Tag Archives: Thomas Merton

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton (a Book Review)

Merton provided words for what I was experiencing and what I wanted to nurture in the life of prayer. More than devotional stick-to-it-ive-ness, I felt and wanted to continue to feel drawn to simply be with God.

But, while my heart desired more than accountability or discipline, I’ve also known by experience that, for me, the sense of being aware of God’s presence often occurs within the frame of my disciplined life. When I am making space, clearing time, attentiveness to the God who is always present occurs more freely. The opposite happens when I slip out of disciplined rhythms or Continue reading

Thomas Merton on Balance and Sabbath

“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its inmate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

– Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, (New York: Doubleday, 1965), p. 81

A Year with Thomas Merton (A Book Reaction)

I’ve been reading this day book off and on for a couple months now, enjoying each 4-5 paragraph reading. My hope in reading has been to see what made Merton who he was in the ordinary. I’ve read and been captivated by several of Merton’s books now and each book has a handful of sentences that extend beyond a normal person’s spiritual experience. As I read, I feel myself pulled into something new, something living.

In A Year with Thomas Merton I have the privelge to see the “normal” Thomas Merton. The days are journal entries, small pictures and captured moments of an ordinary, lived spiritual life.

Of course, where else it is supposed to be lived? …and that’s the point, that’s the gift this book offers. It pulls us down from the esoteric spirituality philosopies and into the back yard garden soil. As I read these daily journal entries (compiled into this day book many years later by some other person), there’s a permission that’s given to re-enter the ordinary and there discover the Presence of Christ.

What is, “Competence in Spiritual Theology?” (inf. by Thomas Merton)

I’m reading *Thomas Merton: Twentieth Century Wisdom for Twenty-First Century Living* by Paul Dekar this morning. The phrase, “competence in spiritual theology,” just came up (p.38). I’m pausing to explore how I would define competence in spiritual theology.

Often, competence sounds like the master of many elements and the ability to merge them together into one practice (like a doctor’s ability to know many cures). In spiritual theology, the adverse seems true: competence in spirituality is the mastery of one necessary thing (Luke 10) in order to enter into the many elements of life with the single necessity at the front of one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Simply put: competence in the spiritual life is the capacity for a free flowing love of God expressed in prayer and work (or interaction with others and creation). Competence comes as being set free from the rule of anxiety, judgement of others, empty speaking, and other expressions of dead-living.

How do you nurture competence in spiritual theology?

Nurturing true life will always start with Jesus. Our first step in nurturing is to know Jesus; to live, we pursue the person of Jesus as the Gospels introduce him.

The slow introduction to Jesus will find us receiving an invitation to, “Come and follow.” Through obedience (the life lived by grace through faith in the person and works of Jesus), we will find ourselves entering the practice of willing (or seeing) only one necessary thing, which is the true reign and presence of our loving Father who intends to make all things new.

This awakening, which is nurtured only when we’re walking with Jesus and in the likeness of Jesus, will reveal to us our degree of “competence,” or rather, the degree that we truly are awake to the presence and reign of God in the present moment.