Today is the feast of Thomas Merton who died 46 years ago. Next year, 31 January, it is 100 years since his birth. He is one of the most-influential spiritual writers of recent times.
He was born in Prades, France, of a Kiwi father and American mother. His dad went to the school where I am chaplain, and the Merton family name is significant in the school.
I spearheaded adding him to the NZ Anglican calendar, and I’m delighted he is formally celebrated in The Episcopal Church in Holy Women Holy Men. The collect there is:
you called your monk Thomas Merton to proclaim your justice out of silence,
and moved him in his contemplative writings
to perceive and value Christ at work in the faiths of others:
Keep us, like him, steadfast in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ;
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A particularly famous prayer that Thomas Merton himself wrote is:
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 that 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 that 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 will never leave me to face my perils alone.
If you wish to explore further, put “Thomas Merton” into the search box on the top right of this site and you will be pointed to a variety of resources and reflections.