Posted by: gcarkner | February 5, 2020

Sources of Identity: Thomas Merton

From: Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

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In all the situations of life, the “will of God” comes to us not merely as an external dictate of impersonal law but above all as an interior invitation of personal love. (15)

We must learn to realize that the love of God seeks us in every situation, and seeks our good. His inscrutable love seeks our awakening. (15)

Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny…. We are even called to share with God’s work of creating the truth of our identity….. To work out our own identity in God, which the Bible calls “working out our salvation,” is a labor that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as he reveals himself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation. (32)

The secret of my full identity is hidden in Him. He alone can make me who I am, or rather who I will be when at last I fully begin to be. But unless I desire this identity and work to find it with Him and in Him, the work will never be done…. Not to accept and love and do God’s will is to refuse the fullness of my existence. (33)

To say I was born in sin is to say I came into the world with a false self…. My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside God’s will and God’s love—outside of reality  and outside of life. And such a self cannot help be but an illusion…. The secret of my identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God…. Ultimately, the only way I can be myself is to become identified with him in whom is hidden the reason and fulfilment of my existence. (33-35)

The true inner self must be drawn up like a jewel from the bottom of the sea, rescued from confusion, from indistinction, from immersion in the common, the nondescript, the trivial, the sordid, the evanescent. (38)

People who know nothing of God and whose lives are centered on themselves, imagine that they can only find themselves by asserting their own desires and ambitions and appetites in a struggle with the rest of the world. (47)

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. If, therefore, I do anything or think anything or say anything or know anything that is not purely for the love of God, it cannot give me peace, or rest, or fulfilment, or joy. To find love I must enter into the sanctuary where it is hidden, which is the mystery of God. And to enter into his sanctity I must become holy as he is holy, perfect as he is perfect. (60, 61)

I who am without love cannot become love unless Love identifies me with himself. But if he sends his own love, himself, to act and love in me and in all that I do, then I shall be transformed, I shall discover who I am and shall possess my true identity by losing myself in Him. (63)


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