Tuesday, March 27, 2007

that is what it means to be a christian

brush drawing by Thomas Merton
(image size 6 1/2" h x 4 1/4" w)
March 25, 1960. In emptying Himself to come into the world, God has not simply kept in reserve, in a safe place, His reality and manifested a kind of shadow or symbol of Himself. He has emptied Himself and is all in Christ. … Christ is not simply the tip of the little finger of the Godhead, moving in the world, easily withdrawn, never threatened, never really risking anything. God has acted and given Himself totally, without division, in the Incarnation. He has become not only one of us but even our very selves. (A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life, p. 381)

That is what it means to be a Christian: not simply one who believes certain reports about Christ, but one who lives in a conscious confrontation with Christ in himself and in other men. This means, therefore, the choice to become empty of one’s self, the illusory self fabricated by our desires and fears, the self that is here now and will cease being here if this or that happens. (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p.

March 29, 1968. Christ not as object of seeing or study, but Christ as center in whom and by whom one is illuminated. (The Hidden Ground of Love, p. 643)
Notes from Roger Lipsey
“This perfectly grand image of the Crucifixion was found in a booklet, a kind of diary of drawings, as just one among ten or so brush drawings, the others of no special interest. Though monumental in “feel” and impact, it is factually a small print produced by inking and printing with the edge of an envelope or something of the kind. The method could hardly be simpler; the result could hardly be more majestic. This image recalls medieval carvings of the Crucifixion to which Merton was exposed as a boy in France, especially of the Romanesque period before the elaborations of Gothic art.
… this image of Christ Crucified draws together, remarkably, the values he most cared for as a contemporary artist and the values he most cared for as a monk …”

(Angelic Mistakes, The Art of Thomas Merton, by Roger Lipsey, p. 53)

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