Monday Morning with Merton: Sacred Heart Reflections – 2


After browsing through several of Merton’s journals and other writings, I was beginning to think I would never find anything concerning the Sacred Heart of Jesus, until I came upon this entry for the Feast of the Sacred Heart in 1947 in “The Sign of Jonas”:

“I ought to know, by now, that God uses everything that happens as a means to lead me into solitude.  Every creature that enters my life, every instant of my days, will be designed to wound me with the realization of the world’s insufficiency, until I become so detached that I will be able to find God alone in everything.  Only then will all things bring me joy….Today I seemed to be very much assured that solitude is indeed His will for me and that it is truly God Who is calling me into the desert.” [pgs. 51-52] 

Upon first and even second reading I was disappointed; I said to myself, “Thomas, tell me about the Sacred Heart.  I want to know what you think about the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Why are you talking about yourself – it is the Feastday; why don’t you write about the Sacred Heart on the Feastday, instead of your own call to solitude?”  And then I realized he was writing about the Sacred Heart – about what It evoked for him and in him; about his experience of It. 

So I did a little more browsing – googling, to be exact, on the Sacred Heart and solitude.  There were some interesting things to be found; for example, The Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Theology of Benedict XVI, by Father Mark D. Kirby, O.Cist.  Father Kirby writes:

“At the core of devotion to the Sacred Heart is a passing-over into the prayer of Christ to the Father, a long apprenticeship to silence by which we begin to let the Heart of Christ speak in us and for us to the Father.” [emphasis mine]  Among other references, Father Kirby uses quotes from [then] Cardinal Ratzinger’s “Behold the Pierced One”, in which he helps us see the links between Jesus’ solitude, our own solitude, the Sacred Heart, prayer, and communication with the Father.

And so Thomas Merton truly is speaking of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as he describes his assurance of an even stronger calling to solitude, for it is not a call to solitude for the sake of solitude – it is a call to enter into the Sacred Heart, into the solitude of Jesus, and in Jesus’ solitude we share in prayer to the Father.    

8 thoughts on “Monday Morning with Merton: Sacred Heart Reflections – 2

  1. i weep at the reading of Merton’s words because i find myself at home in them. This post speaks to me deeply and tenderly and i thank you, Gabrielle, for being such a devoted and faithful messenger!

  2. I’m glad to see you have referenced Fr. Mark Kirby of Vultus Christi who writes so well and so diligently of Jesus – especially the Holy Face, and his beloved Mary, and of many, many saints.
    Yes, solitude, we know we need it, we yearn for it, and yet sometimes we’re nearly afraid of it, and yet by not seeking it we are depriving our selves of the wealth of love that flows from His Sacred Heart.

  3. “a long apprenticeship to silence.”

    Puts me in mind of the Magdalen’s and Mary of Egypt’s apprenticeship to silence, and how some of us may apprentice ourselves to these so as to reach a Cave of a long solitude so greatly Filled, it burst into Magnificat.

  4. (((Laure)))  you’re welcome. It is good to be home, isn’t it.

    Ann, oh my gosh, I have only visited Vultus Christi a few times since you told me about it several months ago (because of my inability to keep up)  and I didn’t remember Fr.’s name. This link is something I found of his on the EWTN website, but I should edit this post later tonight to include a link to his blog. I also wanted to link to it at “Consecrated to Mary” when I have time to work on the sidebar, as well as to another priest’s blog that one of Fr. Kirby’s posts led me to.  Thank you so much for reminding me of Vultus Christi, Ann. 

  5. C.O., how beautifully expressed. And after the Magnificat, the apprenticeship continues, doesn’t it, to the Cross, to the Death and Resurrection, to the Ascension, to Pentecost and beyond…to the joining forever of their Two Hearts. There is a famous Cdn. novel by Hugh McLennan called, Two Solitudes. But their Two Hearts share one solitude, don’t they, yet a solitude that yearns to be shared with everyone.

  6. Notice that he speaks of the “wounding” and of the “joy”, all in the same thought…..how mysterious, and amazing is that?

  7. Aeternus, as I was reflecting on the solitude of the Sacred Heart I remembered that in June 2007 I had posted on the Silence of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I am continually amazed at the patience Jesus and Mary have shown me, that I so often fail to make these spiritual connections when they are staring me right in the face, and the heart…

    Kristin, it’s becoming our spiritual-paradox theme here, it seems! On May 16th, in my post called “From the Selfsame Well”, I posted an excerpt from Gibran’s “The Prophet” on the same topic of joy/sorrow.

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