Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - April 7

A Speech Formed in Silence
The mystery of speech and silence is resolved in the Acts of the Apostles. Pentecost is the solution. The problem of language is the problem of sin. The problem of silence is also a problem of love. How can a man really know whether to write or not, whether to speak or not, whether his words and his silence are for good or for evil, for life or for death, unless he understands the two divisions of tongues--the division of Babel, when men were scattered in their speech because of pride, and the division of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost sent out men of one dialect to speak all the languages of the earth and bring all men to unity: that they may be one, Father, Thou in Me and I in them, that they may be one in Us.
The Acts of the Apostles is a book full of speech. It begins with tongues of fire. The Apostles and disciples come downstairs and out into the street like an avalanche, talking in every language. And the world thought they were drunk. But before the sun had set, they had baptized three thousand souls out of Babel into the One Body of Christ. At Pentecost we sing of Whom they spoke. The false Jerusalem, the old one that was a figure and had died, could not prohibit them from speaking (Acts 4). But the more they loved one another and loved God, the more they declared His word. And He manifested Himself through them. That is the only possible reason for speaking--it justified speaking without end, as long as the speech formed is from silence and brings your soul again to silence.
April 14, 1950, II.430-31

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