I have been reading Bonnie Thurston’s book, Shaped By the End You Live For. She quotes material from Thomas Merton that I have not read before and you will hear more of these pithy texts in a moment. I like to return to the ‘false self – true self’ dynamic that was important to Merton’s journey and to his understanding of monastic, contemplative life. Recalling our brief discussion several weeks ago I chose not to use the word ‘dichotomy’ in terms of the false self-true self relationship, so as not to give the sense that there is a split between these two realities.
Prayer for Discernment
LORD, help me:
TO boldly take charge of my life, aim for the most beautiful and profound things, and keep my heart pure.
TO respond to your call, with the aid of wise and generous guides, and realize a proper plan for my life to achieve true happiness.
TO dream great dreams and
always have a concern for the
good of others.
TO stand with you at the foot
of the cross and receive the gift
of your mother.
TO witness to your Resurrection and the hope
that it brings.
TO be aware that you are at
my side as I joyously proclaim
you as Lord. Amen.
— Pope Francis
Commemorate the 57th Annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations by reading the Pope's message. (click "Read More)
I begin with these words of Thomas Merton: “Prayer itself is obedience. Our deepest obedience takes place when we pray. Prayer is an act of surrender; it is essentially an act of surrender to God’s love” (quoted in: Shaped By the End You Live For, Bonnie Thurston, p.73). These words of Merton were written at the end of his life and should give us great pause for reflection. What does it mean that ‘our deepest obedience’ happens when we pray’?
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The present pandemic has turned our lives, world-wide, upside down. Covid-19 has affected the global community and its economies in ways that none of us have lived through before now. Through the pandemic we see how interconnected we all are. Are not the living ‘saints’ those in the medical field who willingly risk their lives daily to care for us? As we live surrounded by so much uncertainty about the present and the immediate future, perhaps it is good to step back and ponder our lives. What, as a monastic community, do we need to renew or work to change in order to continue to mission God’s enduring word of life, of hope, of love?
(Above Thomas Merton at Redwoods Abbey, 1968)
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