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On Not Going Crazy for Christ – Thomas Merton

February 18, 2022
Bat Cat in Mobile – she is allowing us to stay with her people ♥️🐾

Today I was reading one of this week’s reading from the book A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals. I find his discussion intriguing as we continue this journey of Sabbath rest we continue to rediscover our quiet spiritual center and that is a good thing.

Merton wrote about the unhealthy ways that the ancient monastic community approached their life of faith in his journal entry on February 22, 1948. In his study of the early monastic communities he said the following about the craziness of the extreme actions they took in order to be faithful to God: trying to starve and beat your way to sanctity and of assuming that your own efforts and energy are practically everything—beating your head against a brick wall at the end of a dead end in order to fulfill some particular negative ideal. (The Journals of Thomas Merton, Vol. 2, 1941-1952: Entering the Silence – Becoming a Monk & Writer)

I have read about the early monastic practice of wearing spiked belts around their waist under their habits and self-flagellation (whipping yourself enough to draw blood). What a way to prove one’s devotion to God 😳

While those practices are only distant memories in history books (for the most part) the church has other over-the-top ways of proving how some are so much more pious than others.

For years I have tried to humbly serve the Lord with Micah 6:8 and Matthew 22:37-39 as my guides.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 Bible Gatway link)

He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 Bible Gateway link)

I understand Merton’s struggles and truly do appreciate the way he responded to the “unusual” ways of proving one’s devotion. In his own life and ministry Merton often struggled with the reality of his fame and rather healthy ego.

I am happy that I can at least want to love God. Perhaps that is all I’ve got, but it is already all that is essential. And He will take care of the rest.

Perhaps that is one of the lessons to be learned during this time of rest, healing, and reflection. I am humbled and honored that you, dear reader, walk this journey with me. May it be a blessing to you.

One Comment
  1. Always – blessings

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