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feast of Thomas Merton

Above: Fr. Matthew Kelty, a monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani in which Thomas Merton was a monk, reads the prayer of Thomas Merton found in

Thoughts In Solitude

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 I will 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.

Thomas Merton died 42 years ago today. In 2006 I moved a motion at our diocesan synod, seeking to have him added to our New Zealand Anglican calendar. General Synod passed the required, second-time-round, vote in May this year, having been passed in diocesan synods and hui amorangi. Now this “lies on the table” (for anyone to make a submission that this should not proceed) and then he will be added to the formal calendar of this church. Appropriately; he has strong connections to New Zealand. The Episcopal Church in 2009 added Merton to their calendar at their General Convention.

Merton’s book, The Seven Storey Mountain, drew hundreds to the monastery. In a day when Trappist monks communicated mostly by sign language (in which Merton was so agile he regularly made complex combinations to tell jokes), and his name in the monastery was “Fr. Louis” it was sometimes months before new members of the monastery realised that their novice master actually was one of the reasons they had been drawn there 🙂

The Journey of Thomas Merton

Gracious God,
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.

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2 thoughts on “feast of Thomas Merton”

  1. Thank you for this post which in a short space captures the contant appeal of Merton. When my family moved to Hawaii in 1959 my mother was given a box of books. There were two I read. Gibran (once was enough!) and then a year later the autobiography of Merton. I stayed up all night to finish it.
    Later when I did an MA in religion and education he was a great source because I chose to describe how people were taught to pray. Merton was about the only one who had developed an actual curriculum.
    In the thesis I repeated an old adage: “the only thing harder to find than a good teacher of prayer is a good student.” Merton was both.

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