Christmastide with Thomas Merton
If we wish to see Christ in His glory, we must recognize Him now in His humility. If we wish His light to shine on our darkness and His immortality to clothe our mortality, we must suffer with Him on earth in order to be crowned with Him in Paradise. If we desire His love to transform us from glory to glory into His perfect likeness, we must love one another as He has loved us, and we must take our places at that blessed table where He Himself becomes our food, setting before us the Living Bread, the Manna which is sent to us from heaven, this day, to be the Life of the World.
• Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration: Meditations on the Cycle of Liturgical Feasts (p. 111)
10 thoughts on “Christmastide with Thomas Merton”
I’ve just started reading Merton’s second volume of diaries. In the forward, it says he tried to become “submerged in God”. I quite like this phrase though feel a long way from being there.
The main burden one forces others to bear is oneself, one’s false self. When I take up my own cross, I am loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, etc., and loving my neighbor as myself, and that is because I am not forcing another to carry the cross, the suffering, that belongs to me. Merton would’ve said that cross is the suffering caused by my identification with my false self, and my refusal to break through my false self to my God-given identity in Christ.
What is the first firm anthropological evidence of our HUMANITY being expressed ?
one answer is expressed in this link:
Click to access calledtocommunity.pdf
it is my own opinion that, in responding to the pain of others by helping them, we are ourselves ‘healed’ of many ills and find a ‘wholeness’ that comes from self-giving and self-sacrifice;
and I do believe that this is connected up with the message of Our Lord Who leads us out of darkness by His own Hand
“Bear ye one another’s burdens; and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ.”
I imagine this verse is interpreted many different ways, depending on one’s political outlook, from those who take it literally all the way to the other side of those who will frankly tell you, ‘it doesn’t mean what it says’
The idea of ‘and who is my neighbor’ is one of the most difficult teachings of Our Lord to take in, to comprehend, to digest, and to put into use in one’s way of living in our ‘modern’ world;
but in the end, it may be how we CAN determine who has been enabled to ‘follow Him’ in the manner of their living.
I’m pretty sure Fr. Louis would say that to suffer with Christ is to accept the suffering that properly belongs to you, not anyone else’s. To follow Christ, to suffer with him, you don’t have to take up Jesus’ cross, you don’t have to take up your neighbor’s or enemy’s cross, you don’t have take up Robert F.’s cross or the cross of the weight of the world: you just have to take up your own cross. God knows that’s more than enough, and that Christ will have to shoulder the greater part of it; but at some point a part of its weight will have to rest on your shoulders, because that cross, that suffering, is you yourself and nothing else. For that reason you can no more escape it than you can escape yourself.
I have absolutely no idea what it means to suffer with Christ. If this means I’ll have to forgo reining with Him, I guess I’ll have to. Causing others to suffer is more my stock in trade.
And if Ronald will have me, and I could bring a hammock and a stack of books, Is be far more likely to join him on the beach than with Fr Louis in his cell.
I’ll explore the possibility for the group and report back.
I have to acknowledge that what Merton says is true, but what I actually want is a year at the beach, with crab legs and beer.
a few snow flakes fall
so gently to the cold earth,