23 June 2014

A Non-Contemplative Moment

As some of you know, I recently began a series of posts called "A Contemplative Moment". They are meant to give a small bite or taste of some contemplative or eremitical writer  to think about or savor; my hope is that visually and in other ways they create a space where one can simply be quiet, be present, and be open to God.

Because of the following picture sent to me by a regular reader of this blog, it occurs to me that perhaps I should also consider an antithetical series of posts picturing "non-contemplative moments" and the attitudes associated with these. We certainly all know these in our own lives! Regarding the picture itself, I think it's completely brilliant!

Now, if I can only find a passage  referring to those who think prayer (or eremitical life) is all about THEM, their plans, their projects, their time or schedules, etc!! In the meantime, how about this paradox from Thomas Merton? (Redacted)

The crucial problem of perfection and interior purity is in the renunciation and uprooting of all our unconscious attachments to. . .our own wills and desires. . . .it may easily happen that our resolutions are dictated by the vice we need to get rid of.
And so the proud [person] resolves to fast more and punish her flesh more because she wants to make herself feel more and more of a [hermit]: her fasts and disciplines are imposed on her by her own vanity -- and then strengthen the very thing that most needs to be killed.
When a person is virtuous enough to be able to delude herself that she is almost perfect, she may enter into the dangerous condition of blindness in which all her violent efforts finally to grasp perfection strengthen her hidden imperfection and confirm her in her attachment to her own judgment and her own will.

Thomas Merton, OCSO, Seeds of Contemplation