Tag Archives: Thomas Merton

Merton’s birthday

Thomas Merton

Today in 1915 Prades, France, Thomas Merton was born. The famous monk of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (the Trappists), was known in his monastery as Father Louis. The Merton genealogy includes an American mother and a father from New Zealand. Artists, both died early; Merton’s mother died of stomach cancer when he was six years old; 10 years later, his father died of a brain tumor. His early life was wild and seemingly of out of control.

Having met the Lord, Thomas Merton converted to Catholicism in 1938, while he was a student at Columbia University, at Corpus Christi Church on 121st, NYC. Perceiving a call to the contemplative life after the Franciscans rejected him, he entered the Trappist Abbey in Kentucky; Thomas initially gave up his writing career yet it was Abbot Frederic Dunne who recognized his talent noting that it was helpful in bringing others to Christ, he missioned Merton to write.

Thomas Merton once wrote: My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude, p. 83

Realize what this Mass is

Misa de San Gregorio (cerca de 1500). Libro de Horas de Enrique VIII, Jean Poyer. Tours, FranciaThomas Merton on attending Mass at Gethsemani monastery on his first visit:

See Who God is! Realize what this Mass is! See Christ here, on the Cross! See His wounds, see His torn hands, see how the King of Glory is crowned with thorns! Do you know what Love is? Here is Love, here on this Cross, here is Love, suffering these nails, these thorns, that scourge loaded with lead, smashed to pieces, bleeding to death because of your sins and bleeding to death because of people that will never know Him, and never think of Him and will never remember His Sacrifice. Learn from Him how to love God and how to love men! Learn of this Cross, this Love, how to give your life away to Him.

See, see Who God is, see the glory of God, going up to Him out of this incomprehensible and infinite Sacrifice in which all history be­gins and ends, all individual lives begin and end, in which every story is told, and finished, and settled for joy or for sorrow: the one point of reference for all the truths that are outside of God, their center, their focus: Love.

Do you know what Love is? You have never known the meaning of Love, never, you who have always drawn all things to the center of your own nothingness. Here is Love in this chalice full of Blood, Sacri­fice, mactation. Do you not know that to love means to be killed for glory of the Beloved? And where is your love? Where is now your Cross, if you say you want to follow Me, if you pretend you love Me?

(The Seven Storey Mountain, pp.323f.)

Merton lecture in NYC

Today would have been the 99th birthday of Thomas Merton.

Saturday, February 1, 2014, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Corpus Christi Church, 121st and Broadway, NYC

“Thomas Merton and the Utility of Nothing”
Bishop Seraphim Sigrist, presenter

Bishop Seraphim is the retired bishop of the Orthodox Church in America, former bishop of Sendai, Japan.

“For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self”  (New Seeds of Contemplation).

Prayer connects all of us to God’s mercy

All prayer is communion, not only between Christ and me but also between everybody in the Church and myself. All prayer takes us into the communion of saints.

Perhaps it would be helpful to think that when I am praying I am closely united with everybody who ever prayed and everybody now praying. I am completely caught up in this communion of saints and this great reality of the prayer of Christ.

I am not lost or submerged in it, but I am truly myself when I am praying in union with Christ and with the communion of saints.

Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton in Alaska

Contemplation AND ordinary experience praise God

I would say that it is very important in the contemplative life not to overemphasize the contemplation. If we constantly overemphasize those things to which access is inevitably quite rare, we overlook the ordinary authentic real experiences of everyday life as real things to enjoy, things to be happy about, things to praise God for.

But the ordinary realities of everyday life, the faith and love with which we live our normal human lives, provide the foundation on which we build those higher things. If there is no foundation, then we have nothing at all!

How can we relish the higher things of God if we cannot enjoy some simple little thing that comes along as a gift from Him!

Thomas Merton
Contemplation in a World of Action

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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