Working Papers or "Veniam Pro Laudo Peto"
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Laughing with Merton

Monday, October 03, 2005
I am reading The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton and I ran across a passage that made me laugh. Merton makes the comment which I will quote. "Another thing which Catholics do not realize about convert is the tremendous, agonizing embarrassment and self consciousness which the feel about praying publicly in a Catholic Church. The effort it takes to overcome all the imaginary fears that everyone is looking at you, and that they all think you are crazy or ridiculous, is something that costs a tremendous effort."
Merton had it right. I have had occasion to speak with other converts to the Bride of Christ and they too had to work through with some degree of effort to overcome those imaginary fears. Yes, they are imaginary but I think the fears that come from imagination are sometimes greater than those of reality. I think the evil one uses those imaginary fears to make us so concerned about ourselves and what others may or may not think that it takes our focus off of worshiping Almighty God.
I think the same concept can be applied to distractions during mental prayer sometimes they are of the Holy Spirit and produce fruit for contemplation. Sometimes though they are either products of a over active imagination or of the evil one himself. In the case of the latter two types of distractions we have to root out the cause and refocus on the Crucified and Risen Christ. That for me is where holy images, icons, statues and especially a crucifix brings my mind from the unworthy thoughts to that of giving Christ Our Lord true worship, honor and praise.
Merton's words made me laugh a bit and helped me to realize that many of the experiences I have been through in the past are not that unique. I would imagine that if I was to talk to quite a few 'cradle Catholics' that the honest ones too could at some point in the journey identify with the experience. After all whether we were born into the Church or started later in life we all are or at least should be 'in statu conversionis'.
I think we must press forward through the distractions and imaginary fears that invade our minds in order to better appreciate the life giving water that we are all called to drink from the stream. Merton reminded me today in a new way that while unique we are all on this journey towards the Beatific Vision together as Children of Light.
Omnia Pro Iesu Per Mariam!!
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    10/03/2005 04:05:00 PM :: ::
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