Thomas Merton

Beware of False (Political) Prophets

In Acts 5, we read that Peter and the Apostles have been brought before the Sanhedrin, whose high priest chastises them for preaching in the name of Jesus, which they had been forbidden to do. Peter and the other Apostles respond that “We must obey God, not men” (v. 29). The Sanhedrin, furious, want to [...]

This Lent, What Tops Your Bucket List?

Lent is a season that brings us full face with the Great Paradox: To live, I must die. It is a supreme spiritual truth meant not to paralyze us, but to prompt us to ponder: “In dying, how should I live?” In the last few years, the hanging statement, “Before I die I want to [...]

Three Paths to Rome

Once asked what book he’d like to be stuck with on a desert island, G.K. Chesterton reportedly responded in the way one would expect of him: Thomas' Guide to Practical Shipbuilding. He was being facetious, and his real answer was The Pickwick Papers. The question is a fun one to consider, but frankly, I’d beg [...]

Mountain Man

Many years ago, in 1948, a book was published that had an immediate dramatic effect on its readers. It was written by a young man, Thomas Merton, and told the story of his riotous youth, conversion to Catholicism, and entry into the Trappist monastery at Gethsemani, Kentucky, in 1941, when he was twenty-six years old. [...]

‘Chickens Have No Myths’

  In the early 1970s, the Catholic novelist Walker Percy (1916-1990) wrote an introduction to a manual for Louisiana State University's mental-health services, where he was then teaching a course on "the novel of alienation." In what is possibly the most learned and humane of such introductions -- usually prime examples of bureaucratic boilerplate -- [...]

Our Tradition: The Restless Soul of Thomas Merton

In his early years as a monk, Thomas Merton tried determinedly to give up writing, convinced that it was a worldly occupation and hence incompatible with his monastic vocation. He met determined opposition in this effort, opposition incongruously provided by his religious superiors. Their argument — that Merton should consider writing as part of his [...]

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