Saturday, December 22, 2012

like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven

From the NASA Space Advent Calendar which is HERE.

 This peculiar galaxy pair is called Arp 116. Arp 116 is composed of a giant elliptical galaxy known as Messier 60 (or M60) and a much smaller spiral galaxy, NGC 4647. M60 is the third brightest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, a collection of more than 1,300 galaxies. M60 has a diameter of 120,000 light-years, and a mass of about one trillion times that of the Sun. A huge black hole of 4.5 billion solar masses lies at its center, one of the most massive black holes ever found. The faint bluish spiral galaxy NGC 4647 is about two-thirds of M60 in size and much lower in mass -- roughly the size of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Astronomers have long tried to determine whether these two galaxies are actually interacting. Although looking at them from Earth they overlap, there is no evidence of new star formation, which would be one of the clearest signs that the two galaxies are indeed interacting. However, recent studies of very detailed Hubble images suggest the onset of some tidal interaction between the two. M60 lies roughly 54 million light-years away from Earth; NGC 4647 is about 63 million light-years away. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage.
(STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration)

In the center of our being is a point of nothingness
which is untouched by sin and by illusion,

a point of pure truth,
a point or spark which belongs entirely to God,
which is never at our disposal,
from which God disposes of our lives,
which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind
or the brutalities of our own will.

This little point of nothingness and absolute poverty
is the pure glory of God in us.

It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of
It is in everybody, and if we could see it
we would see these billions of points of light
coming together in the face and blaze of a sun
that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish

I have no program for this seeing.
It is only given.

But the gate of heaven is everywhere.

-Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 158


  1. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

    1. I find comfort knowing that there is a place in me that prays without my interference or even my knowing ... That is really the thrust of centering prayer as I understand it.

  2. In the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion,...

    Undoubtedly, one of my very favorite quotes ever... To get in touch with that point of nothingness...

  3. I love this pairing of image and words. It is a comfort to "know" below all the noise of our lives there is a state of grace....and every now then we "see" it. Again, thank-you for this daily joy!

    1. I like the way you have phrased that, Deborah, as a "state of grace" that every now and then we "see".

  4. My favorite Merton, although there's a lot of competition for favorite; the man was a writing machine.

    1. Yes, it's hard to imagine how he managed it. It was his "job" at the monastery. He did not work in the fields, or the fruitcake factory. During the times that everyone else was "working", Merton was writing. He was also the kind of writer who did not do a lot of editing. He sat down, wrote, and then let go of it. In his later years he had a secretary (Fr. Patrick Hart) to type things up, sort through the mailings, etc.

    2. I also have read that Merton was disciplined with his time, in that he didn't waste a lot of time with small talk or gossip. He had no TV or other diversions. Just the monastic ritual of prayer. I'd say that books were his major diversion. He complained a lot about "the mail", but I suspect that was his version of what we all deal with in life.


2nd Sunday of Advent 2023

Photo by John P. Walsh F rom Alfred Delp S.J.,   Prison Writings , Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 2004: “So this Sunday we must again fol...