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Words of Wisdom

Into the Light: From “Life and Holiness” by the Reverend Thomas Merton (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

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Today, we will present selections from Thomas Merton’s book, “Life and Holiness,” where the wise Reverend tells us that not only monks and nuns, but laypeople should also strive for progress in Christian holiness.

Chapter 1 Christian Ideals Called Out of Darkness “Every baptized Christian is obliged by his baptismal promises to renounce sin and to give themself completely, without compromise, to Christ, in order that they may fulfill their vocation, save their soul, enter into the mystery of God, and there find themself perfectly ‘in the light of Christ.’”

“Sin is the refusal of spiritual life, the rejection of the inner order and peace that comes from our union with the Divine will. In a word, sin is the refusal of God’s will and of His love. It is not only a refusal to ‘do’ this or that thing willed by God, or a determination to do what He forbids. It is more radically a refusal to be what we are, a rejection of our mysterious, contingent, spiritual reality hidden in the very mystery of God. Sin is our refusal to be what we were created to be – children of God, images of God. Ultimately sin, while seeming to be an assertion of freedom, is a flight from the freedom and the responsibility of Divine sonship.”

“St. John Chrysostom points out that the mere fact that the life of the monk is more austere and more difficult should not make us think that Christian holiness is principally a matter of difficulty. This would lead to the false conclusion that because salvation seems less arduous for the layperson, it is also in some strange way less truly salvation. On the contrary, says Chrysostom, ‘God has not treated us [laypeople and secular clergy] with such severity as to demand of us monastic austerities as a matter of duty. He has left to all a free choice [in the matter of his counsels]. One must be chaste in marriage, one must be temperate in meals… You are not ordered to renounce your possessions. God only commands you not to steal, and to share your property with those who lack what they need.’”
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