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“Faith of course tells us that we live in a time of eschatological struggle, facing a fierce combat which marshals all the forces of evil and darkness against the still invisible truth, yet this combat is already decided by the victory of Christ over death and over sin. The Christian can renounce the protection of violence and risk being humble, therefore vulnerable, not because she trusts in the supposed efficacy of a gentle and persuasive tactic that will disarm hatred and tame cruelty, but because she believes that the hidden power of the Gospel is demanding to be manifested in and through her own poor person. Hence in perfect obedience to the Gospel, she effaces herself and her own interests and even risks her life in order to testify not simply to “the truth” in a sweeping idealistic and purely platonic sense, but to the truth t hat is incarnate in a concrete human situation, involving living persons whose rights are denied or whose lives are threatened.”

“A holy zeal for the cause of humanity in the abstract may sometimes be mere lovelessness and indifference for concrete and living human beings. When we appeal to the highest and most noble ideals, we are more easily tempted to hate and condemn those who, so we believe, are perversely standing in the way of their realization.”

Thomas Merton. Faith and Violence: Christian Teaching and Christian Practice. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968: 18-19

Emphasis mine.

I often think of the pond at Carolina.
And I’m trying to find it now.
So I follow the path.  The path is hard to see.

I go by the church, the school,
in afternoon late in winter,
past the dark evergreens—deep in the woods—

where large icicles hang from a barn’s open door.
I walk in a field with a stiff-legged cow.
My arms in the air,  I remember Bill’s picture:

The Setting Sun Coats Shimmering Cat-Tails.
The pond is golden, each bulrush heavy laden:
Yes, bracted spikelets host such perfect flowers.


First published in Domicile