Thomas Merton quote

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."

Thomas Merton

Born: January 31, 1915

Die: December 10, 1968

Occupation: Writer

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More quotes of Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton

Indeed, it is a kind of quintessence of pride to hate and fear even the kind and legitimate approval of those who love us! I mean, to resent it as a humiliating patronage.

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Thomas Merton

It is a kind of pride to insist that none of our prayers should ever be petitions for our own needs: for this is only another subtle way of trying to put ourselves on the same plane as God – acting as...

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Thomas Merton

Our technological society has no longer any place in it for wisdom that seeks truth for its own sake, that seeks the fullness of being, that seeks to rest in an intuition of the very ground of all being....

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Thomas Merton

To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything.

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Thomas Merton

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb...

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Thomas Merton

Gratitude takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder.

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Thomas Merton

This act of total surrender is not merely a fantastic intellectual and mystical gamble; it is something much more serious. It is an act of love for this unseen person, who, in the very gift of love by...

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Thomas Merton

While some men see ordinary happenings, others see divine light and guidance.

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Thomas Merton

Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul.

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Thomas Merton

Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.

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Thomas Merton

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

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Thomas Merton

Perhaps I am stronger than I think.

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Thomas Merton

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

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Thomas Merton

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

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Thomas Merton

A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.

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Thomas Merton

The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.

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Thomas Merton

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory...

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Thomas Merton

Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.

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Thomas Merton

Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment...

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Thomas Merton

We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.

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Thomas Merton

In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for 'finding himself.' If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning...

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Thomas Merton

We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have - for their usefulness.

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Thomas Merton

We stumble and fall constantly even when we are most enlightened. But when we are in true spiritual darkness, we do not even know that we have fallen.

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Thomas Merton

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.

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Thomas Merton

If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.

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Thomas Merton

Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace and your soul in the joy of Christ.

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Thomas Merton

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are...

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Thomas Merton

To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.

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Thomas Merton

We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.

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Thomas Merton

When ambition ends, happiness begins.

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Thomas Merton

I cannot make the universe obey me. I cannot make other people conform to my own whims and fancies. I cannot make even my own body obey me.

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Thomas Merton

Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how.

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Thomas Merton

The very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God's mercy to me.

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Thomas Merton

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.

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Thomas Merton

The first step toward finding God, Who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself: and if I have been in error, this first step to truth is the discovery of my error.

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Thomas Merton

The least of the work of learning is done in the classroom.

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Thomas Merton

Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.

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Thomas Merton

Wheels of fire, cosmic, rich, full-bodied honest victories over desperation.

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Thomas Merton

Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.

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Thomas Merton

October is a fine and dangerous season in America. a wonderful time to begin anything at all. You go to college, and every course in the catalogue looks wonderful.

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Thomas Merton

Death is someone you see very clearly with eyes in the center of your heart: eyes that see not by reacting to light, but by reacting to a kind of a chill from within the marrow of your own life.

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Thomas Merton

The things we really need come to us only as gifts, and in order to receive them as gifts we have to be open. In order to be open we have to renounce ourselves, in a sense we have to die to our image of...

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Thomas Merton

If Zen has any preference it is for glass that is plain, has no color, and is "just glass."

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Thomas Merton

If you have love you will do all things well.

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Thomas Merton

Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they...

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Thomas Merton

Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and the heart has turned to stone.

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Thomas Merton

Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice �out there� calling...

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Thomas Merton

We live on the brink of disaster because we do not know how to let life alone. We do not respect the living and fruitful contradictions and paradoxes of which true life is full.

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Thomas Merton

Pardon all runners, All speechless, alien winds, All mad waters. Pardon their impulses, Their wild attitudes, Their young flights, their reticence. When a message has no clothes on How can it be spoken.

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Thomas Merton

Whose silence are you?

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Thomas Merton

Be still: There is no longer any need of comment. It was a lucky wind That blew away his halo with his cares, A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.

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Thomas Merton

Every moment and every event of everyman's life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality...

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Thomas Merton

Solitude is a way to defend the spirit against the murderous din of our materialism.

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Thomas Merton

Love is not a mere emotion or sentiment. It is the lucid and ardent responses of the whole person to a value that is revealed to him as perfect.

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Thomas Merton

O love-why can't you leave me alone? Which is a rhetorical question meaning: for heaven's sake, don't.

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Thomas Merton

Love, in fact, is the spiritual life; and without it, all other exercises of the spirit are emptied of content.

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Thomas Merton

A purely mental life may be destructive if it leads us to substitute thought for life and ideas for actions. The activity proper to man is purely mental because man is not just a disembodied mind. Our...

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Thomas Merton

Living is not thinking. Thought is formed and guided by objective reality outside us. Living is the constant adjustment of thought to life and life to thought in such a way that we are always growing,...

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Thomas Merton

For the ones who are called saints by human opinion on earth may very well be devils, and their light may very well be darkness

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Thomas Merton

Hurry ruins saints as well as artists.

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Thomas Merton

When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children,...

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Thomas Merton

If our life is poured out in useless words, we will never hear anything, never become anything, and in the end, because we have said everything before we had anything to say, we shall be left speechless...

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Thomas Merton

If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.

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Thomas Merton

Music and art and poetry attune the soul to God.

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Thomas Merton

When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children.

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Thomas Merton

And that is why the man who wants to see clearly, before he will believe, never starts on the journey.

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Thomas Merton

We do not want to be beginners [at prayer]. but let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything but beginners, all our life!

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Thomas Merton

For language to have meaning, there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word and utterance from utterance. He who retires into silence does not necessarily hate language. Perhaps...

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Thomas Merton

A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live.

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Thomas Merton

If we seek paradise outside ourselves, we cannot have paradise in our hearts.

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Thomas Merton

To love blindly is to love selfishly, because the goal of such love is not the real advantage of the beloved but only the exercise of love in our own souls.

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Thomas Merton

For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.

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Thomas Merton

Those who think they 'know' from the beginning will never in fact come to know anything.

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Thomas Merton

The man who lives in division is living in death. He cannot find himself because he is lost; he has ceased to be a reality. The person he believes himself to be is a bad dream.

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Thomas Merton

Sincerity must be bought at a price: the humility to recognize our innumerable errors, and fidelity in tirelessly setting them right.

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Thomas Merton

One of the strange laws of the contemplative life is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: you bear with them until they somehow solve themselves. Or until life solves them for you.

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Thomas Merton

In an age where there is much talk about "being yourself," I reserve to myself the right to forget about being myself, since in any case there is very little chance of my being anybody else.

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Thomas Merton

The goal of fasting is inner unity.

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Thomas Merton

At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God...

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Thomas Merton

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false Self. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves.

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Thomas Merton

As a magnifying glass concentrates the rays of the sun into a little burning knot of heat that can set fire to a dry leaf or a piece of paper, so the mystery of Christ in the Gospel concentrates the rays...

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Thomas Merton

Good moral actions are not enough. Everything in us, from the very depths, must be cleansed and reordered...

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Thomas Merton

For perfect hope is achieved on the brink of despair, when instead of falling over the edge, we find ourselves walking on air.

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Thomas Merton

Life is not accomplishing some special work but attaining to a degree of consciousness and inner freedom which is beyond all works and attainments.

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Thomas Merton

To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect on me is to live on the doorstep of hell. Selfishness is doomed to frustration centered as it is upon a lie. To live exclusively...

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Thomas Merton

The question of love is one that cannot be evaded. Whether or not you claim to be interested in it from the moment you are alive you are bound to be concerned with love because love is not just something...

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Thomas Merton

On Pride: This sickness is most dangerous when it succeeds in looking like humility. When a proud man thinks he is humble his case is hopeless.

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Thomas Merton

Our God...is a consuming fire. And if we, by love, become transformed into Him and burn as He burns, His fire will be our everlasting joy. But if we refuse His love and remain in the coldness of sin and...

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Thomas Merton

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already I am.

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Thomas Merton

Thinking about monastic ideals is not the same as living up to them, but at any rate such thinking has an important place in a monk's life, because you cannot begin to do anything unless you have some...

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Thomas Merton

True encounter with Christ liberates something within us, a power we did not know we had, a capacity to grow and change.

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Thomas Merton

This is the greatest stumbling block in our spiritual discipline, which, in actuality, consists not in getting rid of the self but in realizing the fact that there is no such existence from the first.

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Thomas Merton

The peace produced by grace is a spiritual stability too deep for violence — it is unshakeable

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Thomas Merton

The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds

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Thomas Merton

The real hope is not in something we think we can do, but in God, who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see.

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Thomas Merton

There is not true intimacy between souls who do not know how to respect one another's solitude.

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Thomas Merton

Stop thinking and start looking.

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Thomas Merton

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings...

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Thomas Merton

You cannot be a man of faith unless you know how to doubt.

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Thomas Merton

Persons are not known by intellect alone, not by principles alone, but only by love. It is when we love the other, the enemy, that we obtain from God the key to an understanding of who he is, and who we...

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Thomas Merton

To be alone by being part of the universe-fitting in completely to an environment of woods and silence and peace. Everything you do becomes a unity and a prayer. Unity within and without.

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Thomas Merton

We who claim to love peace and justice must always be careful that we do not use our righteousness to provoke the violent, and in this way bring about the conflict for which we, too, like other men, are...

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Thomas Merton

It might be good to open our eyes and see.

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Thomas Merton

There are days when I am convinced that Heaven starts already, now, in this ordinary life just as it is, in all its incompleteness, yet, this is where Heaven starts.. see within yourself, if you can find...

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Thomas Merton

Art is not an end in itself. It introduces the soul into a higher spiritual order, which it expresses and in some sense explains.

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Thomas Merton

Contemplative living is living in true relationship with oneself, God, others and nature, free of the illusions of separateness.

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Thomas Merton

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each...

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Thomas Merton

The God of peace is never glorified by human violence.

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Thomas Merton

The art of our time, sacred art included, will necessarily be characterized by a certain poverty, grimness and roughness which correspond to the violent realities of a cruel age.

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Thomas Merton

I have only one desire, and that is the desire for solitude-to disappear into God, to be submerged in His peace, to be lost in the secret of His Face.

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Thomas Merton

A life that is without problems may literally be more hopeless, than one that always verges on despair.

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Thomas Merton

A humble man is not afraid of failure. In fact, he is not afraid of anything, even himself, since perfect humility implies perfect confidence in the power of God.

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Thomas Merton

I believe we are going to have to prepare ourselves for the difficult and patient task of outgrowing rigid and intransigent nationalism, and work slowly towards a world federation of peaceful nations....

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Thomas Merton

If we have not silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have no rest God, does not bless our work.

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Thomas Merton

Not only does silence give us a chance to understand ourselves better, to get a truer and more balanced perspective on our own lives in relation to the lives of others: silence makes us whole if we let...

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Thomas Merton

It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am, the more affection I have for them. It is pure affection, and filled with reverance for...

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Thomas Merton

Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in your life as you sometimes think. When you re-read your journal you find out that your latest discovery is something you already found out...

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Thomas Merton

Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratiitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love...

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Thomas Merton

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious unity and integrity is wisdom, the mother of us all, "natura naturans."...

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Thomas Merton

When we are strong, we are always much greater than the things that happen to us.

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Thomas Merton

God utters me like a word containing a partial thought of him. A word will never be able to comprehend the voice that utters it. But if I am true to the concept that God utters in me, if I am true to the...

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Thomas Merton

The only thing to seek in contemplative prayer is God; and we seek Him successfully when we realize that we cannot find Him unless He shows Himself to us, and yet at the same time that He would not have...

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Thomas Merton

Grace is not a strange, magic substance which is subtly filtered into our souls to act as a kind of spiritual penicillin. Grace is unity, oneness within ourselves, oneness with God.

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Thomas Merton

Love is our true destiny.

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Thomas Merton

Not all of us are called to be hermits, but all of us need enough silence and solitude in our lives to enable the deeper voice of our own self to be heard at least occasionally.

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Thomas Merton

The only influence that can really upset the injustice and iniquity of men is the power that breathes in the Christian tradition, renewing our participation in the Life that is the Light of men.

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Thomas Merton

To those who have no personal experience of this revolutionary aspect of Christian truth, but who see only the outer crust of dead, human conservatism that tends to form around the Church the way barnacles...

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Thomas Merton

Each individual Christian and each new age of the Church has to make this rediscovery, this return to the source of Christian life.

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Thomas Merton

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself...

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Thomas Merton

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself...

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Thomas Merton

We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. God manifests Himself everywhere, in everything - in people and in things and in nature and in events...

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Thomas Merton

Contemplation in the age of Auschwitz and Dachau, Solovky and Karaganda is something darker and more fearsome than contemplation in the age of the Church Fathers. For that very reason, the urge to seek...

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Thomas Merton

The lights of prayer that make us imagine we are beginning to be angels are sometimes only signs that we are finally beginning to be men. We do not have a high enough opinion of our own nature. We think...

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Thomas Merton

We must be true inside, true to ourselves, before we can know a truth that is outside us. But we make ourselves true inside by manifesting the truth as we see it.

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Thomas Merton

Here is an unspeakable secret: paradise is all around us and we do not understand.

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Thomas Merton

Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reached when a person deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost

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Thomas Merton

People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

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Thomas Merton

The humble person receives praise the way a clean window takes the light of the sun. The truer and more intense the light is, the less you see of the glass.

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Thomas Merton

For me to be a saint means to be myself.

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Thomas Merton

Let us come alive to the splendor that is all around us and see the beauty in ordinary things.

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Thomas Merton

The only true liberty is in the service of that which is beyond all limits, beyond all definitions, beyond all human appreciation: that which is All, and which therefore is no limited or individual thing:...

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Thomas Merton

No writing on the solitary, meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.

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Thomas Merton

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we cannot cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?

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Thomas Merton

As long as I continue to take myself seriously, how can I consider myself a saint? How can I consider myself a contemplative? For the self I bother about does not really exist, never will, never did except...

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Thomas Merton

Saints are what they are not because their sanctity makes them admirable to others, but because the gift of sainthood makes it possible for them to admire everyone else.

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Thomas Merton

I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters...

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Thomas Merton

The desire to kill is like the desire to attack another with a red hot iron. I have to pick up the incandescent metal and burn my own hand while burning the other person. Hate itself is the seed of death...

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Thomas Merton

Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed -...

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Thomas Merton

My God, I pray better to you by breathing. I pray better to you by walking than by talking.

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Thomas Merton

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

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Thomas Merton

Love is perfect in proportion to it's freedom.

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Thomas Merton

We are obliged to love one another. We are not strictly bound to "like" one another.

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Thomas Merton

There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

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Thomas Merton

It is in the ordinary duties and labors of life that the Christian can and should develop his spiritual union with God.

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Thomas Merton

The degradation of the sense of symbol in modern society is one of its many signs of spiritual decay.

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Thomas Merton

Do not be one of those who, rather than risk failure, never attempts anything.

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Thomas Merton

The great thing, and the only thing, is to adore and praise GOD.

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Thomas Merton

A happiness that is sought for ourselves alone can never be found: for a happiness that is diminished by being shared is not big enough to make us happy.

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Thomas Merton

Our minds are like crows. They pick up everything that glitters, no matter how uncomfortable our nests get with all that metal in them.

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Thomas Merton

Lovely morning! How lovely life can be!

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Thomas Merton

The grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.

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Thomas Merton

One opens the inner doors of one's heart to the infinite silences of the Spirit, out of whose abysses love wells up without fail and gives itself to all.

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Thomas Merton

If a writer is so cautious that he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never be able to write anything that can be read. If you want to help other people you have got to make up your...

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Thomas Merton

Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true.

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Thomas Merton

Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.

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Thomas Merton

Humble people can do great things with uncommon perfection because they are no longer concerned about their own interests and their own reputation, and therefore they no longer need to waste their efforts...

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Thomas Merton

The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering...

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Thomas Merton

Nothing has ever been said about God that hasn't already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.

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Thomas Merton

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him.... The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him....

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Thomas Merton

Contemplation is the loving sense of this life, this presence and this eternity.

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Thomas Merton

Every breath we draw is a gift of God's love; every moment of existence is a grace.

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Thomas Merton

Since no man ever can, or could, live by himself and for himself alone, the destinies of thousands of other people were bound to be affected, some remotely, but some very directly and near-at-hand, by...

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Thomas Merton

In the devil's theology, the important thing is to be absolutely right and to prove that everybody else is absolutely wrong.

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Thomas Merton

We thank Him less by words than by the serene happiness of silent acceptance. It is our emptiness in the presence of His reality, our silence in the presence of His infinitely rich silence, our joy in...

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Thomas Merton

You are made in the image of what you desire.

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Thomas Merton

What do I mean by loving ourselves properly? I mean first of all, desiring to live, accepting life as a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables...

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Thomas Merton

Prayer is an expression of who we are...We are a living incompleteness. We are a gap, an emptiness that calls for fulfillment.

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Thomas Merton

He who hopes in God trusts God, Whom he never sees, to bring him to the possession of things that are beyond imagination.

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Thomas Merton

The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.

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Thomas Merton

Thinking prevents the unconscious from speaking.

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Thomas Merton

When you see God in everyone, then they see God in you.

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Thomas Merton

Violence is not completely fatal until it ceases to disturb us.

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Thomas Merton

There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us.

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Thomas Merton

I shall lead you through the loneliness, the solitude you will not understand; but it is my shortcut to your soul.

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Thomas Merton

The truth that many people never understand until it is too late is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer.

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Thomas Merton

October is a fine and dangerous season in America. It is dry and cool and the land is wild with red and gold and crimson, and all the lassitudes of August have seeped out of your blood, and you are full...

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Thomas Merton

The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other. It...

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Thomas Merton

Teach me to take all grace / And spring it into blades of act, / Grow spears and sheaves of charity, / While each new instant, (new eternity) / Flowering with clean and individual circumstance, / Speaks...

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Thomas Merton

One of the first things to learn if you want to be a contemplative is to mind your own business. Nothing is more suspicious, in a man who seems holy, than an impatient desire to reform other men.

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Thomas Merton

The fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the wind, and join in the general Dance.

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Thomas Merton

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 that I am following...

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Thomas Merton

The biggest disease in North America is busyness.

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Thomas Merton

God must be allowed the right to speak unpredictably.... We must find him in our enemy, or we may lose him even in our friend. We must find him in the pagan or we will lose him in our own selves, substituting...

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Thomas Merton

We do not exist for ourselves.

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Thomas Merton

For the sinful self is not my real self, it is not the self YOU have wanted for me, only the self that I have wanted : And I no longer want this false self. But now, Father, I come to You in your own Son's...

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Thomas Merton

Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God.

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Thomas Merton

We are already ONE. We just think we are separate.

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Thomas Merton

When I am liberated by silence, when I am no longer involved in the measurement of life, but in the living of it, I can discover a form of prayer in which there is effectively no distraction. My whole...

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Thomas Merton

There is in all visible things - a hidden wholeness.

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Thomas Merton

The fruitfulness of our lives depends in large measure in our ability to doubt our own words and to question the value of our own work. The man who completely trusts his own estimate of himself is doomed...

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Thomas Merton

Reason is in fact the path to faith, and faith takes over when reason can say no more.

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Thomas Merton

What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain...

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Thomas Merton

Violence is essentially wordless. and it can begin only where thought and rational communication have broken down.

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Thomas Merton

But it certainly is a wonderful thing to wake up suddenly in the solitude of the woods and look up at the sky and see the utter nonsense of everything including all the solemn stuff given out by professional...

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Thomas Merton

A gentle sense of humor will be alert to detect anything that savors of a pious 'act' on the part of the penitent.

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Thomas Merton

No matter how ruined man and his world may seem to be, and no matter how terrible man's despair may become, as long as he continues to be a man his very humanity continues to tell him that life has a meaning.

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Thomas Merton

We become contemplatives when God discovers Himself in us.

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Thomas Merton

Learn how to meditate on paper. Drawing and writing are forms of meditation. Learn how to contemplate works of art. Learn how to pray in the streets or in the country. Know how to meditate not only when...

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Thomas Merton

Today will never come again.

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Thomas Merton

Only the man who has had to face despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy never seek it. It is better to find God on the threshold of despair than to risk our lives...

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Thomas Merton

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves.

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Thomas Merton

The whole purpose of spiritual direction is to penetrate beneath the surface of a man's life, to get behind the façade of conventional gestures and attitudes which he presents to the world, and to bring...

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Thomas Merton

Weaknesses and deficiencies . . . play a most important part in all our lives. It is because of them that we need others and others need us. We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement...

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Thomas Merton

What does it mean to know and experience my own “nothingness?” It is not enough to turn away in disgust from my illusions and faults and mistakes, to separate myself from them as if they were not,...

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Thomas Merton

Our destiny is to live out what we think, because unless we live what we know, we do not even know it.

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Thomas Merton

What we have to be is what we are.

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Thomas Merton

The meaning of life is found in openness to being and "being present" in full awareness.

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Thomas Merton

First of all, although men have a common destiny, each individual also has to work out his own personal salvation for himself in fear and trembling. We can help one another to find the meaning of life...

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Thomas Merton

Surrender your own poverty and acknowledge your nothingness to the Lord. Whether you understand it or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you and offers...

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Thomas Merton

Humility is a virtue, not a neurosis.

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Thomas Merton

The selfishness of an age that has devoted itself to the mere cult of pleasure has tainted the whole human race with an error that makes all our acts more or less lies against God.

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Thomas Merton

Today the artist has inherited the combined functions of hermit, pilgrim, prophet, priest, shaman, sorcerer, soothsayer, alchemist.

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Thomas Merton

The speech of God is silence. His Word is solitude.

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Thomas Merton

To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is...

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Thomas Merton

Contemplation is not and cannot be a function of this external self. There is an irreducible opposition between the deep transcendent self that awakens only in contemplation, and the superficial, external...

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Thomas Merton

The artist should preach nothing-not even his own autonomy. His art should speak its own truth, and in so doing it will be in harmony with every other kind of truth- moral, metaphysical, mystical.

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Thomas Merton

Meditation is one of the ways in which the spiritual man keeps himself awake.

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Thomas Merton

If there is no silence beyond and within the many words of doctrine, there is no religion, only a religious ideology. For religion goes beyond words and actions, and attains to the ultimate Truth only...

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Thomas Merton

I suppose what makes me most glad is that we all recognize each other in this metaphysical space of silence and happening, and get some sense, for a moment, that we are full of paradise without knowing...

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Thomas Merton

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them...

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Thomas Merton

Ultimately faith is the only key to the universe. The final meaning of human existence, and the answers to the questions on which all our happiness depends cannot be found in any other way.

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Thomas Merton

To be a saint is to be yourself.

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Thomas Merton

It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as Gods will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But...

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Thomas Merton

In all His acts God orders all things, whether good or evil, for the good of those who know Him and seek Him and who strive to bring their own freedom under obedience to His divine purpose. All that is...

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Thomas Merton

True happiness is not found in any other reward than that of being united with God. If I seek some other reward besides God Himself, I may get my reward but I cannot be happy.

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Thomas Merton

The Lord did not create suffering. Pain and death came into the world with the fall of man. But after man had chosen suffering in preference to the joys of union with God, the Lord turned suffering itself...

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Thomas Merton

Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success, and they are in such a hurry to get it that they cannot take time to be true to themselves. And when the madness is upon them, they argue...

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Thomas Merton

But there is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.

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Thomas Merton

True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace. It can come to us ONLY as a gift, and not as a result of our own clever use of spiritual techniques.

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Thomas Merton

Everything in modern city life is calculated to keep man from entering into himself and thinking about spiritual things. Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds himself exhausted and deadened...

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Thomas Merton

To worship our false selves is to worship nothing. And the worship of nothing is hell.

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Thomas Merton

Ash Wednesday is full of joy...The source of all sorrow is the illusion that of ourselves we are anything but dust.

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Thomas Merton

Love is its own reward....

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Thomas Merton

Faith is a light of such supreme brilliance that it dazzles the mind and darkens all its visions of other realities, but in the end when we become used to the new light, we gain a new view of all reality...

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Thomas Merton

Our Christian destiny is, in fact, a great one: but we cannot achieve greatness unless we lose all interest in being great. For our own idea of greatness is illusory, and if we pay too much attention to...

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Thomas Merton

A man who fails well is greater than one who succeeds badly.

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Thomas Merton

Who is willing to be satisfied with a job that expresses all his limitations? He will accept such work only as a 'means of livelihood' while he waits to discover his 'true vocation'. The world is full...

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Thomas Merton

Love is not a matter of getting what you want. Quite the contrary. The insistence on always having what you want, on always being satisfied, on always being fulfilled, makes love impossible.

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Thomas Merton

The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods.

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Thomas Merton

For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God's will, to be what God wants us to be.

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Thomas Merton

Our real journey in life is interior.

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Thomas Merton

Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are a savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you...

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Thomas Merton

The solution of the problem of life is life itself. Life is not attained by reasoning and analysis, but first of all by living. For until we have begun to live our prudence has no material to work on....

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Thomas Merton

... but any fool knows that you don't need money to get enjoyment out of life.

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Thomas Merton

If we examine ourselves carefully we shall see most of us have an enormous amount of unfinished business...We have to be free so that we can just step across the line and that's it. That is what real freedom...

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Thomas Merton

When I pray for peace, I pray not only that the enemies of my own country may cease to want war, but above all that my country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable.

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Thomas Merton

The real reason why so few men believe in God is that they have ceased to believe that even a God can love them.

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Thomas Merton

But the man who is not afraid to admit everything that he sees to be wrong with himself, and yet recognizes that he may be the object of God's love precisely because of his shortcomings, can begin to be...

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Thomas Merton

The gate of heaven is everywhere.

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Thomas Merton

I will no longer wound myself with the thoughts and questions that have surrounded me like thorns: that is a penance You do not ask of me.

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Thomas Merton

We are not converted only once in our lives but many times and this endless series of conversions and inner revolutions leads to our transformation.

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Thomas Merton

By my monastic life and vows I am saying no to all the concentration camps, the aerial bombardments, the staged political trials, the judicial murders, the racial injustices, the economic tyrannies, and...

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Thomas Merton

We must slow down to a human tempo and we’ll begin to have time to listen.

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Thomas Merton

God has left sin in the world in order that there may be forgiveness: not only the secret forgiveness by which He Himself cleanses our souls, but the manifest forgiveness by which we have mercy on one...

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Thomas Merton

I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

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Thomas Merton

In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your piece of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other...

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Thomas Merton

The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own...

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Thomas Merton

As long as I am content to know that He is infinitely greater than I, and that I cannot know Him unless He shows himself to me, I will have Peace, and He will be near me and in me, and I will rest in Him.

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Thomas Merton

Contemplation is life itself, fully awake, fully active, and 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...

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Thomas Merton

God, Who is everywhere, never leaves us. Yet He seems sometimes to be present, sometimes to be absent. If we do not know Him well, we do not realize that He may be more present to us when He is absent...

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Thomas Merton

Every man becomes the image of the God he adores. He whose worship is directed to a dead thing becomes dead. He who loves corruption rots. He who loves a shadow becomes, himself, a shadow. He who loves...

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Thomas Merton

A man searching for enlightenment is like a man sitting on an Ass in search of an Ass

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Thomas Merton

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.

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Thomas Merton

The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover...

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Thomas Merton

My spiritual goal is to one day walk into God and disappear.

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Thomas Merton

A faith that is afraid of other people is not faith at all.

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Thomas Merton

How can I be sincere if I am constantly changing my mind to conform with the shadow of what I think others expect of me?

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Thomas Merton

It is when we love the other, the enemy, that we obtain from God the key to an understanding of who He is, and who we are.

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Thomas Merton

The whole world has risen in Christ... If God is 'all in all,' then everything is in fact paradise, because it is filled with the glory and presence of God, and nothing is any more separated from God.

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Thomas Merton

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice.

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Thomas Merton

Actions are the doors and windows of being. Unless we act, we have no way of knowing what we are.

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Thomas Merton

Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm.

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Thomas Merton

The thing about Zen is that it pushes contradictions to their ultimate limit where one has to choose between madness and innocence. Zen suggests that we may be driving toward one or the other on a cosmic...

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Thomas Merton

Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God: for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and selfishness that have chilled his faith.

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Thomas Merton

Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.

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Thomas Merton

The end of the world will be legal.

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Thomas Merton

For the birds there is not a time that they tell, but the point vierge between darkness and light, between being and nonbeing. You can tell yourself the time by their waking, if you are experienced. But...

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Thomas Merton

It is true that neither the ancient wisdoms nor the modern sciences are complete in themselves. They do not stand alone. They call for one another. Wisdom without science is unable to penetrate the full...

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Thomas Merton

Peace cannot be built on exclusivism, absolutism, and intolerance. But neither can it be built on vague liberal slogans and pious programs gestated in the smoke of confabulation. There can be no peace...

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Thomas Merton

The cause of liberty becomes a mockery if the price to be paid is the wholesale destruction of those who are to enjoy liberty. Ghandi, quoted in Merton, p. 68

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Thomas Merton

Jesus lived and died in vain if He did not teach us to regulate the whole of life by the eternal law of love. Gandhi, quoted in Merton, p. 38

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Thomas Merton

If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world.

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Thomas Merton

They were in the world and not of it--not because they were saints, but in a different way: because they were artists. The integrity of an artist lifts a man above the level of the world without delivering...

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Thomas Merton

I just remember their kindness and goodness to me, and their peacefulness and their utter simplicity. They inspired real reverence, and I think, in a way, they were certainly saints. And they were saints...

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Thomas Merton

This is the crucifixion of Christ: in which He dies again and again in the individuals who were made to share the joy and freedom of His grace, and who deny Him.

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Thomas Merton

Day after day I read Freud, thinking myself to be very enlightened and scientific when, as a matter of fact, I was about as scientific as an old woman secretly poring over books about occultism, trying...

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Thomas Merton

We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many...

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Thomas Merton

The soul of man, left to its own natural level, is a potentially lucid crystal left in darkness. It is perfect in its own nature, but it lacks something that it can only receive from outside and above...

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Thomas Merton

The Hindus are not looking for us to send them men who will build schools and hospitals, although those things are good and useful in themselves--and perhaps very badly needed in India: they want to know...

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Thomas Merton

How deluded we sometimes are by the clear notions we get out of books. They make us think that we really understand things of which we have no practical knowledge at all.

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Thomas Merton

What do you want to want to be, anyway?" "I don't know; I guess what I want to be is a good Catholic." "What you should say"--he told me--"what you should say is that you want to be a saint.

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Thomas Merton

The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in...

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Thomas Merton

We cannot arrive at the perfect possession of God in this life, and that is why we are travelling and in darkness. But we already possess Him by grace, and therefore in that sense we have arrived and are...

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Thomas Merton

Merely to resist evil with evil by hating those who hate us and seeking to destroy them, is actually no resistance at all. It is active and purposeful collaboration in evil that brings the Christian into...

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Thomas Merton

Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny....To work out our identity in God.

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Thomas Merton

We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real...and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists....

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Thomas Merton

To enter into the realm of contemplation, one must in a certain sense die: but this death is in fact the entrance into a higher life. It is a death for the sake of life, which leaves behind all that we...

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Thomas Merton

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying [God]. It “consents,” so to speak, to [God's] creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and...

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Thomas Merton

Before we can become who we really are, we must become conscious of the fact that the person who we think we are, here and now, is at best an impostor and a stranger.

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Thomas Merton

Our real journey in life is interior; It is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. Never was it more necessary to respond...

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Thomas Merton

Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for joy. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy you have not yet begun to live.

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Thomas Merton

If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men--you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little...

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Thomas Merton

The light of truth burns without a flicker in the depths of a house that is shaken with storms of passion and fear.

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Thomas Merton

We have to have a deep, patient compassion for the fears of others and irrational mania of those who hate or condemn us.

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Thomas Merton

....it is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, not because they have meaning, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.

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Thomas Merton

To be risen with Christ means not only that one has a choice and that one may live by a higher law - the law of grace and love - but that one must do so. The first obligation of the Christian is to maintain...

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Thomas Merton

Self-conquest is really self-surrender. Yet before we can surrender ourselves we must become ourselves. For no one can give up what he does not possess.

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Thomas Merton

Let me rest in Your will and be silent. Then the light of Your joy will warm my life. Its fire will burn in my heart and shine for Your glory. This is what I live for. Amen, amen.

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Thomas Merton

Silence has many dimensions. It can be a regression and an escape, a loss of self, or it can be presence, awareness, unification, self-discovery. Negative silence blurs and confuses our identity, and we...

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Thomas Merton

Are they moved by a sense of human need for silence, for reflection, for inner seeking? So they want to get away from the noise and tension of modern life, at least for a little while, in order to relax...

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Thomas Merton

It is in deep solitude and silence that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brother and sister.

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Thomas Merton

Words stand between silence and silence: between the silence of things and the silence of our own being. Between the silence of the world and the silence of God. When we have really met and known the world...

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Thomas Merton

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the other.... The whole purpose of life is to live by love.

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Thomas Merton

The silence of the forest is my bride and the sweet dark warmth of the whole world is my love, and out of the heart of that dark warmth comes the secret that is heard only in silence, but it is the root...

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Thomas Merton

The imagination should be allowed a certain amount of time to browse around.

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Thomas Merton

Fear narrows the little entrance of our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves.

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Thomas Merton

The deepest of level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless ... beyond speech ... beyond concept.

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Thomas Merton

God, have mercy on me in the blindness in which I hope I am seeking You!

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Thomas Merton

To be truly Catholic is not merely to be correct according to an abstractly universal standard of truth, but also and above all to be able to enter into the problems and the joys of all, to understand...

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Thomas Merton

How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man's city?

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Thomas Merton

In our creation, God asked a question and in our truly living; God answers the question.

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Thomas Merton

Christ is born to us today, in order that he may appear to the whole world through us.

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Thomas Merton

We cannot master everything, taste everything, understand everything, drain every experience to its last dregs. But if we have the courage to let almost everything else go, we will probably be able to...

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Thomas Merton

‎"Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.

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Thomas Merton

Because You have called me here not to wear a label by which I can recognize myself and place myself in some kind of a category. You do not want me to be thinking about what I am, but about what You are....

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Thomas Merton

Once you have grace," I said to him, "you are free. Without it, you cannot help doing the things you know you should not do, and that you know you don't really want to do. But once you have grace, you...

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Thomas Merton

The secret of my full identity is hidden in Him. He alone can make me who I am, or rather who I will be when at last I fully begin to be. But unless I desire this identity and work to find it with Him...

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Thomas Merton

I seek to speak to you, in some way, as your own self. Who can tell what this may meanI myself do not know, but if you listen, things will be said that are perhaps not written in this book. And this will...

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Thomas Merton

There is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.

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Thomas Merton

In any case, his religious teaching consisted mostly in more or less vague ethical remarks, an obscure mixture of ideals of English gentlemanliness and his favorite notions of personal hygiene. Everybody...

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Thomas Merton

I had refused to pay any attention to the moral laws upon which all our vitality and sanity depend: and so now I was reduced to the condition of a silly old woman, worrying about a lot of imaginary rules...

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Thomas Merton

It is the will of God that we live not only as rational beings, but as "new men" regenerated by the Holy Spirit in Christ. It is His will that we reach out for our inheritance, that we answer His call...

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Thomas Merton

The land which thou goest to possess is not like the land of Egypt from whence thou camest out... For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord...Seek the Lord while He...

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Thomas Merton

Therefore, doing the Stations of the Cross was still more laborious than consoling, and required a sacrifice. It was much the same with all my devotions. They did not come easily or spontaneously, and...

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Thomas Merton

His justice is the love that gives to each one of His creatures the gifts that His mercy has previously decreed. And His mercy is His love, doing justice to its own exigencies, and renewing the gift which...

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Thomas Merton

And of course most non-Catholics imagine that the Church is immensely rich, and that all Catholic institutions make money hand over fist, and that all the money is stored away somewhere to buy gold and...

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Thomas Merton

Show us your Christ, Lady, after this our exile, yes: but show Him to us also now, show Him to us here, while we are still wanderers.

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Thomas Merton

You have got me walking up and down all day under those trees, saying to me over and over again, "Solitude, solitude." And You have turned around and thrown the world in my lap. You have told me, "Leave...

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Thomas Merton

The most awful tyranny is that of the proximate Utopia where the last sins are currently being eliminated and where, tomorrow, there will be no more sins because all the sinners will have been wiped out.

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Thomas Merton

To desire Him to be merciful to us is to acknowledge Him as God. To seek His pity when we deserve no pity is to ask Him to be just with a justice so holy that it knows no evil and shows mercy to everyone...

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Thomas Merton

The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our...

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Thomas Merton

Consequently, the truth of God lives in our souls more by the power of superior moral courage than by the light of an eminent intelligence. Indeed, spiritual intelligence itself depends on the fortitude...

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Thomas Merton

Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As...

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Thomas Merton

It is my belief, that we should not be too sure of having found Christ in ourselves until we have found him also in that part of humanity that is most remote from our own.

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Thomas Merton

The reality that is present to us and in us: call it being...Silence. And the simple fact that by being attentive, by learning to listen (or recovering the natural capacity to listen) we can find ourself...

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Thomas Merton

I am earth, earth My heart's love Bursts with hay and flowers. I am a lake of blue air In which my own appointed place Field and valley Stand reflected

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Thomas Merton

We too often forget that faith is a matter of questioning and struggle before it becomes one of certitude and peace. You have to doubt and reject everything else in order to believe firmly in Christ, and...

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Thomas Merton

Prayer is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in him...who loves us, who is near to us...

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Thomas Merton

The importance of detachment from things, the importance of poverty, is that we are supposed to be free from things that we might prefer to people. Wherever things have become more important than people,...

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Thomas Merton

The simplest and most effective way to sanctity is to disappear into the background of ordinary every day routine.

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Thomas Merton

We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God

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Thomas Merton

I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

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Thomas Merton

We stumble and fall constantly, even when we are most enlightened.

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Thomas Merton

When you expect the world to end at any moment, you know there is no need to hurry. You take your time, you do your work well.

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Thomas Merton

The simplicity that all this presupposes is not easy to attain. I find that my life constantly threatens to become complex and divisive. A life of prayer is basically a very simple life. This simplicity,...

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Thomas Merton

Take more time, cover less ground.

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Thomas Merton

I am willing to admit that some people might live there for years, or even a lifetime, so protected that they never sense the sweet stench of corruption that is all around them - the keen, thin scent of...

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Thomas Merton

Faith is the door to the full inner life of the Church, a life which includes not only access to an authoritative teaching but above all to a deep personal experience which is at once unique and yet shared...

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Thomas Merton

Souls are like athletes, that need opponents worthy of them, if they are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers, and rewarded according to their capacity.

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Thomas Merton

Place no hope in the feeling of assurance, in spiritual comfort. You may well have to get along without this. Place no hope in the inspirational preachers of Christian sunshine, who are able to pick you...

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Thomas Merton

I am against war, against violence, against violent revolution, for peaceful settlement of differences, for nonviolent but nevertheless radical changes. Change is needed, and violence will not really change...

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Thomas Merton

The solution of the problem of life is life itself. Life is not attained by reason and analysis but first of all by living.

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Thomas Merton

Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.

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Thomas Merton

The gift of love is the gift of the power and capacity to love, and therefore, to give love with full effect is also to receive it. So love can only be kept by being given away, and it can only be given...

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Thomas Merton

As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a body of broken bones. Even saints cannot live with...

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Thomas Merton

Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict, from anguish or from doubt. On the contrary, the deep inexpressible certitude of the contemplative experience awakens a tragic anguish...

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Thomas Merton

Some of us need to discover that we will not begin to live more fully until we have the courage to do and see and taste and experience much less than usual... And for a man who has let himself be drawn...

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Thomas Merton

Action is the stream, and contemplation is the spring.

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Thomas Merton

I can only become perfectly free by serving the will of God.

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Thomas Merton

True happiness is found in unselfish Love, A love which increases in proportion as it is shared.

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Thomas Merton

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the...

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Thomas Merton

Imagination has the creative task of making symbols, joining things together in such a way that they throw new light on each other and on everything around them. The imagination is a discovering faculty,...

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Thomas Merton

There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and the donkey understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today.

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Thomas Merton

In order to find God in ourselves, we must stop looking at ourselves, stop checking and verifying ourselves in the mirror of our own futility, and be content to be in Him and to do whatever He wills, according...

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Thomas Merton

There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells...

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Thomas Merton

Life consists in learning to live on one's own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one's own-be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is,...

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Thomas Merton

Either you look at the universe as a very poor creation out of which no one can make anything or you look at your own life and your own part in the universe as infinitely rich, full of inexhaustible interest,...

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Thomas Merton

Perhaps peace is not, after all, something you work for, or 'fight for.' It is indeed 'fighting for peace' that starts all the wars. What, after all, are the pretexts of all these Cold War crises, but...

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Thomas Merton

The mission of Christian humility in social life is not merely to edify, but to keep minds open to many alternatives. The rigidity of a certain type of Christian thought has seriously impaired this capacity,...

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Thomas Merton

My own personal task is not simply that of poet and writer (still less commentator, pseudo-prophet); it is basically to praise God out of an inner center of silence, gratitude, and 'awareness.' This can...

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Thomas Merton

The things I thought were so important -- because of the effort I put into them -- have turned out to be of small value. And the things I never thought about, the things I was never able to either to measure...

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Thomas Merton

After all, what is your personal identity? It is what you really are, your real self. None of us is what he thinks he is, or what other people think he is, still less what his passport says he is And it...

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Thomas Merton

In general, it can be said that no contemplative life is possible without ascetic self-discipline. One must learn to survive without the habit-forming luxuries which get such a hold on men today. I do...

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Thomas Merton

The basic problem is not political, it is a-political and human. One of the most important things to do is to keep cutting deliberately through political lines and barriers and emphasizing the fact that...

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Thomas Merton

The whole aim of Zen is not to make foolproof statements about experience, but to come to direct grips with reality without the mediation of logical verbalizing.

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Thomas Merton

I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity ... I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.

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Thomas Merton

The devil is no fool. He can get people feeling about heaven the way they ought to feel about hell. He can make them fear the means of grace the way they do not fear sin. And he does so, not by light but...

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Thomas Merton

When society is made up of men who know no interior solitude it can no longer be held together by love: and consequently it is held together by a violent and abusive authority. But when men are violently...

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Thomas Merton

For our duties and our needs, in all the fundamental things for which we were created, come down in practice to the same thing.

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Thomas Merton

Conscience is the light by which we interpret the will of God in our own lives.

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Thomas Merton

See, see Who God is, see the glory of God, going up to Him out of this incomprehensible and infinite Sacrifice in which all history begins and ends, all individual lives begin and end, in which every story...

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Thomas Merton

If we live with possibilities we are exiles from the present which is given us by God to be our own, homeless and displaced in a future or a past which are not ours because they are always beyond our reach....

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Thomas Merton

In the end, it's the reality of personal realtionships that save everything.

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Thomas Merton

The whole function of the life of prayer is, then, to enlighten and strengthen our conscience so that it not only knows and perceives the outward, written precepts of the moral and divine laws, but above...

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Thomas Merton

People have no idea what one saint can do: for sanctity is stronger than the whole of hell.

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Thomas Merton

The world as pure object is something that is not there. It is not a reality outside us for which we exist....It is a living and self-creating mystery of which I am myself a part, to which I am myself,...

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Thomas Merton

For now, oh my God, it is to You alone that I can talk, because nobody else will understand. I cannot bring any other man on this earth into the cloud where I dwell in Your light, that is, Your darkness,...

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Thomas Merton

It is by the Holy Spirit that we love those who are united to us in Christ. The more plentifully we have received of the Spirit of Christ, the more perfectly we are able to love them: and the more we love...

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Thomas Merton

Our thought should not merely be an answer to what someone else has just said. Or what someone else might have said. Our interior world must be more than an echo of the words of someone else. There is...

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Thomas Merton

The Holy Spirit is the most perfect gift of the Father to men, and yet He is the one gift which the Father gives most easily.

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Thomas Merton

It is not merely our own desire but the desire of Christ in His Spirit that drives us to grow in love. Those who seldom or never feel in their hearts the desire for the love of God and other men, and who...

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Thomas Merton

To know the Cross is not merely to know our own sufferings. For the Cross is the sign of salvation, and no man is saved by his own sufferings. To know the Cross is to know that we are saved by the sufferings...

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Thomas Merton

It is by desiring to grow in love that we receive the Holy Spirit, and the thirst for more charity is the effect of this more abundant reception.

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Thomas Merton

The only trouble is that in the spiritual life there are no tricks and no shortcuts. Those who imagine that they can discover spiritual gimmicks and put them to work for themselves usually ignore God's...

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Thomas Merton

The true inner self must be drawn up like a jewel from the bottom of the sea, rescued from confusion, from indistinction, from immersion in the common, the nondescript, the trivial, the sordid, the evanescent.

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Thomas Merton

It is true that we are called to create a better world. But we are first of all called to a more immediate and exalted task: that of creating our own lives.

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Thomas Merton

I have learned that one cannot truly know hope unless he has found out how like despair hope is.

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Thomas Merton

Love is the epiphany of God in our poverty.

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Thomas Merton

Grains of error planted innocently in a well-kept greenhouse can become giant poisonous trees.

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Thomas Merton

Even the darkest moments of the liturgy are filled with joy, and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the lenten fast, is a day of happiness, a Christian feast.

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Thomas Merton

Nevertheless, the liturgy of Ash Wednesday is not focussed on the sinfulness of the penitent but on the mercy of God. The question of sinfulness is raised precisely because this is a day of mercy, and...

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Thomas Merton

We know when we are following our vocation when our soul is set free from preoccupation with itself and is able to seek God and even to find Him, even though it may not appear to find Him. Gratitude and...

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Thomas Merton

It is almost impossible to overestimate the value of true humility and its power in the spiritual life. For the beginning of humility is the beginning of blessedness and the consummation of humility is...

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Thomas Merton

Nonviolence seeks to ‘win’ not by destroying or even by humiliating the adversary, but by convincing [the adversary] that there is a higher and more certain common good than can be attained by bombs...

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Thomas Merton

Each one of us has some kind of vocation. We are all called by God to share in His life and in His Kingdom. Each one of us is called to a special place in the Kingdom. If we find that place we will be...

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Thomas Merton

One of the most important-and most neglected-elements in the beginning of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the...

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Thomas Merton

The man of faith who has never experienced doubt is not a man of faith.

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Thomas Merton

What I do is live, how I pray is breathe, what I wear is pants.

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Thomas Merton

I came with the notion of perhaps saying something for monks and to monks of all religions because I am supposed to be a monk. ... My dear brothers, WE ARE ALREADY ONE. BUT WE IMAGINE THAT WE ARE NOT....

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Thomas Merton

I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all...

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Thomas Merton

What is 'grace'? It is God's own life, shared by us. God's life is love. Deus caritas est. By grace we are able to share in the infinitely selfless love of Him Who is such pure actuality that He needs...

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Thomas Merton

Our happiness consists in sharing the happiness of God, the perfection of His unlimited freedom, the perfection of His love.

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Thomas Merton

All men who live only according to their five senses, and seek nothing beyond the gratification of their natural appetites for pleasure and reputation and power, cut themselves off from that charity which...

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Thomas Merton

You pray best when the mirror of your soul is empty of every image except the Image of the Invisible Father.

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Thomas Merton

We do not pray for the sake of praying, but for the sake of being heard. We do not pray in order to listen to ourselves praying but in order that God may hear us and answer us. Also, we do not pray in...

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Thomas Merton

The most dangerous man in the world is the contemplative who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attractions of an interior voice but will not listen to other men. He identifies...

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Thomas Merton

The sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all.

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Thomas Merton

What is the use of praying if at the very moment of prayer, we have so little confidence in God that we are busy planning our own kind of answer to our prayer?

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Thomas Merton

Business is not the supreme virtue, and sanctity is not measured by the amount of work we accomplish. Perfection is found in the purity of our love for God, and this pure love is a delicate plant that...

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Thomas Merton

The true contemplative is one who has discovered the art of finding leisure even in the midst of his work, by working with such a spirit of detachment and recollection that even his work is a prayer

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Thomas Merton

The devil makes many disciples by preaching against sin. He convinces them that the great evil of sin, induces a crisis of guilt by which “God is satisfied," and after that he lets them spend the rest...

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Thomas Merton

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

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Nina Kuscsik

I've always felt running is a form of meditation. Running enables us to stop our lives, to go out and find a safe place for ourselves.

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Pico Iyer

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves.

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Jon Katz

It is difficult to see ourselves as we are. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have good friends, lovers or others who will do us the good service of telling us the truth about ourselves. When we don't,...

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Robert Crais

Some of us find our way with a single light to guide us; others lose themselves even when the star field is as sharp as a neon ceiling. Ethics may not be situational, but feelings are. We learn to adjust,...

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Cesare Pavese

When we read, we are not looking for new ideas, but to see our own thoughts given the seal of confirmation on the printed page. The words that strike us are those that awake an echo in a zone we have already...

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Pope Benedict XVI

Each one of us needs time and space for recollection, meditation and calmness.... Thanks be to God that this is so! In fact, this need tells us that we are not made for work alone, but also to think, to...

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Jeffrey R. Holland

You and I won't ever find ourselves on that cross, but we repeatedly find ourselves at the foot of it. And how we act there will speak volumes about what we think of Christ's character and His call for...

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Mairead Corrigan

We frail humans are at one time capable of the greatest good and, at the same time, capable of the greatest evil. Change will only come about when each of us takes up the daily struggle ourselves to be...

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Erwin McManus

The more isolated and disconnected we are, the more shattered and distorted our self-identity. We are not healthy when we are alone. We find ourselves when we connect to others. Without community we don't...

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Ray Bradbury

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves, and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get...

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Friedrich Nietzsche

We find nothing easier than being wise, patient, superior. We drip with the oil of forbearance and sympathy, we are absurdly just, we forgive everything. For that very reason we ought to discipline ourselves...

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Eric Weiner

So the greatest source of happiness is other people- and what does money do? It isolates us from other people. It enables us to build walls, literal and figurative, around ourselves. We move from a teeming...

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Joan D. Chittister

Lent is the time for trimming the soul and scrapping the sludge off a life turned slipshod. Lent is about taking stock of time, even religious time. Lent is about exercising the control that enables us...

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C. S. Lewis

I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptation. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience, etc., don't get the upper hand. No amount...

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William Cobbett

Grammar, perfectly understood, enables us not only to express our meaning fully and clearly, but so to express it as to enable us to defy the ingenuity of man to give to our words any other meaning than...

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J. B. Priestley

But the point is, now, at this moment, or any moment, we're only cross-sections of our real selves. What we really are is the whole stretch of ourselves, all our time, and when we come to the end of this...

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Thomas S. Monson

The Savior taught His disciples, 'For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it' (Luke 9:24)."I believe the Savior is telling us that...

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Karen Marie Moning

Time heals. No, it doesn't. At best, time is the great leveler, sweeping us all into coffins. We find ways to distract ourselves from the pain. Time is neither scalpel nor bandage. It is indifferent. Scar...

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Henri Cartier-Bresson

It is through living that we discover ourselves, at the same time as we discover the world around us.

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Philip Gilbert Hamerton

Culture is like wealth; it makes us more ourselves, it enables us to express ourselves

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