Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - April 19

The Irrelevant Middle Ages?
I wonder if I have not said ill-considered things about Christian traditions--things that will only add to the present confusion, motivated by some obscure desire to protect my own heart against wounds by inflicting them myself (i.e., the wounds of loss and separation: as if I were saying, since the Middle Ages are no longer relevant to us, I might as well be the first to admit it and get it over with. But are the Middle Ages irrelevant? Of course not, and I have not begun to believe it! And it is part of my vocation to make observations that preserve a living continuity with the past, and with what is good in the past!).
The study of medieval exegesis is a way of entering into the Christian experience of that age, an experience most relevant to us, for if we neglect it, we neglect part of our own totality in Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs of Balthasar, etc. But it must not be studied from the outside. Same idea in Kitaro Nishida on Japanese culture and the Japanese view of life. I have a real sense this Easter that my own vocation demands a deepened and experiential stud, from within (by connaturality), of the medieval tradition as well as of, to some extent, Asian tradition and experiences, particularly Japanese, particularly Zen: i.e., in an awareness of a common need and aspiration with these past generations.
April 18 and 19, 1965, V.231-32

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