July 15, 2021
As participating readers of his powerful gift for spiritual direction, even in absentia and posthumously present, already know from their experience of his writings, the most significant forces in Thomas Merton’s own spiritual formation came from his reading and pursuing of intersections and convergences with those whose influence shaped his ever-organic selfhood and its transcendence. In many ways profound and providential resonances, his “double image,” Denise Levertov, like Merton, creates poetry which serves as spiritual direction. Their friendship creates a pas de deux for those inclined to join in “the general dance” of the Spirit in the cosmos.
Lynn R. Szabo is a devoted scholar of the poet, mystic, and political activist Thomas Merton. She is the editor of the first comprehensive selection of his poetry, In the Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton (New Directions, 2005), and is Professor Emerita of English Literature, Trinity Western University, near Vancouver. In her retirement, Lynn serves as a spiritual director, a mentor to writers and young professors, and a facilitator of study groups for the National Council of Jewish Women. Her decades of studying poetry, especially Merton’s, are one of the pleasures not interrupted by her more recent life as a wheelchair navigator!
June 11, 2021
Clement of Alexandria, in his Protreptikos (Greek for “persuasion”), defined the Church as “an army that sheds no blood.” This phrase struck Thomas Merton with special force. It greatly distressed him that so many of his Christian contemporaries were advocates of war and even saw nuclear weapons as enjoying God’s blessing. This session will discuss Merton’s engagement in peacemaking and his close ties with Dorothy Day and others who were at war with war.
Jim Forest has spent a lifetime in the cause of peace and reconciliation. Among his personal acquaintances were some of the great peacemakers of our time, including Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan, Henri Nouwen, and Thich Nhat Hanh. He worked with Dorothy Day at the Catholic Worker in New York and then went on to play a key role in mobilizing religious protest against the Vietnam War and served a year in prison for his role in destroying draft records in Milwaukee. He is the author of over a dozen books on spirituality and peacemaking, including The Root of War is Fear: Thomas Merton's Advice to Peacemakers.
May 17, 2021
||Merton Was in Love With Wales — its poetry, its Celtic sensibility, its ravishing beauty and rich history. Although he came to the art of David Jones rather late in his life, he understood implicitly what Jones was doing as a visionary. There are some striking things that they were doing in parallel unaware of each other, probing the past, resurrecting forgotten cultural memories, attending to the power of ritual and sacrament, aching for unity and harmony. This session will explore some of these creative and spiritual convergences.
Dr. Michael W. Higgins is a university president, biographer, journalist, scholar, and media commentator. His book on Cardinal Newman will appear in the Spring of 2021 and his book on Pope Francis in 2023. Past publications on Merton include: Heretic Blood: The Spiritual Geography of Thomas Merton; Faithful Visionary; The Unquiet Monk; and Thomas Merton: Pilgrim in Process (ed).
April 15, 2021
Every wisdom tradition describes in its own way a cloud of unknowing that veils the utterly ineffable source and force coursing through this universe as its very life. With paradoxical lucidity on matters of darkness and unknowing, Thomas Merton shared his experience of being "overshadowed" by the Cloud of enveloping Mystery. His desire to live into its Presence has become a well-scripted legacy of post-modern spiritual emergence, written in an idiom that continues to speak cogently to the spiritual pilgrims of the second millennium. This session explores Merton's "familiarity" with the anonymous 14th century master of The Cloud, and his own transmission of its still emerging wisdom.
Dr. Kathleen Noone Deignan of the Congregation of Notre Dame is founding director of the Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, where she was Professor of Religious Studies for 40 years while guiding The Merton Contemplative Initiative and co-convening The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue. Past President of the International Thomas Merton Society, she is a regular presenter at its meetings. Her book-length publications include When the Trees Say Nothing: Thomas Merton’s Writings on Nature and Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours, including an audio-book that includes her sacred songs and psalmody.
April 7, 2021
This is a Tuesdays with Merton bonus episode from the archives of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. It was recorded at the 16th General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society at Santa Clara University in California, June 28, 2019.
Robert Ellsberg is the Publisher of Orbis Books and the author, most recently, of Blessed Among All Women: Women Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time. His other award-winning books include: A Living Gospel: Reading God’s Story in Holy Lives; Blessed Among Us: Saintly Lives for Every Day; All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; and The Saints’ Guide to Happiness. He served as managing editor of The Catholic Worker for two years during the last years of Dorothy Day, and he has dedicated himself to editing her work and promoting her mission. He has edited Dorothy Day: Selected Writings, The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, and All the Way to Heaven: Selected Letters of Dorothy Day. He has edited anthologies of Thich Nhat Hanh, Gandhi, Flannery O’Connor, Charles de Foucauld, and Pope Francis. For the past four years he has written a daily entry on saints for Give Us This Day.
March 10, 2021
Catholic Engagement with the Black Lives Matter movement has been hesitant, at best. At worst, Catholic leaders deride it with virulent opposition and denigration. As the Movement for Black Lives claims Malcolm X as one of their inspirations, this presentation will examine Merton's engagement with Malcolm X and radical Black thought to suggest how Catholics should engage the contemporary movement for racial justice.
Bryan N. Massingale holds the James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics at Fordham University. A priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, he is a leader in Catholic theology and ethics as the current President-Elect of the Society of Christian Ethics, a past Convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. He is the author of the award-winning book Racial Justice and the Catholic Church and a public intellectual who frequently addresses issues of racial and sexual justice.
March 4, 2021
Anne Pearson is a Junior at Bellarmine University majoring in clinical psychology and political science and minoring in criminal justice studies. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking and engaging in bipartisan discussion with industry executives through the National Millennial Community.
She presented “Thomas Merton, Black Lives Matter, and White Passivity” for Bellarmine University’s third annual TEDx event “What in the World?” on February 6, 2021. The video of the entire event is available at: www.bellarmine.edu/TEDx.
February 21, 2021
During these turbulent, uncertain times of pandemics – corona virus, racism, unbridled individualism – and, thankfully, of moral reckoning, Thomas Merton offers a welcome and much needed message of hope. He reminds us that we are “created for JOY.” In this presentation, we will consider how Merton experienced and envisioned joy, particularly the joy of being human and the joy of friendship. For Merton, joy is both promise and vocation. How, then inspired by Merton, might we learn to delight in the “immense joy” of being human and “together . . . travel our own road to joy”?
Christine M. Bochen, professor emerita of religious studies at Nazareth College, Rochester, New York and a founding member and past president of the International Thomas Merton Society, has taught courses, given retreats, and spoken on Merton in a variety of venues in the United States, Canada, and abroad. Christine is co-author, with William H. Shannon and Patrick F. O’Connell, of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia; editor of Courage for Truth, Learning to Love, and Thomas Merton: Essential Writings; and co-editor, with William H. Shannon, of Cold War Letters and Thomas Merton: A Life in Letters.
January 22, 2021
This is a Tuesdays with Merton Bonus episode from the archives of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.
Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, is professor emerita of systematic theology at Boston College. It was the seventh annual Thomas Merton Center Black History Month Lecture, taped live February 26, 2013 at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
January 14, 2021
In our time together I will share aspects of Merton’s life and teachings that had a profound and lasting effect in my own life and in my attempts to pass on to others what Thomas Merton has passed on to me. These foundational aspects of Merton’s life and teachings include our own unfolding life with all its blessings and broken edges embodying the presence of God that protects us from nothing even as it unexplainably sustains us in all things, as well as Merton’s vision of the hidden wholeness where everything connects as realized in the contemplative depths of the world’s great religions and in all of life.
Dr. James Finley received spiritual guidance from Thomas Merton as a novice at the Abbey of Gethsemani. He is a contemplative teacher and writer and a retired clinical psychologist. He leads the weekly podcast “Turning to the Mystics” in his role as core teacher in the Living School for Action and Contemplation founded by Father Richard Rohr. James is the author of Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, The Contemplative Heart, and Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God.