1. Oct, 2015
What is Pope Francis emphasizing in his speech to US Congress ? Why did Pope Francis Give Prominence To Father Thomas Merton in that speech ?
 
Here are some extracts from Pope's speech in Congress.  That which he specifically said in relation to Father Thomas Merton are in brown  :
 
In his speech, the Pope’s emphasis were :-
 
….responsibility as members of Congress
….by your ( Congress’ )  legislative activity, to grow as a nation
 
Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses.
( Moses ) ….unity by means of just legislation.
Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being.
Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work
….you ( Congress ) are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face
 
I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
…..Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that "this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom"
 
We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.
This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.
A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system,
…..while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms.
…..another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners
…..confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps.
….. the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. 
……important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard,
……grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.
 
……in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost.
 
……another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. 
He ( Merton )  was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.
 
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to "dream" of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
 
It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow
 
 
Pope Francis is so confident of achieving “visible unity” in Oct 2017 with Protestant denominations that he seems to be setting the stage for his next step with US Congress. Although the US Constitution separates Church and State, the Pope is proposing that Congress’ role in the area of religion, is that of a “synthesis” of church and state for legislation “ unity” of religion. Pope Francis’ held up 4 Americans, and in the field of religious unity, it was Father Thomas Merton , a US Catholic monk and founder of Contemplative Christianity as his example of :
1] a promoter of peace between peoples and religions
2] dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
 
Merton has achieved great success in the use of Catholic Contemplative Prayer and a subsequent contemplative variant (named Centering Prayer )  by his colleague Father Thomas Keating for unifying numerous religions through their common denominator, their delusion that every man is born with an immortal-divine soul/spirit which these respective religion’s contemplative practices claim to discover in meditation. Furthermore, in deeper meditation, personal divinity merges indistinguishably with DIVINITY as ONE.
 
 
But Merton states just the direct opposite. He echoes Satan’s lie to Eve, that Eve ( humanity ) is also immortal like God :
 
At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible  to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of  our own will ….Because when you die, that is all that is left. When we die, everything is destroyed except this one thing, which is our reality that God preserves forever. He will not permit its final destruction. And the thing is, that we know this. This is built into that particular little grain of gold, this spark of the soul, or whatever it is. It knows this. And the freedom that matters is the capacity to be in contact with that center. For it is from that center that everything else comes.….contemplative prayer is nothing other than ‘coming into consciousness’ of what is already there.
 
Merton’s colleague, Keating tells us how to become God in 3 steps in the practice of Centering Prayer :
 
…. the spiritual journey is… the realization, not just the information, but the real interior conviction that…there is a higher power or God. Or to make it as easy as possible for everybody, there is an Other…. Capital  O.  Second step…. To try to become the Other….still a capital O ….And Finally the realization that there is no Other. You and the Other are One, always have been, always will be.You just think that you aren’t….
 
In Father Thomas Merton’s quote above, he showed how the mystic art of “synthesis” is mastered in the practice of contemplative prayer in accordance with the deceptive lies of Satan to Eve …..
 
1] divinity coexists with fallen humanity,
 
2] immortality of God is in mortal man, and
 
3] the coexistence in every man of absolute good ( divine spark ) with the evil brutalities of fallen man’s will
 
Pope Francis warned against “ the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. He seems to suggest that an enlightened society does not see things in black and white, but more in many shades of synthesized grey. But the  Bible says discerning good and evil comes from Christian maturity and not “ simplistic reductionism”. Hebrews 5:14 KJV - But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
 
When we take Pope Francis’ call to Congress to “ confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps” and consider it with the “ contemplative style Thomas Merton” what do we have ?
 
Contemplatives in centering prayer  “ confront every form of polarization” by allowing no thoughts whatsoever to arise in their mind for hours, often over days, at which point a state of being called non-dual is reached. Non-dual is the same as nirvana, advaita, sartori and awakening. Non-dual is the euphoric state when all polar opposites cease to be discerned. In this state, Buddha had no karma as the sense of good and evil is lost. In this state, Buddha ceased to discern life and death, hence he was liberated from further rounds of reincarnation.
 
On Friday, as the United Nations General Assembly held its meeting in New York City and after Pope Francis delivered his message to representatives from all over the world, singer Shakira (who, like the Pope, hails from South America) ended the festivities by performing “Imagine” by John Lennon. She sang a song with the lyrics “Imagine there’s no Heaven… no hell, and no religion, too.” This song emerged from the Beatles during the time when they were practicing TM ( Transcendental Meditation with  Mahareshi ) and contains the peak-experience of eastern meditation wherein all polar opposites cease. …..no heaven, no hell….no good, no evil, ….no righteous, no sinner…..Will the message in this song become the “anthem” with which Pope Francis will “ confront every form of polarization” including “ truth and heresy” .
 
 
I expect that Pope Francis’ next step in the name of peace and unity with Congress is the legislation of a visible sign of unity “ between peoples and religions “ which is only possible when Congress “confronts every form of polarization “ with the state of mind akin to that of Thomas Merton.