The next 12 months are shaping up to be a momentous time in the Church. One of the events adding to the importance of 2015 will be the centenary of the birth of the famous mystic monk, Thomas Merton.
Merton was born on January 31, 2015, in France, near the borders with Spain. So though he lived most of his life in the United States and is known far and wide as an American, his legacy belongs to the world.
Merton was an intellectual, a restless seeker, an inveterate collector of friendships and prolific writer. It’s ironic, then, that he joined a Trappist monastery, one of the stricter cloistered communities of religious in the Catholic world. But he was a man of paradox, one who desperately needed the quiet and isolation of the monastery to feed his rich inner life.
The fruits of this inner life found expression in many books, essays, articles, poems and letters over the course of his life. His friendships were legion and included many of the most significant figures of Catholic life in the 20th century, including Dorothy Day and Jacques Maritain, among others. His life was made famous in the best-selling memoir, The Seven Storey Mountain, but his thought was spread far and wide through such other works as New Seeds of Contemplation.
To mark this occasion, Novalis has the privilege of publishing The Unquiet Monk: Thomas Merton’s Questing Faith. This 128-page volume is the work of Michael W. Higgins, one of the continent’s best-known Merton scholars. Higgins, himself a prolific author and journalist, delves insightfully into both the man and his work, providing a concise assessment of the influence Merton had not just on religious life, but also in many other areas of mid-20th-century history.
The book is available now, out in time for a host of events coming up in the next few months to celebrate and appraise Merton’s life and times. For those living in the Toronto area, Novalis will be hosting a special event, co-sponsored by the Paulist Fathers. On Jan. 31, at the Paulist Centre, 830 Bathurst St. N., we will hold an evening dinner and lecture by Dr. Higgins. You are most welcome to join us.
In the meantime, get your own copy of The Unquiet Monk. You will be amazed by this most fascinating of spiritual giants.