Thomas Merton

Thomas
Merton
1915
1968

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

Author Quotes

What is the use of praying if at the very moment of prayer we have so little confidence in God that we are busy planning our own kind of answer to our prayer?

The danger of education, I have found, is that it so easily forgets both and devotes itself merely to the mass production of uneducated graduates - people literally unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade which they and their contemporaries have conspired to call “life.”

When one has too many answers, and when on ejoins a chorus of others chanting the same slogans, there is, it seems to me, a danger that one is trying to evade the loneliness of a conscience that realizes itself to be in an inescapably evil situation. We are under judgment.

The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.

Violence is essentially wordless, and it can begin only where thought and rational communication have broken down.

A superficial freedom to wander aimlessly here or there, to taste this or that, to make a choice of distractions (in Pascal’s sense) is simply a sham. It claims to be a freedom of “choice” when it has evaded the basic task of discovering who it is that chooses.

The danger of education, I have found, is that it so easily confuses means with ends. Worse than that, it quite easily forgets both and devotes itself merely to the mass production of uneducated graduates - people literally unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade which they and their contemporaries have conspired to call “life.”

The least of the work of learning is done in the classrooms.

Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war.

Life is not a set of boundaries but a set of possibilities.

Life is this simple: We are living in a transparent world and God shines through in every moment. This is not just a fable or a nice story, it is living truth. If we remember God, abandon ourselves to God, and forget ourselves, we may see this truth: God manifests everywhere, in everything. We cannot be without God. It's impossible. It's simply impossible.

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.

Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.

He who attempts to act and do things for others and for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others. He will communicate to them only the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, and his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas.

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.

Prayer and love are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone.

The contemplative life has nothing to tell you except to reassure you and say that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and dare to advance without fear into the solitude of your own heart... you will truly recover the light and capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanation because it is too close to be explained.

The more one seeks ‘the good’ outside oneself as something to be acquired, the more one is faced with the necessity of discussing, studying, understanding, analysing the nature of good. the more, therfore, one becomes involved in abstractions and in the confusion of divergent opinions. The more ‘the good’ is objectively analysed, the more it is treated as something to be attained by special virtuous techniques, the less real it becomes.

There is no way under the sun of making a man worthy of love, except by loving him.

To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that Love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.

We must be true inside, true to ourselves, before we can know a truth that is outside us.

Author Picture
First Name
Thomas
Last Name
Merton
Birth Date
1915
Death Date
1968
Bio

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