Wednesday, January 17, 2007

secret grace: a chosen people

This Merton Reflection for this week is from the The Thomas Merton Foundation:

Notes on the race situation before the violence began—1962. . . .Fortunately the Negroes have a leader, who is a man of grace, who understands the law of love,
who understands the mystery of the greatest secret grace that has been given to the Negro and to no other. The grace which the people who first created the spirituals well knew about: the grace of election that made them God’s chosen, the grace that elevated them about the meaningless and trivial things of life, even in the midst of terrible and unjust suffering. There are things the Negro knows that the white man can never know. Things which belong to the pure, unique, spiritual destiny of America, and which have been denied to the white man, will be denied to him forever because of his brutality to the Negro and to the Indian. So, too, there are things the Jew alone can know, things closed forever to the gentile, even to the best of Christians. Yet, unfortunately, this secret heritage, this most precious revelation of God, which one senses in the singing of Mahalia Jackson as well as in some of the very great, obscure artists of jazz can also be lost. The mere fact of being a Negro does not guarantee that one is worthy of this precious inheritance. [112-113] Thomas Merton. Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander. New York: Doubleday and Company,

Thought for Reflection:

To act out of love for truth, “doing the truth in charity” is to act for truth alone, and without regard for consequences. Not that one recklessly does what seems to be good without care for possible disaster, but that one carefully chooses what one believes to be good and then leaves the good itself to produce its own good consequences in its own good time.”
Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander: 118


  1. I've often wondered what would have happned if Martin had not been shot, Merton was trying to have him visit him at the monastery and I wonder what would have resulted from that meeting? It would seem that it would have provided Tom with much material to write about!

    Grace & peace

  2. I'm not sure that Merton was trying to have MLK visit, as much as their mutual friends were seeking to bring them together. Merton had just gotten a new abbot, and MLK being rather "hot" at the time, Merton was somewhat cautious about overwhelming the new abbot. He actually hedged at first because the "retreat" was being planned just before a big MARCH in DC. Later he dropped his caution and it was MLK's plans that changed.

    I suspect, tho, that MLK and Merton would have recognized the deep and dynamic faith of the other, and been a strong source of support and inspiration for each other.


Christ in the Rubble

The Rev. Munther Isaac lighting a candle next to an improvised crèche this month in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Credit... Samar Hazboun...