“I wish nobody had ever told me it was a good thing to attempt to know myself…. Knowing myself—it was really a sort of desperate substitute for confession and penance. That’s why it was so silly and so lamentably useless. For the only valid kind of self-knowledge is the amount needed for a good examination of conscience to make a good confession. But both these are something God will give us if we pray humbly to Him for grace and love, and the important thing is God’s love, not ourselves and what is in us. We don’t want to know what is in ourselves in order to dwell upon it, treasure it, meditate upon it unless it is not of ourselves but of God. So everything that is of our own worldly desire and fear must be cast out so that we can see God within us and everywhere outside of us too. What we want to know is not ourselves but God” (p. 96).
Here’s what I’m thinking today. Merton is talking about humility, something I am mighty short on. He’s talking about a paradigm shift, not some self-effacing way to present myself, some mask that poses as humility but is really pride and vain glory. Humility is about accepting God’s grace and acting on it for the good of God’s kingdom.