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Contemplatives and Action – Thomas Merton

If the contemplative is totally out of touch with the realities and crises of his time, he loses all claim to that special fullness and maturity of wisdom which should be his.

Thomas Merton. Contemplation in a World of Action (Notre Dame, Indiana: Notre Dame Press, 1998): 135.


“The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.”  Psalm 19: 8

Creation as a Clean Window – Thomas Merton

Creation had been given to man as a clean window through which the light of God could shine into men’s souls. Sun and moon, night and day, rain, the sea, the crops, the flowering tree, all these things were transparent. They spoke to man not of themselves only but of Him who made them.

Thomas Merton. A Merton Reader (New York: Image Books, 1989): 395


“May he be like rain coming down upon the fields, like showers watering the earth that abundance may flourish in his days, great bounty, till the moon be no more.”  Psalm 72: 6-7

True Freedom – Thomas Merton

“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. A Merton Reader (New York: Image Books, 1989): 316.


“I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.'” Psalm 122:1

Waiting with the Word – Henri Nouwen

Our waiting is always shaped by alertness to the Word. It is waiting in the knowledge that someone wants to address us. The question is, are we home? Are we at our address, ready to respond to the doorbell? We need to wait together, to keep each other at home spiritually, so that when the Word comes it can become flesh in us. That is why the Book of God is always in the midst of those who gather. We read the Word so that the Word can become flesh and have a whole new life in us.

Henri J.M. Nouwen.  Finding My Way Home. (The Crossroad Publishing Company): 107.

Faith Alone – Thomas Merton

Faith alone can give us the light to see that God’s will is to be found in our everyday life. Without this light, we cannot see to make the right decisions. Without this certitude we cannot have supernatural confidence and peace.

To keep ourselves spiritually alive we must constantly renew our faith.

Thomas Merton. Thoughts in Solitude. (New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux): 38


“O God, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved.” Psalm 80:4

The resurrection of Jesus is the basis of our faith in the resurrection of our bodies.  Often we hear the suggestion that our bodies are the prisons of our souls and that the spiritual life is the way out of these prisons.  But by our faith in the resurrection of the body we proclaim that the spiritual life and the life in the body cannot be separated.  Our bodies, as Paul says, are temples of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19) and, therefore, sacred.  The resurrection of the body means that what we have lived in the body will not go to waste but will be lifted in our eternal life with God.  As Christ bears the marks of his suffering in his risen body, our bodies in the resurrection will bear the marks of our suffering.  Our wounds will become signs of glory in the resurrection.

Emphasis mine.

So I think, our spirits were saved at Calvary, and our bodies on Easter Morning.

Many thanks to editor Annmarie Lockhart for publishing my poem “Facing One’s Weakness” (for NASCAR Driver, Kyle Busch) in vox poetica.

If we do not wait patiently in expectation for God’s coming in glory, we start wandering around, going from one little sensation to another.  Our lives get stuffed with newspaper items, television stories, and gossip.  Then our minds lose the disciline of discerning between what leads us closer to God and what doesn’t, and our hearts gradually lose their spiritual sensitivity.

Without waiting for the second coming of Christ, we will stagnate quickly and become tempted to indulge in whatever gives us a moment of pleasure.  When Paul asks us to wake from sleep, he says:  “Let us live decently, as in the light of day; with no orgies or drunkenness, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy.  Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop worrying about how your disordered natural inclinations may be fulfilled”  (Romans 13:13-14).  When we have the Lord to look forward to, we can already experience him in the waiting.

emphasis mine

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.

emphasis mine

Next Sunday begins the joyful season of Advent, when we wait for the coming of the Christ Child.  Let us not get “bogged down” in Christmas preparations, in the present.  Let us await the Newborn King and be “surprised” by the joy He brings.

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.

emphasis mine

November 2011