The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

The lesson of trees


A tree gives glory to God by being a tree.
For in being what God means it to be it is obeying God.
It “consents,” so to speak, to God’s creative love.
It is expressing an idea which is in God
and which is not distinct from the essence of God,
and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like God.
If it tried to be like something else which it was never intended to be,
it would be less like God and therefore it would give God less glory.


For me, to be a saint means to be myself.
Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact
the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.

Trees and animals have no problem.
God makes them what they are without consulting them,
and they are perfectly satisfied.

With us it is different.
God leaves us free to be whatever we like.
We can be ourselves or not, as we please.

— Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation.

A grateful H/T to the Concord Pastor.
Happy birthday, brother!

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Holy Cannoli

posted April 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I’m, not a fan of Merton but, in fairness, I’ve read only one of his books. It wss long ago and I can’t even remember the name of the book.
Although he has his supporters, from his writings online, I can say he’s a bit too ‘new agey’ and ‘Zen-like’ for my taste.
It’s interesting to me why there a desire to read Merton when we have the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church (with the title “Saint” prefacing their names) to provide spiritual wisdom and guidance? Does Merton know something that they didn’t?
In this piece, Merton writes:
>>>For me, to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.
“finding out who I am”
“discovering my true self.”
Oy vey! As if Catholics aren’t confused enough already.
Is Merton’s comment indicative of a loving search for the Creator and Objective Truth or is it subjective depending on the will, the whims and the personal preferences of the creature? What I may believe to be “my true self” can be, and in many cases is, objectively harmful to me both physically and within my soul. Yet, I may have determined that this is “who I am.”
Compare Merton’s New Age comment with the following Saint, Latin Father, Doctor of the Church and mystic’s Love Poem to God.
Too late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved You! Behold, You were within me, while I was outside and it was there that I sought You. In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made.. You were always with me, but I was not with You. They kept me far from you, those lovely things which, if they were not within You, they would not exist at all.
You have called to me, and have cried out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and have shone upon me, and You put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath and I pant after You. I have tasted you and I hunger and thirst after you. You have touched me and I burn for Your peace.

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Reaganite in NYC

posted April 17, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Dear Deacon Greg,
I appreciate your sincerity. However, the poem by Merton and the commentary by “Concord Pastor” left me unmoved. There may indeed be ASPECTS of the truth of God in this material, but not, I think, the FULLNESS of truth.

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