Friday, January 09, 2009

Read Merton

Read this post by Mike DeVries from _awakening.

The Wisdom of the Desert.

Wisdom_desert Last week, I recorded a History Channel program on the life of Thomas Merton. It was quite well done and reminded me of how much I love the writings of Merton. With that thought I went back to my library to see if there was any Merton writings I had not read yet. Lo and behold, I had a small collection of teachings of the Desert Fathers which Merton had translated, entitled The Wisdom of the Desert, which I found in a used bookstore quite some time ago. Fresh from my Merton experience, I decided to dive in. While most of the book is a collection of the Desert Fathers' teachings, Merton wrote an introduction with some thoughts on the life and mission of the Desert Fathers which is absolutely worth the price of the book alone.

One of the sections in the introduction deals with the issue of love. Here's just a sample of what Merton wrote:

Love means an interior and spiritual identification with one's brother, so that he is not regarded as an "object" to "which" one "does good."The fact is that good is done to another as to an object is of little or no spiritual value.Love takes one's neighbour as one's other self, and loves him with all the immense humility and discretion and reserve and reverence without which no one can presume to enter into the sanctuary of another's subjectivity. From such love all authoritarian brutality, all exploitation, domineering and condescension must necessarily be absent...

Love demands a complete inner transformation - for without this we cannot possibly come to identify oruselves with our brother. We have to become, in some sense, the person we love. And this involves a kind of death of our own being, our own self. [p. 18]

Classic Merton.

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