Friday, December 10, 2010

In Remembrance of Father Thomas Merton

Like all of you, I have gleaned much from the writings of Thomas Merton. I looked at my Merton devotional for today, A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals, and I thought I'd add an excerpt from it for today, the 42nd anniversary of his death.

December 10
Dying and Being Reborn in Christ

(Thomas Merton enters Gethsemani on December 10, 1941; he dies by accident while attending a monastic conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 10, 1968)


I come into solitude to die and love. I come here to be created by the Spirit in Christ.

I am called here to grow. "Death" is a critical point of growth, or transition to a new mode of being; to a maturity and fruitfulness that I do not know (they are in Christ and His Kingdom). The child in the womb does not know what will come after birth. He must be born in order to live. I am here to learn to face death as my birth.

This solitude -- a refuge under His wings, a place to hide myself in His Name, therefore, a sanctuary where the grace of Baptism remains a conscious, living, active reality valid not only for me but for the whole Church. Here, planted as a seed in the cosmos I will be a Christ seed, and bring fruit for other men. Death and rising in Christ.

I need to be "confirmed" in my vocation by the Spirit (speaking through the Church, i.e., the abbot and the community). This ordains me to be the person I am and to have the particular place and function I have, to be myself in the sense of choosing to tend toward what God wants me to be, and to orient my whole life to being the person He loves. (We are all "loved in general," but we have to personally accept a special love of God for ourselves.)

4 comments:

RC said...

This a beautiful and powerful excerpt. I love it! Thank you for sharing it with us--and even more for sharing your life with us in living out this kind of spirituality.
--Rickey

Paul Corrigan said...

I particularly appreciate the growing and seed metaphors.

"I am called here to grow"

"I will be a Christ seed"

These things that Merton says about being cloistered apply to my (and our) not being cloistered.

We come into wherever we are called to die and love. We come here to be created by the Spirit in Christ.

living stones said...

Mark, thanks for sharing this great excerpt. I like it all, but one line really stood out to me, "I am here to learn to face death as my birth." This immediately made me think of a thought I underlined this morning in a book by another famous monk we both enjoy. In his book Awakenings, Thomas Keating wrote, "Every true seeker of God, from the beginning of time to the end of the world, has to pass through this mysterious inward death and rebirth, perhaps many times over." My prayer is to be more fully present day by day to this very real process. Thanks again for sharing this.
--Anna

Mark Wills said...

Rickey and Anna, I'm glad you found something in the passage that spoke to you.

Paul, the seed thing was speaking to me too. Maybe because I ran with that in my Senior Project. Your comment reminded me of something I just read from Wendell Berry's The Art of the Commonplace:

Kentucky was my fate - not an altogether pleasant fate, though it had much that was pleasing in it, but one that I could not leave behind simply by going to another place, and that I therefore felt more and more obligated to meet directly and to understand. Perhaps even more important, I still had a deep love for the place I had been born in, and liked the idea of going back to be part of it again. And that, too, I felt obligated to try to understand. Why should I love one place so much more than any other? What could be the meaning or use of such love?

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