Contemplative Prayer Quotes

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Contemplative Prayer Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton
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“The only trouble is that in the spiritual life there are no tricks and no shortcuts. Those who imagine that they can discover spiritual gimmicks and put them to work for themselves usually ignore God's will and his grace.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“Syrian monk, Isaac of Niniveh: Many are avidly seeking but they alone find who remain in continual silence. … Every man who delights in a multitude of words, even though he says admirable things, is empty within. If you love truth, be a lover of silence. Silence like the sunlight will illuminate you in God and will deliver you from the phantoms of ignorance. Silence will unite you to God himself. … More than all things love silence: it brings you a fruit that tongue cannot describe. In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent. But then there is born something that draws us to silence. May God give you an experience of this “something” that is born of silence. If only you practice this, untold light will dawn on you in consequence … after a while a certain sweetness is born in the heart of this exercise and the body is drawn almost by force to remain in silence.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“Prayer does not blind us to the world, but it transforms our vision of the world, and makes us see it, all men, and all the history of mankind, in the light of God. To pray 'in spirit and in truth' enables us to enter into contact with that infinite love, that inscrutable freedom which is at work behind the complexities and the intricacies of human existence. This does not mean fabricating for ourselves pious rationalizations to explain everything that happens. It involves no surreptitious manipulation of the hard truths of life.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“We must approach our meditation realizing that 'grace,' 'mercy,' and 'faith' are not permanent inalienable possessions which we gain by our efforts and retain as though by right, provided that we behave ourselves. They are CONSTANTLY RENEWED GIFTS. The life of grace in our hearts is renewed from moment to moment, directly and personally by God in his love for us.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“Hence the aim of meditation, in the context of Christian faith, is not to arrive at an objective and apparently 'scientific' knowledge of God, but to come to know him through the realization that our very being is penetrated with his knowledge and love for us. Our knowledge of God is paradoxically a knowledge not of him as the object of our scrutiny, but of ourselves as utterly dependent on his saving and merciful knowledge of us. It is in proportion as we are known to him that we find our real being and identity in Christ. We know him and through ourselves in so far as his truth is the source of our being and his merciful love is the very heart of our life and existence. We have no other reason for being, except to be loved by him as our Creator and Redeemer, and to love him in return. There is no true knowledge of God that does not imply a profound grasp and an intimate personal acceptance of this profound relationship.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace. It can come to us ONLY as a gift, and not as a result of our own clever use of spiritual techniques.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“The climate of this prayer is, then, one of awareness, gratitude and a totally obedient love which seeks nothing but to please God.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“There is a 'movement' of meditation, expressing the basic 'paschal' rhythm of the Christian life, the passage from death to life in Christ. Sometimes prayer, meditation and contemplation are 'death' - a kind of descent into our own nothingness, a recognition of helplessness, frustration, infidelity, confusion, ignorance. Note how common this theme is in the Psalms. If we need help in meditation we can turn to scriptural texts that express this profound distress of man in his nothingness and his total need of God. Then as we determine to face the hard realities of our inner life and humbly for faith, he draws us out of darkness into light - he hears us, answers our prayer, recognizes our need, and grants us the help we require - if only by giving us more faith to believe that he can and will help us in his own time. This is already a sufficient answer.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“Hence monastic prayer, especially meditation and contemplative prayer, is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in him whom we have found, who loves us, who is near to us, who comes to us to draw us to himself.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“Monastic prayer begins not so much with “considerations” as with a “return to the heart,” finding one’s deepest center, awakening the profound depths of our being”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“We should not, however, judge the value of our meditation by “how we feel.” A hard and apparently fruitless meditation may in fact be much more valuable than one that is easy, happy, enlightened and apparently a big success.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“Those who imagine that they can discover special gimmicks and put them to work for themselves usually ignore God’s will and his grace.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“effort is necessary, enlightened, well-directed and sustained.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“We are not only contingent beings, dependent on the love and will of a Creator whom we cannot know experientially except in so far as he reveals to us our personal relationship with him as his sons - we are also sinners who have FREELY REPUDIATED this relationship. We have rebelled against him. The spirit of rebellious refusal persists in our heart even when we try to return to him. Much could be said, at this point, about all the subtlety and ingenuity of religious egoism which is one of the worst and most ineradicable forms of self-deception. Sometimes one feels that a well-intentioned and inculpable atheist is in many ways better off - and gives more glory to God - than some people whose bigoted complacency and inhumanity to others are signs of the most obvious selfishness! Hence we not only need to recover an awareness of our creaturehood; we also must repair the injury done to truth and to love by this repudiation, this infidelity. But how? Humanly speaking, there is no way in which we can do this.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“In reality the monk abandons the world only in order to listen more intently to the deepest and most neglected voices that proceed from its inner depth.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“prayer is to religion what original research is to science,”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“To separate meditation from prayer, reading and contemplation is to falsify our picture of the monastic way of prayer. In proportion as meditation takes on a more contemplative character, we see that it is not only a means to an end, but also has something of the nature of an end.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“A man is enriched by the faith, and if you will by the hope and humility, with which he calls on the most sweet Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ; and he is enriched also by peace and love. For these are truly a three-stemmed life-giving tree planted by God.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“mistake to suppose that mere good will is, by itself, a sufficient guarantee that all our efforts will finally attain to a good result. Serious mistakes can be made, even with the greatest good will.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“Misplaced effort in the spiritual life often consists in stubbornly insisting upon compulsive routines which seem to us to be necessary because they accord with our own short-sighted notions.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“For the monk searches not only his own heart: he plunges deep into the heart of that world of which he remains a part although he seems to have "left" it. In reality the monk abandons the world only in order to listen more intently to the deepest and most neglected voices that proceed from its inner depth.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“If lying and fabrication are psychologically harmful even in ordinary relations with other men (a sphere where a certain amount of falsification is not uncommon) all falsity is disastrous in any relation with the ground of our own being”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“I will give them a heart to understand that I am Yahweh, and they shall be my people and I will be their God when they return to me with all their heart. —JEREMIAH 24:7”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“kind of prayer we here speak of as properly “monastic” (though it may also fit into the life of any lay person who is attracted to it) is a prayer of silence, simplicity, contemplative and meditative unity, a deep personal integration in an attentive, watchful listening of “the heart.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer
“By “prayer of the heart” we seek God himself present in the depths of our being and meet him there by invoking the name of Jesus in faith, wonder and love.”
Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer