Thomas Merton on Advent

Remembering ....

Forty four years ago on December 10, 1968 Thomas Merton died at the age of 43 of an accidental electric shock from a faulty electric fan in his cottage at the Red Cross Conference Center in Samut Prakan, Thailand. Merton had presented a paper at a conference of monastics that morning.

 Thomas Merton Jan 31st 1915- December 10th 1968

The quote on the card is particularly relevant to Advent and reads

"Time is not given to us to keep a faith we once had
but to acquire a faith we need now "

Into this world,
this demented inn,
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ has come uninvited. 

But because he cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it,
and yet he must be in it,
his place is with those others for whom there is no room.

His place is with those who do not belong,

who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak,

those who are discredited,

who are denied the status of persons,



With those for whom there is no room,

Christ is present in this world.

Thomas Merton (from Raids on the Unspeakable)

“But Love laughs at the end of the world because Love is the door to eternity. He who loves is playing on the doorstep of eternity…”

Thomas Merton.  The Intimate Merton.

Image source

Click here for my post last year on Merton's Advent thoughts : Advent Hope or Delusion.

In despair Advent offers HOPE – the hope of a revitalised faith and church, the hope of respect and love for God's creation that is complete in the hope that Christ brings.

  In the presence of war and death, Advent offers PEACE – and yet a peace beyond our understanding, but a peace that is so much more than the absence of conflict, in the awesome peace of Christ. 

 In prejudice and hate, Advent offers LOVE – the perfect love of God in surrender, a way to love one another, a yearning to love His church. 

 In sadness, discouragement and loneliness, Advent offers JOY – the joy of salvation, the joy of new life, the joy of earth as it is in heaven.

In a 2008 NCR article titled The Lifelong Advent of Thomas Merton by John Dear S.J. says :

"I regard Merton an Advent person. Indeed, he is forever marked as one by the calendar of sacred events of his life. He entered the monastery on Dec. 10, 1941, in the heart of Advent, and died twenty seven years later to the day. And the intervening years, they were one long season of Advent.

He constantly awaited the coming of Christ, pointed to Christ like John the Baptist, and practiced peace, patience, wisdom and hope. And he urged us to do likewise. His letters, like all his teachings, prod us to wake up, look to Christ, practice the Advent disciplines of peace, hope and nonviolence, and do what we can to welcome the coming of Christ and his gift of peace on earth."

Click here for the full article and some excerpts John Dear has taken from Merton's letters for Advent meditation.

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