Merton Redux

19 04 2012

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

I’ve been reading Merton again.  Feeding on his writing is like eating a good steak.  You chew slowly and deliberately.  In the end, you are nourished.  Satiated.

Thomas Merton was an agnostic, a lover of art and philosophy, whose world was turned upside-down in 1938 when he came to a belief in Jesus Christ and was baptized.  Feeling a call to the priesthood, he entered the Trappist order and became a monk.  Without a doubt the most famous Christian monk in the 20th Century.

He served as the otherwise unremarkable Brother Louis amongst the community of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky.

Do yourself a favor and read some of Merton’s work.  He thought and prayed at a profound level.  Two good places to start are:

The Seven Storey Mountain – Now something of a modern classic.  Like Augustine’s Confessions, this details Merton’s conversion and early years as a novitiate Trappist.

New Seeds of Contemplation – His insights on everything from war to solitude to love are formidable.  This was a man who prayed and thought.  This will quickly become evident to the reader.

A note.  Like any priest, Merton had taken the three vows: Poverty, chastity and obedience.  He didn’t write for the money. Though he sold boatloads of books, he didn’t profit from it.  He wrote for human beings.  So there seems to be an element of candor there that might not appear in the books of those who’ve something to gain from writing.  At least as far as silver and gold.

Read Merton…really.  You won’t be disappointed.

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2 responses

20 04 2012
LaDona's Music Studio

I’ve never read Merton – on that long list lurking in the back of my mind of stuff I should read.
Incidentally, have you seen that list of 25 Books Every Christian Should Read? Oh wait, maybe it was on this site that I saw it? Maybe not? Too many blogs. Getting muddled! Here it is. http://www.renovare.us/WHATWEDO/Resources/25BooksEveryChristianShouldRead/tabid/2814/Default.aspx
I’ve read 8 but a number of them date back to Bible school days from which I don’t remember much, and I’m sure at the time I didn’t understand much.

21 04 2012
Christian Fahey

You would appreciate Merton, LaDona. I’ve checked out the list and am familiar with Renovare’s work (Richard Foster, Dallas Willard). The nice thing about this particular list is that most of these are in the public domain. Thanks for sharing.

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