The Person Who Cannot Despair

Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reached when a person deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost…Despair is the ultimate development of a pride so great and so stiff-necked that it selects the absolute misery of damnation rather than accept happiness from the hands of God and thereby acknowledge that He is above us and that we are not capable of fulfilling our destiny ourselves. But a person who is truly humble cannot despair, because in a humble person there is no longer any such thing as self-pity.

“The desert is the home of despair.  And despair, now, is everywhere.  Let us not think that our interior solitude consists in the acceptance of defeat.  We cannot escape anything by consenting tacitly to be defeated.  Despair is an abyss without bottom.  Do not think to close it by consenting to it and trying to forget you have consented.

This, then, is our desert: to live facing despair, but not to consent.  To trample it down under hope in the Cross.  To wage  war against despair unceasingly.  That war is our wilderness.  If we wage it courageously, we will find Christ at our side.  If we cannot face it, we will never find Him.”  (Thoughts in Solitude)

The Seven Storey Mountain

The Seven Storey Mountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thomas Merton (1915–1968),  French-born writer who converted to Catholicism after a long and complicated intellectual journey becoming a Trappist monk, was one of the most well-known Catholic writers of the 20th century. He was the author of more than 60 books, including the story of his conversion, Seven Storey Mountain, a modern spiritual classic.

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Find also to read:

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  2. Control your destiny or somebody else will
  3. Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair
  4. No time for immorality
  5. Old age
  6. Companionship
  7. Not following the tradition of man
  8. Looking for True Spirituality 8 Measuring Up
  9. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #10 Prayer #8 Condition
  10. What Jesus did: First things first

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  • The Seven Storey Mountain (Thomas Merton, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1948, 429 pages) (rabidreader.typepad.com)
    In 1941, a brilliant, good-looking young man decided to give up a promising literary career in New York to enter a monastery in Kentucky, from where he proceeded to become one of the most influential writers of this century. Talk about losing your life in order to find it. Thomas Merton‘s first book, The Seven Storey Mountain, describes his early doubts, his conversion to a Catholic faith of extreme certainty, and his decision to take life vows as a Trappist monk.
  • …the desert… & Thomas Merton (rosesintherubble.com)
    Here’s to waging war against despair with Courage & Hope from the Presence of Jesus next to us, above us, below us, around us…& within our hearts, filling us with Love (the Heavenly Kind) that makes flowers grow – even in a desert!
  • Potential and Despair (curmudgeons.net)
    In despairing over something, [a person] really despaired over himself, and now he wants to be rid of himself.
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    If he had become Caesar, he would despairingly get rid of himself, but he did not become Caesar and cannot despairingly get rid of himself. Essentially, he is just as despairing, for he does not save his self, is not himself.
  • A Glory followed by Despair (hananabila.wordpress.com)
    When you feel like everything you do is wrong
    Where you feel like you should do one sacrifice
    Where it all ends, where we all are sad
    When comfort isn’t enough for those in despair
  • Quote of the Day 08 Sept 2013 ~ Peace of Solitude (marcgilbert.com)
    The world of men has forgotten the joys of silence, the peace of solitude, which is necessary, to some extent, for the fullness of human living.
  • Thomas Merton on self-idolatry and solitude (resistanceandrenewal.net)
    I have just finished reading The Seven Storey Mountain, the spiritual autobiography of Thomas Merton. Its a beautiful book which chronicles his journey through childhood and student days to becoming a Trappist monk. Merton was born in 1915 and experienced an eclectic upbringing in USA, France and London. However, his
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    He locates the dangers of ambition down to the most basic of Christian temptations, a ‘self-idolatry’ which fuels a relentless need for achievementearly life was marked by tragedy as both his mother and father died when he was young.
  • Typewriter of the moment: Thomas Merton (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
    One of Thomas Merton’s typewriters sits on display at the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Political orphaning of moderate unionism is source of wonder and despair. (sluggerotoole.com)
    What party represents the vast majority of unionists — those who are not Orangemen, bandsmen, gunmen, Bible-bashers, flag-flyers, bonfire-builders or all the other overlapping little constituencies that unionist politicians never dare to disappoint?
  • The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton: A New Look at the Spiritual Inspiration of His Life, Thought, and Writing by Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M. (evolutionarymystic.wordpress.com)
    In The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton, Franciscan friar and author Daniel Horan shows how, both before and after he became a Trappist monk, Merton’s life was shaped by his love for St. Francis and for the Franciscan spiritual and intellectual tradition. Given recent renewed interest in St. Francis, this timely resource is both informative and practical, revealing a previously hidden side of Merton that will inspire a new generation of Christians to live richer, deeper, and more justice-minded lives of faith.

 

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4 responses to “The Person Who Cannot Despair

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