Who was Thomas Merton?

Loyola Productions has just released this video online, a segment from the DVD "Who Cares about the Saints?"  A brief introduction to the life and times of Fr. M. Louis Merton, OCSO.

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david power
6 years 9 months ago
Poor old Tom Merton.I am the only one who will offer a comment.
I have read three of his books and find him very florid and there is often an idealistic 
thread in what he is saying.
He surely struggled to find meaning in his life but I am not sure if he succeeded .
He seemed to be more in love with the external attributes of the Church rather than the Holy Spirit.
A Newt Gingrich of the 20th century if you will.
Fr Martin ,you have canonized a few people in your time.The one I am sure you are wrong on is Tom Merton.A good writer yes, a saint is a whole new ball game. Think Chesterton. Pedro Arrupe needs a lot more study.
Interestingly Archbishop Weakland considers Merton of little worth and Arrupe as the one sure saint he has met in his life.
I will give you Dorothy Day too and you have a Meat Loaf song.  
Vince Killoran
6 years 9 months ago
I didn't think Fr. Martin was cannonizing Merton but maybe I'm wrong.

In any case, a wonderful take by Fr. Martin on Merton's place in the history of twentieth century Catholicism. He was a complex, compelling figure.  I love the quote at the beginning of the video.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 9 months ago
All depends on how you define a saint, in my opinion.

I've spent my whole life reading and re-reading Merton.  If there's anything that he's written that I haven't read, I haven't found it yet.  For me, and for many others, he is the most prophetic and insightful spiritual writer of the 20th century.  From those who knew him personally, he was humble, funny and compassionate.  What more do you want?
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 9 months ago
"He seemed to be more in love with the external attributes of the Church rather than the Holy Spirit."

This line alone shows that you haven't read Merton very well, David, and you haven't understood him at all.

I have kept a blog of sorts for the last 5 years about Merton (and contemplative awareness).  Look around.  Merton is beyond "sides" and people of all political persuasions have found his writings and the testimony of his life helpful as they search for meaning and God.

Click on my name to link to the blog, or http://fatherlouie.blogspot.com

david power
6 years 9 months ago

You are right that I haven't read Merton very well.
I read the seven storey mountain about 10 years ago when I went through a phase of reading vaguely spiritual stuff.I even read Paulo Cuelho.
Then about seven years ago I read Thoughts in solitude which I liked at the time but now when I look at it it leaves me empty.The last book was the one I have the most experience with and it is a history of the North American Trappists.It has coloured my view of Merton perhaps to much.

Not everybody had a high opinion of him though, one fellow monk said that "he could ever have been in a hermitage if it had a neon sign outside that said "hermitage"
and of course Archbishop Weakland.


Our positions have not changed since then but I will give him another blast.If he helps others to Christ it is good.     
david power
6 years 9 months ago
Sorry the above quote should read "He could only have lived in a hermitage if it had a neon sign outside that said "Hermitage".
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 9 months ago
Glad you're giving him another look, David.

My Contemplative Prayer group recently listened to a taped lecture by Suzanne Stabile who was exemplifying Merton as a "four" on the enneagram.  It not only shows how Merton's vulnerabilities (he was abandoned several times as a child) led him to a Four-type personality - one who goes to extemes - but it is shows an excellent understanding of Merton as a very human person.  That bit about needing a neon sign on his hermitage fits very well with the "four" personality.

HEre is the link to the Lecture by Suzanne Stabile:


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