Tag Archives: Thomas Merton

Self Discovery

Midweek Thought #1


“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it all the rest are not only useless but disastrous.”

― Thomas Merton


Merton challenges us to look inside of ourselves with great introspection that allows us to see ourselves as God and others see us. Many times we are shocked by theExplorer 2 comment of a loved one or friend about something we have said or done. Our first reaction may be to say that we are misunderstood, but we will never really understand until we pause and take a deep look at ourselves.God sees in us what we cannot see in ourselves. The creator made us in his image and likeness with the knowledge that we would never live up to our full potential. Too often we hide behind our accomplishments and never take that voyage to the most difficult destination of all – our true self. Merton reminds us of this, but how do we begin that scary voyage? Let me suggest a few possibilities.

  • Learn to sit quietly in the presence of God.

  • Learn to say, “I was wrong.”

  • Learn to value others more than yourself.

These three possibilities are not a silver bullet to finding our true selves but some tools that will drive us deeper into that uncharted territory that lies within all of us.  As we venture deeper into ourselves, God will give us the wisdom and courage to confront the bad and the joy of the discovery of the good. Remember, the image of God is imprinted in our DNA, and it is the desire of God that it come out.  Spend some time today pondering the possibility that that image can emerge and I know God will bless you.


Midweek #1

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New Seeds of Contemplation 6

Bird and seedsEvery moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality tat come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of all men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish in and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.

…..Thomas Merton

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New Seeds of Contemplation 5

CrowTree-v3-1200-1200x675Nothing is more repellent than a pseudo-scientific definition of the contemplative experience. One reason for this is that he who attempts such a definition is tempted to proceed psychologically, and there is really no adequate psychology of contemplation.

—–Thomas Merton

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New Seeds of Contemplation 3

Contemplation is also the response to a call: a call from Him who has no voice, and yet who speaks in everything that is, and who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being: for we ourselves or words of His.

Thomas Merton
Merton at his Hermitage

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Our Encounter with Evil

As we travel the Christian journey, we are invariably going to discover that we are confronted by evil in many forms. In Athanasius of Alexandria’s biography of Anthony of Egypt this is referred to as his conflict with demons. We seldom reference demons in the postmodern church, but we do know about evil. Anthony the Great had a process to rid himself of evil / demons that I think we can use as well. Let’s look at his ideas.

Evil as GoodWe must remember evil hates good. That is the key to recognizing the evil that so surrounds us. Evil always seeks to find a way to counter or cheat in any good thing. The first thing that Anthony heard was what he called a whisper about the sacrifices he had made to follow God’s calling. The evil one wanted him to remember his wealth, his sister, his friends and all the pleasures he left behind. The hope of that evil one was that he would grow resentful and turn back to his old life. Though Anthony’s endeavors would be considered strange and selfish by some, it would have been wrong for him to decide to abandon God’s purpose in life and go back to his old ways.

That’s an important point to remember. The devil does not always lead us to blatant evil, but he does lead us away from God’s purpose in our lives. Only you know what God’s purpose is in your life and only you can pursue it. Simply put, the devil, the demon wants you to abandon that purpose. He does not always lead you to do wrong and despicable things but rather to simply abandon the purpose of God in your life. Anthony was a good man with a good life, but God was calling him to a new life and the devil did not want him to follow that calling.


Bio 2

The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods.

Thomas Merton

That’s the challenge we all face. We are to recognize when the devil is really trying to turn us away from God’s plan for our lives. It can seem so innocuous and harmless, but it still leads us away from our “God path.” The work of the evil one is not always scary but is always deceptive. Anthony recognized this and we must do so as well because if we do not, we can lose our way.

This can be combated in many ways. We can maintain a life of prayer and awareness that always seeks God’s face. We can read and study the revelation of holy scriptures. We can surround ourselves by others who seek to follow their own “God Path.”

We can surmise from the words of Athanasius as he describes to us life of Anthony the Great, that one of the great concerns we must all have is interference from the demonic in our lives. We would do well to keep this in mind every day we live.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:12

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The Best of New seeds of Contemplation 2

Merton 2

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February 3, 2020 · 9:04 am

The Best of New Seeds of Contemplation 1

Merton 1

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January 27, 2020 · 5:44 am

Did You Find the Divine?

The only trouble is that in the spiritual life there are no tricks and no shortcuts. Those who imagine that they can discover spiritual gimmicks and put them to work for themselves usually ignore God’s will and his grace.

 

We must approach our meditation realizing that ‘grace,’ ‘mercy,’ and ‘faith’ are not permanent inalienable possessions which we gain by our efforts and retain as though by right, provided that we behave ourselves. They are CONSTANTLY RENEWED GIFTS. The life of grace in our hearts is renewed from moment to moment, directly and personally by God in his love for us.

 

True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace. It can come to us ONLY as a gift, and not as a result of our own clever use of spiritual techniques

 

 

++++ Thoughts from Thomas Merton


 

There are some fascinating words of Jesus in John 17: 23&24, “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Have you ever pondered on this passage? What does it mean to be one with God? Further, why are we one with Him?

The contemplative monk Thomas Merton had this to say about the passage. “The seeds of this perfect life are planted in every Christian soul at Baptism. But seeds must grow and develop before you reap the harvest. There are thousands of Christians walking about the face of the earth bearing in their bodies the infinite God of whom they know practically nothing.”

Life would be so different if only we recognized and nourished these precious seeds we bear in our souls. God has given each of us a small part of himself. After all, we are created in the “image and likeness” of God. The pilgrimage of a lifetime is to discover and nurture that precious gift God has given us. We discover this gift as we spend time with Him-fully open to His presence. We can pray, fast, meditate, worship and engage in sacred reading, all with the objective of allowing our master to complete this process. It is so very sad that so many people never allow for the development of the divine within themselves.


 

Prayer

Lord, help me to find you. Guide me to look in the right places with the right motive. Keep me away from selfish and vain journeys that I might say are a search for the divine.

Amen

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Quotes to Ponder

9-6-17

For the past  six years I have been sharing quotes, reflections and prayers with you by way of this blog and my emails.Today I give you a collection of quotes as fodder for your prayers and journaling. I hope you will find them helpful and inspiring.

Surely we cannot take an open question like the supernatural and shut it with a bang, turning the key of the madhouse on all the mystics of history. You cannot take the region of the unknown and calmly say that, though you know nothing about it, you know all the gates are locked. We do not know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.”

—G.K. Chesterton

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.

—Meister Eckhart

If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.

—Julian of Norwich

I will soothe you and heal you, I will bring you roses. I too have been covered with thorns.

—Jalaluddin Rumi

Every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description.

― Anthony de Mello

For if the will has nothing to employ it and love has no present object with which to busy itself, the soul finds itself without either support or occupation, its solitude and aridity cause it great distress and its thoughts involve it in the severest conflict.

—Teresa of Ávila

That which we cannot speak of is the one thing about whom and to whom we must never stop speaking.

—Peter Rollins

I used unexpectedly to experience a consciousness of the presence of God, or such a kind that I could not possibly doubt that He was within me or that I was wholly engulfed in Him. This was in no sense a vision: I believe it is called mystical theology. The soul is suspended in such a way that it seems to be completely outside itself. The will loves; the memory, I think, is almost lost; while the understanding, I believe, thought it is not lost, does not reason—I mean that it does not work, but is amazed at the extent of all it can understand; for God wills it to realize that it understands nothing of what His Majesty represents to it.

—Teresa of Ávila

Faith is the door to the full inner life of the Church, a life which includes not only access to an authoritative teaching but above all to a deep personal experience which is at once unique and yet shared by the whole Body of Christ, in the Spirit of Christ.”

—Thomas Merton

Have you ever wanted More? Not more stuff . . . or success . . . or fame . . . but more intimacy, more connection, more mystery, more awe

—Mariah McKenzie

Anyone who truly loves God travels securely.

—Saint Teresa of Avila

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

—Julian of Norwich

Benedict-9-6-17

Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind.

—Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.

—-Benedict of Nursia

Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.

—- Saint Teresa of Avila

When Abba Anthony thought about the depths of the judgments of God, he asked, ‘Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?’ He heard a voice answering him, ‘Antony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.

—Anthony the Great


PRAYER

God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself;
for Thou art enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less
that can be full honor to Thee.
And if I ask anything that is less,
ever Shall I be in want,
for only in Thee have I all.”

AMEN

___Julian of Norwich


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Self Denial

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?

—–Jesus

 

Self Denial is defined as – the willingness to forgo personal pleasures or undergo personal trials in the pursuit of the increased good of another.

Christian monastic asceticism(severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence) is remarkable for its balance, its sense of proportion. It does not overstress the negative side of the ascetic life, nor does it tend to flatter human nature by diminishing responsibilities or watering down the truth. It shows us clearly that while we can do nothing without grace, we must nevertheless cooperate with grace. It warns us that we must make an uncompromising break with the world and all that it stands for, but it keeps encouraging us with the hope of the happiness that lies ahead.

—— Thomas Merton


 

Self-denial is not very popular in our American culture. We are taught to want the best and more of it. A beer commercial once proclaimed, “You only go around once in life: Go for all the gusto you can.” The commercial is no longer aired, but the attitude permeates our society. Over and over we are urged to grab for all of life that we possibly can, and then go for more. An unprecedented number of Americans classify their religious status as unaffiliated or “none.” The concept of self-denial is an anathema to our society and, therefore, so is Christianity.

Nones

Jesus teaches his followers to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow him. That concept just doesn’t speak to our society. Everything must have a payoff, a good result, be successful or it is just not worth doing. We in the church speak of what sacrifices are necessary to live the Christian life. Hypocrisy, ill will and scandals have unfortunately brought Christianity to aHypocrites screeching halt in our day. Many people have a hard time seeing that Christianity has any genuineness at all. We are no longer the focus of the marketplace or the leaders of society. Quite honestly, it seems as though we are being erased as if we never existed. We are either considered uneducated at best or mean hypocrites at worse. Our identity has become the purveyors of the “thou shat not “message. Why, you ask?

Because of the overall negativity of our message, much of the world has forgotten about the grace of God. This grace is the free and unmerited favor of God. In the secular world grace is simple elegance or refinement of movement. I would like to propose that both definitions are applicable to the follower of Jesus who practices self-denial. Merton says that we can do nothing without grace, and asserts that we must cooperate with grace. I believe that the Christian who lives in oneness with God by taking up of their cross is a person who is both receiving the unmerited favor of God and journeys through life with simple elegance. This life of self-denial is surprisingly freeing. We are no longer dragged down by competition, envy or even defeat. Now we can live in a world where God truly reigns. Simple self-denial makes God’s kingdom very real in the here and now.

Grace-1

The challenge is – do we truly believe in Him enough to practice self-denial and cross bearing? Tall orders these are, but ones that have an” other worldly” payoff. Those large numbers of “nones” that the pollsters tell us about have rejected the grace that comes with self-denial and can scarcely imagine what “grace freedom” really means. Grace freedom is the ability to live in the kingdom of God in the now and be excited about what is to come. The best things in life come by letting go.

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?


Prayer

Lord, I pray for the gift of grace that allows me to deny myself and take up my cross. That road is one that my mind will not let me follow, but I know that if I open myself to your grace I can see your mind and gladly follow. When that happens I have unimaginable freedom. The road is confusing, but I trust you.

Amen

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