The Sunday’s after Trinity Sunday are called “Trinity Time” or “Ordinary Time”. It marks the beginning of the Christian church officially. Theologically, everything was in place for the church to pursue her work on behalf of Christ. Trinity time is the longest season on the Christian calendar. It is a time of mission, a time to think about creation, and a time to ponder the big questions.
In 1941, a young man named Thomas Merton wrote a fictitious journal about experiences in war-torn England. One recurring question was, “what are we fighting for?” Like Socrates, he kept asking that question without getting a satisfactory answer. Going deeper, he began to question the direction of his life and the values he had unconsciously been following. In words that could have been written last week, he said, “I had learned from the novels that questions of right and wrong didn’t exist. I had learned . . . that pleasure was what was applauded. I had learned . . . that it was all right to have a good time so long as you didn’t interfere with the good time of anybody else. Now I found out that, in practice, I was not able to realize how much my pleasures might hurt somebody else until too late. . . . But what most of all had struck me dumb were the two questions that I even feared to ask myself: If I am here to have a good time without hurting other people, why is it, first, that you can’t have the pleasures everybody believes in without hurting somebody? And why is it, second, that you never get the pleasure you expect anyway?”
At the end of that same year, 1941, Thomas Merton entered the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappist monks), a silent, contemplative order. He later astonished the world with his best-seller, The Seven Storey Mountain. The fictitious London journal was published only after his death in 1968 as My Argument With the Gestapo.
Merton’s questions (What is it all about? Why can’t I find happiness in having a good time?) have been asked since ancient times. They are asked in the Bible. Secular culture has no answer to them. Merton found only one answer: Jesus Christ. That’s the answer that we are pursuing at St. Barnabas as well. Trinity time is an ideal season to ponder the big questions in life. You are welcome to join us on this journey.