The second entry from Merton’s journal that I want to pass on is his realization that each new generation of students is necessary to keep faith alive and fresh. He reflected on this following his saying of Mass for a new generation….
There is in many of them a peculiar quality of truth that older [ones] have driven out of themselves in days of rigidity and secure right thinking. May God keep us from being “right thinking” men, who think, that is, with their own police (and since police don’t think, neither do these others), (Journal, December 9, 1962).
With all due respect to police officers who do think, we get the point Merton is making—the point that the passing of time can “dull” the present generation into forgetting the original sense of wonder that drew us into our vocation and into our discipleship in the first place. We can become more fixed on the preservation of our dogmas than upon the passing of the “life” which the dogmas were originally intended to represent.
As I come to my final week of teaching at Asbury Seminary, I have no greater joy than the thousands of students who, once upon a time, sat in the classes as “new generations” of men and women, poised for service in the Kingdom of God.