Daily Riches: Overwhelmed By So Small a Sign of Love (Thomas Merton, Catherine de Hueck)

In his autobiography Thomas Merton tells about joining the parents of young black students performing a play at Friendship House, a gospel outpost in Harlem started in the late thirties by Baroness Catherine de Hueck:

“It was an experience that nearly tore me to pieces. All the parents of the children were there, sitting on benches, literally choked with emotion at the fact that their children should be acting in a play: but that was not the thing. For, as I say, they knew that the play was nothing…. They were not taken in by that. Underneath it was something deep and wonderful and positive and true and overwhelming: their gratitude for even so small a sign of love as this, that someone should at least make some kind of a gesture that said: ‘This sort of thing can’t make anybody happy, but it is a way of saying, “I wish you were happy.” …If the Baroness had tried to face the tremendous paradox of Harlem with no other weapons than these, I think Friendship House would have closed down in three days. But the secret of her success and of her survival in the teeth of this gigantic problem was that she depended not on these frail human methods, not on theatricals, or meetings, or speeches, or conferences, but on God, Christ, the Holy Ghost. According to the plan of her vocation, the Baroness herself had come to Harlem, and had started to live there for God, and God had brought her quickly into contact with the others who were … the saints He had sent to sanctify and purify, not Harlem, but New York.”  Thomas Merton

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you,
whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.”
Jesus in Matthew 25:40

Moving From Head to Heart

  • How often does some small gesture of yours convey “I wish you were happy.” to some person in need? Does that seem like a small thing to do in the face of gigantic problems? Can you imagine it being “overwhelming” in power?
  • Where you live, do you try to “live there for God” as Catherine de Hueck and others did in Harlem?
  • Is what you’re attempting for God too big to accomplish by “human methods?” Have you fallen into the trap of reducing ministry to what seems reasonable or attainable?

Abba, unleash the power of divine love through me and your sent saints.

For More: The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks for following/sharing. – Bill

5 thoughts on “Daily Riches: Overwhelmed By So Small a Sign of Love (Thomas Merton, Catherine de Hueck)

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