The Letters of Thomas Merton and Victor and Carolyn Hammer: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

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Brenda Gaydosh


“A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live.” This inspiration comes from and describes well Thomas Merton—prolific writer, Trappist monk, and mystic. Born in France in 1915, Thomas Merton traveled through Europe with his father and lived in New York State with family for short periods. Merton began his spiritual pursuits as a young man, and in the late 1930s he experienced a strong desire to follow a Catholic path toward priesthood. In 1942 the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (commonly known as Trappists) accepted him as a novice at its monastery in Kentucky. He was ordained “Father Louis” in 1949. Most readers perhaps know Merton from his bestselling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, published in 1948. During his relatively short life (1915–1968), Merton published over thirty books and, since his death in 1968, editors have published just as many more Merton works. His books fall into a variety of categories including autobiographies, meditations, religious life, biblical commentaries, social issues, poetry, letters, and other topics.

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