The Thomas Merton Society
of Great Britain & Ireland

Since 1993, The Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain & Ireland has been at the forefront of exploring the life & writings of Merton and his impact on the contemporary world, with conferences, retreats and the publication of the Merton Journal.

Oakham Conference 2022  Call for Papers

on the theme 'Where is Our Hope?'

Our Residential Conference will be held at Oakham School from Thu 7th April to Sat 9th April 2022.

In his journal entry of April 15, 1965, Thomas Merton asks the question: ‘Where is our hope?’ He argues that if our hope is in a temporal and secular humanism of technological and political progress, we will be participating in the stupidity and barbarism of the despoiling of God's creation.

For Merton, ‘our hope must be in God.’ For us in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, this answer can all too easily be equated with Christian optimism.

But for the many people who live precarious lives, not even knowing where the next meal will come from, this question is meaningless - There is no hope in this world. The very structures and support that we in the affluent West take for granted are absent. The only hope can be in heaven, in the riches of the world to come, further embedding the view that they are never for the here and now.

If, for Merton, ‘the real root of Christian hope is the presence of the Risen Lord among us’ (Merton’s circular letter of Lent, 1967), how might this be worked out in our lives, in our communities, in our world?

Further details                              Proposal Form

Dates for your diary 

Thomas Merton's Epiphanies:

A Spiritual Journey in Three Acts

An on-line retreat led by Lay Trappist and author Carl McColman

Saturday, April 24,10:00 am PST - 12:00 pm and 2:00 - 4:00 pm PST

Thomas Merton is one of the towering figures of contemplative spirituality over the last century. This Trappist monk was a gifted writer and a brilliant interpreter of the Christian spiritual tradition, making the case for how contemplative spirituality remains relevant — and not just for monks and nuns. This day of reflection will focus on three key “epiphanies” or moments of profound spiritual encounter in Merton’s life — at a Catholic Mass in Cuba in 1940; on a busy urban street corner in 1958; and at a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple in 1968 (days before Merton’s untimely death at the age of 53). Each of these events offers a different window into the spirituality and mystical genius of Merton, and how his insights can inspire us today.

Booking details

‘Where we actually are is where we belong’:

Thomas Merton on the Ethos of Stability

A Webinar with James Cronin and Jim Forest

Saturday 15 May 2021, 10:30-12:00

This Zoom webinar is an extended reflection on the instruction from Merton’s essay ‘The Cell’ (1967): ‘where we actually are is where we belong.’ It will consist of three parts: the first part introduces Merton’s ethos of stability presented in his 1967 essay set against domestic political conflicts as a consequence of American involvement in the Vietnam War; the second part presents an incarcerated student’s response to Merton’s 1967 essay from the lived experience of his prison cell as a life prisoner; the third section invites Jim Forest to respond to Merton on the ethos of stability during his imprisonments for peace activism.

The webinar will be hosted by Anthony Purvis, and will start with a meditation led by Revd Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga Steele.

The essay, 'The Cell', is included in Contemplation in a World of Action

A PDF file of 'The Cell' may be downloaded here - used by permission of The Merton Legacy Trust.

James Cronin's essay, 'The Poetics of History', which references 'The Cell'

The Zoom access codes will be emailed to all Merton Society members a week before the event. If you are a non-member but would like to participate, please send an email to: webinar@thomasmertonsociety.org.uk

Thou Inward Stranger

17th General meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society
St Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana

June 24th-27th, 2021

“Thou inward Stranger / Whom I have never seen”

Thomas Merton, “Stranger” (The Strange Islands, 1957)

In the 1940s, Thomas Merton began the interior journey in search of God through the contemplative monastic life. In response to a question from a student at St. Mary’s College in 1948, Merton wrote What Is Contemplation? – first published by Saint Mary’s president Sr. Madeleva Wolff, a pioneer in women’s graduate theological education. In monastic life, Merton became a self-designated “stranger” to the values of contemporary society. He later discovered through his revelation in downtown Louisville that, though he should be alienated from oppressive systems,on the human level, “There are no strangers!” Merton the mystic transcends the seeming contradiction of retreat from the world and love of humanity. Just as in Louisville he found he could “not be alien” to all the people “shining like the sun,” he wrote that in his hermitage and among the trees, “here I am not alien.” 

 Further details

Coronavirus Pandemic

Although for many, self-isolation means a radical change in their circumstances, Merton saw that the frenetic pace of our modern society "isolates a man in the worst way, separates him from reality in a way that is almost painless." As he wrote in 'Solitude is not separation' in New Seeds of Contemplation, "The constant din of empty words and machine noises, the endless booming of loudspeakers end by making true communication and true communion almost impossible. Each individual in the mass is insulated by thick layers of insensibility." Self-isolation gives us all a chance to slow down, to take stock, to examine our motives and values, to rediscover our shared humanity amid all the pain and heartache of this crisis.

Complete text of 'Solitude is not Separation' - used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust

On-line resources for exploring the
life, work and legacy of Thomas Merton

Video clips:

The conclusion of Merton's final lecture delivered in Bangkok on the day he died
Where to begin with Thomas Merton? - A brief guide by Dan Horan OFM
Fr Mathew Kelty on Thomas Merton     Part 1     Part 2
Thomas Merton's Prayer - with a commentary by James Finley

Audio resources:

Recordings of Merton's lectures to his novices are available to download at Learn25. This company has taken over the distribution of the recordings previously issued by Nowyouknowmedia.com.

Encountering Silence has many podcasts available by such writers and teachers as Cynthia Bourgeault, Martin Laird, Richard Rohr, James Finley and Br Paul Quenon - the last two knew Merton personally. These talks offer insights into many of the themes explored by Merton including silence and contemplation.

Turning to the Mystics, a series of podcasts by James Finley which take us deep to the heart of Merton's insights on the true self.

Blogs: Many blogs post articles and features relating to Thomas Merton's work and legacy, including those by Fiona Gardner & Jim Forest.
(For any suggestions for blogs to be included here, email: website@thomasmertonsociety.org.uk)

The written word:

Merton wrote more than 50 books during his time as a Trappist monk, mostly on spirituality and social justice, along with many essays, reviews, volumes of poetry as well as extensive personal journals. A select bibliography

Links to related websites of interest:

Wikipedia article on Thomas Merton
The Thomas Merton Centre at Bellarmine University and The International Thomas Merton Society

Social Media

 The Society has a Twitter account with daily Merton quotes: @Thomas MertonGBI
The Thomas Merton Center in Louisville's Twitter account: @MertonCenter

         The Merton Collection


Over the years the Society has built up a comprehensive collection of books, journals and volumes of letters by Merton along with a wide range of critical commentaries on Merton's work as well as recordings of talks and conferences given by Merton. In recent years the collection has been housed at St Michael's Priory, Willen outside Milton Keynes. Following the Priory's closure in 2019, the collection has been moved to Turvey Abbey - though access at present to the collection is not possible.

         Details about the Collection         

Selected Recent Publications

TESTING


 

 Shaped by the End You Live For:
Thomas Merton's Monastic Spirituality

Bonnie Thurston
22 April 2020

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 

 Guard the Human Image
for it is the Image of God

eds. Gary Hall & Detlev Cuntz
1 August 2019

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       

We Are All Poets Here

Kathleen Tarr
27 January 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 

 Writing Staight with Crooked Lines:
A Memoir

Jim Forest
15 April 2020

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       
 

 Merton and Indigenous Wisdom

eds. J Montaldo & P Savastano
30 January 2020

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 

 Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century

John Loughery
1 April 2020

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       
 

Medieval Cistercian History: Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 9

Thomas Merton, ed. P O'Connell
8 May 2019

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 

Thomas Merton's Encounter with Buddhism and Beyond

Jaechan Anselmo Park
15 April 2019

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       
 

A Course in Desert Spirituality: 15 Sessions with the Famous Trappist Monk

Thomas Merton, ed. Jon Sweeney
15 April 2019

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 

Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton

Roger Lipsey pbk edition
20 Feb 2019

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       
 

Touched by God's Spirit - How Merton, Van Gogh, Vanier & Rembrandt influenced Henri Nouwen's heart of compassion

by Father Luke Penkett 28 March 2019

Publisher's Details       Amazon Link

 

On Thomas Merton

by Mary Gordon  18 Dec 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       

 Silence, Joy - A Selection of Writings
by Thomas Merton

by Christopher Wait, ed. - 22 November 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 The Significance of the Writing of
Thomas Merton - Cultivating peace

by Maryann Pasda Diedwardo
9 November 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       
 

 Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton's Dance with the Feminine

by Susan McCaslin & J S Porter - 12 Nov 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link


 The Waters of Siloe

by Thomas Merton - 15 October 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       
 

 Cistercian Fathers and Forefathers:
Essays and Conferences

by  Thomas Merton & Patrick O'Connell, ed. 
15 September 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 Spiritual Voices

by Eleanor Clitheroe & S Brooke Anderson, ed.
7 September 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       
 

 Thomas Merton - Evil and Why We Suffer: From Purified Soul Theodicy to Zen

by  David E. Orberson - 18 June 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 In Praise of a Useless Life: A Monk's Memoir

by Paul Quenon - 30 May 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       
 

 Where Prayer Flourishes
Orignally published as
The Climate of Monastic Prayer

by Thomas Merton - 31 May 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 

 Thomas Merton Meets the Unspeakable: Redezvous in Thailand

by Jerome Donovan - pub. 1 May 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

       
 

 What I Am Living For: Lessons for Life from the Life and Writings of Thomas Merton

by Jon M. Sweeney (editor) - pub. 30 April 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 

 The Monk's Record Player: Thomas Merton, Bob Dylan and the Perilous Summer of 1966

by  Robert Hudson - pub. 30 April 2018

Publisher's Details     Amazon Link

 

Our Centenary Edition of The Merton Journal, Universal Vision, is an enlarged volume of 200 pages with contributors from across Europe. It explores Merton's profound legacy in a unique collection of essays and meditations; and it also includes some of Merton's own newly-discovered student articles from his time at Cambridge University in 1933-34.  

All members receive copies of the Journal. Further copies are available for £8.99 +P&P. Contact centenary.edition@thomasmertonsociety.org.uk for further details.

Further recent publications can be found under the 'Publications' tab

 

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