... has become over the years a favourite "read" of mine - a saint without the handle of "saint", a Christian who tried to live the best life he could, in spite of flaws in his character. In short, an ordinary man striving to deepen his relationship with God, who has helped thousands to do the same.
A bit about Thomas Merton -
"On December 10, 1968, one of the great contemporary mystics died at only 53 years of age. Thomas Merton — Trappist monk, spiritual master, and leader of interfaith understanding — was electrocuted by an electric fan in his room whilst attending a conference in Thailand.
He had a keen, curious mind. He had unearthly insights when it came to the practice of prayer and spirituality. His was a clarion voice of justice for the poor, the forgotten, and the marginalized.
But it was his personal journey that many find most compelling. His mother died when he was young, leaving a gaping hole inside of him. Merton’s father, a talented though eccentric artist, was largely absent, intensifying the boy’s loneliness. Volleyed between extended family, continents, and boarding schools, Merton never had a place to call home. The emptiness drove him toward self-destruction.
Heavy drinking. Promiscuous relationships. Frivolous spending of money.
Anxiety and rage.
But in the midst of this recklessness, like the Prodigal Son coming to his senses,
Merton came to Christ. It was profound, redeeming, and life-changing.
He tried to become a Franciscan priest, but was rejected because of his messy past. Merton retreated to a small Cistercian monastery, Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky. He would eventually join that order, his sincerity overcoming the foolishness of his youth. He remained there the rest of his life, writing from a small hermitage on the property, and it is there he is buried. Buried, but not dead."
- Ronnie McBrayer - Detroit News, 7th December 2019.
For a blog or two more, I shall share with you some of Merton's thoughts and prayers.
A word for Politicians!
"“It is true, political problems are not solved by love and mercy.
But the world of politics is not the only world,
and unless political decisions rest on a foundation
of something better and higher than politics,
they can never do any real good for anybody."
New Seeds of Contemplation
...and relevant to too many countries at the moment.....
"When a country has to be rebuilt after war,
the passions and energies of war are no longer enough.
There must be a new force, the power of love,
the power of understanding and human compassion,
the strength of selflessness and cooperation,
and the creative dynamism of the will to live and to build,
and the will to forgive. The will for reconciliation.”
Introductions East & West. The Foreign Prefaces of Thomas Merton
His most famous prayer:
“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 will I 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.”