Lenten Reflection: Ch. 6, Thoughts in Solitude

12 February 2008

Chapter 6 is the first explicitly Christian chapter.  Merton posits that no spiritual life is possible without the love of Christ.

This poses a problem for a our non-Christian sisters and brothers: is a non-Christian spiritual life possible for Merton?  And I would say yes, since he later equates the love of Christ with forgiveness.  He even says that no one can have a spiritual life without being forgiven and practicing forgiveness.

I like this, I really do.  The practice of forgiveness is a spiritual one, and one much harder to foster and make real than, say, fasting, meditating, or praying.  Forgiveness allows us to participate in both the justice and mercy of God, while simultaneously affording the opportunity to practice a radical, meaningful empathy.

During the Jewish Ten Days of Awe, Jews are expected to ask forgiveness of those they’ve wronged in the past year.  The closest equivalent of these days for Christians are Passiontide or Holy Week, as the preparations of Lent come to a head during the holiest days of the year.

Perhaps a good Lenten disciplines for all of us would be to try to practice a reconciliation of some kind by the end of Lent, maybe with a family member, maybe with a friend, maybe with a co-worker.  This would likely involve forgiveness on one side or another.

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