Wednesday, December 09, 2009


THURSDAY, December 10, 2009


Thomas Merton (Father Louis) entered the Abbey of Gethsemani on December 10, 1941. He died via an accident on December 10, 1968. This being the day most associated with him, we dedicate this day as a day of recollection, prayer, and renewal.

Everyone is welcome to join. Meditations associated with the Liturgy of the Hours will be a part of our reflections this day. Please feel free to add comments and words that our Lord might have spoken in your heart.

VIGILS - a time to anticipate the Coming of Christ

"The night, O My Lord, is a time of freedom. You have seen the morning and the night, and the night was better. In the night all things began, and in the night the end of all things has come before me.

Baptized in the rivers of night, Gethsemani has recovered her innocence. Darkness brings a semblance of order before all things disappear. It is my time to be the night watchman, in the house that will one day perish.

And here, now, by night, with this hugh clock ticking on my right hip and the flashlight in my hand and sneakers on my feet, I feel as if everything had been unreal. The things I thought were so important - because of the effort I put into them - have turned out to be of small value. And the things I never thought about, the things I was never able either to measure or to expect, were the things that mattered.

O God, my God, the night has values that day has never dreamed of. Now is the time to get up and go to the tower. Now is the time to meet You, God, where the night is wonderful."

Scripture for reflection: Psalms 47, 33, and 34

Thoughts to reflect upon:

1. What is the night like to you? Do you seek Christ? Do you find him?

2. What is God saying to you?

(Note: For me, the vigils hour is to pray for the most important items on my prayer list, so tonight I pray for those of us on the journey.)

THAT WE MAY BE STILL......How shall we really hear, O Lord? So many foolish things to fill our ear...Lead us to prayerful quiet...Cover us in a precious silence...Let solitude come and be our companion...Give us a stillness as the desert where You spent, sometimes, the whole night in prayer...let us come, even without images if that is possible for us...let us revel in the quietude...Let us bow down with all the angels in silence and in awe..."How majestic is Thy name in all creation." From Don Brennan

LAUDS - a time for greeting the dawn breaking upon the world of darkness.

"The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but is one who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and, when he is "answered," it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God."

Scripture for reflection: Psalms 8, 90, and 92.

Thoughts to reflect upon:

1. What do you hear when the Sun rises in the east.

2. Where is the word of God in your life? Do you hear it?

(Note: For me, lauds is a time of thanksgiving for a new day and new life. A time of joy to see the sunrise.)

TERCE -- A time to pray for God's guidance during the day.

"Today would have been Thomas Merton's 68th year at the Abbey of Gethsemani if he were still alive. Wow. That is hard to imagine. He entered Gethsemani on December 10, 1941. He died December 10, 1968 at 53 years of age.

One of the things Merton and I have in common is the love of nature. Many times in his writings, especially in his journals, he will describe the beauty that surrounded him at Gethsemani.

As I prayed today's Morning Prayer, I couldn't help but to pick up on those verses from Psalm 8:"---=MORE AT THIS LINK --GREAT READ

1. Scripture - Ps. 8

2. Reflect on the beauty and opportunities for this day. Look at Abbeyphotographs while you meditate.


One of Merton's most interesting comments on prayer to me is: "What is
the use of praying if at the very moment of prayer, we have so little
confidence in God that we are busy planning our own kind of answer to
our prayer?"

As we pray today, may we be willing to believe, wait, and let God do
His work.

Reflection by Dan -- As I have read Bryan Sherwood's post many times this morning it has reminded me of the beauty of nature. The best Merton book about nature is from Kathleen Deignan titled When the Trees Say Nothing. Here is one of her quotes from Merton:

"Yesterday the first snow of the winter fell and last night before the Midnight Mass someone made me a furtive sign that it was snowing again. And so this morning is very beautiful, not because there is so much snow....nor is it beautiful because the sky is bright, for the sky is dark. But it is beautiful because of Christmas."

It is a beautiful day here in Tennessee. Sunny. Cold. A time of quiet to hear God's voice.

Thought: What is God saying to you in nature today?

SEXT-A time of rest and thankfulness

During the midday one spends moments in rest. Alan Creech has added his beautiful meditation. His picture of Merton is fabulous. LINK

From Wayne Burns

"I say over and over again: my prayers have no merit in themselves; nothing that is mine has any merit at all. If I had been praying all my life to become a Trappist, I would have no right to expect to become one -- no right to demand, as a return, that I be accepted by the Abbot!

Yet I fall on my face, in tears, and beg God that I may become a Trappist at all hours of the day, not because I think I deserve anything by that, but because I believe that if He wills, I can be admitted to the cloister -- even as soon as Christmas."

RUN TO THE MOUNTAIN THE JOURNALS OF THOMAS MERTON, Volume One 1939-1941,page 468. Merton wrote this on December 3, 1941.

From Father Patrick Collins

-Ah, the irony of it all...27 years years in the world and 27 years in the monastery - dying on the 27th anniversary of his entering to become one of Christ's "burnt men." Another irony is that I was the same age as Merton when he died - 53 - when I visited Gethsemani for the first time during Holy Week, 1991 - the 50th anniversary of Merton's first visit to Gethsemani himself...Ah, yes, coincidence, sychronicity, serendipity -GRACE


NONE - A Time of blessing

This morning I received a phone call from a person who lives approximately 15 miles from me who has just discovered Merton via my website 2 days ago. He offered to buy me lunch and we spent time talking about Contemplative Prayer, Merton, and whatever. It was a SURPRISE and a time of blessing that only God could have provided.

Scripture Reading: Psalms 85,72

Reflection: When was the last time God provided a surprise and blessing to you?


VESPERS - As the evening light casts a golden glow which illumines the landscape as if from within, the monk attends Vespers asking for forgiveness and healing from the days journey."

When all the monks come in with eyes as clean as the cold sky
And axes under their arms,
Still praying out Ave Marias,
With rosaries between their bleeding fingers,
We shake the chips out of our robes outside the door
And go to hide in cowls as deep as clouds,
Bowing our shoulders in the church's shadow, lean
And whipped,
To wait upon your Vespers, Mother of God!"
---(Dialogues with Silence - page 37)

1. Scripture reading Ps 27, 104A, and 104B

2. Reflections - What has your day been like. Are you tired? To many events? Where has your journey led you?

Seek God in the tiredness, bow your shoulders, be thankful.

COMPLINE - As the darkness draws near and as weariness becomes the order of our day, we gather for the final hour of our Day of Prayer With Thomas Merton.CLOSING THOUGHTS FROM ARLEN HANSON'S BLOG

"How terribly ironic that a monk who had taken a vow of stability should die a thousand miles from his hermitage. How painfully ironic that the body of a committed pacifist should return home on a military transport plane scheduled to ferry home body bags from the Vietnam War. How curiously ironic that his heart should stop beating on December 10, exactly twenty-seven years to the day since he had been accepted as a choir novice at Gethsemani. Yet how marvelously appropriate that in a light snowfall at dusk on December 17--his simple work shirt, boots, and cowl cast aside; his pilgrimages from Prades to England to New York to the Far East at an end--Thomas Merton should take his place beneath his beloved Kentucky clay in that long line of "jubilant dead...just about to sit up and sing" (Entering the Silence. p. 256)."

1. Scripture Reading - Psalms 134, 4, 91

2. Reflection on the day - How has this day been meaningful to you? How has God worked in your life today? Have you made new friends? Have you sensed God's presence? As you prepare for sleep be at peace with yourself.


"Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we make keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace."


May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.

AMEN and thank all of you for participating. May God Bless !!!



At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan...a very meaningful walk thru the Monk's day...It is hard to believe 41 years have passed. when Merton died I like others were at Southern Seminary. And, in 1967, I visited the Abbey of Gethsemani for the first time. Saw a number of monks, but no talking in those days. I am sure Merton's name was mentioned by Dr. Hinson, but for most of us it did not mean much on that day. Yet, today, I am and have been so blessed by the life and works of Thomas Merton. Thanks for your gift to us on this day for this time for reflection. Blessings....Wayne

At 12:54 AM, Blogger Jim and Nancy Forest said...

what a good way to mark this double anniversary.


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