back on track: quote of the day

I've been reading the excellent four-person biography: The Life You Save May Be Your Own. It covers the lives of Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, and Flannery O'Connor. I highly recommend it. Here's a Thomas Merton quote (not from that book, from one of his own): "Some men seem to think that a saint cannot possibly take a natural interest in anything created. They imagine that any form of spontaneity of enjoyment is sinful gratification of 'fallen nature.' That to be 'supernatural' means obstructing all spontaneity with cliches and arbitrary references to God. The purpose of these cliches is, so to speak, to hold everything at arms length, to frustrate spontaneous reactions, to exorcise feelings of guilt. Or perhaps to cultivate such feelings! One wonders sometimes if such morality is not after all a love of guilt! They suppose that the life of a saint can never be anything but a perpetual duel with guilt, and that a saint cannot even drink a glass of cold water without making an act of contrition for slaking his thirst, as if that were a mortal sin. As if for the saints every response to beauty, to goodness, to the pleasant, were an offense. As if the saint could never allow himself to be pleased with anything but his prayers and his interior acts of piety. A saint is capable of loving created things and enjoying the use of them and dealing with them in a perfectly simple, natural manner, making no formal references to God, drawing no attention to his own piety, and acting without any artificial rigidity at all. His gentleness and his sweetness are not pressed through his pores by the crushing restraint of a spiritual strait-jacket. They come from his direct docility to the light of truth and to the will of God. Hence the saint is capable of talking about the world without any explicit reference to God, in such a way that his statement gives greater glory to God and arouses a greater love of God than the observations of someone less holy, who has to strain himself to make an arbitrary connection between creatures and God through the medium of hackneyed analogies and metaphors that are so feeble that they make you think there is something the matter with religion." --Thomas Merton, "Everything that is, is holy." In: New Seeds of Contemplation. pp.:23-24.


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