“That God’s Love Might Live in Us” — A Few Lovely Words from Thomas Merton

I've been re-reading Thomas Merton's The Waters of Siloe for a class I'm teaching at the monastery. It's basically Merton's history of the Cistercian order, but it's also full of his insights into Cistercian spirituality (and monastic spirituality in general). I especially love the book because it devotes several pages to the founding of the monastery in Georgia, including a wonderful photograph of the monks sitting in front of the old barn where they lived when they first came to the … [Read more...]

“Does anyone read Thomas Merton any more?”

Yesterday I received a review copy of a beautiful new book: The Selected Essays of Thomas Merton, edited by Patrick F. O'Connell. This newly published anthology from Orbis Books includes thirty-three essays on a wide range of topics. I am confident that anyone who loves Merton, poetry, or contemplation will find much to savor here. Merely glancing at the table of contents is enough to make this reader practically salivate: with topics ranging from St. John of the Cross to Gandhi, from Boris … [Read more...]

Does God = Consciousness?

A reader writes...Carl, I am a theoretical physicist by training and have struggled with the idea of supernatural concepts like God. Even so, contemplation has increased my sense of God being part of me, which I like very much. So here is my question: Do you think it is too radical to say God IS your consciousness? After all, Jesus said, "The Father and I are one."  Personally, it seems wonderful to have such awareness of God 24/7. Since we have no idea what consciousness is, saying it is God … [Read more...]

Returning to Reality

My latest blog entry for the Huffington Post has been published; it's called Would Thomas Merton Use an iPad? Contemplation, Technology and Discernment.Beneath the whimsical title, this post looks at a serious question: how the philosophy and spirituality of Thomas Merton might be used a compass point for considering ethical questions related to technology and society. The inspiration for this comes from a recently published book, Returning to Reality: Thomas Merton's Wisdom for a … [Read more...]

Coming back from the desert

No longer are such centres of solitude and critical reflection located only in the remote regions. The last decade has seen the growth of urban contemplatives, communities of Christian women and men who seek to live lives of prayer and silence within the urban scene. It was a movement predicted over twenty-five years ago by the Jesuit Jean Daniélou:'The Constantinian phase in Christian history is coming to an end ... The flight into the desert was a revolutionary innovation, lasting from the … [Read more...]

It is a glorious destiny…

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes many terrible mistakes: yet, with all that, God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race. ... As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people they are all walking around shining like the sun. … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes many terrible mistakes: yet, with all that, God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race. ... As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people they are all walking around shining like the sun. … [Read more...]


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