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Words of Wisdom

Aspects of the Spiritual Life: Thoughts in Solitude by the Reverend Thomas Merton (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

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The Reverend Thomas Merton, an important Catholic mystic and spiritual thinker, was born in 1915, to a New Zealand father and an American mother. The many life situations he encountered in his youth led him to explore religion and spirituality and eventually devote his life to God by becoming a monk, and later a deacon, at the Abbey of Gethsemani, a part of the Order of Trappists, in Kentucky, USA. Today, we will tap in to the Reverend Merton’s deep thoughts, as expressed in his book entitled, “Thoughts in Solitude,” where he elaborates on aspects of our lives related to the greater spiritual reality, and how that co-dependence can be of a benefit to us. “The death by which we enter into life is not an escape from reality but a complete gift of ourselves which involves a total commitment to reality. It begins by renouncing the illusory reality which created things acquire when they are seen only in their relation to our own selfish interests.” “We begin our renouncement of creatures by standing back from them and looking at them as they are in themselves. In so doing we penetrate their reality, their actuality, their truth, which cannot be discovered until we get them outside ourselves and stand back so that they are seen in perspective. We cannot see things in perspective until we cease to hug them to our own bosom. When we let go of them, we begin to appreciate them as they really are. Only then can we begin to see God in them. Not until we find Him in them, can we start on the road of dark contemplation at whose end we shall be able to find them in Him.” “The Desert Fathers (early Christian hermits who lived in the desert) believed that the wilderness had been created as supremely valuable in the eyes of God precisely because it had no value to men. The wasteland was the land that could never be wasted by men because it offered them nothing. There was nothing to attract them. There was nothing to exploit. The desert was the region in which the Chosen People had wandered for forty years, cared for by God alone. They could have reached the Promised Land in a few months if they had travelled directly to it. God’s plan was that they should learn to love Him in the wilderness and that they should always look back upon the time in the desert as the idyllic time of their life with Him alone.”
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