Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On Seeking God's Will

I'm really absorbed in Merton's "No Man is an Island"(NMIAI), that's why the superficial and thin posting here lately. The study of one's own conscience and developing an intensely personal prayer life contained in this work, while some of it is well beyond my absolute comprehension, (Merton's language and writing style, not his vocabulary, goes to the heavy side of philosophy and introspection with frequent breaks using normal conversation) there is self-revelation on the first pass through. I have posted in similar ways that doing God's will, obedience, commandment keeping... leads to inner peace and why. From NMIAI Ch. 4 "Pure Intention":

"Our happiness consists of doing the will of God. But the essence of this happiness does not lie merely in an agreement of wills. It consists in a union with God. And the union of wills which makes us happy in God must be ultimately something deeper than an agreement.

Shall I be content to do God's will for my own advantage? It is better to do His will with a weak, but deliberate co-operation than to do His will unconsciously, unwillingly, and in spite of myself. But let me not confine my idea of perfection to the selfish obedience that does God's will merely for the sake of my own profit. True happiness is not found in any other reward than that of being united with God. If I seek some other reward besides God Himself, I may get my reward but I cannot be happy.

The secret of pure intention is not to be sought in the renunciation of all advantage to ourselves. Our intentions are pure when we identify our advantage with God's glory, and see that our happiness consists of doing His will because His will is right and good. In order to make our intentions pure, we do not give up all idea of seeking our own good, we simply seek it where it can really be found, in a good that is above and beyond ourselves...

...When we speak of God's will, we are usually speaking only of some recognizable sign of His is one thing to see a sign and another thing to interpret that sign correctly...Nevertheless there are some signs that everyone must know. They must be easily read and seen and are indeed very simple...

For in the course of each day the duties of our state, the claims made on us by those around us, the demands on our energy, our patience, and our time all make known to us the will of God and show us the way to realize ourselves in Him by losing ourselves in charity. But the pharisee who splits hairs and rationalizes his way out of these chances for self-dedication, although he may theorize and dogmatize about the will of God, never fully does that will for he never really abandons himself to the influence of divine charity."

Sounds like the 2nd Commandment to me. As I have explained here and here, its tough territory for this journeyman. Yet, its yields are infinitely larger than me.