The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Happy birthday, Tom!

Good old Patrick McNamara remembered, and posted on the happy fact that today is Thomas Merton’s birthday:

Today marks the birth of Thomas Merton, who writes at the beginning of his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain:
“On the last day of January 1915, under the sign of the Water Bearer, in a year of a great war, and down in the shadow of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into the world.”


His original opening line was supposed to be this:

“When a man is conceived, when a human being comes into nature as an individual, concrete, subsisting thing, a life, a person, then Gods image is minted into the world. A free, vital, self-moving entity, a spirit informing flesh, a complex of energies ready to be set into fruitful motion begins to flame with potential light and understanding and virtue, begins to flame with love, without which no spirit can exist. It is ready to realize no one knows what grandeurs. The vital center of this new creation is a free and spiritual principle they call a soul. The soul is the life of this being, and the life of the soul is the love that unites it to the principle of all life—God. The body that here has been made will not live forever. When the soul, the life, leaves it, it will be dead…”

Check out McNamara’s Blog to find out what happened to that original opening.

Meantime, Happy 94th, Fr. Louis.

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Michael Hallman

posted January 31, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Happy 94th indeed!I’ve just posted one of his birthday journal entries over in my own blog, if anyone is interested. I love this man, so much.

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posted January 31, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I considered a reply to the posting above this one…the technofuture video…but I would rather add some thoughts here. I just finished reading “The Seven Storey Mountain”, and now I feel I have a much better context with which to begin a self-guided course of Merton’s writings. Could take a lifetime! Among many other astounding statements in the autobiography, I came across the following in the epilogue which I think beautifully and simply spells out the reason for our human existence… “This means, in practice, that there is only one vocation. Whether you each or live in the cloister or nurse the sick, whether you are in religion or out of it, married or single, no matter who you are or what you are, you are called to the summit of perfection: you are called to a deep interior life perhaps even to mystical prayer, and to pass the fruits of your contemplation on to others. And if you cannot do so by word, then by example.” I think this pretty much defines the diaconate for me.

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posted February 1, 2009 at 10:01 pm

The linked story is also included in the introduction of (I believe) the newest printing of the Seven Storey Mountain. It’s in the one I have, at least. Thanks for linking to McNamara’s blog–it’s very well-written and could use a lot more traffic.

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