This Blog is created to stress the importance of Peace as an environmental directive. “I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.” – Harry Truman
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When I read his words it is of a person that has every aspect of human life stripped away from him. His depth 'self' is related to god and not any other material aspect of life. He had lost his entire family by the time he was baptized as a Catholic and his brother was moving in a different direction than him. Thomas Mertin was spiritual in a way that tells me he was not only drifting into a world of silence, but, also one of survival.
Catholics and Christians are often heard stating "God has a purpose for you." Those words often come at a time of sorrow.
Thomas Merton's approach to being a monk was gradual, but, so was loss of family. It is as though subconsciously he instinctively reached for a place to be as a human being where his pain of loss would not consume him. He knew his father where John Paul had different personal circumstances.
It is not unusual for a person who has experienced great loss in their lives to find the quality of silence and peace a matter of survival. But, considering the role Thomas Merton has played in the world for his writing and selfless devotion I think god has a purpose for him beyond anything anyone can define. The movement of his life is rather smooth in the monk's abby. Almost seamless. I doubt a human being could find such a seamless path to first survival and then purpose. Thomas Mertin was in a special place others rarely find. It was complete spiritual existence while still on Earth. In a way, God said, Thomas will show all others the proof that I am.
Thomas Merton passed away at the age of 55. That is very young. But, perhaps his purpose was complete and his reward waited from him on the other side where his family dwelled.
If found this passage below his autobiography in short form.
"I hear You saying to me: "I will give you what you desire. I will
lead you into solitude. I will lead you by the way that you cannot
possibly understand, because I want it to be the quickest way. "Therefore
all the things around you will be armed against you, to deny you, to
hurt you, to give you pain, and therefore to reduce you to solitude. "Because
of their enmity, you will soon be left alone. They will cast you out
and forsake you and reject you and you will be alone. "Everything
that touches you shall burn you, and you will draw your hand away in
pain, until you have withdrawn yourself from all things. Then you will
be all alone. "Everything that can be desired will sear you, and
brand you with a cautery, and you will fly from it in pain, to be alone.
Every created joy will only come to you as pain, and you will die to
all joy and be left alone. All the good things that other people love
and desire and seek will come to you, but only as murderers to cut you
off from the world and its occupations. "You will be praised, and it
will be like burning at the stake. You will be loved, and it will murder
your heart and drive you into the desert. "You will have gifts, and
they will break you with their burden. You will have pleasures of
prayer, and they will sicken you and you will fly from them. "And
when you have been praised a little and loved a little I will take away
all your gifts and all your love and all your praise and you will be
utterly forgotten and abandoned and you will be nothing, a dead thing, a
rejection. And in that day you shall being to possess the solitude you
have so long desired. And your solitude will bear immense fruit in the
souls of men you will never see on earth. "Do not ask when it will be
or where it will be or how it will be: On a mountain or in a prison, in
a desert or in a concentration camp or in a hospital or at Gethsemani.
It does not matter. So do not ask me, because I am not going to tell
you. You will not know until you are in it. "But you shall taste the
true solitude of my anguish and my poverty and I shall lead you into the
high places of my joy and you shall die in Me and find all things in My
mercy which has created you for this end and brought you from Prades to
Bermuda to St. Antonin to Oakham to London to Cambridge to Rome to New
York to Columbia to Corpus Christi to St. Bonaventure to the Cistercian
Abbey of the poor men who labor in Gethsemani: "That you may become the brother of God and learn to know the Christ of the burnt men.”
It is entitled "The Seven Story Mountain." Some quotes: “Souls are like athletes, that need opponents worthy of them, if they
are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers,
and rewarded according to their capacity.”
“It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us
from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long
ago. People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no
merciful God exists, if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider
how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and
hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the
free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can
still produce man and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with
love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could all
this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace
upon us? Can there be any doubt where wars come from and where peace
comes from, when the children of this world, excluding God from their
peace conferences, only manage to bring about greater and greater wars
the more they talk about peace?"
“The soul of man, left to its own natural level, is a potentially lucid
crystal left in darkness. It is perfect in its own nature, but it lacks
something that it can only receive from outside and above itself. But
when the light shines in it, it becomes in a manner transformed into
light and seems to lose its nature in the splendor of a higher nature,
the nature of the light that is in it.”
He would become well traveled within his role in the church. He was a writer and a thinker with all the freedom to experience the life of a Roman Catholic and then write about it.
Some of his works were:The Sign of Jonas,No Man is an Island,New Seeds of Contemplation, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, The Way of Chuang Tzu, and Mystics and Zen Masters.
Since his death in Bangkok, Thailand, in December 1968, a number of his works have been published posthumously, includingThe Asian Journal, The Collected Poems, The Literary Essays, and five volumes selected from his letters. His Personal Journals (1939-1968), closed for twenty-five years after his death, have been published in seven volumes.
During the life as a monk, his younger brother, John Paul, would stay in touch with him. June of 1942 John Paul sent a letter to Merton stating he was joining the military and serve to fight the war. He came to visit Merton for the last time on July 17, 1942. Before John Paul left for service he joined the Catholic and was baptized. Nine months later John Paul died when his plane's engines failed over the English Channel. A poem appears his autobiography about John Paul.
Thomas Merton is now alone, except, for a possible illegitimate child from his younger days. There is little written in most accounting of any relationship with that child.
Thanks for your question submitted to our website. For hundreds of years, Trappist monks and nuns have been known for living a very silent life. Consequently, people commonly know Trappists as “the monks who don't talk”. They know we take vows and so naturally suppose we take a vow of silence. The truth is, Trappists have never actually taken an explicit vow of silence. We take three vows, which have their source in the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the sixth century: A vow of Stability, promising to live the rest of our lives with one monastic community, A vow of Obedience to an abbot and a Vow of “Conversion of Manners”, the promise to live the monastic life in all its parts as described by the Rule of St. Benedict and the Constitutions of our Order. This last vow of “conversion” takes in the practice of celibacy, fasting, manual labor, separation from the world and silence. It then remains for the monk or nun to apply themselves faithfully to the observance of silence characteristic of their own community. Relative to the way most people live, this is definitely a commitment to pretty radical silence. A Trappist monastery is a quiet place! In a Trappist monastery, monks typically have three motivations to speak to one another: to get a particular work project carried out efficiently, to engage in a community discussion, or to discuss one's spiritual progress with a director or confessor. Sometimes, too, Trappists will enjoy friendly conversations with each other in a conversation room or in nature. These different types of conversation are balanced with the discipline of fostering a general atmosphere of silence in the monastery. Trappists find the silence helps them to practice continual prayer. But, strictly speaking – no, we do not explicitly vow to be silent on the day we make our profession of vows.
1938 also saw still yet the awareness of another Catholic by the name of Gerald Manley Hopkins (click here). Hopkins wrote a book about his conversion to Catholicism. This was at the same time Thomas Merton applied and was accepted to Columbia for his PhD. He moved to Greenwich Village and became a member of a church. Over the next few years he would take communion and be confirmed in his Roman Catholic Faith.
Let's put some of this into context. Thomas Merton was not a saintly man during his years at Columbia. He was a regular guy working in a field of study that attracted him.
In need of employment after graduation he was hired as an English teacher at St. Bonaventure. He wanted to work at St. Bonaventure because in the back of his mind he wanted to be a friar. He took a room on campus and gave up smoking, drinking and other self-satisfying activities. He tried on a couple of attempts at joining a holy order and in 1941 he attended a retreat to the Trappist Monastery in Gethsemani, Kentucky. By December of 1941 he joined the monastery and began washing floors and other menial labor required by early applicants.
This was 1941. The USA was entering WWII. There is one report that states joining the monastery gave Thomas Merton a pass on being drafted, too. Just sayin'.
In June of 1938 Merton would be invited by his friend Seymour Freedgood to attend a meeting with Mahanambrata Brahmachari, a Hindu Monk. Merton was very interested in the Monk's spiritual contentment and thought him profound. Merton sought advise from Brahmachari and the advise was not what Merton expected. Brahmachari stated for Merton and his friend to find their own religious roots and traditions. The monk also recommended they read, "The Confessions of Saint Augustine." (click here) Book I (click here) Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and Thy wisdom infinite. And Thee would man praise; man, but a particle of Thy creation; man, that bears about him his mortality, the witness of his sin, the witness that Thou resistest the proud: yet would man praise Thee; he, but a particle of Thy creation. Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee. Grant me, Lord, to know and understand which is first, to call on Thee or to praise Thee? and, again, to know Thee or to call on Thee? for who can call on Thee, not knowing Thee? for he that knoweth Thee not, may call on Thee as other than Thou art. Or, is it rather, that we call on Thee that we may know Thee? but how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? or how shall they believe without a preacher? and they that seek the Lord shall praise Him: for they that seek shall find Him, and they that find shall praise Him. I will seek Thee, Lord, by calling on Thee; and will call on Thee, believing in Thee; for to us hast Thou been preached. My faith, Lord, shall call on Thee, which Thou hast given me, wherewith Thou hast inspired me, through the Incarnation of Thy Son, through the ministry of the Preacher....
Lecture I asks, How can a philosophy be Christian? Philosophy, qua philosophy, depends on proper method in the use of reason in light of self-evident principles. If a philosophy accords with Christianity, it seems it must do so because of its apparent truth independent of Christian considerations. The Augustinian challenge is presented: such a philosophy must lack intrinsic Christian character. If it is supposed to be true because it is Christian, then it ceases to be philosophy, properly speaking.... Etienne Gilson brings history and philosophy together in his book, "The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy."
...After graduation he stayed on for a master's degree in English literature (becoming much interested in William Blake), and in 1938 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, culminating months of study of Catholic writers. Among these the philosopher Jacques Maritain was especially influential. He initially planned on a career as a writer, perhaps after a doctoral degree at Columbia, but slowly began considering a vocation in the priesthood. After various struggles, teaching at St. Bonaventure's University, and fear of being drafted, in April of 1941 he made a retreat at the Trappist Monastery in Gethsemani, Kentucky, and in December of 1941 joined the community there, entering what he expected to be a great world of silence....
...Jacques Maritain is a paradigmatic Catholic philosopher, (click here) providing a
model of the way in which religious belief and various cultural,
intellectual and political concerns can be interwoven. Maritain
responded with enthusiasm to the Church's recommendation of St. Thomas
Aquinas to the faithful as their master in theology and philosophy. His
writings exhibit how his mind was permeated by the thought of the
...Maritain's philosophical work with the publication of books on Thomas Aquinas (1930), on religion and culture (1930), on Christian philosophy (1933), on Descartes (1932), on the philosophy of science and epistemology (Distinguer pour unir ou les degrés du savoir, 1932; 8th ed., 1963) and, perhaps most importantly, on political philosophy. Beginning in 1936, he produced a number of texts, including Humanisme intégral (1936), De la justice politique (1940), Les droits de l'homme et la loi naturelle (1942), Christianisme et démocratie (1943), Principes d'une politique humaniste (1944), La personne et le bien commun (1947), Man and the State (written in 1949, but published in 1951), and the posthumously published La loi naturelle ou loi non-écrite (lectures delivered in August 1950)....
In The Degrees of Knowledge, (click here) Jacques Maritain provides a
panorama of human intellectual activity, first distinguishing
philosophy of nature and experimental science, making clear the
distinctiveness of metaphysics, writing with authority of the mystical
life as different from all of the above, and, in the very course of
making these distinctions, showing how they are hierarchically related
and united. It is a magnificent and sapiential achievement. It has
rightly been called Maritain's Summa.
The Degrees of Knowledge better than any other single work of
Maritain, displays the comprehensiveness and range of his interests.
Its author takes his inspiration from Thomas Aquinas, reargues his
basic positions in the light of the problems posed for them in the
twentieth century, and ends by writing a profoundly original work.
...Blake’s first printed work, Poetical Sketches (1783), is a collection of apprentice verse, mostly imitating classical models. The poems protest against war, tyranny, and King George III’s treatment of the American colonies. He published his most popular collection, Songs of Innocence, in 1789 and followed it, in 1794, with Songs of Experience. Some readers interpret Songs of Innocence in a straightforward fashion, considering it primarily a children’s book, but others have found hints at parody or critique in its seemingly naive and simple lyrics. Both books of Songs were printed in an illustrated format reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts. The text and illustrations were printed from copper plates, and each picture was finished by hand in watercolors....
Thomas Merton (click here) was born in the village of Prades, Pyrénées-Orientales in southern France in 1915 when the
major European powers were confronting one another on the battlefields
of a war that would alter the course of the 20th Century. Both parents
were artists. Owen Merton, a native of New Zealand, painted landscapes;
Ruth (Jenkins) Merton, also a painter, was an American Quaker from
Douglaston, New York.
1916, with no end in sight to the chaos and carnage of The Great War,
the Mertons decided to move to he United States where a second child,
John Paul, was born. The family remained in Douglaston for five years,
until Ruth’s death in 1921 when Merton was barely six years old.
Over the next 15
years, Merton lived a haphazard, nomadic existence. He spent two years
in Bermuda, then returned to the home of his maternal grandparents in
Douglaston; two years later, in 1925, he was off again with his father,
this time to France, living four years in the village of Montauban; then
in 1929 he moved to England where, in 1931, his father died. Thomas
remained living in Rutland and after completing his prep school studies
in Oakham in 1933, won a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge. But a
year later, in December of 1934, Thomas’ godfather and guardian, Tom
Bennett, ordered him to return to the United States and remain there....
The early 1900s or 20th Century was a time unrest and change. There was the sufferagette movement in Great Britain, the first plastics were invented, Robert Peary was the first to reach the North Pole, the NAACP was founded, Finland gave women the right to vote, Kellogg's start selling corn flakes, Einstein proposes his theory of relativity, the first USA movie theater opens and much more. The Mertons lived in post civil war America after immigrating from Europe while WWI was promising to make life difficult.
I was completely orphaned by the age of sixteen with only one sibling to call a family. He would be ordered to the USA by grandparents who insisted he attend Columbia University in New York. From that time forward the accounting of his life is similar by most accounts.
…25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.27"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.…
It is about conversion to Christianity. And these few sentences shows how in today's society the words are symbolic and almost poetic in creating an understanding of what occurs when a person converts to a Christian faith.
It is very wrong in the year 2015 to take biblical language and writings only at face value. That is not the case and it hasn't been for a long time. I refer to the idea of Revelations and the "End Times." Revelations is a dream and is nothing but symbolism. When symbolism is event there can be many different interpretations, hence, the multitudes of types of Christianity.
These three sentences from the Book of Ezekiel is from the old testament. That means these words are before the birth of Christ.
Establishment media is absolute poison to the American people. Is there any reason their future is limited? Oh, one other thing. No one listens to the "Leon Panetta" propaganda anymore. "Clear and Present Danger?" That's a movie. Kasich was hideous. He completely dismissed NY Police Commissioner Bratton and stated, "Americans like to own guns." Yeah, especially on the "Terror Watch List," right? I was left wondering if the FOX 5000 militia were actually on the Terror Watch List and that is why Kasich dismissed it? Now, that would be a question I'd like to hear the answer to. It doesn't matter of the brother of a Paris attacker states he was not radicalize. Good for him. His brother is a murderer. November 17, 2015
Mohamad Abdelam is the brother (click here) of two of the terrorists that attacked Paris Friday night. They hail from Molenbeek, an impoverished immigrant district in Brussels known to be a jihadi hotbed. One of Mohamed's brothers, Ibrahim, blew himself up outside of the cafe Comptoir Voltaire near the Bataclan concert hall. The other, Salah, is now on the run after making it back across the Belgian border and is currently one of the world's most wanted terrorists. Mohamed was held and questioned by French police, but later released after it was determined he played no role in the attacks. However, a bit of interesting information was released about the man. An ex-mayor of Molenbeek said up until the time Mohamed was arrested, he worked for the district's immigration department. In light of the current mass refugee influx in Europe suspected to be ushering in scores of ISIS militants, this is a most remarkable detail.... Oh, the almighty political poll shows less than half the country approves of President Obama's strategy of Daesh. Gee. Could it be no one understand it? I am sure FOX rather fear monger than report the OVERWHELMING fact there are people like Police Commissioner that actually know where the USA infrastructure is weak enough to allow criminals to slip through. What has happened to that? It is more important to imagineer a war with BOOTS ON THE GROUUUUUUUUND. I have a question. If the political right wing is so scared of their own shadow that they are a threat to the USA government with their militias (FACT - USA rangers that had to end their removal of cows from federal land because it would turn into a blood bath.) who thinks for one minute they will NOT "Stand their ground" but, stand down and realize the USA military is worth more than their deaths on a battle field with a forever war?
When you come home, President Obama, you'll find an establishment media on tangents to war with little to know accurate information. As a matter of fact much of it is myth. The myth first. This is an example. Harry K. Smith had a Muslim leader of Dearborn, Michigan in an interview. I will preface this by stating my entire maternal family with rare occasion lived in Dearborn or Dearborn Heights and worked for the automobile industry. I can tell you the names of the streets they lived on Jackson, Polk, Mayfair, Gertrude and the list goes on. In the interview by Smith he went along with the dialogue of the Dearborn Muslim leader. The Muslim leader was attempting to build up an image of Michigan Muslims that they were within the dynamics of the auto industry in the 20th century. That is not fact. No one is saying Muslims do not belong in the USA or in Dearborn. As a matter of fact Hamtramck, Michigan has just elected a majority of Muslims to their city council. So, they obviously belong in the USA. I find it odd their population density are congregated in specific communities rather than a more scattered and random pattern across the country, however, immigrants have had the same path including the Irish, the Polish, the Italians and every other ethnic that finds themselves flourishing in the USA. They have a dense community of ethnicity and it was subsequent generations that have become more scattered with education and work opportunities.
Why bring it up? Because Smith is establishment media and they don't do research before they allow propaganda on their air waves. Besides it goes beyond that. Additionally, no community leader should be willing to participate in propaganda when in the long run it acts to force Americans into a defensive position and into extreme politics. Why? Because the people know the truth, no different than me, and they know the media is wrong and quite likely lying for their own purposes. So, be it Muslim holy man or community leader the truth is the only valid route to pursue. I don't care if the Muslim leadership of Dearborn is trying to protect their citizens from harm by building up a faux imagine of American history for their community. That falsehood no matter how it may seem benign is extremely harmful to their people and the political landscape of the USA. The American media is carrying out a tribal dance to war. The leadership of communities such as New York City KNOW where attention has to be directed to bring about a greater safety to Americans. We don't need the propaganda about going to war when it is the most stupid thing we can do. We need to be able to have THE IMPORTANT MESSAGES of people like Police Commissioner Bratton saturate the airwaves to write their Congresspersons to instill changes in government that actually protects citizens instead of FURTHER TERRIFYING them. And further terrifying Americans seems to be the agenda of the American media today. WE ARE NOT GOING TO WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST AGAIN. Now, about Daesh. Daesh never existed until the Bush war in Iraq. Got that? DEASH NEVER EXISTED UNTIL THE BUSH WAR IN IRAQ. Daesh is not a valid from of religion. Got that? Daesh is not a valid from of religion. It did not exist before the Bush war into Iraq. Daesh is using coercion of young people and those suffering from poorer economic conditions in their own countries to treason their citizenships into Syria or otherwise. Daesh are not Sunni Muslims. They HAVE NO VALID FORM OF RELIGION. Sunni and Shia designate a split in the hierarchy of the Muslim religion and weather or not recognizing maternal heritage to Mohammad is valid in the practice of the Muslim faith.
Daesh IS a society of violent Islamists that prescribe to Sharia Law.
They are not religious in origin. Therefore, where is their origin?
Their origins are from the exiled Ba'athists of the Saddam regime when the illegal and immoral war of "W" administration of the USA was carried out.
Daesh uses drugs to maintain the loyalty of those lied to in order to build an army. That is not within the faith. Daesh are soulless people on the run from places like the World Courts for the human atrocities they carried out. Daesh leadership are on the run from prosecution by nearly every religion and humane government in the world. Their army is not about salvation UNLESS the individual involved is a Ba'athist that finds salvation on Earth surrounded by fools willing to fight a war based in lies.
FIGHTING A WAR BASED IN LIES sounds so familiar to me and it isn't in relation to Daesh. I wonder why? The USA is not going to fight another war where the largest number of causalities are innocent people and far out number the deaths and injuries of American soldiers that fight illegal and immoral wars.
Daesh are criminals. They are not holy men and support their KILLING by a drug economy. That sounds familiar, too. Afghanistan is hooked on drugs. And American soldiers are expected to fight a war with people that run some of the worst drug routes and economies in the war. NO!
The USA has been in Afghanistan for 14 years this past October and the opium economy is stronger than the day the USA came hunting for Osama bin Laden.
President Obama as of today, Jack Jacobs and Marco Rubio finally get it. Both as of today have stated, the USA no longer sends in numbers of soldiers to support a high profile war with large numbers of people dead (as if they are as much the problem). They both stated, the type of intervention most effective in the world today are missions by special operation forces to carry out damaging and/or rescue missions.
That was amazing to hear. Jack Jacobs and Marco Rubio were FINALLY able to hear the truth and the way forward above the propaganda of FOX and the establishment media. Amazing. It was two of the most special moments in my life. They heard and validated the strategy of President Obama. President Obama tried in a valiant effort to carry out the dreamscape of John McCain. I congratulate President Obama on that reach across the aisle to pursue a strategy to build a government and military that would bring some kind of peace to the Syria people facilitating their return to their homeland. It didn't work because the vetting process could not find enough people to even put together a small special operations unit of Syrian citizens. The idea the USA will allow the movement of small arms into Syria is outrageous in the face of this reality. The coalition being built through the resolutions and efforts of the United Nations is a long needed idea. I realize the Russian Communists may see the reality differently, but, I think even the most dedicated and loyal person in Russia are beginning to see the path forward to end terror attacks on even Russian infrastructure. We all hope with our greatest concern this civil war in Syria will end soon after Deash has been defeated. This is a great time for the world. The global community has recognized how valuable stable and humane governments and governance are to their people. The global community finally realizes there are common grounds among the people of their countries and those of others. It is a great time for diplomacy and the rewards that a unified will to defeat the international criminals of Daesh will be progress toward a safer and more peaceful world.