Thomas Merton

Highest Ambitions

WRECK-IT RALPH

Oddly enough, Thomas Merton’s words are the theme of “Wreck-It Ralph.”

“Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.”

― Thomas Merton

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The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross

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(Full disclosure: The author of this book is my friend.)

Yesterday, while in the middle of reading Jeff Blake’s new book “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross,” I had to stop and write to tell him how powerful it is. This short book is HANDS DOWN the best book I’ve read on the message of Jesus. At less than 40 pages the message is distilled to perfection, cutting through any filler or unnecessary repetition while also offering brief personal experiences by Mr. Blake that never take the reader off course.

My belief or faith is far, far away from rock solid. Like reading a passage from Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen or Thomas Merton the words in these pages feel like an anchor of truth.  How so? While reading I felt the “how it isness” wash over me. I felt carried and at peace.  I also became aware of wanting to flee to distraction in the other direction to avoid letting it all sink in.  Am I the only one who does this? Stoping mid-chapter to write an email is a pretty good indicator I am misdirecting myself. (“Stop reading! Do something else! Tell the world!” You gotta love the ego. No really, you have to or it won’t leave you alone.)

I can’t say enough good things about “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross”, by Jeff Blake, so I won’t try. It’s awesome. Pick it up for Lent and read it. Read it more than once. You’ll be very happy you did.

Enter Into The Invisible Work

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“If we love one another truly, our love will be graced with a clear-sighted prudence which sees and respects the designs of God upon each separate soul. Our love for one another must be rooted in a deep devotion to Divine Providence, a devotion that abandons our own limited plans into the hands of God and seeks only to enter into the invisible work that builds His Kingdom. Only a love that senses the designs of Providence can unite itself perfectly to God’s providential action upon souls. Faithful submission to God’s secret working in the world will fill our love with piety, that is to say with supernatural awe and respect. This respect, this piety, gives our love the character of worship, without which our charity can never be quite complete. For love must not only seek the truth in the lives of those around us; it must find it there. But when we find the truth that shapes our lives we have found more than an idea. We have found a Person. We have come upon the actions of One Who is still hidden, but Whose work proclaims Him holy and worthy to be adored. And in Him we also find ourselves.”

~ Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

By The Gatehouse

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“O Lord my God, where have I been sleeping? What have I been doing? How slowly I awaken once again to the barrenness of my life and its confusion. You will forgive me if it is often that way—I do not mean it to be. How little faith there has been in me—how inert have been my hours of solitude, how my time has been wasted. You will forgive me if next week, too, my time is all wasted and I am once again in confusion. But at least this afternoon, sitting on a boulder among the birches, I thought with compunction of Your love. . . . And again tonight, by the gatehouse, I thought of the hope You have planted in our hearts.”

~ Thomas Merton, A Search For Solitude

Painting by Stanislav Yulianovich Zhukovsky (1926)

Your Own Poverty

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“Surrender your own poverty and acknowledge your nothingness to the Lord. Whether you understand it or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you and offers you an understanding and compassion which are like nothing you have ever found in a book or heard in a sermon.”

~ Thomas Merton, The Hidden Ground Of Love

Painting by Vincent Van Gogh

Already Free

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“It may be that we are not capable of existing except in a state in which we imagine ourselves to be under domination. In that event, resentment may help to make the situation acceptable, but it can never make us healthy. It is only a justification, a pretense that we would be free if we could. But what if we discovered that we are, in fact, already free?”

~ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Painting by André Brasilier (1929)