Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - September 18

Love Is Our Measure

The measure of our identity, of our being (the two are the same), is the amount of our love for God. The more we love earthly things, reputation, importance, pleasures, ease, and success, the less we love God. Our identity is dissipated among things that have no value, and we are drowned and
die in trying to live in the material things we would like to possess, or in the projects we would like to complete to objectify the work of our own wills. Then, when we come to die, we find we have squandered all our love (that is, our being) on things of nothingness, and that we are nothing, we are death. But if we have loved Him, and lost ourselves in Him, we find ourselves in Him, and live forever in joy.

But tribulation detaches us from the things of nothingness in which we spend ourselves and die. Therefore, tribulation gives us life, and we love it, not out of love for death, but out of love for life.

Let me then withdraw all my love from scattered, vain things--the desire to be read and praised as a writer, or to be a successful teacher, praised by my students, or to live in ease in some beautiful place--and place it all in Thee, where it will take root and live, instead of being spent in barrenness.

My life is measured by my love of God, and that, in turn, is measured by my love for the least of His children. And that love is not an abstract benevolence: it must mean sharing their tribulation.

September 3, 1941, I.398-99

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