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X (50)

"office" of hermits

Haec dicit Dominus: quomodo si inveniatur granum in botro et dicatur: ne dissipes illud quoniam benedictio est; Sic faciam propter servos meos ut non disperdam totum.

Thus saith the Lord: As if a grain be found in a cluster, and it be said: Destroy it not, because it is a blessing: so will I do for the sake of my servants, that I may not destroy the whole.

Isa. 65:8
Ad quem autem respiciam nisi ad pauperculum et contritum spiritu et trementem sermones meos.

But to whom shall I look but to him that is poor and little, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my words?

Isa. 66:2

Intrans in domum meam conquiescam cum sapientia: non enim habet amaritudinem conversatio illius, nec taedium convictus illius, sed laetitiam et gaudium.

When I go into my house, I shall repose myself with wisdom: for her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness.

Sap 8:16

(Jan 31, 1965)*


* See note on following page. Addendum Merton's selection of texts under the title, "Office of Hermits", begins in this notebook after November, 1964 and continues through and beyond his fiftieth birthday, January 31, 1965. Since there were many indications he would soon be allowed to live in the hermitage permanently, the annual retreat of January 18-26 was especially important. Merton's "Office for Hermits" may well have been conceived and begun during this annual retreat. [See Mott, pp. 410-412 for events preceding Merton's birthday.] How much of Merton's "office" was gathered on his birthday is impossible to accurately gauge. Was it more than page 50? Was it limited only to the quotation of Sap 8:16 marked by Merton's marginalia which signals its importance? Merton's birth date at this place may well have been added later by him, though this does not lessen the significance of either the entire page or the one passage. In any case, the passages of Merton's "office" can be allowed to "sing" with journal entries marked as written on the vigil of his birthday and the anniversary itself (Jan. 30-31, 1965):
What I find most in my whole life is illusion, wanting to be something of which I have formed a concept. I hope I will get free of all that now, because that is going to be the struggle and yet I have to be something that I ought to be. I have to meet a certain demand for order and inner light and tranquillity, God's demand, that is, that I remove obstacles to His giving me all these. Snow, silence, the talking fire, the watch on the table, sorrow. What would be the use of going over all this? I will just get cleaned up (my hands are dirty) and say the Psalms of my birthday:
'Yet you drew me out of the womb you entrusted me to my mother's breast placed on your lap from my birth from my mother's womb you have been my God'
(Jan 30) I can imagine no greater cause for gratitude on my fiftieth birthday than: that, on it, I woke up in a hermitage. Fierce cold all night, ... . Inside the house, it almost froze, though embers still glowed under the ashes in the fireplace. The cold woke me up at one point, but I adjusted the blankets and went back to sleep. What more do I seek than this silence, this simplicity, this living together with wisdom ? For me, there is nothing else...
[emphasis added] (Jan 31) A Vow of Conversation , pp. 141-142.