VISIT TO THOMAS MERTON'S GRAVESITE
I went to visit Thomas Mertons' grave today.
I drove to New Haven (Ky), east on highway 52, and north on highway
247. The only signs indicating the monastery was near were a few road
signs with only the word "Trappist" on them.
The first indication that the monastery was near was a cross on the
knob of a hill. Seeing the cross brought awe, a sense of excitement,
that I was finally at the place I have wanted to visit for many years.
Just a cross on a hillside
to point the way. And, in reality how appropriate: a cross on a hillside.
That was how Jesus left his mark: A CROSS!
sign greets visitors to the monastery. I have great admiration for
Thomas Merton. His works as a poet and a monk have had great influence
on my own life. I have loved his poems. Some remind me of my own poems.
Perhaps I have copied his style. I tell about my early days as a poet
in my story about San Francisco. It was
during this time that I first heard of Merton.
But, his journals
have meant the most. I have read and reread them. As one of my professors,
Glenn Hinson, said of Merton, "He speaks to my condition."
Approaching the monastery, I realize that I am being transported in
time to a place that I have been many times in my mind. And, I say
a prayer, "Thanks Lord for the life of Thomas Merton."
E-mail Dan Kenneth
This sign has been around a long time. It tells of the founding of
the Abbey of Gethsemane at this location in 1848.
For some strange reason, writers love monasteries. Robert Louis Stevenson
and William "Least Heat" Moon were just a few of the writers who made
stopovers at monasteries. This is the front view of the monastery.
This is a larger view of the monastery .
Brother Rafael greeted us at the monastery. He was in charge of the
busy busy telephones. He took us to one of the nearby rooms and left
us viewing a video of the monastery while he continued answering phones.
He was a gracious host. The art production on the wall behind Brother
Wayne Burns and Brother Raphael was done by Jim Cantrell, the owner
of the Bardstown Art Gallery. It is excellent work!
Merton is here pictured while at Gethsemane. This was also
done by Jim Cantrell.
Merton is buried at Gethsemane. He died tragically while in
This statue is on top of a hill south of the monastery. Outdoor chairs
surround the statue, making it easy to pray and meditate.
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF THOMAS MERTON
A monk and a prominent writer, Thomas Merton, b. Prades, France, Jan.
31, 1915, d. Dec. 10, 1968, became one of the most famous American
Roman Catholics of the 20th century. As a young man Merton traveled
with his artist parents (his father was a New Zealander, his mother
an American) in France and studied briefly at Cambridge University,
England, before he went to the United States and earned (1939) a master's
degree from Columbia University. During those years he gradually changed
from an agnostic to a devout Roman Catholic.
After teaching English
for a while and working in a Harlem settlement house, Merton decided
(1941) to become a monk, choosing the Trappist order for its discipline
of silence and solitude. Within the monastery he served for years
as master of students and novices. Outside it, his writing, which
included poetry, meditations, and works of social criticism, brought
him prominence in American letters.
His autobiography, The
Seven Storey Mountain (1948), became a bestseller. Merton's social
criticisms burned deeply into public awareness of racism, economic
injustice, and militarism.
Seeing parallels between
Oriental mysticism and Western tradition, Merton gained permission
to attend an ecumenical conference of Buddhist and Christian monks
held in Bangkok, Thailand. While attending that meeting, he was accidentally
TO JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL THOMAS MERTON SOCIETY
Goals of the International
Thomas Merton Society
- to encourage research,
study and reading of the works of Thomas Merton
- to promote the writing
of both scholarly and popular books and articles about him
- to assist members to
explore the unique spiritual journey of Thomas Merton through shared
- to promote recognition
of Thomas Merton as a spiritual theologian, a social critic, a catalyst
for interreligious dialogue, as an important American literary figure
- to promote communication
among members through biennial general meetings, special meetings,
and various publications
Dues $20 per year
Dues may be forwarded
to & inquiries about the Society addressed to:
2001 Newburg Road
Lousiville, KY 40205-0671
OF THOMAS MERTON
"The things I thought were so important -- because of the effort
I put into them -- have turned out to be of small value. And the
things I never thought about, the things I was never able to either
to measure or to expect, were the things that mattered."
Trappists is the popular
name for members of the Roman Catholic order of CISTERCIANS of
the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O. or O.C.R.), which traces its beginnings
back to the reforms introduced (1664) by Armand Jean le Bouthillier
de Rance (1626-1700) at the monastery of La Trappe near Seez,
France. He stressed the penitential aspect of monasticism--little
food, no meat, hard manual labor, and strict silence. Eventually
these measures were adopted by other Cistercian monasteries. Expelled
from France during the French Revolution, the La Trappe community
survived as exiles under Dom Augustine de Lestrange. They returned
to La Trappe in 1815.
In the mid-20th century
the Trappists increased in membership, particularly in the United
States. One influential member was the writer Thomas MERTON. The
Trappist monks and nuns, who wear a white habit with black scapular,
now have about 70 abbeys worldwide. (Cyprian Davis, O.S.B.)
There are few Merton books at the Abbey of Gethsemane. To buy
his books one needs to go to Bardstown. Most, if not all, Merton
books are available at the Bardstown Art Gallery. The Bardstown
Art Gallery is a beautiful place. It is run by the Jim and Jeannette
Cantrell. They have done beautiful art work of Thomas Merton,
as well as Thomas Kelly, now the abbot at Gethsemane.
To order here is the
address and phone number. You can also order
online for the Bardstown Art Gallery. This is a list of the
Merton books that are available at the Gallery.
BARDSTOWN ART GALLERY
Jeannette Cantrell, Director
P.O. Box 417
Bardstown, Kentucky 40004
Send any comments, or suggestions, about The Abbey via E-mail
to Dan Phillips.
While searching for the bookstore, we got captured by an advertisement
for the most "famous hat in America." Even the monks would appreciate
a hat like this. As you can see the Rooster Run Hat
can be bought at one of the stores in Bardstown.
Here are two happy Rooster Run customers. On the left is the Right
Reverend Wayne Burns, a famous preacher from Alabama. On the right
is the author, "Rooster Run Phillips." I admit I now wear the
hat everywhere. People always comment. It maybe the hat I was
looking for earlier in the Nevada
Send any comments about
The Hat or The Merton Site via E-mail to Dan
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION WORKSHOPS
This is a list of workshops led by Rev. Dan Kenneth Phillips including information on Thomas Merton and How to Develop A Spiritual Journal. The following are a few of the comments on the workshop.
- I received a much deeper appreciation for solitude. Gloria Adams
- Enjoyed journaling exercise using scripture
- "I liked being with the group- we were from all over, yet we shared the desire to come together, to pray, to laugh, to share --we became a community of Christians, with our focus on listening to God and drawing nearer to him." Kathi Latta, Owensboro, KY
- "I feel rejuvenated. I would like to hear more, I like your handouts to help us as we relive these two days and to broaden our spiritual journey. " Margarent Ann Moore, Nashville, TN.
- "Dan-Great Job. Your knowledge is inspirational ! Thanks." Lynn Robinson, Nashville,TN.
- "I love being here. I was not expecting to meet Thomas Merton in such a human loving way as presented by Rev. Phillips." Theresa DeLoria, Hermitage,Tn.
- What I learned has made me very eager to learn/read more of Merton's writings. 'Firewatch' was inspiring and helped me discover my own spiritual journey." Fran Smolen, Bowling Green, Ky.
- "You have a great treasure of knowledge and understanding of this very complex person and presented it well." Pat Wilson, Concord, Ky.
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