How close God is to us when we come to recognize and to accept our abjection and to cast our care entirely upon Him! Against all human expectation He sustains us when we need to be sustained … Hope is always just about to turn into despair, but never does so, for at the moment of supreme crisis God’s power is suddenly made perfect in our infirmity. So we learn to expect His mercy most calmly when all is most dangerous, to seek Him quietly in the face of peril…
Our weakness has opened Heaven to us, because it has brought the mercy of God down to us and won us His love. Our unhappiness is the seed of all our joy. Even sin has played an unwilling part in saving sinners, for the infinite mercy of God cannot be prevented from drawing the greatest good out of the greatest evil.
When the Lord hears my prayer for mercy (a prayer which is itself inspired by the action of His mercy), then He makes His mercy present and visible in me by moving me to have mercy on others as He has had mercy on me. This is the way in which God’s mercy fulfils His divine justice: mercy and justice seem to us to differ, but in the works of God they are both expressions of His love.
Yet it is precisely in punishing sin that God’s mercy most evidently identifies itself with His justice. The mercy of God does not suspend the laws of cause and effect. When God forgives me a sin, He destroys the guilt of sin, but the effects and the punishment of sin remain.
Thomas Merton, in No Man Is an Island, Burns & Oates, 1955
Thomas Merton’s Prayer
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.