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No Man Is an Island Paperback – October 28, 2002
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0156027739
- ISBN-13 : 978-0156027731
- Product Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.75 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Mariner Books; First edition (October 28, 2002)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #27,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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While full of profound truth, this truth is presented not in complex theological terms as an intellectual exercise, but in truths which are readily accessible to most who simply desire to know God on a deeper level in very simple terms.
Merton calls us away to a consecrated life of love of God and love of others and does so on a very practical level. Often these truths beg to be reread--not because they are difficult to understand, but because their impact begs to be fully felt in the depths of the heart.
I would recommend this book to any person, believing or non-believing, who desires to know the amazing grace of God.
There were parts that enlivened my thoughts and spoke to me, while there were others that weren't quite clicking for me. I highlighted the book over 80 times and I don't think I highlight easily.
Here are a few quotes that stood out to me.
This definition of love is so short, but so potent. I found myself keeping the quote in mind as I went about my day. When I would interact with someone and it got difficult, whether frustrating or complex, I would think back to this quote and it would allow me to take the higher road. Instead of doing what I want to someone I love, I would attempt to do what is "really good" for them objective of my personal desires.
"To love another is to will what is really good for him. Such love must be based on truth."
OBEDIENCE and SANCTITY
I love this idea that obedience is not the point.
"Sanctity does not consist merely in doing the will of God. It consists in willing the will of God. For sanctity is union with God, and not all those who carry out His will are united with His will."
"He does not need our sacrifices, He asks for our selves. And if He prescribes certain acts of obedience, it is not because obedience is the beginning and the end of everything. It is only the beginning. Charity, divine union; transformation in Christ: these are the end."
ACTION and CONTEMPLATION
This harmony or yin/yang perspective of inward contemplation and charitable action turned into a metaphor of spring and stream is great symbolism.
"Action is charity looking outward to other men, and contemplation is charity drawn inward to its own divine source. Action is the stream, and contemplation is the spring. The spring remains more important than the stream, for the only thing that really matters is for love to spring up inexhaustibly from the infinite abyss of Christ and of God."
WORK vs AGITATION
Ever feel like you are just going through the motions (agitation), or have you ever feel fully engaged in life or your vocation (work)? Merton explains it well.
"Work occupies the body and the mind and is necessary for the health of the spirit. Work can help us to pray and be recollected if we work properly. Agitation, however, destroys the spiritual usefulness of work and even tends to frustrate its physical and social purpose. Agitation is the useless and ill-directed action of the body. It expresses the inner confusion of a soul without peace. Work brings peace to the soul that has a semblance of order and spiritual understanding. It helps the soul to focus upon, its spiritual aims and to achieve them. But the whole reason for agitation is to hide the soul from itself, to camouflage its interior conflicts and their purposelessness, and to induce a false feeling that 'we are getting somewhere.'"
APPROACH to TRUTH
I like this perspective of being a servant to truth or falsely attempting to become the master of truth.
"There is a way of knowing the truth that makes us true to ourselves and God, and, therefore, makes us more real and holier. But there is another way of receiving the truth that makes us untrue, unholy. The difference between these two lies in the action of our will. If my will acts as the servant of the truth, consecrating my whole soul to what the intelligence has seen, then I will be sanctified by the truth. I will be sincere. “My whole body will be lightsome” (Matthew 6:22). But if my will takes possession of truth as its master, as if the truth were my servant, as if it belonged to me by right of conquest, then I will take it for granted that I can do with it whatever I please. This is the root of all falsity. The saint must see the truth as something to serve, not as something to own and manipulate according to his own good pleasure."
LETTING GOD GO
A key element of spirituality is the acknowledgement that you will never fully capture Him. He is too big.
"God approaches our minds by receding from them. We can never fully know Him if we think of Him as an object of capture, to be fenced in by the enclosure of our own ideas. We know Him better after our minds have let Him go."
I could go on. Lots of wisdom from a Catholic theologian and mystic.