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 was celebrated in 2015.
Patrick F. O'Connell 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 is the editor of Thomas Merton: Selected Essays (2013) and has also edited seven volumes of Thomas Merton's monastic conferences for Cistercian Publications' Monastic Wisdom Series, most recently, Charter, Customs, and Constitutions of the Cistercians (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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