Listening to Tradition, Tuesday, September 23, 2008

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            As I've said a few times, my purpose in posting short poems and quotes from the Desert Fathers without comment is to entice folks not familiar with these things to try them on their own, to delve a bit deeper into works that truly form our Tradition.  I have almost always posted these without comment because, for the most part, they speak for themselves; they have stood the test of time and there is little I can do to improve on them.

 

            One exception I make is that I am now going to include some bits by a more modern writer whom I am coming to conclude might be deserving of inclusion in this group.  Fr. Hugh Feiss, in his book Essential Monastic Wisdom, gave me the idea because he includes Merton along with such writers as Benedict, Peter of Celle, and many other more ancient writers under the category of "essential" monastic writers.  The choice is surprising, at least to me.

 

            I have long regarded Merton as an enigma, a monk, a best-selling author, and a man who, I think, may never have been content in either role.  Add to that his seeming infatuation with all things Zen, and I was wondering if, by the end of his life, he had not lost his faith altogether.  So, I went back and began to reread Merton.  The first book I picked up was a late book of his, published in 1963, Life and Holiness.  Here is a quote from the introduction, it is today's Listening to Tradition offering:

 

"Nothing is here said of such subjects as 'contemplation' or even 'mental prayer.' And yet the book emphasizes what is at once the most common and the most mysterious aspect in the Christian life: grace, the power and the light of God in us, purifying our hearts, transforming us in Christ, making us true sons of God, enabling us to act in the world as his instruments for the good of all men and for his glory."

 

This is surely the work of a Christian writer.  As far as being an excellent statement of Catholic faith, as taught by the Church, it is right on, Merton has lost sight of nothing of the faith.  So, Merton will be included henceforth in Listening to Tradition.  It is comforting to know that, at least into our own time, if not today, the Tradition of the Church was alive and well, and still being explored and developed. 

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on September 23, 2008 8:00 AM.

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