In these conferences dating to 1961, Thomas Merton provides for his audience of young monks an overview of major themes and figures in the Christian mystical tradition as an integral part of their religious inheritance and a crucial part of their spiritual formation. From Fathers of the Church such as St Athanasius and St Gregory of Nyssa, through such important medieval theologians as St Bonaventure, Hadewijch and Meister Eckhart, to the great Spanish Carmelites St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, Merton traces such key topics as the integration of theology and spirituality; the importance of "natural contemplation"recognizing the divine presence in creation; the centrality of apophatic or "dark" contemplation; and the role of spiritual direction in forming mature and balanced contemplatives.
Thomas Merton (19151968), Catholic convert, Cistercian monk and hermit, poet, contemplative, social critic, and pioneer of interreligious dialogue, was a seminal figure of twentieth-century American Christianity. The one hundredth anniversary of his birth is being celebrated in 2015.
Patrick F. OConnell is professor of English and theology at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. A founding member and former president of the International Thomas Merton Society, he edits The Merton Seasonal and is coauthor of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia. He has edited seven previous volumes of Thomas Mertons monastic conferences for the Monastic Wisdom Series, most recently Charter, Customs, and Constitutions of the Cistercians (2015), and is also editor of Mertons Selected Essays (2013) and Early Essays: 19471952 (2015).
For those interested in teaching mysticism and spirituality, this work provides a historical overview of sources available before and during the time of Merton, as grounded in his incisive understanding of the subject.
The American Benedictine Review
This volume brings with it an intimate sense of being of guided by Merton and fed from sources of life and grace.
CR: Quarterly Review of the Community of the Resurrection
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