Wednesday, January 15, of this week would have been the 99th birthday of Thomas Merton.
I’ve been immersed in Merton lately, mostly because Franciscan Media is publishing several books and audiobooks this coming Fall in preparation for the centennial of his birth in 2015. I couldn’t be in a happier place.
Merton was a gifted writer and a spiritual genius, and his many works bear this out. But the one thing that is so appealing about him, certainly to me and I bet to most of his other readers, is his honest humanity.
Here was someone willing to expose his soul, to explore the realities of being human, confront his questions and doubts, and emerge with more questions than before. No doubt, because Merton was so prolific, there is a lot of writing that is redundant, pedantic, and downright boring. But when he nails it, you just can’t beat Merton for naming the crisis faced by souls in contemporary times.
Above all, Merton loved God passionately. That’s what keeps me coming back to his work. I need to know the depths to which our modern-day holy ones throw themselves in living totally for God, to keep me inspired in my own search for such commitment and devotion.
Happy belated birthday, Thomas Merton, and thanks for illuminating the way for so many people striving to grow in their love of God and neighbor. You are a most worthy guide.
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