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Saints' Discussion Forums  |  Forums  |  Saints' & Spiritual Life General Discussion  |  Topic: Called to Holiness 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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dj808
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« on: January 22, 2010, 09:32:33 AM »

I ask you to consider an anecdote that Thomas Merton relates in The Seven Story Mountain when he first encounters the thought of becoming a Saint from his friend Robert Lax:

Therefore, another one of those times that turned out to be historical, as far as my own soul is concerned, was when Lax and I were walking down Sixth Avenue, one night in the spring. The Street was all torn up and trenched and banked high with dirt and marked out. with red lanterns where they were digging the subway, and we picked our way along the fronts of the dark little stores, going downtown to Greenwich Village. I forget what we were arguing about, but in the end Lax suddenly turned around and asked me the question:

“What do you want to be, anyway?”

I could not say, “I want to be Thomas Merton the well-known writer of all those book reviews in the back pages of the Times Book Review,” or “Thomas Merton the assistant instructor of Freshman English at the New Life Social Institute for Progress and Culture,” so I put the thing on the spiritual plane, where I knew it belonged and said:

“I don’t know; I guess what I want is to be a good Catholic.”

“What do you mean, you want to be a good Catholic?”

The explanation I gave was lame enough, and ex pressed my confusion, and betrayed how little I had really thought about it at all.

Lax did not accept it.

“What you should say”—he told me—”what you should say is that you want to be a saint.”

A saint! The thought struck me as a little weird. I said: “How do you expect me to become a saint?”

“By wanting to,” said Lax, simply.

“I can’t be a saint,” I said, “I can’t be a saint.” And my mind darkened with a confusion of realities and unrealities: the knowledge of my own sins, and the false humility which makes men say that they cannot do the things that they must do, cannot reach the level that they must reach: the cowardice that says: “I am satisfied to save my soul, to keep out of mortal sin,” but which means, by those words: “I do not want to give up my sins and my attachments.”

The Seven Storey Mountain pp 236-7

Fr. Robert Barron reflects on this moment in his book And Now I See:

“Merton said that this strange answer (Becoming a Saint by wanting to) changed his life: from that moment on, he knew that Christianity was not primarily a matter of getting his ideas straight but rather getting his life straight. Hans Urs von Balthasar said that the only true theologians are the saints — those who have practiced the life of Jesus.

Christianity — like baseball, painting, and philosophy — is a world, a form of life. And like those other worlds, it is first approached because it is perceived as beautiful. A youngster walks onto the baseball diamond because he finds the game splendid, and a young artist begins to draw because he finds the artistic universe enchanting. Once the beauty of Christianity has seized a devotee, he will long to submit himself to it, entering into its rhythms, its institutions, its history, its drama, its visions and activities.

And then, having practiced it, having worked it into his soul and flesh, he will know it. The movement, in short, is from the beautiful (It is splendid!) to the good (I must play it!) to the true (It is right!). One of the mistakes that both liberals and conservatives make is to get this process precisely backward, arguing first about right and wrong. No kid will be drawn into the universe of baseball by hearing arguments over the infield-fly rule or disputes about the quality of umpiring in the National League. And none of us will be enchanted by the world of Christianity if all we hear are disputes about Humanae vitae and the infallibility of the pope.

Christianity is a captivating and intellectually satisfying game, but the point is to play it. It is a beautiful and truthful way, but the point is to walk it.”  

If you wish to read on, the rest of my little reflection continues with some of Ralph Martin's thoughts from his bestseller "Called to Holiness"

dj

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« Last Edit: February 09, 2010, 09:05:37 PM by Shin » Logged

Simone Weil writes "One cannot love or help a person one refuses to listen to; one cannot redeem a world one doesn’t look at; one cannot serve a God one doesn’t engage with."
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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2010, 11:31:57 AM »

Welcome to the forums!  Cheesy

I'm glad to see you posting here. Smiley

Introduce yourself if you feel like it! There's a great Introductions thread, or a person can start a new one. Smiley

I'm not a fan of Thomas Merton, because after all, he went "off the reservation" after a time -- And when someone does it at the end, where was he at the beginning too? How safe is what he wrote, even the earlier writings that some say were OK? But I know he has many fans.

And I like the excerpt you've put here about being a saint. Smiley

Sainthood the aim! If only he had stuck to it. It can be hard to do so, even though it's the easiest way ultimately -- Because we are attached to our own ways of doing things. Thomas Merton, I think, was too stuck on his self, and his own intelligence.. He trusted too much there, saw too much of his vocation there.. Did not in fact, give up enough, to rebuild from the foundation to become a saint.

And that is what is so hard for all of us.. Letting go, and going down into the deep, and starting with the building blocks of who we are -- all over again.
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'Flores apparuerunt in terra nostra. . . Fulcite me floribus. (The flowers appear on the earth. . . stay me up with flowers. Sg 2:12,5)
dj808
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2010, 12:22:23 PM »

Yes, you're right about Merton but he also wrote some amazing meditations. Hate to throw the baby out with the bath water...

dj
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2010, 03:41:17 PM »

Welcome to the forums!  Cheesy

I'm glad to see you posting here. Smiley

Introduce yourself if you feel like it! There's a great Introductions thread, or a person can start a new one. Smiley

I'm not a fan of Thomas Merton, because after all, he went "off the reservation" after a time -- And when someone does it at the end, where was he at the beginning too? How safe is what he wrote, even the earlier writings that some say were OK? But I know he has many fans.

And I like the excerpt you've put here about being a saint. Smiley

Sainthood the aim! If only he had stuck to it. It can be hard to do so, even though it's the easiest way ultimately -- Because we are attached to our own ways of doing things. Thomas Merton, I think, was too stuck on his self, and his own intelligence.. He trusted too much there, saw too much of his vocation there.. Did not in fact, give up enough, to rebuild from the foundation to become a saint.

And that is what is so hard for all of us.. Letting go, and going down into the deep, and starting with the building blocks of who we are -- all over again.


I agree with you about Merton. I know that I don't know enough to discern the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunate, I know, as he did have a number of good things to say.
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For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.
Matt. 6:21
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