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Quotes of the day: Thomas Merton

Published Tuesday, December 10, 2013 @ 12:32 AM EST
Dec 10 2013

Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968), was an Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. In 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name Father Louis. (Click for full Wikipedia article.)


Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

May God prevent us from becoming "right-thinking men"- that is to say, men who agree perfectly with their own police.

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

Technology is not in itself opposed to spirituality and to religion. But it presents a great temptation.

Teenagers have no monopoly (on adolescent behavior), except insofar as we are in fact a teenager society- a society that likes to play "chicken," not with fast cars, but with ballistic missiles.

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.

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

The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.

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.

To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.

We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have- for their usefulness.

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.

We have to have a deep, patient compassion for the fears of men and irrational mania of those who hate or condemn us.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is itself to succumb to the violence of our times.

We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.

Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.

When ambition ends, happiness begins.

I cannot make the universe obey me. I cannot make other people conform to my own whims and fancies. I cannot make even my own body obey me.

Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.

If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.

Everybody makes fun of virtue, which by now has, as its primary meaning, an affectation of prudery practiced by hypocrites and the impotent.

We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison.

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes many terrible mistakes...

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