65 Thomas Merton Quotes On Love, Prayer, Gratitude, Silence

Thomas Merton OCSO was an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion. On May 26, 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name “Father Louis”. He was a member of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky, living there from 1941 to his death. These Thomas Merton quotes will motivate you in life.

Best Thomas Merton Quotes

  1. “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.” ~ Thomas Merton
  2. “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude, therefore, takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” ~ Thomas Merton
  3. “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.” ~ Thomas Merton , Thomas Merton quotes on love
  4. “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your Will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.” ~ Thomas Merton
  5. “In Silence, God ceases to be an object and becomes an experience.” ~ Thomas Merton

  6. “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ~ Thomas Merton
  7. “The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds” ~ Thomas Merton
  8. “In a world of noise, confusion, and conflict it is necessary that there be places of silence, inner discipline, and peace. In such places, love can blossom.” ~ Thomas Merton
  9. “The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of contemporary violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activity neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.” ~ Thomas Merton
  10. “When you see God in everyone, then they see God in you.” ~ Thomas Merton

  11. “Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.” ~ Thomas Merton
  12. “We are not converted only once in our lives but many times and this endless series of conversions and inner revolutions leads to our transformation.” ~ Thomas Merton
  13. “It is in deep solitude and silence that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brother and sister.” ~ Thomas Merton , Thomas Merton quotes on silence
  14. “People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” ~ Thomas Merton
  15. “Nothing has ever been said about God that hasn’t already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.” ~ Thomas Merton
  16. “Every breath we draw is a gift of God’s love; every moment of existence is a grace.” ~ Thomas Merton

  17. “The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.” ~ Thomas Merton
  18. “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” ~ Thomas Merton
  19. “Let us come alive to the splendor that is all around us and see the beauty in ordinary things.” ~ Thomas Merton
  20. “Our real journey in life is interior; It is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. Never was it more necessary to respond to that action.” ~ Thomas Merton
  21. “If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world.” ~ Thomas Merton

  22. “Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are a savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you are capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy.” ~ Thomas Merton
  23. “Learn how to meditate on paper. Drawing and writing are forms of meditation. Learn how to contemplate works of art. Learn how to pray in the streets or in the country. Know how to meditate not only when you have a book in your hand but when you are waiting for a bus or riding in a train.” ~ Thomas Merton
  24. “Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for joy. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy you have not yet begun to live.” ~ Thomas Merton
  25. “The most dangerous man in the world is the contemplative who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attractions of an interior voice but will not listen to other men. He identifies the will of God with anything that makes him feel, within his own heart, a big, warm, sweet interior glow. The sweeter and the warmer the feeling is, the more he is convinced of his own infallibility.” ~ Thomas Merton
  26. “A man who fails well is greater than one who succeeds badly.” ~ Thomas Merton

  27. “Love is not a matter of getting what you want. Quite the contrary. The insistence on always having what you want, on always being satisfied, on always being fulfilled, makes love impossible.” ~ Thomas Merton
  28. “The Lord did not create suffering. Pain and death came into the world with the fall of man. But after man had chosen suffering in preference to the joys of union with God, the Lord turned suffering itself into a way by which man could come to the perfect knowledge of God.” ~ Thomas Merton
  29. “Weaknesses and deficiencies . . . play a most important part in all our lives. It is because of them that we need others and others need us. We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complete one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another.” ~ Thomas Merton
  30. “Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God: for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and selfishness that have chilled his faith.” ~ Thomas Merton
  31. “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” ~ Thomas Merton
  32. “Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” ~ Thomas Merton

  33. “The basic problem is not political, it is apolitical and human. One of the most important things to do is to keep cutting deliberately through political lines and barriers and emphasizing the fact that these are largely fabrications and that there is another dimension, a genuine reality, totally opposed to the fictions of politics: the human dimension which politics pretend to arrogate entirely to themselves. This is the necessary first step along the long way toward the perhaps impossible task of purifying, humanizing and somehow illuminating politics themselves.” ~ Thomas Merton
  34. “Prayer is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in him…who loves us, who is near to us.” ~ Thomas Merton , Thomas Merton quotes on prayer
  35. “In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist.” ~ Thomas Merton
  36. “For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.” ~ Thomas Merton
  37. “Paradoxically, I have found peace because I have always been dissatisfied. My moments of depression and despair turn out to be renewals, new beginnings. If I were once to settle down and be satisfied with the surface of life, with its divisions and its cliches, it would be time to call in the undertaker… So, then, this dissatisfaction which sometimes used to worry me and has certainly, I know, worried others, has helped me, in fact, to move freely and even gaily with the stream of life.” ~ Thomas Merton
  38. “Our real journey in life is interior.” ~ Thomas Merton

  39. “What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we cannot cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?” ~ Thomas Merton
  40. “Before we can realize who we really are, we must become conscious of the fact that the person we think we are, here and now, is at best an impostor and a stranger.” ~ Thomas Merton
  41. “For power can guarantee the interests of some men but it can never foster the good of man. Power always protects the good of some at the expense of all the others. Only love can attain and preserve the good of all. Any claim to build the security of all on force is a manifest imposture.” ~ Thomas Merton
  42. “The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear Brothers [and Sisters], we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.” ~ Thomas Merton
  43. “There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and the donkey understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today.” ~ Thomas Merton
  44. “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton

  45. “To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect on me is to live on the doorstep of hell. Selfishness is doomed to frustration centered as it is upon a lie. To live exclusively for myself, I must make all things bend themselves to my will as if I were a god.” ~ Thomas Merton
  46. “Surrender your own poverty and acknowledge your nothingness to the Lord. Whether you understand it or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and compassion which are like nothing you have ever found in a book or heard in a sermon.” ~ Thomas Merton
  47. “The spiritual life is, first of all, a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.” ~ Thomas Merton , Thomas Merton quotes on spiritual life
  48. “Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves.” ~ Thomas Merton
  49. “The purpose of our lives is to find the purpose of our lives.” ~ Thomas Merton

  50. “Gratitude takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder.” ~ Thomas Merton , Thomas Merton quotes on gratitude
  51. “Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false Self. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves.” ~ Thomas Merton
  52. “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me…you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” ~ Thomas Merton
  53. “The illusion that mechanical progress means human improvement … alienates us from our own being and our own reality. It is precisely because we are convinced that our life, as such, is better if we have a better car, a better TV set, better toothpaste, etc., that we condemn and destroy our own reality and the reality of our natural resources. Technology was made for man, not man for technology. In losing touch with being and thus with God, we have fallen into a senseless idolatry of production and consumption for their own sakes.” ~ Thomas Merton
  54. “Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace and your soul in the joy of Christ.” ~ Thomas Merton

  55. “When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet, Basho, we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash – at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, all these provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.” ~ Thomas Merton
  56. “One of the strange laws of the contemplative life is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: you bear with them until they somehow solve themselves. Or until life solves them for you.” ~ Thomas Merton
  57. “The things we really need come to us only as gifts, and in order to receive them as gifts we have to be open. In order to be open we have to renounce ourselves, in a sense we have to die to our image of ourselves, our autonomy, our fixation upon our self-willed identity.” ~ Thomas Merton
  58. “‎”Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.” ~ Thomas Merton
  59. “Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.” ~ Thomas Merton

  60. “The only thing to seek in contemplative prayer is God; and we seek Him successfully when we realize that we cannot find Him unless He shows Himself to us, and yet at the same time that He would not have inspired us to seek Him unless we had already found Him.” ~ Thomas Merton
  61. “You are made in the image of what you desire.” ~ Thomas Merton , Thomas Merton quotes on desire
  62. “The sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all.” ~ Thomas Merton
  63. “I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.” ~ Thomas Merton
  64. “Only the man who has had to face despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy never seek it. It is better to find God on the threshold of despair than to risk our lives in a complacency that has never felt the need of forgiveness. A life that is without problems may literally be more hopeless than one that always verges on despair.” ~ Thomas Merton
  65. “A faith that is afraid of other people is no faith at all.” ~ Thomas Merton

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