Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thomas Merton's critique of "progressed" Catholics

Fr. M. Louis "Thomas" Merton Folks, during one of my regular "review readings" of Michael Mott's The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton, Merton's official biography, I found this quote on page 496 from a letter that Merton wrote to his friend, Robert Lax on January 26, 1967 and published on page 110 of A Catch of Anti-Letters: 

...I am truly spry and full of fun, but am pursued by the vilifications of progressed Catholics. Mark my word man there is no uglier species on the face of the earth than progressed Catholics, mean, frivol, ungainly, inarticulate, venomous, and bursting at the seams with progress into the secular cities and the Teilhardian subways. The Ottavianis was [sic] bad enough but these are infinitely worse. You wait and see.

Seems to me that Merton was on to something. Has he lived he would have been unpleasantly surprised that what he had diagnosed at the beginning had grown up to be a very sickly tree.