More from Chapter 3 of LIFE AND HOLINESS by Thomas Merton (1963):
But this all demands our own consent and our energetic cooperation with divine grace. Jesus Christ, God and man, is the revelation of the hidden sanctity of the Father, the immortal and invisible King of Ages whom no eye can see, whom no intelligence can contemplate, except in the light which he himself communicates to whomever he wills. Hence, Christian "perfection" is not a mere ethical adventure or an achievement in which man can take glory. It is a gift of God, drawing the soul into the hidden abyss of the divine mystery, through the Son, by the action of the Holy Spirit. To be a Christian then is to be committed to a deeply mystical life, for Christianity is pre-eminently a mystical religion. This does not mean, of course, that every Christian is or should be a "mystic" in the technical modern sense of the word. But it does mean that every Christian lives, or should live, within the dimensions of a completely mystical revelation and communication of the divine being. Salvation, which is the goal of each individual Christian and of the Christian community as a whole, is participation in the life of God who draws us "out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
The Christian is one whose life and hope are centred in the mystery of Christ. In and through Christ, we become "partakers of the divine nature" "divin consortes natur" (2 Peter 1:4).
It is through Christ that the power of divine love and the energy of divine light find their way into our lives and transform them from one degree of "brightness" to another, by the action of the Holy Spirit. Here is the root and basis of the inner sanctity of the Christian. This light, this energy in our lives, is commonly called grace. The more grace and love shine forth in the fraternal unity of those who have been brought together, by the Holy Spirit, in one Body, the more Christ is manifested in the world, the more the Father is glorified, and the closer we come to the final completion of God?s work by the "recapitulation" of all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10).
Grace and the Sacraments
Our divine sonship is the likeness of the Word of God in us produced by his living presence in our souls, through the Holy Spirit. This is our "justice" in God's sight. It is the root of true love and of every other virtue. Finally it is the seed of eternal life: it is a divine inheritance which cannot be taken from us against our own will. It is an inexhaustible treasure, a fountain of living water "springing up unto life everlasting." The first epistle of St. Peter opens with a jubilant hymn in praise of this life of grace, freely given to us by the divine mercy, in Christ: the grace which leads to our salvation, if only we are faithful to the love of God that has been given to us when we were dead in our sins, raising us from death by the same power which raised Christ from the dead:
"Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has begotten us again, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead unto a living hope, unto an incorruptible inheritance, undented and unfading, reserved for you in heaven. By the power of God you are guarded through faith for salvation, which is to be revealed in the last time. Over this you rejoice; though now for a little while, if need be, you are made sorrowful by various trials, that the temper of your faith - more precious by far than gold which is tried by fire - may be found unto praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Him, though you have not seen, you love. In him, though you do not see him, yet believing, you exult with a joy unspeakable and triumphant; receiving as the final issue of your faith the salvation of your souls."