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God’s Will and Sanctity in Christ: From “Life and Holiness” by the Reverend Thomas Merton (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

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It is with great pleasure that we present to you excerpts from Thomas Merton’s book, “Life and Holiness,” in which the Reverend teaches us that serving others and making sacrifices for everyone’s good is understanding and fulfilling God’s Will.

Chapter 2 – The Testing of Ideals What Is the Will of God?

“The will of God is then that each one should, according to his capacity, according to his function and position, devote himself to the service and salvation of all his brothers, especially of those who are closest to him in the order of charity. He must first love those nearest to him–parents, children, dependents, friends: but eventually his love must reach out to all men.”

“The sacrifice of our own will is necessary and pleasing to God whenever there is question of renouncing our individual, private good for a higher and more common good that will work both for our own salvation and the salvation of others.”

“‘The kingdom of Heaven will not give entrance to every man who calls me Master, Master; only to the man that does the Will of my Father who is in Heaven’ (Matthew 7:12-21).

‘If thou are bringing thy gift, then, before the altar, and remember there that thy brother has some ground of complaint against thee, leave thy gift lying there before the altar, and go home; be reconciled with thy brother first, and then come back to offer thy gift. If any man has a claim against thee, come to terms there and then, while thou are walking in the road with him; or else it may be that the claimant will hand thee over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and so thou will be cast into prison. Believe me, thou shall not be set at liberty until thou have paid the last farthing’ (Matthew 5:23-26).”

“‘Wash yourselves clean, spare me the sight of your busy wickedness, keep holiday from wrong-doing. Learn, rather, how to do good, setting your hearts on justice, righting the wrong, protecting the orphan, giving the widow redress; then come back, says the Lord, and make trial of me. Then, the scarlet dye of your guilt will show snow-white, the crimson stains will be like clean wool’ (Isaiah 1:13-18).

The basic principle is then that each should recognize both his need of all the others and his obligation to serve all the others. The will of God will begin to come clear once this fundamental truth has been accepted and understood. But unless we recognize that we are members of one body and that we have vital obligations and responsibilities toward other members who live by the same life principle, we will never understand the Love of God.”
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