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Merton’s Voice: If the whole world were only capable of grasping this principle that true happiness consists only in the freedom of disinterested love – the ability to get away from ourselves, and our limited sphere of interests and appetites and needs, and rejoice in the good that is in others, not because it is also ours, but formally in so far as it is theirs!
Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable (New York: New Directions, 1964) p. 316
Prayer: The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes… NRSV Psalm 19: 8.
Merton’s Voice: The idea is that faith demands the silencing of questionable deals and strategies. Faith demands the integrity of inner trust which produces wholeness, unity, peace, genuine security. Here we see the creative power and fruitfulness of silence.
Thomas Merton, Love and Living. (New York: Harcourt, 1965). p. 42.
Prayer: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.” NRSV Psalm 122: 6-7.
Merton’s Voice: So instead of loving what you think is peace, love other men and love God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greet – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation. (New York: New Directions, 1961). p. 122.
Prayer: For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.” NRSV Psalm 122: 8-9.
In so many ways we use and abuse our bodies. Jesus’ coming to us in the body and his being lifted with his body in the glory of God call us to treat our bodies and the bodies of others with great reverence and respect.
God, through Jesus, has made our bodies sacred places where God has chosen to dwell. Our faith in the resurrection of the body, therefore, calls us to care for our own and one another’s bodies with love. When we bind one another’s wounds and work for the healing of one another’s bodies, we witness to the sacredness of the human body, a body destined for eternal life.
Faith is therefore a gratuitous gift of God, given according to God’s good pleasure, refused by him to those who are obstinate in clinging to human prejudice and to the mythology of racial, national, or class pride. It is given to those who are disposed to accept the gift in simplicity and humility of heart…
Faith is the beginning of a new life.
Thomas Merton, Life and Holiness (New York: Image, 1963) 80, 86.
Waiting patiently for God always includes joyful expectation. Without expectation our waiting can get bogged down in the present. When we wait in expectation our whole beings are open to be surprised by joy.
All through the Gospels Jesus tells us to keep awake and stay alert. And Paul says, “Brothers and sisters … the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe. The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light” (Romans 13:11-12). It is this joyful expectation of God’s coming that offers vitality to our lives. The expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises to us is what allows us to pay full attention to the road on which we are walking.
How do we wait for God? We wait with patience. But patience does not mean passivity. Waiting patiently is not like waiting for the bus to come, the rain to stop, or the sun to rise. It is an active waiting in which we live the present moment to the full in order to find there the signs of the One we are waiting for.
The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means “to suffer.” Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants. Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming.
Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.
Waiting for God is an active, alert – yes, joyful – waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.