Kingdom Voices: Thomas Merton

Knowing my interest in Thomas Merton, my dear friend, Molly, sent me this book of Lenten reflections, and I have enjoyed reading it each day.  I read these thoughts last week, and I loved how Merton’s ideas corresponded to my own current line of thinking regarding my one job:

“True sanctity does not mean living without creatures.  It consists in using the goods of life in order to do the will of God.  It consists of using God’s creation in such a way that everything we touch and see and use and love gives new glory to God.  To be a saint means to pass through the world gathering fruits for heaven from every tree and reaping God’s glory from every field.  The saint is one who is in contact with God in every possible way, in every possible direction.  He is united to God by the depths of his own being.  He sees and touches God in everything and everyone around him.  Everywhere he goes, the world rings and resounds (though silently) with the deep harmonies of God’s glory.”

–Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration, 137.

I assume that, as a Catholic, Merton is speaking of saints in a different way than I think of them.  When I think of saints, I don’t think of a special class of Christians whose virtue elevates them above the rest; instead, I just think of…well, Christians.  All of us.  At least, that is how Paul refers to us in so many of his letters.  And as a Christian, I do long to be “in contact with God in every possible way, in every possible direction.”  That is one of the reasons why I try to view all my tasks as ultimately accomplishing one purpose:  the glorification of God.  Because of this, Merton’s words resonate deeply with me.  He reminds me that, in all that I say and do, I should seek to live as God’s saint, a citizen in His kingdom.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Good points, Kim. The idea that all of us are called to that kind of relationship with God and to his creation is one of the central points of the gospel, I think. For years I have prayed that the classes my kids take (starting in HS and now in college) will help them understand the world God has created, and to understand God himself, better. It’s part of seeing God in his creation, and taking advantage of the blessings he pours out to us through it.



  2. Posted by Molly on March 12, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    It’s funny that you mention the idea of saints as being an elevated class of Christians. So often I find myself thinking of them that way – because they have lived the Christian life so fully, I think of them as being better than myself. As if it takes an extraordinary person to live a life so full of God’s love. But if God has taught me nothing else this Lent, I have realized that being a saint is not a reflection of my own holiness but instead my reflecting God’s holiness. God wishes nothing less than to make saints of all of us – true citizens of His kingdom – we merely have to let Him do it.


    • Reflecting God’s holiness … what a great way to describe it, Molly. And since a sanctified one – a holy one – means to be set apart by God for his purposes, it’s comforting to think that God’s purpose in doing so is for us to reflect his glory and not try to come up with some glory of our own (as if I could ever come up with glory of my own!).



    • So true, Molly! I love these thoughts, and I love and miss you!


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