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The Unity of Contemplation and Action – Thomas Merton

August 14, 2021
Merton the photographer

Some wisdom and a challenge for Christ-followers from Thomas Merton. Gratefully shared from Paul Pynkoski’s post on the International Thomas Merton Society’s Facebook page. Thank you, Paul!

Merton was so adamant on the unity of contemplation and action, of spirituality and justice. And while it seems appropriate to speak of his earlier, contemplative writings (New Seeds…) and the later writings on social concerns ((Seeds of Destruction) there are examples where the two are woven together.

What follows is from “A Homily on Light and The Virgin Mary,” written in 1962:

“No one has ever more perfectly contained the light of God than Mary who by the perfection of her purity and humility is, as it were, completely identified with the truth like the clean window pane which vanishes entirely into the light which it transmits…
“For man today has lost consciousness of his need for truth. What he seeks is power. Truth is made to serve the ends of power. Truth is of no value unless it is expedient. When truth is not expedient, then it is deliberately twisted to serve the aims of the powerful…
“It is a common trait of all the powerful materialist societies, that they are not so much interested in truth as in the creation of slogans and images…Where power is primary, truth is made to bend to will. The will to power does not obey truth but manufactures its own truth, to suit policy and expediency…
“…persons are treated as things. They are bought and sold like commodities…
“In Mary is perfectly realized God’s whole creative and redemptive plan. That is why she is said to be for us a light of truth and a pattern of life…In her is all the beauty of the world, transfiguration and elevated to a level beyond our comprehension…We cannot help but see that she is, like ourselves, a human creature whose littleness has been glorified in the light of Christ and who has been saved from the power of darkness and evil by the grace of His Cross.”
(Seasons of Celebration, pp.134, 136, 138, 139)

  1. pynkoski2 permalink

    I cannot help but think our favorite monk would be chuckling at the thought that his sermon on the BVM is being quoted by a Presbyterian and a former Pentecostal.

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