What I Am Living For: Lessons from the Life and Writings of Thomas Merton

What I Am Living For: Lessons from the Life and Writings of Thomas Merton


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"If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for."Thomas Merton

Some of today's most popular spiritual writers—including Rev. James Martin, S.J.; Bishop Robert Barron; Robert Ellsberg; Rev. Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M.; and Kaya Oakes—explore the meaning of life and what we live for using Thomas Merton's life and writings as a guide.

In his address before the US Congress, Pope Francis praised Merton as one of four exemplary Americans. This was no surprise to the thousands who already know and appreciate the twentieth-century monk, but there were many listening that day who still have no idea who Merton is.

What I Am Living For offers readers new to Merton, as well as longtime enthusiasts, an opportunity to see how the influential twentieth-century monk and writer continues to encourage the awakening of faith in the twenty-first century.

The book is in two parts. Each contributor to part one focuses on an aspect of the spiritual life that is of vital importance today and on which Merton made a profound impact. These include:
  • Martin—Finding who God intends you to be
  • Ellsberg—The spiritual need for solitude and stability
  • Oakes—The importance of coming to terms with our sexuality, whether married, single, or celibate
  • Horan—The importance of dialogue with God, culture, society, and people of other faiths

Part two features shorter, often more personal reflections on the future of faith, the life and teachings of Merton, and what he still says to anyone who seeks a relationship with God.

Contributors include such well-known writers as Barron; Sue Monk Kidd; Pico Iyer; Paula Huston; Ilia Delio, O.F.M.;  Paul Quenon, O.C.S.O.; and Sylvia Boorstein.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594717413
Publisher: Ave Maria Press
Publication date: 03/16/2018
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 286,069
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Jon M. Sweeney is an independent scholar and one of religion’s most respected writers. His work has been hailed by everyone from PBS and James Martin, S.J., to Fox News and Dan Savage. He’s been interviewed on CBS Saturday Morning, Fox News, CBS-TV Chicago, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and on the popular program Chicago Tonight. Several of his books have become Book-of-the-Month Club and Quality Paperback Book Club selections. His popular medieval history, The Pope Who Quit, was published by Image/Random House and optioned by HBO. It was a selection of the History Book Club and received a starred review in Booklist. His book, When Saint Francis Saved the Church, received a 2015 award for excellence in history from the Catholic Press Association.His other works include The Enthusiast, The Complete Francis of Assisi, and The St. Francis Prayer Book. He was the editor of A Course in Christian Mysticism by Thomas Merton. Sweeney writes regularly for America and The Tablet, and is the publisher and editor-in-chief at Paraclete Press. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Rev. James Martin, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, author, and editor-at-large at America magazine.

Robert Ellsberg is the editor-in-chief and publisher of Orbis Books. He previously served as managing editor of The Catholic Worker.

Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M. is a Franciscan friar of Holy Name Province (New York) and is currently a Ph.D. student in systematic theology at Boston College. Fr. Dan studied at St. Bonaventure University where he earned a B.A. (Honors) degree in theology and journalism. He entered the Order of Friars Minor in 2005, made his first profession of vows in 2007 and was ordained a priest in 2012. During his studies as a friar, he earned an M.A. degree in systematic theology in 2010 and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree in 2012, both from the Washington Theological Union. Fr. Dan has previously taught in the department of religious studies at Siena College (2010-2011) and has been a visiting professor in the department of theology at St. Bonaventure University during summer sessions (2012, 2013). He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society.

The author of many scholarly and popular articles, Fr. Dan received a 2011 Catholic Press Association first-place award for his writing on spirituality. He is the author of several books, including Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis (2012) and Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith: Exploring Franciscan Spirituality and Theology in the Modern World (2012). In addition to his column in America, Fr. Dan is a regular contributor to Give Us This Day (Liturgical Press) and The Huffington Post. To learn more about his writing and speaking engagements, visit his website: DanHoran.com. He blogs at DatingGod.org and you can also find him on Facebook and Twitter (@DanHoranOFM)

Table of Contents

Chronology of Merton's Life and World Events (1915-1968) ix

Abbreviations xv

Part I Lessons from the Life and Teachings of Thomas Merton

1 Becoming Who We Are James Martin, S.J. 3

2 Meeting Thomas Merton for the First Time Mary Neill, O.P. 13

3 On Spiritual Exploration, Robert Ellsberg 29

4 How to Be a Friend Gregory K. Hillis 43

5 Our Expanded Religious and Spiritual Horizons Kevin Hunt, O.C.S.O. Sensei 57

6 What It Means to Be a Person of Dialogue Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M. 71

7 How We Understand Our Sexual Lives Kaya Oakes 89

Part II Life Lessons in the Light of Merton

1 On the Hundredth Anniversary of Thomas Merton's Birth Bishop Robert Barron 101

2 How Thomas Merton and the Music of Keith Jarrett Changed My Life Kevin Burns 105

3 Anatomy of a Conversion Paula Huston 111

4 Conversion in Morningside Heights Rabbi Phil Miller 119

5 Merton's Death as Seen from the Home Grounds Br. Paul Quenon, O.C.S.O. 125

6 The Restless, Furious, Quietly Abiding Friend of Us All Pico Iyer 133

7 Thomas Merton and the Realization of Us Sylvia Boorstein 139

8 Merton on the Spiritual Promise of Interreligious Dialogue Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown 143

9 The Dazzling Light Within Ilia Delio, O.S.F. 151

10 False Self, True Self: Finding the Real Me Sue Monk Kidd 159

11 Thomas Merton Is a Dangerous Fellow Timothy McCormick 165

12 Merton's Love Affair with the Unknown Fr. John-Julian, O.J.N. 171

13 Staunch Friendship for the Love of God Rabbi David Zaslow 177

Notes 183

Selected Works of Thomas Merton Published since 1944 189

The Contributors 195

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