According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Merton Prayer





The Merton Prayer
 
In Thoughts in Solitude, Part Two, Chapter II consists of fifteen lines that have become known as "the Merton Prayer."
 
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
© Abbey of Gethsemani 
 
 
 
Frank Peabody, artist
The Merton Institute Board
 
 
About Thomas Merton
 
Thomas Merton's remarkable and enduring popularity indicates that he touches the hearts of people searching for answers to life's important questions. For many, he is a constant spiritual companion; for others, his writings provide guidance through life’s difficult moments. He takes people into deep places within themselves and offers insight to the paradoxes of life. He shares how to be contemplative in a world of action while offering no quick fixes, no ten easy steps to a successful spiritual life.

At the core of Thomas Merton's spiritual writings is the search for the "true self" and our need for relationship with God, other people, and all of creation. He finds that when we are apart from God, we experience alienation and desolation. Merton believes that we must discover God as the center of our being. It is in this center that all things tend and where all of our activity must be directed.

Merton's writings were prophetic; they highlight the major issues that confronted society in his time and still confront society today. They illustrate the growing alienation of humanity. Whether it is war, social and racial injustice, violence, or religious intolerance, the source of the problem is that man "has become alienated from his inner self which is the image of God."

The degree of humanity's alienation is reflected in the unrelenting violence of our time. Wars and acts of nations around the globe caused the death of more than 500 million people in the 20th century. Closer to home, schoolchildren kill their fellow students in schools, and incidences of racial and domestic violence and child abuse occur with appalling frequency. The violence surrounds us. We must change direction or perish. This requires a social conversion, a turning away from destructive behavior and a turning toward a relational way of being. The first step in this turning is a transformation of consciousness. Thomas Merton is a preeminent guide in this first step and throughout the journey.

There is in the world today athirst for God. People are seeking a reversal of the trends toward consumerism and materialism, prejudice and violence. They are discovering that what one does must be a means of both self-fulfillment and service to others.

Throughout history, the role of spiritual master has been recognized and valued. Thomas Merton is a spiritual master whose influence crosses generations and religious affiliations. His message offers us bracing and brotherly advice on how we can be conscious and attentive to God in order to hear the answers to the difficult questions in our lives.

Thomas Merton's message and life helps us build a new paradigm for living, one that integrates the contemplative in each of us with our external activities. His message is a source of deep change in a culture of superficial solutions, a window through which we see the possibilities for a peaceful and just world.
 
 
 
Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
A Brief Biographical Sketch


Thomas Merton is one of the most influential American spiritual writers of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Merton wrote over seventy other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton had his first experience with Roman Catholicism at the age of sixteen in a church in Italy. On December 10, 1941, he entered the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), one of the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic orders.

The twenty-seven years he spent in Gethsemani prior to his untimely death in 1968 stimulated profound changes in his self-understanding. This ongoing transformation impelled him into the political arena, where he became, according to Daniel Berrigan, the conscience of the peace movement of the 1960's. Referring to racism and peace as the two most urgent issues of our time, Merton was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called "certainly the great example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States." For his social activism Merton endured severe criticism, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who assailed his political writings as unbecoming of a monk.

During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk's trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dalai Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known.

It was during this trip to a conference on East-West monastic dialogue that Merton died, in Bangkok on December 10, 1968. He was the victim of an accidental electrocution. By a sad coincidence the date marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance into Gethsemani.