21 March 2010

Fear as Motive?

I wonder what St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Merton would think of blogging and being blogged about?

Paul Fromont of Prodigal Kiwi(s) Blog writes of his long-time blogging friend Alan Creech who recently posted a couple of really pithy quotes worthy of reflection. The first is from St. Bernard of Clairvaux (a Cistercian monk), and the second is from a more contemporary Cistercian monk, Thomas Merton. Both quotes have both personal and relational implications – certainly any relationship that places God at the centre.

Neither fear nor self-interest can convert the soul. They may change the appearance, perhaps even the conduct, but never the object of supreme desire... Fear is the motive, which constrains the slave; greed binds the selfish man, by which he is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed (James 1:14). But neither fear nor self-interest is undefiled, nor can they convert the soul. Only charity can convert the soul, freeing it from unworthy motives.”

You can read the whole post here.


Our spiritual attitude, our way of seeking peace and perfection, depends entirely on our concept of God. If we are able to believe he is truly our loving Father, if we can really accept the truth of his infinite and compassionate concern for us, if we believe that he loves us not because we are worthy but because we need his love, then we can advance with confidence. We will not be discouraged by our inevitable weakness and failures. We can do anything he asks of us. But if we believe he is a stern, cold lawgiver who has no real interest in us, who is merely a ruler, a lord, a judge and not a father, we will have great difficulty in living the Christian life. We must therefore begin by believing God is our Father: otherwise we cannot face the difficulties of the Christian way of perfection. Without faith, the "narrow way" is utterly impossible.

-Thomas Merton, from Life and Holiness

You can read Alan’s full post here.


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