Tuesday, August 12, 2008

opening oneself to salvation

This is another of the weekly quotes from the Merton Institute. I don't want to lose it so I am adding it to this site:

[In the last analysis what I am looking for in solitude is not happiness or fulfillment but salvation. Not "my own salvation" but the salvation of everybody. Here is where the game gets serious. I have used the word revolt in connection with solitude. Revolt against what? Against a notion of salvation that is entirely legal and extrinsic and can be achieved no matter how false, no matter how shriveled and fruitless one's inner life really is. This is the worst ambiguity: the impression that one can be grossly unfaithful to life, to experience, to love, to other people, to one's own deepest self, and yet be "saved" by an act of stubborn conformity, by the will to be correct. In the end this seems to me to be fatally like the act by which one is lost: the determination to be "right" at all costs, by dint of hardening one's core around an arbitrary choice of a fixed position. To close in on one's central wrongness with the refusal to admit that it might be wrong. ..I am here [in solitude and in the hermitage] for one thing: to be open, to be not "closed in" on any one choice to the exclusion of all others: to be open to God's will and freedom to His love, which comes to save me from all in myself that resists Him and says no to Him. This I must do not to justify myself, not to be right, not to be good, but because the whole world of lost people needs this opening by which salvation can get into it through me.

Thomas Merton. Learning to Love. Christine M. Bochen, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997: 345.

The big reasons for solitude: the true perspectives- leaving the "world"-even the monastic world with its business, vanities, superficiality. More and more I see the necessity of leaving my own ridiculous "career" as a religious journalist. Stop writing for publication- except poems and creative meditations.

Solitude-witness to Christ-emptiness.
Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Lawrence S. Cunningham, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996: 350.


  1. Glad you published this, beth. It is a lot to take in, actually.
    The idea of achieving some kind of salvation by doing all the right things is as prevalent now as it was then. It exists in all of us to some extent. Someone wrote that we never become the saint we aim to be. I must assume that is because one surrenders all the false gods (even the benign ones) along the way. Salvation is achieved through subtraction, not addition, so to speak.

  2. Did he stop writing or publication after that? For his sake, I hope so. God love him, I can't quite fathom how to say it, but he did--salvation. Not of self, but if one truly wishes to follow Christ, salvation of others. Self is already looked out for, when forgotten. "We never become the saint we aim to be." That speaks volumes, Barbara. I know a few folks who appropriate a cross unto themselves, rather than let Him live, struggle, fall and die so ignominously in their little moment, so that Both may rise. I'm one of them, actually --but less and less so, I hope.




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