The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thomas Merton on Self-Discipline

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 not say that to be a contemplative one absolutely has to go without smoking or without alcohol, but certainly one must be able to use these things without being dominated by an uncontrolled need for them.

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. (New York: New Directions Books), p 12

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Good-Morrow

by John Donne

I WONDER by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved ? were we not wean’d till then ?
But suck’d on country pleasures, childishly ?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den ?
‘Twas so ; but this, all pleasures fancies be ;
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ‘twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear ;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone ;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown ;
Let us possess one world ; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest ;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west ?
Whatever dies, was not mix’d equally ;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does every problem demand a solution?

Certainly our life is full of real problems, some of them perhaps without solution. It would be an impertinence to suggest that all of our problems are fabricated. And yet we are so obsessed with the idea that we are supposed to possess "answers" and "solutions" for everything that we evade the difficult problems, which are all too real, by raising other less real problems to which we think we have the answer.

Merton, Thomas. Contemplation in a World of Action. (Notre Dame, Indiana: Notre Dame Press, 1998) 48

Monday, July 11, 2011

Abe's wisdom

“I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thomas Merton on "The Principalities and powers"

Thomas Merton addressed the sinister powers which rule the ruling powers which St. Paul called "principalities and powers" in this manner:

"'They,' of course, have never really been in any position to support anyone. 'They' need us, but not our emptiness 'they' should need as a justification of their own emptiness. That is why their support comes always, and only, in form of bribes. We are nourished in order that we may continue to sleep. We are paid to keep quiet, or to say things that do not distrub the unruffled surface of that emptiness from which, in due time, the spark and the blast must leap out and release in all men, the grand explosion."

-Raids of the Unspeakable, p. 59

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Merton on "False Gods"

"For since man has decided to to occupy the place of God he has shown himself to be by far the blindest, and cruelest, and pettiest and most ridiculous of false gods."

- Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable, p. 61

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The contemplative soul...

All truly contemplatives souls have this in common: not that they gather exclusively in the desert, or that they shut themselves up in reclusion, but that where He is, there they are. And how do they find Him? By technique? There is no technique for finding Him. They find Him by His will. And His will, bringing them grace within and arranging their lives exteriorly, carries them infallibly to the precise place in which they can find Him. Even there they do not know how they have got there, or what they are really doing.

Thomas Merton. Thoughts in Solitude.  (New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux)  95