Søren Kierkegaard

A man may perform astonishing feats and comprehend a vast amount of knowledge, and yet have no understanding of himself. But suffering directs a man to look within. If it succeeds, then there, within him, is the beginning of his learning.”

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Thomas Merton

Certainly our life is full of real problems, some of them perhaps without solution. It would be an impertinence to suggest that all our problems are fabricated. And yet we are so obsessed with the idea that we are supposed to possess “answers” and “solutions” for everything that we evade the difficult problems, which are all too real, by raising other less real problems to which we think we have the answer.

The naked faith that enables us to bear the apparent futilities and failures of ordinary life is not made stronger or more pure when it is clothed in facile explanations. Pious rationalizations which pretend to justify “the ways of God to men” often generate more doubt than courage and distract our hearts from the difficult labor of freely accepting what we actually are.”

Saint Hilarion (5th century)

Instead, today we fight a more dangerous persecutor, an enemy who flatters us, namely the mighty Roman emperor. He no longer wounds our backs, he bedecks our chests with medals. He doesn’t confiscate our goods; on the contrary, he gives us gifts. He doesn’t force us to be really free by locking us up; he sends us into slavery by honoring us in his palace. He doesn’t attack us with his resources, but he takes possession of our hearts. He doesn’t hack our heads off with the sword, he kills our spirit with gold. He doesn’t officially threaten us with the stake, but he secretly kindles the fire of hell. He doesn’t wage any battles against us, but he adores our Christ, so he can reign unhindered. He proclaims unity, but he prevents communion.”