Monday, May 19, 2008

Powerful Stuff from Merton on Suffering

Suffering, therefore, must make sense to us not as a vague universal necessity, but as something demanded by our own personal destiny.  When I see my trials not as the collision of my life with a blind machine called fate, but as the sacramental gift of Christ's love, given to me by God the Father along with my identity and my very name, then I can consecrate them and myself with them to God.  For then I realize that my suffering is not my own.  It is the Passion of Christ, stretching out its tendrils into my life in order to bear rich clusters of grapes, making my soul dizzy with the wine of Christ's love, and pouring that wine as strong as fire upon the whole world.

Amen, brother Thomas!

I think of the blind Carthusian monk I wrote about awhile ago, who thanked God for being born blind.  It was part of his destiny to suffer with blindness, and he realized that it was God's tender mercy that caused him to be blind, for he believed it was done for the betterment of his soul.  And the betterment of his soul can only be described in one way:  transforming him to be like Christ, who gave his life on behalf of others.  That is the business of heaven.

Here are further words on suffering from Merton's book, No Man Is An Island:

The Lord did not create suffering.  Pain and death came into the world with the fall of man.  But after man had chosen suffering in preference to the joys of union with God, the Lord turned suffering itself into a way by which man could come to the perfect knowledge of God.

I find that to be absolutely beautiful.

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