Thomas Merton was a hermit at the Trappist Monastery of Gethesamani in Kentucky. His autobiography The Seven Story Mountain is one of the best tales of God getting hold of a man and that man’s true conversion. Merton’s later life was controversial as he was caught up in the turmoil of the 1960s, but his writings are beautiful and profound.
During Lent here at The Suburban Hermit I’ll be posting some excerpts from one of Thomas Merton’s early works, The Living Bread.
Christianity is more than a doctrine. It is Christ Himself, living in those whom he has united to Himself in one Mystical Body. It is the mystery by which the Incarnation of the Word of God continues and extends itself throughout the history of the world, reaching into the souls and lives of all men, until the final completion of God’s plan. Christianity is the ‘re-establishment of all things in Christ.’ (Eph. 1:10)
This is a truth I echo time and again from the pulpit: that the Church is the Body of Christ alive in the world today. Therefore the Church’s main task is to do in the world today what Jesus Christ did during his ministry on earth.
This helps us to focus on the three things Jesus did. He taught the truth. He took control over Satan and every evil thing. He healed and forgave. This is the work of the church in the world, and everything else is subject to that.
Furthermore, if this is the work of the Church in the world, then it is also clear what my job is a priest and what the laity’s work is as the body of the baptized. All of us–each in our own vocation and calling– are meant to be an incarnation of Christ in the world today, and there is no other job we must do and no other vocation to which we are called.