Wendell Berry on what we owe each other

Wendell Berry, the Kentucky poet / farmer / and my favorite luddite (I don’t think he’d dispute that last):

“The obligation is very great and moves two ways. The old have an obligation to be exemplary, if they can–and since nobody can be completely exemplary, they also have an obligation to be intelligent about their failings. They’re going to be remembered in one way or another, so they have an obligation to see that they’re remembered not as a liability or a great burden, but as a help. And of course the young, the inheritors, have an obligation to remember these people and live up to them–be worthy of them. So it’s an obligation that goes both ways, and it’s inescapable. Once you become involved in this sequence of lives, there is no way to escape the responsibility. You inherit, and in turn you bequeath an inheritance of some kind.”

Vladimir Lossky on True Mysticism

Theology and Mysticism in the Tradition of the Eastern Church, by Vladimir Lossky

There is, therefore, no Christian mysticism without theology; but, above all, there is no theology without mysticism. It is not by chance that the tradition of the Eastern Church has reserved the name of ‘theologian’ peculiarly for three sacred writers of whom the first is St. John, most ‘mystical’ of the four Evangelists; the second St. Gregory Nazianzen, writer of contemplative poetry; and the third St. Symeon, called ‘the New Theologian’, the singer of union with God. Mysticism is accordingly treated in the present work as the perfecting and crown of all theology: as theology par excellence.

Vladimir Lossky On Living the Dogma

Theology and Mysticism in the Tradition of the Eastern Church, by Vladimir Lossky

…we must live the dogma expressing a revealed truth, which appears to us as an unfathomable mystery, in such a fashion that instead of assimilating the mystery to our mode of understanding, we should, on the contrary, look for a profound change, an inner transformation of spirit, enabling us to experience it mystically.

Robert Giroux on Merton’s path to the Seven Story Mountain

Giroux talks about getting Seven Story Mountain into print. In the process he quotes the opening lines, one of the best openings in literature. I wish I could find the rest of the opening paragraph…

“On the last day of January 1915, under the sign of the Water Bearer, in a year of a great war, and down in the shadows of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into the world.”

Pavel Florensky: “…who repeats after you the lessons of love.”

“On quiet autumn nights, in holy hours of silence, when a tear of rapture sparkles on my eyelashes, I will secretly begin to write down for you schemata and pitiful fragments of those questions which we so much discussed together. You know in advance what I will write. You know that my writing will not be didactic, and that the pompous tone comes from my foolish incompetence. If a wise teacher does even the difficult as if in jest, an inexperienced pupil employs a solemn tone even in trivial things. And I, after all, am nothing more than a pupil who repeats after you the lessons of love.”

On the Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Florensky, 13.

Thomas Merton: closing passage of Seven Story Mountain

But you shall taste the true solitude of My anguish and My poverty and I shall lead you into the high places of My joy and you shall die in Me and find all things in My mercy which has created you for this end, and brought you from Prades to Bermuda to St. Antonin to Oakham to London to Cambridge to Rome to New York to Columbia to Corpus Christi and St Bonaventure to the Cistercian abbey of the poor men who labor in Gethsemani: that you may become the brother of God and learn to know the Christ of the burnt men.     Sit finis libri, non finis qaerendi.

Thomas Merton: “If I can unite in myself…”

“If I can unite in myself the thought and the devotion of Eastern and Western Christendom, the Greek and the Latin Fathers, the Russians with the Spanish mystics, I can prepare in myself the reunion of divided Christians. From that secret and unspoken unity in myself can eventually come a visible and manifest unity of all Christians. If we want to bring together what is divided, we can not do so by imposing the one division upon the other or absorbing one division into the other… We must contain all divided worlds in ourselves and transcend them in Christ.”

Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1965), p. 21.

Meister Eckhart: 20th sign of genuine seers: “…they will let him prevail…”

If you would know and recognize the really sane and genuine seers of God, whom nothing can deceive or misinform, four and twenty signs can detect them…

The twentieth sign: if any man fight them, they will let him prevail before accepting help of any sort but God’s…
These are the signs of the true ground wherein lives the image of the perfect truth and he who does not find them in himself may account his knowledge vain and so may other people.