Friday, June 10, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - June 10

Moments of Lucidity Day After Day

The Mass each day purifies and baffles me at the same time. This beautiful mixture of happiness and lucidity and inarticulateness fills me with great health from day to day. I am forced to be simple at the altar.

But in the middle of this beautiful sobriety the indescribably pure light of God fills you with what can only be described as the innocence of childhood. Day after day I am more and more aware how little I am my everyday self at the altar: this consciousness of innocence is really a sense of replacement. Another has taken over my identity, and this other is a tremendous infancy. And I stand at the altar—excuse the language, these words should not be extraordinary—but I stand at the altar with my eyes washed in the light that is eternity, as if I am one who is agelessly reborn. I am sorry for this language. There are no words I know of simple enough to describe such a thing, except that every day I am a day old, and at the altar I am the Child Who Is God. Yet, when it is all over, I have to say, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:15), and I have to fall back into my own poor self that cannot receive Him altogether, and I even have to rejoice at being a shell. Well, I have contained some echo of His purity, and it has meant something tremendous for me and for the whole world, so that at my Memento of the living—the prayer of remembering those for whom I pray—which is very long, I swim in seas of joy that almost heave me off my moorings at the altar.

June 19, 1949, II.326-27

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