Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - August 14

Tasting the Real

Cool. Cows lowing in the mist. Long but rich night office. “Mary has chosen the better part.” My love for the great responsories.

A seventeenth-century Carmelite attacked Jean Mabillon the French Maurist Benedictine, for his criterion of historical judgment. He asserted that long familiarity with charters and manuscripts gave one a quasi-instinctive “taste” by which one could detect fabrications and falsifications. This, said the critic, was pure subjectivism. And the “objectivity” to which he appealed was that of accepted norms. What had always been regarded as genuine was genuine, because this was the tradition of the Church and the work of God. So too, the appeal to “law” sometimes.

Yet who can guarantee that he has developed the right “instinctive” taste for the real? So the accepted view cannot be disregarded. But it need not be blindly received as final.

The Lespedeza hedge we planted ten or fifteen years ago was blooming with delicate, heather-like purple blossoms, and bees were busy in them. An entirely beautiful, transfigured moment of love for God and the need for complete confidence in Him in everything, without reserve, even when almost nothing is understood.

August 15 and 16, 1963, V.9

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