Tag Archives: Discernment

Living Contemplatives

If we want to live as Monks, we must try to understand what the monastic life really is. We must try reach the springs from which that life flows. We must have some notion of our spiritual roots, that we may better able to sink them deep into the soil.

—-Thomas Merton

merton by the fireplaceThese are the opening words to Thomas Merton’s Introduction to Monastic Spiritually. Though the book was written for young men who were entering into a monastic vocation, it speaks to all of us who seek to live as contemplatives where we are planted. Merton points out three very important directions that all contemplative seekers must follow:

  • He urges us to reach the springs from which such a life flows. There is not one among us who does not have a deep driving desire to discover the “God spring” that is at our grasp. God promises never to leave or forsake us and I believe He means it. Therefore, I will continue to have an outstretched hand toward that goal.
  • We are called to discover our spiritual roots. Merton seems to imply that the key to this discovery is in the search. As we search and find our spring we realize we are created in the image and likeness of God, and we were created with great promise and gifted by God with the ability to live a productive, God honoring life.
  • Growth is then attained by sinking our roots deeply into our spiritual soil. Our roots are continually watered by the spring from which our life flows. The depth of the roots of any tree determines its ability to stand against the wind. So with us, we must be able to withstand the winds of adversity that come our way in the Christian journey.

These three steps propel us in our journeys to, and with, God. The spring waters and the roots grow in their depth and breath. The result is that we are living contemplatives that seek the face of God.

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The Heart of Discernment

Abba Anthony said, ‘Some have afflicted their bodies by asceticism, but they lack discernment, and so they are far from God.’ He also said, ‘Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ.’

—–Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Asceticism can be defined as the rejection of the pleasures of life. It does not really matter how much we deprive ourselves in the name of God, if we do not have the discernment to know that we must interact with all of our neighbors. Our true calling as Christ followers is to be at harmony with all who are around us .Our ultimate calling is to gain the trust and friendship of those around us. In this there is Godly living. To be destructive to our neighbor is a sin against God and man.

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Filed under Antony of Egypt, contemplative, Desert Fathers, Missional Living, Monasticism