Monday, October 1, 2018

the need for love

 Merton with Sr. Anita of Jesus O.C.D., Fr. John of the Cross Wasserman's sister
Man is most human, and most proves his humanity (I did not say his virility) by the quality of his relationship with woman. This obsession with virility and conquest makes a true and deep relationship impossible. Men today think that there is no difference between the capacity to make conquests and the capacity to love. Women respond accordingly, with the elaborate deceit and thinly veiled harlotry -- the role assigned to woman by fashion -- and there is a permanent battle between the sexes, sometimes covered over with the most atrocious and phony play acting. In all this everyone completely forgets the need for love. A desperate need: not the need to receive it only, but the need to give love.

In the monastery, with our vows of chastity, we are ideally supposed to go beyond married love into something more pure, more perfect, more totally oblative. This should then make us the most human of all people. But that is the trouble: how can one go "further" than something to which one has not yet attained? This does not mean that one cannot validly embrace a life of virginity until he has first been married: a nice contradiction to put a person in! But it does men that we cannot love perfectly if we have not in some way loved maturely and truly. Family life should ordinarily provide the climate in which this is possible: but if the family is simply a place where the sexes fight for supremacy ...

-Thomas Merton, Conjectures, p. 190-191

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