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The Seven Storey Mountain
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Prior Discussions > 1. What is the interior life?

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message 1: by John (last edited Mar 04, 2016 08:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Seymour | 1807 comments Mod
1. Define contemplation and the "interior life" that shapes so much of Merton's thinking. What is the interior life? Why is it important? Is it important to everyone or only those who are called to be monks? How does your answer jibe with the following quote?

"This means, in practice, that there is only one vocation. Whether you teach or live in the cloister or nurse the sick, whether you are in religion or out of it, married or single, no matter who you are or what you are, you are called to the summit of perfection: you are called to a deep interior life perhaps even to mystical prayer, and to pass the fruits of your contemplation on to others." Epilogue, p. 458


John Seymour | 1807 comments Mod
The interior life is the life with God, isn't it? This seems consistent with St. Teresa of Ávila's Interior Castle.

Perhaps more accurately it is the spiritual life, the journey to God.


message 3: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 640 comments I think he's talking about union with God, which we already possess fully in baptism but are journeying toward, having to deal with our sins and imperfections and distractions along the way. Of course we are all called to this. We can live it deeply or superficially, and our actions can be more or less rooted in our love for God--more accurately, God's love for us and the world He created. I believe he is correct that there is no choice/opposition between the active and contemplative life. Still, at any given time, in the midst of action we may need to recollect and reunite ourselves with God. And we may certainly be led during our set-aside prayer times, or spontaneously during the day, to specific actions.
Yet he distinguishes between orders that are more geared to active or contemplative, e.g. "What I needed was the solitude to expand in breadth and depth and to be simplified out under the gaze of God more or less the way a plant spreads out its leaves in the sun. I needed a Rule that was almost entirely aimed at detaching me from the world and uniting me with God, not a Rule made to fit me to fight for God in the world."


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