Monday, December 19, 2011
A Year With Thomas Merton - December 19
In the End, Grace Alone
I have to admit the truth that the particular frustrations of this life here are first of all not intrinsic to monasticism as such, and not essential to my own "way" by any means. They are the product of social background and involvement in the economic and cultural pattern of the country (unavoidable). We are much more involved than we think, and my assessments of the Abbot are based mostly on this: that he is through and through a businessman, and indeed even prides himself on his practicality and shrewdness, and yet he "gets away" with this by a formal unworldliness in certain spheres--discouraging correspondence, visits, recreations, etc. (He resents my involvement in the intellectual world. My frustrations are to some extent those of all intellectuals in a society of businessmen and squares.)
The great fault of my own spirituality is a negativism which is related to bourgeois sterility. What Jean-Paul Sartre calls "right-wing existentialism." Regarding angst as an ordinary, universal element in all life...(maybe this is to some extent true, however). Projecting my own frustrations and incapacities on the whole world. The fact remains that I here suffer from the sterility of my culture, and its general impotence. The optimism I reject is the optimism that denies this sterility. But where is the real optimism I should have as a Christian?
"The simplicity of the adult," says Emmanuel Mounier, "is won by long effort, without miracles." Grace alone, the grace of the heights, sets the final grace upon the rejuvenation of the new man!
December, 26, 1963, V.50