Three Days of Thomas Merton – Day 1

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Day 1: An Introduction

“In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for ‘finding himself’.  If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence.” – Thomas Merton

There are few historical people that I admire more than Thomas Merton. The catholic priest, Trappist monk, social activist, mystic, and scholar is interesting for our purposes here at Whølehearted not only for his body of work on faith, but also for the story of his life.  Merton is unique in that it was his story, his autobiography, that catapulted him into the spotlight to become what he would call with a bit of annoyance, “the famous Thomas Merton”. At 31 he wrote an autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, that put him on the radar.  Hugely successful he would then continue to write 60+ additional books and hundreds of poems and articles before his death 50 years ago today at the age of 53 (December, 10, 1968).  

It’s unusual that a autobiography would proceed a brilliant career instead of conclude it.  So what was it about his beliefs that made him one of the most influential modern spiritual thinker; one of four “great Americans” that Pope Francis singled out in a message to Congress in 2015?  And what was it about his story that made him famous BEFORE anyone knew all that much about his beliefs? This week I’d like 3 days to share a bit about Thomas Merton. Today, this simple introduction.  Tomorrow, his story. The last day, a few of his “seeds of complempation”.