying human feeling.  Detachment is not insensibility.  Too many ascetics fail to become great saints precisely because their rules and ascetic practices have merely deadened their humanity instead of setting it free to develop richly, in all its capacities, under the influence of grace (12).

Living is not thinking.  Thought is formed and guided by objective reality outside us. Living is the constant adjustment of thought to life and life to thought in such a way that we are always growing, always experiencing new things in the old and old things in the new.  Thus life is always new (17). 

Without courage we can never attain true simplicity.  Cowardice keeps us "double-minded"--hesitating between the world and God.  In this hesitation, there is not true faith--faith remains an opinion.  We are never certain, because we never quite give into the authority of an invisible God.  This hesitation is the death of hope.  We never let go of those visible supports which, we well know, must one day surely fail us.  And this hesitation  makes true prayer impossible--it never quite dares to ask for anything, or if it asks, it is so uncertain of being heard that in the very act of asking, it surreptitiously seeks by human prudence to construct a make-shift answer (cf James 1:5-8).
What is the use of praying if at the very moment of prayer, we have so little confidence in God that we are busy planning our own kind of answer to our prayer (24)? 

There is no neutrality between gratitude and ingratitude.  Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything.  Those who do not love, hate.  In the spiritual life there is no such thing as an indifference to love or hate.  That is why tepidity (which seems to be indifferent) is so detestable.  It is hate disguised as love (32).

Gratitude [...] is more than a mental exercise, more than  formula of words.  We cannot be satisfied to make a mental note of things which God has done for us and then perfunctorily thank Him for favors received.
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 man knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience.  And that is what makes all the difference (33).

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