Citing Merton and Day, Pope Francis once again turns attention to the peripheries

When Pope Francis delivered his stirring speech to Congress this morning, he made particular mention of two American Catholics—and the two he chose probably raised a few eyebrows. Rather than spotlighting well-known American saints—say, Elizabeth Seton or Frances Cabrini—the Holy Father singled out two converts of the modern era, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Both are [Read More…]

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The more things change …

This is remarkable, via The Anchoress, quoting one of my heroes, Thomas Merton: “It has been remarked with truth that conservatives and progressives in the Church are so concerned with total victory over each other that they are more and more closed to each other. If this is the case, one seriously wonders about the [Read More…]

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The nun in the hotel lobby

This is one of my favorite stories from the writings of Thomas Merton. In The Waters of Siloe, he tells the true story of a businessman checking into a hotel in Paris in the days following World War II and, inexplicably, passing a young nun in the lobby:  The nun is smiling…she is a young sister [Read More…]

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John Allen: “Are we looking at the American Pope Francis in Chicago?”

The veteran Vatican watcher assesses this weekend’s big news over at Crux:  There’s nothing a pope does as fundamental to shaping culture in the Catholic Church as appointing bishops, and that’s especially true for major pace-setting venues around the world. Chicago is on a short list with Milan, Paris, and Westminster as spots where popes [Read More…]

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Charges of embezzlement, sex scandal at Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky

From The Louisville Courier-Journal: Nestled on 2,200 acres in the hills of Nelson County, the 166-year-old Abbey of Gethsemani is known for its peace and tranquility. But now the oldest operating monastery in America, where 42 monks live, work and pray seven times a day, is roiled by controversy. The Abbey has accused one of [Read More…]

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RIP, Ned O’Gorman

This news broke while I was away this weekend. Ned O’Gorman represents part of a dying breed of social justice Catholics from the generation that counted among its heroes and contemporaries visionaries like Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. I learned this morning that his funeral will be held tonight at St. Paul the Apostle, the [Read More…]

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Happy birthday, Thomas Merton

Fr. Dan Horan notes that today would have been the great writer’s 99th birthday, and quotes from Merton’s journal on his last birthday, in 1968: Clear, thin new moon appearing and disappearing between slow slate blue clouds – and the living black skeletons of the trees against the evening sky. More artillery than usual whumping [Read More…]

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December 10th: Remembering Thomas Merton

December 10 looms large in the life story of Thomas Merton. He entered the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky on December 10, 1941, and died tragically in Thailand in an electrical accident on December 10, 1968—45 years ago today. He was 53. Considering the Incarnation, he once wrote words that seem fitting for Advent: Into [Read More…]

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Thomas Merton’s love life to be made into a movie

Longtime readers of the blog know that I’m a Thomas Merton fanboy.  His life and work were instrumental in my own vocation, and I once spent a memorable afternoon in his Kentucky hermitage, thinking “I can’t believe I’m HERE.” So I’ve got some mixed feelings about this news, which if handled clumsily could turn the [Read More…]

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In Merton’s footsteps

Some years back, I wrote a piece for Catholic Digest on “Thomas Merton’s New York.”  The story was a pilgrimage, of sorts, visiting some of the landmarks of Merton’s life that are still standing in Manhattan. In the short video below, Fr.  James Martin takes us to two of those landmarks: the church were Merton [Read More…]

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