Monday, September 25, 2006

Fr. M. Louis, O.C.S.O.- Smile!

Tom Merton

On this blog I have been slowly introducing members of what my mentor, Deacon Owen Cummings, taught me to call my community of the heart. You have met on these pages Edward Schillebeeckx, OP (what a cool last name!), my dear and beloved W for Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein, Friedrich Nietzsche (two more really cool last names- I think I'm jealous because both my first and last names are only one syllable), and, in an oblique way, San Francesco d'Assisi, and Chiara Offreduccio, known popularly in English as St. Clare, or, in Spanish, as Santa Clara. In future and in no particular order or set period of time, I will provide a more thorough introduction to Francesco Bernardone (i.e., St. Francis), Madeleine Delbrel, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Joris Karl Huysmans, and a few others. An eclectic bunch? You bet!!! It all seems a bit self-indulgent. But, then maintaining a blog is a bit self-indulgent.

Now that I see them side-by-side in print, it is hard to escape the cool last name linkage- weird. Is there a therapist reading this? Of course I am just off-kilter enough to both notice (in which I am certain I am not alone) and stupid enough (which my mentor, OC, once pointed out is remediable) to mention that therapist is a compound word.

One member of my community-of-the-heart, who does not have an exotic last-name and about whom I am reluctant to share, is Frater/Pater Tom- Thomas Merton, or, his religious name, Fr. Mary Louis. No, not Mary Clarence, Mary Louis. Why am I reluctant? There is so much written on him and about him that it seems unfair to pile on. When the Merton Center opened up at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Kentucky, near Gethsemani Abbey, where Frater Tom was a cloistered monk, he remarked, "It is a good place to cut a fart and run" How can you NOT love him? He means so much to me in a way mere words could never express. So much so, that when the topic of Merton arises I adhere to dear W's seventh proposition from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence".

Anyway, I mention Frater Tom today because one of his deepest insights was, just be yourself. How often in prayer before God do we try to be Pious Pete or Petunia? If you're anything like me, too often. Though, it is pious Pete for me. My insecurities and dishonesty haven't yet caused me to impersonate a female in prayer. When I catch myself doing this the words of Michael Palin, of Monty Python fame, come to my mind, "I'm afraid God sees through such a cheap trick". Indeed, God does. Deo gratias!

My point in all this? Being ourselves, not just in prayer, but in all things, is just as important as being quiet. In so doing I not only create a space, or open a channel, through which God can communicate with me, but I am the me with whom God wishes to communicate, the me God has created for communion, both with him and with others. Communio.

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