St. Paul writes that the greatest of these is Love. Our Lord also said so when He was being questioned by the scholar of the law and gave us the Two Greatest Commandments, both of which are based on love; the love of God and the love of neighbor.
It sounds pretty easy, and in theory it is. But in practice? Well of the two, loving God is relatively easy, but loving our neighbors can be downright challenging! That is, for me anyway. Wouldn't it be neat to attend a lecture by Thomas Merton on this virtue? Thanks to YouTube, you can!
I came across this video last year around Thanksgiving. What jostled my memory of it is the chapter on charity that I just read in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis for the YIMC Book Club. Merton was in charge of teaching theology to the novices at the Cistercian Abbey in Gethsemani for a time, and these lectures were recorded from talks in the early 1960s. The subject matter? St. Bernard of Clairvaux and man’s ultimate vocation: to love.
I was intrigued to hear Merton's voice. And he sounds like one of my favorite professors from college. Listening to him, I have the impression that he was a pretty tough grader. A professor who doesn’t put up with any nonsense and assumes you will come to class prepared. But then, at the beginning of the lecture that follows, he puts everyone at ease by saying,
In a monastery, you don’t have to get anyplace!
I hope you enjoy this clip as much as I did. You can go direct to YouTube and see part two of this lecture as well. If you have about 20 minutes to listen to them both, you’ll come away with a deeper impression of Thomas Merton. And you will gain more insight on our true vocation. These lectures led me also to learn more about Bernard of Clairvaux: Abbot, Confessor, Doctor of the Church.
The School of Love? Take it away Father Louis!