There is no true solitude except interior solitude. And interior solitude is not possible for anyone who does not accept his right place in relation to other men. There is no true peace possible for a man who still imagines that some accident of talent or grace or virtue segregates him from other men and places him above them. Solitude is not separation.
God does not give us graces or talents or virtues for ourselves alone. We are members one of another and everything that is given to one member is given for the whole body. I do not wash my feet to make them more beautiful than my face.
The saints love their sanctity not because it separates them from the rest of us and places them above us, but because, on the contrary, it brings them closer to us and in a sense places them below us. Their sanctity is given them in order that they may help us and serve us — for the saints are like doctors and nurses who are better than the sick in the sense that they are healthy and possess arts of healing them, and yet they make themselves the servants of the sick and devote their own health and art to them.
The saints are what they are, not because their sanctity makes them admirable to others, but because the gift of sainthood makes it possible for them to admire everybody else. It gives them a clarity of compassion that can find good in the most terrible criminals. It delivers them from the burden of judging others, condemning other men. It teaches them to bring the good out of others by compassion, mercy and pardon. A man becomes a saint not by conviction that he is better than sinners but by the realization that he is one of them, and that all together need the mercy of God!
“Solitude is not Separation”
New Seeds of Contemplations by Thomas Merton
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They were discalced to a man like pilgrims of some common order for all their shoes were long since stolen.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (p. 26)
barefooted or only sandaled (friar, nun).
[(-ed anglicized) from Latin DIS(calceatus p.p. of calceare from calceus, shoe)]
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This entry is taken from my Camino journal.
June 24, 2009 – Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Though only 21 km from Najera, this trip was most difficult for me due to the blisters on the backs of my twin heels and a new one having formed on my big right toe. I am told a man is coming around 5pm to care for the blisters of pilgrims.
The albergue is the nicest we’ve seen, as the place in Puenta la Reina was a hotel with a few beds for pilgrims, this place has a sleek design, three floors of spacious living and functioning room; there are many fairly artful photos hanging about, dedicated to the city’s fiestas and over-infatuation with chickens.
The story I am told is that a family was once stopping through St. Domingo. A local girl feel in love with the family’s son, but, since the family would be leaving in the morning, the boy called it off. This angered the girl and, in her rage, hid a goblet of worth in the boy’s bag. The “theft” was discovered, the boy tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged.
The parents finished the pilgrimage, but later returned to find the boy still hanging and miraculously still alive. The mother gave thanks to Saint James (Santiago) and to the Virgin Mother of Christ for the miracle. The family went to the local magistrate to say that their son was still alive as a proclamation of his innocence. The magistrate was about to eat when he heard mother’s story. He answered that the hanging boy was as alive as the chicken he was about to eat.
In that moment, the bird returned to life, flying from the table. Astonished, the magistrate went to where the boy hanged and saw that he was alive. He boy was returned to his family and the chicken was taken to the church to attest to the miracle.
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