Thursday, December 08, 2005

Some More Merton

My friend Grant recently put me on to Thomas Merton. I have just finished his New Seeds of Contemplation. I highly recommend it. Here's a selection (emphasis mine):

To avoid sin and practice virtue is not to be a saint, it is only to be a man, a human being. This is only the beginning of what God wants of you....But the crucial problem of perfection and interior purity is in the renunciation and uprooting of all our unconcious attachments to created things and to our own will and desires.

In fighting deliberate and evident vices a planned strategy of resolutions and penances is the best way--if not the only way. You plan your campaign and fight it out and reshape the plan according to the changes in the aspect of the battle. You pray and suffer and hang on and give things up and hope and sweat, and the varying contours of the struggle work out the shape of your liberty.

When it ends, and when you have a good habit to work with, do not forget the moments of the battle when you were wounded and disarmed and helpless. Do not forget that, for all your efforts, you only won because of God, Who did the fighting in you.

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation


D. I. Dalrymple said...

When I was in college I just devoured Merton. In fact, I nearly became a Roman Catholic because of him. Though there are some aspects to his work and approach that I dont' appreciate so much now, there are still lots of gems such as you've pointed out. I think perhaps my favorite of his books was "The New Man."

Just discovered your blog through James at Paradosis, by the way.

Terry (John) said...

Although I had never read any Merton until recently, I did have a general idea as to the scope of his writings. And I agree with you, there are some areas where I don't follow him. What I've read so far, though, is insightful and right in tune with what I am learning about Orthodoxy. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Lord took him home just in time... :)

Deacon Kevin