01 February 2008

Merton's Response

Thomas Merton must have spent some time musing on hypothetical outcomes, too. I imagine that his response to my earlier questions about choosing between different possibilities might run something like this (from No Man Is An Island):
In planning the course of our lives, we must remember the importance and dignity of our own freedom. A man who fears to settle his future by a good act of his own free choice does not understand the love of God. For our freedom is a gift God has given us in order that he may be able to love us more perfectly, and be loved by us more perfectly in return.

Love is perfect in proportion to its freedom. It is free in proportion to its purity. We act most freely when we act purely in response to the love of God. But the purest love of God is not servile, not blind, not limited by fear. Pure charity is fully aware of the power of its own freedom. Perfectly confident of being loved by God, the soul that loves Him dares to make a choice of its own, knowing that its own choice will be acceptable to love.

At the same time pure love is prudent. It is enlightened with a clear-sighted discretion. Trained in freedom, it knows how to avoid the selfishness that frustrates its action. It sees obstacles and avoids or overcomes them. It is keenly sensitive to the smallest signs of God's will and good pleasure in the circumstances of its own life, and its freedom is conditioned by the knowledge of all these. Therefore, in choosing what will please God, it takes account of all the slightest indications of His will. Yet if we add all these indications together, they seldom suffice to give us absolute certitude that God wills one thing to the exclusion of every other. He Who loves us means by this to leave us room for our own freedom, so that we may dare to choose for ourselves, with no other certainty than that His love will be pleased by our intention to please Him.

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