Thomas Merton’s monastic commitment led him to develop mutually enriching relationships with spiritual traditions throughout the world.
He wrote in a letter to his Pakistani Muslim friend Abdul Aziz in 1960,
“The world we live in has become an awful void, a desecrated sanctuary, reflecting outwardly the emptiness and blindness of the hearts of people who have gone crazy with their love for money and power and with pride in their technology.”
From Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander (1968)
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realisation that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. Not that I question the reality of my vocation, or of my monastic life: but the conception of “separation from the world” that we have in the monastery too easily presents itself as a complete illusion."
Visit Morgan Atkinson for films about Thomas Merton
Dorothy is the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. She became a Lay Benedictine in 1955 as her way of expressing the inspiration she experienced for the Desert Monastics and Celtic Monastics. She was in correspondence with Thomas Merton.
‘Dorothy Day: Don’t Call Me A Saint’ tells the story of the New York writer and Catholic anarchist who at the height of the Depression unwittingly created what would become a worldwide peace and social justice movement. The Catholic Worker persists to this day in over 180 houses of hospitality and soup kitchens across the United States, in Europe, Australia, Canada and Mexico. Their tenet is based on doing works of mercy and living in voluntary poverty with no attachments to Church or State’.