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Life of Thomas Merton

1915, January 31, Merton was born at Prades, France to two artists- his father a New Zealander and his mother, an American. 1961 moved to USA to live with mother until she died in 1921 1922 lived in Bermuda with his father 1925 went to school in France where he lived with his father 1928 went to school in England 1931 his father dies 1934 entered Columbia University 1938 graduated from Columbia and received into the Catholic Church 1941 entered the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, Trappist, Kentucky 1944 published first set of poems, “Thirty poems” 1946 published first book, “A man in the divided sea” 1948 published autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain and What are these Wounds? 1949 ordained as priest 1951 Master of Scholastics until 1955 1955 Master of Novices until 1965 1965 lived in solitaire at a shed in the monastery 1968 died on December 10, at Bangkok, Thailand Spiritual Journey: How did he or she develop in their spiritual walk? Did he or she have any unique spiritual habits?        Interestingly, Thomas Merton entered the Abbey of Gethsemani on December 10th, 1941. Thus, he became a monk in one of the strictest Roman Catholic order of monks. In order to deepen his spiritual walk Thomas Merton was known for his desire to remain in solitude and meditate on his heavenly father. Further, he would write endless poems and books about various topics one of which was his spiritual experiences. Merton appeared to have an insatiable appetite for discovering his inner being and obtaining a deeper walk with God thus later in his life he visited Bangkok to discuss the possible integration of Western and Eastern religions. So impressed was the Dali Lama on his encounter with Merton that he expressed his opinion of Merton as the first Christian to ever grasp such a deep understanding of Buddhism. Merton loved to be in solitaire and spent four years of his life in a shed on the monastery. He spent time fasting and praying as well as meditating. In his ‘New Seeds of Contemplation’ describes contemplation as being ‘visibly touched’ by God who is invisible yet real. Contemplation played a great part in Merton’s life. For Merton contemplation was the essence of one’s life. Contribution to Christian History: What can we learn from this person? What have they written or influenced in the history of Christianity? The Merton Institute suggests that Merton was perhaps the ‘most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century.’ His autobiography entitled, The Seven Storey Mountain, has been translated in more than twenty-eight languages. Remarkably, Merton was responsible for the teaching of the young monks who came straight from the outside world. Eventually, he became a Master of novice where he was responsible for the socialization and the training of novice monks. The Merton institute states that during this life as a monk he wrote more than sixty books and hundreds of poems. Yet in spite of this plethora of writing Jim Forest insists that Merton always maintained that his first duty was to his life as a monk and everything else took second place. Consequently, one can conclude that not only did Thomas Merton contribute to the spiritual dimension of the Roman Catholic monks but also his involvement and thoughts on nonviolence, racial discrimination, and the integration of Western religion with the Roman Catholic Faith influenced the entire world. Merton was criticized by Catholics and non Catholics alike for his outspoken ...Show more

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Life of Thomas Merton Photograph of Merton by John Lyons. Photograph by Ralph Eugene Meatyard Copyright the Meatyard Estate. Introduction: Why did you choose this person? Thomas Merton is the only individual in the 20th century who is considered a Classic or Modern Christian Mystic…
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