Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pondering Pages/Compassionate Fire

In deep gratitude to Lara at Holy Mothering for coming up with this wonderful Pondering Pages idea!

My wonderful friend Kathy at the Salzmann Library has done it again! I only have to walk in the library door and there she is with a new book that she is holding for me! I don't know how she knows what I will like...she must be a kindred spirit!

"Compassionate Fire: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Catherine de Hueck Doherty" edited by Robert Wild, is fantastic! I love to read the letters of saints and holy people, maybe because I love to write letters myself (well, usually by e-mail!)and only hope that one day I will be considered a saint and a holy person. I could really relate to Catherine's letters to Thomas, they were so loving and sweet! So, all of the quotes that I want to share from this book are from her. Catherine de Hueck Doherty was a Russian immigrant who established 'Friendship House' which, much like the Catholic Worker, was an organization which helped the poor. She and Thomas Merton worked together briefly at the Friendship House in Harlem before he entered Gethsemane Abbey.

So, here are some of the wonderful words that she wrote to this holy man...

"A saint is a well-rounded person, ready and able to do what God wants him to do. Never separate sainthood from ordinary living. For after all, what is it fundamentally but doing everyday things extremely well."

"I meditate best in writing."

"God who fashioned you, uses you to help others. And at the same time it is as if He allowed you the greatest gift, the lifting of the veil that separates us normally from Him. You have felt that haven't you, each time you meet someone that talks to you about God? Never mind if it is for or against Him, for he whoever bothers about God in one way or another is hearing the baying of the hound of heaven."

"Contemplation to me is so very simple. It goes on all the time "inside" of me, because of love. It cannot be stopped because it is like a hunger, a fire, that burns inside of one. Once you have passionately fallen in love with God, contemplation becomes the very essence of you, while you go about the Father's business. Nothing interferes with it because it can't. Love unites with the Beloved thru it. It goes on amidst the noise of cities, the chaotic brouhas of lecture tours, the whirlwind of places, the swish of auto tires on thruways. In the slums, in the fine parlors, it is always there for it is just simply and naturally the "being one with God" inside oneself. You see, He wants it, you wanted it, and there it is."

Finally, after Thomas Merton's death, she wrote a letter to the Abbott at Gethsemane and said "Father Louis, in some strange mysterious way I never quite understood, was in part my spiritual son."


  1. I also love reading letters ... and writing letters. This book sounds simply wonderful! Thanks for letting us know about it.

  2. Great excerpt! Of course you'll become a saint! What other plans for you could God have? The greatest saints of all times will come out of our days. I think the Little Flower said this, but I can't remember what book I read it in. She wished that she lived in our times :)

  3. Thanks for sharing this one, Anne. I've read a few writings by Merton, but not much by Catherine H. D.
    I love the quote, :I meditate best in writing. That's why I love journaling and especially re-reading past journal entries.

  4. Bless, kindred spirit. To even find other journal writers! Yay!