April 18, 2007


When I look back at them, I always remark to myself on the intense formative influence that The Seven Story Mountain, The Sign of Jonas, and New Seeds of Contemplation had on my sense of Christianity and religious life.

I was looking through the Sign of Jonas and I noticed a passage I had underlined many years ago. Speaking of the question of whether we deny ourselves for love of God or for love of ourselves, Merton writes:
It is when we are angry at our own mistakes that we tend most of all to deny ourselves for love of ourselves. We want to shake off the hateful thing that has humbled us. In our rush to escape the humiliation of our own mistakes, we run head first into the opposite error, seeking comfort and compensation. And so we spend our lives running back and forth from one attachment to another.
Shame at our failures to live up to the spiritual life we desire may be a sign that what we really want to worship isn't God at all, but an image of ourself as a holy person.

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