Meet Christian Women in Merton

But as we consider the rapid pace of change in our contemporary context, the ever-increasing role technology plays in all aspects of our lives, and the differences too numerous to count between the life and times of a midth-century monk and our own experience, it would seem at first glance that Merton's ideas, writings, vision and example belong set aside, like pieces in a museum. It is clear that few listened to Merton then, but perhaps, just maybe, some might listen now. He also left behind a legacy, which included a model for modern Christian living that encouraged everyone — religious and lay alike — to pursue a life of prayer, holiness and social justice. Each of us also has what Merton called our "true self," who we are in our fullness as known only to God. Merton should be considered just another dead white male author like Dickens or Chaucer or Erasmus, to be put on a library shelf and perhaps forgotten. Even though most young adults today probably have not heard of Merton, his way of serving the church and world as a monk, priest and writer has tremendous potential to speak to the hunger for a more authentic, honest and transparent church, as repeatedly expressed by representative young adults in the pre-synodal meeting document in March of this year. Merton was one of the first Roman Catholic religious leaders before the Second Vatican Council to emphasize the importance of prayer and contemplation for all people and not just the religious "professionals" i. Merton, the famous Trappist monk and best-selling author, has now been dead for almost as long as he had lived. See our Privacy Policy. I have just returned from India where I had been invited to participate in the second A. A good many of the participants had been at Bangkok with Merton, and his spiritual presence at the Bangalore meeting was almost tangible. And immediately after my return from abroad it was my own privilege to speak for the Christian tradition at another conference sponsored by the Temple of Understanding, this time at Yale University. Trying to evaluate his experiences in India, Thomas Merton wrote:

Fox, a cradle Catholic whose forebears were from Co Leitrim, conspired with Dr Gregory Zilboorg, a psychotherapist and convert to Catholicism, to confirm his view of Merton as a neurotic prone to spiritual injury because of his unconscious quest for celebrity 5. Merton was attuned to the reality that the world had changed considerably since he entered Gethsemani in Western society was undergoing sociocultural turmoil caused by the sexual revolution. Unlike Fox, Merton remained culturally a European rather than an American. Merton worried about breathlessness, checked his blood pressure whenever he could and had an unsettled stomach. There is a revealing photograph of Merton drinking Schiltz beer with Richard Sisto at a picnic on Gethsemani lake just days before he headed off to India.

Indeed, not only was Merton acutely attuned to these things, he used his freedom and the power of the pen to help raise social issues to the consciousness of his readers. Merton was a remarkable man by any measure, but perhaps the most remarkable of his traits was his hypersensitivity to social movements from which, by virtue of his monastic calling, he was supposed to be removed. And yet Merton also was very much a man of faith with a strong calling toward God. His wrestling with religious censors who sought to mitigate or silence his publishing about violence, racism, and the Christian responsibility to put faith into action speaks to experiences of those whose consciences call for more than banal Christian platitudes, and take the risk to work for justice in the church and world. As a man living in the United States in the 20th century, however, Merton was unable to escape the social and political tumult of the world around him.

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Women in Buddhism. But for some years these seeds lay dormant as Merton became a Trappist monk, one of the strictest religious orders in Catholicism. Asian Journal, pages Merton would return to home, to Our Lady of Gethsemani monastery in Kentucky, very differently than when he headed East that day to a monastic conference in BangkokThailand. After his conversion and transformation into a monk, Merton was a triumphalistic Christian with little regard for other forms of Christianity besides Catholicism and little concern for other religions. On October 15,with Merton aboard, a jetliner lifted off the ground in San Francisco bound for Tokyo and the Asia beyond: We left the ground--I with Christian mantras and a great sense of destiny, of being at last on my true way after years of waiting and wondering and fooling around. In the climate of the times, for a man born in France who was raised with no particular religious influence and used to a life of desires, for a passionate convert to Catholicism, for a monk of the cloistered Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance Trappistswhy did Merton say that? They would correspond and some of their writings would become the essay collection "Zen and the Birds of Appetite," a discussion of the similarities and differences between Zen Buddhism and Christianity. It would begin his exposure to Christian mystical writings that would, in turn, be a main reason he was on that plane going to Asia, going to meet the religions of Asia, and particularly Buddhism, face to face.

Meet Christian Women in Merton
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