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Posted July 2, 2010
André Gozier opens with a brief chronology of Merton's life in list form, notes, and an introduction, in which the author refers to Merton as a simple man with "an appetite for the absolute, for authenticity, a refusal of inertia, the deliberate will to shatter outdated rules."
Many of the daily prayers are devoted to specific aspects of Merton's vocation such as poet, meditator, mystic, and apostle of contemplation. In each, Gozier presents key examples and reflects on their application to Christians today.
He also plays up the conflicts throughout Merton's life.
Before his conversion, Merton had lived very much in the world, yet joined a monastery shortly after his baptism. The highly educated son of a painter, he became a writer. His first book, The Seven Storey Mountain, was published in his sixth year at the monastery. An instant best seller, the book brought significant demands from readers and publishers. In addition, his writing projects within the monastery were in conflict with his desire to be ever closer to God through solitude and contemplation.
Merton was called on to write for his community and at times faced with restrictions when it came to letters and articles others considered too political. He made headlines as a monk taking a stand for peace, nonviolence, and racial equality and protesting the Vietnam war and nuclear arms. Some suggested that his life inside the cloister left him unprepared to fully understand the issues. He struggled with those questions yet despite reservations and obstacles, Gozier writes, "Merton was a profound thinker who had a strong impact on American society and who exerted a great deal of influence."
Like other titles in the "15 Days of Prayer" series, the Merton volume includes reflection questions for each day and general guidelines for using the material individually or in groups.
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Posted December 10, 2011
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