Monday Morning with Merton: Elevated


“God never does things by halves.  He does not sanctify us patch upon patch.  He does not make us priests or make us saints by superimposing an extraordinary existence upon our ordinary lives.  He takes our whole life and our whole being and elevates it to a supernatural level, transforms it completely from within, and leaves it exteriorly what it is:  ordinary.”



[The Sign of Jonas.  The Journal of Thomas Merton]  pg. 182 

11 thoughts on “Monday Morning with Merton: Elevated

  1. I guess, when I think back about what I have read ,a lot of the saints’ exploits were just heroic love shown in ordinary circumstances. Oh some were especially gifted with the stigmata and the ability to perform healings, and some got carried away by walling themselves up in towers and other things they thought God required,but I speak of the majority whose lives were ordinary.
    The more I read of the lives of the saints I see how important it is to read the original writings themselves and not books ABOUT those lives. Even old redactions! SO many filters , legends, embellishments were added to books about these Holy men and women.
    Today, Fr Merton reminds me that these saints were ordinary human beings showing extraordinary love for God and Man…holiness. Not an impossible feat when the life is graced.

    All Saints of God…..pray for us.

    thanks for Merton Monday

  2. teresa, that’s one of the reasons why I love reading the original writings too, e.g., the diaries and journals of Faustina, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Teresa of Avila…you see both their humanity and the workings of supernatural grace, which transforms them, as Merton says, to be able to live out heroic virtue.

  3. i feel the dance of paradox here. extraordinary and ordinary all at the same time…lost and found…full and empty…human and divine.

    thanks for sharing merton!

  4. YAY!! Someone’s up–you folks AND Merton!

    G’mornin’. 🙂

    Someday I will read Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. For now, I need to get beyond page 10 of “Fire Within.” Maybe I’ll keep it for next winter’s 1st s _ _ w. (I don’t yet dare say it aloud.)

  5. There’s a sort of cautionary note here too – living saints looking oh so ordinary that we pay them little attention, treat them in an abrupt manner, ignore them or if we’ve elevated ourselves enough, look down on them – God forbid!
    The fact that we would all seem attracted to the ‘simple’ saints and their authentic living is I suppose because we know it is not beyond our scope to live a saintly life – indeed the life God intends, and the well documented lives of these saints gives us hope that through our ordinariness and our human frailty we can by the grace of God be elevated by Him. Thank you, Gabrielle, and thank you, Fr Louis, for this.

  6. Lucy, I fear (?) we will never get away from spiritual paradox, so we may as well immerse ourselves, no?  :)  Let’s dance!

    Very Ordinarily Yours, you made me laugh with a memory you brought. The pastor that introduced me to Fire Within said, “If you can get past Chapter 10 …”  Well, I certainly did, and more than once, but not before reading all the good bits that I was truly needing first!

    Hello Laure, and thank you. I’ll be over to visit soon. I have a bit more time this week to venture out and about!

    Ann, I was thinking that very thing as I read the passage, saints in our very midst, transforming society on a daily basis, hidden but working wonders.

  7. “He takes our whole life and our whole being and elevates it to a supernatural level, transforms it completely from within, and leaves it exteriorly what it is: ordinary.”

    …if we let Him…

  8. Yes, there’s the catch, accepting or rejecting grace. And even accepting grace is not enough; Mary tells us that she has so many graces she desires to give us, but nobody asks for them. I find I am more and more drawn to the subjects of grace and mercy.

  9. I find that what Thomas Merton describes is also the Eucharist. There is first ordinary bread. Then there is Christ, though the appearance of simple, ordinary bread remains. In the Blessed Sacrament is the mystery of faith. It is beautiful.

    The whole mystery of this transformation in Christ in the person has its source in the transubstantiation of the Host. Just as bread is transubstantiated in the hands of the priest, so are we in the hands of the Church, in the hands of Our Lady, I believe. Thus, the Mass as the source, path, and destination of our life in Christ.

    For me, I find that the only thing that keeps me balanced in this mystery is contemplation of the Blessed Sacrament. In the Eucharist, the Lord does nothing extraordinary outwardly. He waits in tabernacles and goes wherever the priest puts Him. That’s about it. But, oh, does He love!

    Well, wait a minute, living in a tabernacle and going wherever a priest puts you *is* extraordinary I suppose…

    Thanks again Gabrielle.
    Jerome

  10. Jerome, what a beautiful reflection you have given us on this Merton passage. “The whole mystery of this transformation in Christ in the person has its source in the transubstantiation of the Host.” And that it is in the hands of Our Lady; yes, because it is she who forms Christ within us, as He was formed within her.

    Speaking of extraordinary and ordinary, it got me to thinking that when one’s life is open to and immersed in the supernatural, the supernatural then becomes what is “natural”. Also, when one realizes that everything and every moment is sacred, is sacramental, the natural becomes supernatural.

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