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Posted September 20, 2007

Book: Thoughts in Solitude
Author: Thomas Merton
Farrar, Straus, Giroux. New York. 2007. Pp. 130

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

In Thoughts and Solitude, Thomas Merton addresses with eloquence and insight the pleasure of a solitary life, as well as the necessity for quiet reflection in an age when so little is private. He writes, “When men are merely submerged in a mass of impersonal human beings pushed around by automatic forces, they lose their true humanity, their integrity, their ability to love, their capacity for self-determination. When society is made up of men who know no interior solitude, it can no longer be held together by love: and consequently it is held together by violent and abusive authority. But when men are violently deprived of the solitude and freedom which are their due, the society in which they live becomes putrid, it festers with servility, resentment and hate.”

An Excerpt from the Book:

If you want to have a spiritual life you must unify your life. A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.

To unify your life, unify your desires. To spiritualize your life, spiritualize your desires. To spiritualize your desires, desire to be without desire.

To live in the spirit is to live for a God in Whom we believe, but Whom we cannot see. To desire this is therefore to renounce the desire of all that can be seen. To possess Him Who cannot be understood is to renounce all that can be understood. To rest in Him Who is beyond all created rest, we renounce the desire to rest in created things.

By renouncing the world we conquer the world, rise above its multiplicity and recapitulate it in the simplicity of a love which finds all things in God.

This is what Christ meant when He said that any one who would save his life will lose it, and he who would lose his life, for the sake of God, would save it.

Table of Contents:

Part one

Aspects of the Spiritual Life

Part Two

The Love of Solitude