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Thomas Merton

(1915 - 1968)


French-born Anglo-American Catholic Writer, Poet, Trappist Monk and Social Activist

A bad book about the love of God remains a bad book.
A daydream is an evasion
A few years ago a man who was compiling a book entitled “Success” wrote and asked me to contribute a statement on how I got to be a success. I replied indignantly that I was not able to consider myself a success in any terms that had meaning to me. I swore I had spent my life strenuously avoiding success. If it so happened that I had once written a best seller, this was a pure accident, due to inattention and naiveté, and I would take very good care not to do the same again. If I had a message to my contemporaries, I said, it was simply this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success.
A happiness that is sought for ourselves alone can never be found: for a happiness that is diminished by being shared is not big enough to make us happy… True happiness is found in unselfish love, a love which increases in proportion as it is shared.
A holy person is one who is sanctified by the presence and action of God within him.
A humble man can do great things with an uncommon perfection, because he is no longer concerned about incidentals like his own interests and his own reputation, and therefore he no longer needs to waste his efforts in defending them
A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.
A man is a free being who is always changing into himself. This changing is never merely indifferent. We are always getting either better or worse. Our development is measured by our acts of free choice, and we make ourselves by the patterns of our desires. If our desires reach out for the things that we were created to have and to make and to become, then we will develop into what we were truly meant to be. But if our desires reach out for things that have have no meaning for the growth of our spirit, if they lose themselves in dreams or passions or illusions, we will be false to ourselves and to other men and to God. We will judge ourselves as aliens and exiles from ourselves and from God. In hell, there is no recollection. The damned are exiled not only from God and from other men, but even from themselves.
A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live.
A man who fails well is greater than one who succeeds badly.