Thomas Merton and the Monastic Vision

Thomas Merton and the Monastic Vision

Thomas Merton and the Monastic Vision

Thomas Merton and the Monastic Vision

Synopsis

Taking up where Merton's own Seven Storey Mountain ends, this penetrating biography by Lawrence Cunningham explores Merton's monastic life and his subsequent growth into a modern-day spiritual master. Though the basic story of Thomas Merton's life may be well known, the details of his spiritual development are less familiar. Cunningham shows that Merton's prolific writings and his continuing influence can only be understood against the background of his contemplative experience as a Trappist monk. "If one does not understand Merton as a monk," writes Cunningham, "one does not understand Merton at all." Merton emerges from this balanced and reliable account as an extraordinary Christian seeker and pioneer whose faith in the power of the contemplative life remains highly relevant today.

Excerpt

There is an adage that says β€œIT takes one to know one.” That, I believe, is the source of the wisdom in this volume by Lawrence S. Cunningham. Through his long association with monks, he knows what it is to be a monk and has acquired something of the monastic spirit himself. Cunningham brings that vision to his presentation and evaluation of Thomas Merton and his writing. the constant reminder in this book is that Merton produced all his various works while he continued to live a full monastic observance. Scholar, professor, writer, and intuitive monk that Cunningham is, he understands the extraordinary discipline required to be so involved with the task of writing on such varied topics and still to be immersed in the unrelenting rhythm of monastic living.

I had the real blessing of being introduced to monastic life by Father Louis, as Merton was known within the Gethsemani community, when he was Novice Master at the monastery. My first meeting with the Novice Master revealed how he juxtaposed his vocation as monk, including his service in the community as Novice Master, with his stature as a well-known writer. Having arrived, somewhat unannounced, at the monastery to enter the community on the feast of Saint Augustine, I was asked to stay in the retreat house for several days. a week . . .

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