Bridges to Contemplative Living: Lent & Holy Week
The Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton series enjoys widespread popularity among parish-based small groups, religious communities, and contemplative retreat centers. The series has also been warmly accepted among members of ecumenical traditions. "Lent and Holy Week" opens the...
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The Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton series enjoys widespread popularity among parish-based small groups, religious communities, and contemplative retreat centers. The series has also been warmly accepted among members of ecumenical traditions. "Lent and Holy Week" opens the writings of Thomas Merton in easily digestible pieces and eloquently pairs them with the words of other great spiritual thinkers. Designed for use in new or existing small groups between Ash Wednesday and Easter, this booklet offers readers an accessible introduction to contemplative dialogue and is built around eight compelling Lenten themes.
Born in France, Thomas Merton was the son of an American artist and poet and her New Zealander husband, a painter. Merton lost both parents before he had finished high school, and his younger brother was killed in World War II. Something of the ephemeral character of human endeavor marked all his works, deepening the pathos of his writings and drawing him close to Eastern, especially Buddhist, forms of monasticism. After an initial education in the United States, France, and England, he entered Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, where he remained until a short time before his death.
His working life was spent as a Trappist monk. At Gethsemani, he wrote his famous autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948); there he labored and prayed through the days and years of a constant regimen that began with daily prayer at 2:00 a.m. As his contemplative life developed, he still maintained contact with the outside world, his many books and articles increasing steadily as the years went by. Reading them, it is hard to think of him as only a "guilty bystander," to use the title of one of his many collections of essays. He was vehement in his opposition to the Vietnam War, to the nuclear arms race, to racial oppression. Having received permission to leave his monastery, he went on a journey to confer with mystics of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He was accidentally electrocuted in a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 10, 1968.