For Thomas Merton all concerns, issues, questions, and personal issues are subsumed under love.

April 29, 1961 – God is asking of me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers and to dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us in the divine likeness. (Turning Toward the World: The Pivotal Years. The Journals of Thomas Merton Volume4: 1960-1963. Victor A. Kramer, ed. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers,1996, 113)

Love is the means by which we become fully the people we were created to be.

In order to be fully himself, man needs to love another as himself. In order to realize himself, man has to risk the diminution and even the total loss of all his reality, in favour of another, for in any man would save his life he must lose it. We are never fully ourselves until we realize that those we truly love become our ‘other selves.’ (The New Man. London: Burns & Oates, 1961,64)

the Law of Love is the deepest law of our nature, not something extraneous and alien to our nature. Our nature itself inclines us to love, and to love freely.

The deepest and most fundamental exigency of the divine law in our hearts is that we should reach our fulfillment by loving. (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. NY: Image, Doubleday, 1966, 121)

The choice to love inevitably involves pain.

As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones. Even saints cannot live with saints on this earth without some anguish, without some pain at the differences that come between them.

There are two things which men can do about the pain of disunion with other men. They can love or they can hate. (New Seeds of Contemplation. NY: New Directions, 1961, 72)

Hatred tries to cure disunion by annihilating those who are not united with us. It seeks peace by the elimination of everybody but ourselves.

But love, by its acceptance of the pain of reunion begins to heal all wounds. (New Seeds of Contemplation. NY: New Directions, 1961, 75, 76)