Our true rest…


The doctrine of man finding his true reality in his remembrance of God in whose image he was created, is basically Biblical and was developed by the Church Fathers in connection with the theology of grace, the sacraments, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the surrender of our own will, the ‘death’ of our selfish ego, in order to live in pure love and liberty of spirit, is effected not by our own will (this would be a contradiction in terms!) but by the Holy Spirit. To ‘recover the divine likeness,’ to ‘surrender to the will of God,’ to ‘live by pure love,’ and thus to find peace, is summed up as ‘union with God in the Spirit,’ or ‘receiving, possessing the Holy Spirit.’ This, as the 19th-century Russian hermit, St. Seraphim of Sarov declared, is the whole purpose of the Christian life. St. John Chrysostom says: ‘As polished silver illumined by the rays of the sun radiates light not only from its own nature but also from the radiance of the sun, so a soul purified by the Divine Spirit becomes more brilliant than silver; it both receives the ray of Divine Glory and from itself reflects the ray of this same glory.’ Our true rest, love, purity, vision and quies is not something in ourselves, it is God the Divine Spirit. Thus we do not ‘possess’ rest, but go out of ourselves into Him who is our true rest.

(Thomas Merton. “The Spiritual Father in the Desert Tradition” in Contemplation in A World Action. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1971: 287.)

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