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Merton realized that so many people are weighed down

by deep hurts, anger, resentment, lost loves, broken relationships,

desperately seeking to fill their lives with happiness and peace.

As he himself was searching for truth and identity,

he came to a deep insight,

that each human person already has within them what they are looking for.

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.

This is the person that I WANT myself to be,

but who cannot exist,

because God does not know anything about him.

My false and private self

is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God's will and God's love,

outside of reality and outside of life.

Such a life cannot help but be an illusion. … The secret of my identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God,

therefore I cannot hope to find myself anywhere except in him. There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend:

to discover myself in discovering God.

If I find Him, I will find myself,

and if I find my true self I will find Him.

The search for true identity requires an honest self-love. Love of self is not selfishness, but a humble recognition of our lives as true, good and beautiful.

Without real love of self, all other loves are distorted. Our discovery of God is, in a way, God's discovery of us.

Quoted from Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander".

A Prayer of Thomas Merton

Father, I love You Whom I do not know, and I embrace You Whom I do not see, and I abandon myself to You Whom I have offended, because You love in me Your only begotten Son.

You see Him in me,

You embrace Him in me,

because He has willed to identify Himself completely with me

by that love which brought Him to death, for me, on the Cross.


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