65 years ago Thomas Merton entered the Abbey on this date. 38 years ago on this date he died. This day of reflection is a time to be with others, via the internet, who have been influenced strongly by Father Louis.
To use this daily update you may wish to run it over on your computer and carry sections with you. There are several participants sharing today. You are welcome to join via comments or links to you own blog. Thanks. Brother Dan
VIGILS - A TIME OF STRUGGLE AND SEARCHING
Read: Psalms 23, 104
The monks begin their search for God in the middle of the night. It is a beginning, a place to struggle, A place to seek God in the darkness.
One of Merton's great struggles was related to his desire for total solitude. He once wrote: "Should I move somewhere where I can find solitude and silence and peace to be alone with God in a pure tranquility and silence that is impossible for Cistercians?"
Vigils is a time for questions. What are the questions in your life? The struggles? The people you are praying for that really need your presence and strength?
Place these before God in the darkness.
Write in your journal the questions. It is said of Merton, "He wrote journals as a spiritual discipline: he kept vigil through making a journal."
Keep vigils with a pen in your hand.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Lauds - the Sun Rises
"It is a beautiful, cool clear morning. I am writing this after my Mass. It seems to me that during Mass and thanksgiving one of the big ambiguities has resolved itself. God is calling me to a kind of missionary solitude.......our joy is to be led by Him to the thing He desires........It demands a gift of our whole being." (Dec. 29, 1952)What is God calling you to?FROM BRYAN SHERWOOD
"Today is the second Sunday of Advent but it’s also the tenth day of December. It’s a day to remember the death of a Trappist Monk named Thomas Merton. Many of my friends have been acquainted with Merton for many years. However, my acquaintance with Merton is much more recent. In the fall of 2003 a friend of mine gave me a small paperback book called Thoughts in Solitude written by Thomas Merton. That would be my first exposure to Fr. Louis. At first, I struggled with the book a bit. It was a different language that I was used to. More complex. Richer and deeper.......more at Bryan Sherwood.com.FROM ANTHONY HANSON
"You may or may not have noticed some new photographs in my sidebar under a heading called "Major Influences." Yeah, those are the five authors who I think probably have impacted my life's journey more than any others. One might say that they give the "flavor" of my spirituality.
You might see that one of those photos is of Thomas Merton. Today is the anniversary of his death. I wrote a rambling poetic letter of sorts in tribute, and in remembrance and honor of his impact in my life.When I Met Thomas Merton
When I first met you, I was 16. Those were the years of my turning East, a silent inner rebel in the fundamentalist prison of my home....More at Anthony Hanson.TERCE - BEGINNING THE DAY IN GOD'S WAY
Please check out Beth. C's FatherLouie Blog. SEXT
As I reflect on today and the life of Merton, I am reminded of what Jonathan Montaldo wrote of Merton as a reminder of this day.
"On December 10, 1941, under canopy of cold stars, Merton arrived in rural Kentucky at the Abbey of Gethsemani and immediately loved its walls. When the gatehouse door shut behind him, he abandoned his disordered youth and wedged himself into narrow borders so as to find out who he might more authentically become before he died."
So on this day of reflection, maybe we will realized that when Merton died on December 10, 1968, that he was still searching and reflecting. And, may we do the same."
Wayne, from Alabama NONE
"Almost twenty years ago I visited the Abbey with 30 other people on a weekend retreat, to be specific we were all recovering alcoholics. Someone told me you could not visit there and not have a spiritual experience, me being the doubter that I am didn’t believe it, Brother Luke was somewhat younger then and took us up to Father Merton's cabin in the woods. We were even allowed to enter it, we spent a hour or so
then held hands and prayed, sometime during that weekend something did happen, I can’t explain it but I did feel something and I believe that my life would be changed forever and it has. I visited twice more since then, Brother Luke even came to see us in Cleveland once. I even met the Priest who wrote the “Man who got even with God”, I am embarrassed that I can’t remember his name right now, I have the book at home, I
am very fortunate to have the experience of being there and setting at the same desk, looking out over the mountains as Thomas Merton once did. We also were fortunate to be able to get to know some of the Monks later on. I have these moments that I shall never forget." James Hamilton VESPERS
The sun is setting in the west. It has been a nice day, mid-50s, but I have not felt well. Finally took a two hour nap. I liked this that Alan Creech
sent in. Met him at Gethsemani earlier this year. Worth a good read:
I got up late this morning so I'm running behind on my Merton reflection. I love that photo I found there, with his camera. It's very real. Full out laughter. I love that. I imagine him to have laughed like that even more than old Father Benedict would have been comfortable with. Before I finish the rule for Vine & Branches I might add something about reQUIRED laughter.
Anyway, today is a couple of anniversaries concerning Merton - of his entrance into Gethsemani as a monk and finally, of his untimely death in 1968. 53 is too young. And no, I don't believe it was "his time" - I think he was, in a sense, stolen. It was tragic and horrible.
Of course, even at 53 he left us with a treasure trove of wisdom that serves to this day to build people into better humans. I've said this before, maybe here, but certainly in person to many I know, that this man, even in death, has acted as more of a mentor, teacher and spiritual director to me than anyone alive even has. I have learned, through his writings, all that he learned and passed along, his gifted insights, more than from any other one source. I've always seen Merton as more than "one source" really, though. He serves as a conduit through which one can receive the riches of everything that formed him. Many times I've been inspired to read others, things that he read, and then have gained much through that as well (makes me think of the Guigo posts from a while back).
I am grateful for his influence. I can't even imagine what my present path would be if I had not picked up one book on sale in the EKU bookstore in college one day. It was just a book about him and his thoughts on prayer, but it lead me into a deeper world, a richer experience and knowledge of God and of Life in Christ. Thanks Tom. I look forward to eternal conversations some day. In the mean time, please pray for me, for all of us, that our eyes will be opened as yours were while we're still here.
Thanks Dan Phillips for initiating this tradition.
Once after compline at Gethsemani when all the monks had gone to bed I decided to talk a bath. I was in the Monks area and had to walk down the hall to the shower room. With only my shorts on, no shoes, and a top, I grabbed the keys and locked my room, only to discover I had locked myself out.
I walked up and down the monastery hunting a monk, or anyone, who could get me in my room. I prayed at every statue. It was November. Cold. My feet hurt. I decided that to keep from freezing I would lay in the balcony until Vigils and hope I did not freeze. Then, I decided to try coffee to warm up. I peaked around every corner. At the coffee pot was a note. If you get in trouble knock on Brother Rene's door, room ... I practically ran to his room. Thankfully he laughed all the way to my room and I have never been glader to get into my bed. Praise the Lord for Brother Rene. What an embarrasment.
we beg you to visit this house
and banish from it
all the deadly power of the enemy.
May your holy angels dwell here
to keep us in peace,
and may your blessing be upon us always.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
AMEN AND A NIGHT OF PEACE FOR YOU TO..