The Seven Storey Mountain

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The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

This was the autobiography of Fr. Merton, of why he left the world and became a Trappist monk. Fr. Merton was an extremely intelligent man and was on his way to become quite successful from a worldly perspective, yet he chose to leave it all behind and pursue God. He spoke on what true peace, joy, and contentment meant to him, and stated, “If happiness were merely a matter of natural gifts, I would never have entered a Trappist monastery when I came to the age of man."

This was not an easy book to read and digest, because there were so many spiritual nuggets of wisdom that were most likely beyond my level of understanding at the moment. However, there was still so much that I was able to take from this man, and I feel blessed for the opportunity to be able to be exposed to such a refined way of thought.

My favorite thought by Fr. Merton was when he stated, "...the saints, when they remember their sins, do not remember the sins but the mercy of God, and therefore even past evil is turned by them into a present cause of joy and serves to glorify God." This to me is a very profound thought, because for me it is very easy to wallow in self-pity and guilt, a form of false humility. At my last board hearing, Commissioner Montes even commented on me, "...not having an ounce of humility." I have come to understand that taking responsibility for my past sins, but not letting them go, is a form of self-pride, like I am somehow so undeserving that I have to still try and distinguish myself in some way. Ft. Merton described how his own flaws were only "disinfected" when he first entered the monastery, and I correlate that with my own struggle with pride and arrogance: my issues were only sanitized on a surface level and I have had to look for ways to get to root issues of my own personality failings. Fr. Merton’s own candid admissions have helped me to realize though that have to continue to look for ways to turn my past evil into something that can glorify God.

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