The God of Peace
Topic: Overcoming Adversity
“There is only one kind of violence that captures the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the seeming violence of grace, which is really order and peace. It establishes peace in the soul’s depth even in the midst of passion. It is called “violent” by reason of the energy with which it resists passion and sets order in the house of the soul. This violence is the voice and the power of God Himself, speaking in our soul. It is the authority of the God of peace, speaking within us, in the sanctuary, in His holy place. The god of peace is never glorified by human violence.“
Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Merton, Thomas. A Thomas Merton Reader. Edited by Thomas P. McDonnell, Image Books, 1974.
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Thomas Merton’s Call for Peace
Born in 1915, [Thomas] Merton entered the Trappist monastery of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky in 1941, and in 1948, published his best-selling autobiography, “The Seven Story Mountain.” He went on to write another hundred influential books of poetry, theology, spirituality and political essays before his sudden death on December 10, 1968.
It’s with gratitude and consolation that I think of this peacemaking monk and writer. For while Daniel and Philip Berrigan taught me resistance to the culture of war, Dorothy Day models hospitality to the poor, and Dr. King exemplifies the methodology of active nonviolence, Thomas Merton embodies for me the creative, spiritual life of peace. By spending hours in prayer, wandering through the woods, reading about every topic under the sun, corresponding with thousands of people around the world, and sharing his spiritual discoveries and prophetic pronouncements with everyone, Merton lived a full life of peace and shared that peace with the world. He calls us all to work for an end to violence and war and become who we were created to be—peacemakers.
–John Dear [Thomas Merton’s Call for Peace].
Merton’s Essay in the Catholic Worker
Merton’s essay in “The Catholic Worker” published in the early 1960s, for example, is a kind of talisman. If he’s right, then we had all better get to work opposing war, practicing nonviolence, and creating a new culture of peace. Here’s how it begins:
“The duty of the Christian in this time of crisis is to strive with all our power and intelligence, with our faith and hope in Christ, and love for God and humanity, to do the one task which God has imposed upon us in the world today. That task is to work for the total abolition of war. There can be no question that unless war is abolished, the world will remain constantly in a state of madness and desperation in which, because of the immense destructive power of modern weapons, the danger of catastrophe will be imminent and probable at every moment everywhere. The church must lead the way on the road to the nonviolent settlement of difficulties and toward the gradual abolition of war as the way of settling international or civil disputes. Christians must become active in every possible way, mobilizing all their resources for the fight against war. Peace is to be preached and nonviolence is to be explained and practiced. We may never succeed in this campaign but whether we succeed or not, the duty is evident.”
–Thomas Merton [essay in “The Catholic Worker” (published in the early 1960s)].
John Dear, “Thomas Merton, Peacemaker”
John Dear’s new book, “Thomas Merton, Peacemaker” (Orbis), is available from www.amazon.com. See also: www.johndear.org www.campaignnonviolence.org and www.merton.org