Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - August 3

The “Way of Perfection” Is to Follow Christ

1. Is it true and salutary to say, as some spiritual writers say, that God is our end but that, in order to attain to our end, we must first attain perfection, so that, in practice, our aim is perfection?

2. And is it true, then, that perfection is attained only by a simple-minded concern for “spiritual things” seen as deeply marked off and separate from “temporal things”?

3. And then, are we to look at these “spiritual things” as, in reality, a set of practices which are (allowing, of course, for grace) sure means of attaining to possession of God?

4. This being so, should we then apply ourselves very industriously to the use of these means in order to attain to perfection very quickly and thus gain possession of God?

All of these statements may be perfectly true, though 3 and 4 lend themselves to dangerous misunderstanding, and the other two are already open to much misapprehension. But after all—supposing each of these statements were faultless—the spiritual life would still be something quite different from that!

For we are perfect when we find God or, when God gains possession of us. And, in a sense, from the moment we seek Him, He has already found us. And from the moment He has found us, all that is blessed by His will becomes “spiritual,” even though it may be a material thing like eating.

In the end what does the Gospel say? To follow Christ. This is the spiritual life and the way of perfection.

August 28, 1956, III.74

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