Thomas Merton

Giving ourselves in prayer a chance to realize that we have what we seek

The whole thing boils down to giving ourselves in prayer a chance to realize that we have what we seek. We don't have to rush after it. It was there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us. There is in all this a sense of the unfolding of mystery in time, a reverence for gradual growth.

~ Thomas Merton

You do not find it by travelling, but by standing still

Silence is fruitful only when it leads to interior peace and stillness.

Contemplation is a country whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

You do not find it by travelling, but by standing still.

~ Thomas Merton
New Seeds of Contemplation
By Thomas Merton

Our real journey

Our real journey in life is interior: a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.
~ Thomas Merton

Always be true to the deepest and purest aspirations of your soul

Always be true to the deepest and purest aspirations of your soul. Be true to your own deepest self, the real "you", the inner self that is one with God. You may not always be aware of this inmost self. But there are times when, obscurely, at least, you KNOW what is best in you, and you can tell what road God wants you to travel. It does not have to be anything spectacular or unusual. It may simply be what is right in front of you. But it must be a way that enables you to be true to yourself, quietly, peacefully, patiently.

~ Thomas Merton in a letter to Sr. Elizabeth Ann

As long as it talks, I am going to listen

What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, intelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows! Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks, I am going to listen.

~ Thomas Merton

The need is for a true silence which is alive and which carries a loving presence

There has to be enough communication so that silence can be a grace. That kind of silence demands a deeper love, and until that much love is developed, there is no point in pretending that the love is there when it isn't. The justification of silence in our life is that we love one another to be silent together ... In the depths of community life, we realize the grace of being silent together, but we don't arrive at this by excluding others or treating them as objects. It happens gradually as we learn to love ... The need is for a true silence which is alive and which carries a loving presence.

~ from THE SPRINGS OF CONTEMPLATION by Thomas Merton

Silence is the strength of our interior life

Silence is the strength of our interior life. If we fill our lives with silence, then we live in hope.

~ Thomas Merton with thanks to Susan Bower
No Man Is an Island
By Thomas Merton

Contemplation is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual life

Contemplation is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware, that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that source.

~ from NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION by Thomas Merton
New Seeds of Contemplation
By Thomas Merton

No escape from paradox

No escape from paradox: Wisdom manifests itself, and is yet hidden. The more it hides, the more it is manifest; and the more it is manifest, the more it is hidden. For God is known when apprehended as unknown, and is heard when we realize that we do not know the sounds of God's voice. The words uttered are words of full silence, and they are bait to draw us into silence. The truths manifested are full of hiddenness, and their function is to hide us, with themselves, in God from whom they proceed. If we hide the precepts of wisdom in our heart -- precepts of humility, meekness, charity, renunciation, faith, prayer -- they themselves will hide us in God. For the values which they give to us, are completely hidden from our eyes. They bring us to the source of a life that is unknown to the natural wisdom of the world, and yet from this source of nature itself proceeds, is nourished, and is sustained.

~ from SEASONS OF CELEBRATION by Thomas Merton

Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all living things

Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all living things which are all part of one another and involved in one another.

~ Thomas Merton
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