Sunday, January 7, 2018

Before you can be with others, first learn to be alone


Hannah Arendt, "On The Life and Death Importance of Thinking"
Photo of Hannah Arendt: Courtesy of the Hannah Arendt Private Archive.
In the 20th century, the idea of solitude formed the centre of Hannah Arendt’s thought. A German-Jewish √©migr√© who fled Nazism and found refuge in the United States, Arendt spent much of her life studying the relationship between the individual and the polis. For her, freedom was tethered to both the private sphere – the vita contemplativa – and the public, political sphere – the vita activa. She understood that freedom entailed more than the human capacity to act spontaneously and creatively in public. It also entailed the capacity to think and to judge in private, where solitude empowers the individual to contemplate her actions and develop her conscience, to escape the cacophony of the crowd – to finally hear herself think.

Read the rest at AEON. Click HERE.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Avowal

 Merton with Wendall Berry & Denise Levertov, photo probably by Gene Meatyard

"The Avowal" by Denise Levertov

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that allsurrounding
grace.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Bells (2018)

Bell from the old Abbey Gatehouse,
photo by Harry L. Hinkle

"Bells are meant to remind us that God alone is good, that we belong to Him, that we are not living for this world.

"They break in upon our cares in order to remind us that all things pass away and that our preoccupations are not important.

"They speak to us of our freedom, which responsibilities and transient cares make us forget.

"They are the voice of our alliance with the God of heaven.

"They tell us that we are His true temple. They call us to peace with Him within ourselves."

- Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, 67

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Fruits of War - World Day of Prayer for Peace


An image by American photographer Joseph Roger O’Donnell that Pope Francis is circulating during the 2017 holidays, under the heading "The fruits of war." (Credit: Vatican Press Office.)
Francis, on the eve of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, has asked that a small card be printed and distributed, which on its reverse side carries the inscription, “The fruit of war,” running above the pope’s signature.

The front side of the card displays a picture taken by American photographer Joseph Roger O’Donnell, a Marine who worked for four years after the atomic blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki documenting their impact. The shot shows a young Japanese boy standing in line at a crematorium with his dead younger brother on his back.

“The young boy’s sadness is expressed only in his gesture of biting his lips, which are oozing blood,” the inscription on the pope’s card says.


The gesture is consistent with Francis’s effort since his election to speak out against what he describes as a “Third World War” today, being fought in piecemeal fashion in various parts of the world. The pontiff has also spoken about the disproportionate suffering children often experience in conflicts, including the risk of being enrolled as child soldiers.

Though release of the photo in the run-up to New Year’s does not add anything substantive to the pontiff’s positions, it’s nevertheless the first time Francis has asked that a specific image be circulated in the holiday season, suggesting he believes its message is especially relevant at the moment.

the vanity of anti-silence (Considerations for the time of Christmas)

Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis)

From a cycle of six largely unknown meditations Jesuit Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio gave in a week-long retreat to Jesuits in the early 1980s, entitled simply ‘Considerations for the time of Christmas.’

With the ferocity of a desert father, his reflection on silence invited the Jesuits to consider how mass media created a seductive deluge of sweet-sounding or furious words “that seek noisily to take up space in our hearts and contribute nothing to truth.”

He contrasted the Word of God that created the universe and the words by which we are surrounded, which have been “disempowered of their creative force.”

“If there is no solitude, there is no silence,” he added sternly, “and without either there is no truth,” only “the vanity of anti-silence.” Although Jesuits were obliged to speak as part of their “apostolic mission” - they are not monks - if in their speaking they lacked “the core of silence that makes us pilgrims” they would end up, he warned, “corrupted by the spirit of the world.”

Silence was the prerequisite for the eruption of the Word in history, he said, before inviting the Jesuits to contemplate how the Word “becomes tenderness in the womb of a Mother who ‘pondered all these things in her heart’.”
https://cruxnow.com/commentary/2017/12/27/expecting-bubbly-pope-francis-christmas-meet-jesuit-past/

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas 2017

Rohingya walking from the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Over 640,000 refugees sought shelter in Bangladesh this year. Tomas Munita for The New York Times
"Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because He cannot be at home in it, because He is out of place in it, and yet He must be in it, His place is with those others for whom there is no room." - Merton

"There, amid the gloom of a city that had no room or place for the stranger from afar, amid the darkness of a bustling city which seemed to want to build itself up by turning its back on others… it was precisely there that the revolutionary spark of God’s love was kindled" - Pope Francis, December 24, 2017

Silence



 

Let me seek then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into prayer. -Thomas Merton

There are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence.
Rule of St. Benedict

Before you can be with others, first learn to be alone

Hannah Arendt, "On The Life and Death Importance of Thinking" Photo of Hannah Arendt: Courtesy of the Hannah Arendt Private A...