Wednesday, August 29, 2007

spiritual poverty

photo by Thomas Merton
“One of the most telling criticisms of the solitary may well be that even in his life of prayer he is less “productive.” You would think that in his solitude he would quickly reach the level of visions, of mystical marriage, something dramatic at any rate. Yet he may well be poorer than the cenobite, even in his life of prayer. His is a weak and precarious existence, he has more cares, he is more insecure, he has to struggle to preserve himself from all kinds of petty annoyances, and often he fails to do so. His poverty is spiritual. It invades his whole soul as well as his body, and in the end his whole patrimony is one of insecurity. He enjoys the sorrow, the spiritual and intellectual indigence of the really poor. Obviously such a vocation has in it a grain of folly. Otherwise it is not what it is meant to be, a life of direct dependence on God, in darkness, insecurity and pure faith. The life of the hermit is a life of material and physical poverty without visible support.”

- from the essay, “Philosophy of Solitude”, Disputed Questions, p. 201

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