The Life of the Vows: Initiation Into the Monastic Tradition

Overview

As novice master of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky, Thomas Merton presented weekly conferences to familiarize his charges with the meaning and purpose of the vows they aspired to undertake. In this setting, he offered a thorough exposition of the theological, canonical, and above all spiritual dimensions of the vows.

Merton set the vows firmly in the context of the anthropological, moral, soteriological, and ecclesial dimensions of human, Christian, ...

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Overview

As novice master of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky, Thomas Merton presented weekly conferences to familiarize his charges with the meaning and purpose of the vows they aspired to undertake. In this setting, he offered a thorough exposition of the theological, canonical, and above all spiritual dimensions of the vows.

Merton set the vows firmly in the context of the anthropological, moral, soteriological, and ecclesial dimensions of human, Christian, and monastic life. He addressed such classical themes of Christian morality as the nature of the human person and his acts; the importance of justice in relation to the Passion of Christ, to friendship and to love; and self-surrender as the key to grace, prayer and the vowed life. Merton's words on these topics clearly spring from a committed heart and often flow with the soaring intensity of style that we have come to expect in his more enthusiastic prose.

The texts of these conferences represent the longest and most systematically organized of any of numerous series of conferences that Merton presented during the decade of his mastership. They may be the most directly pastoral work Merton ever wrote.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

While written prior to Vatican II with an emphasis on external observances, Merton addresses his novices in a refreshingly direct way. His comments on chastity and poverty are still valuable for today and helpful for any newcomer to the life discerning lifetime commitments.
Br. Placid Morris, Vocation Director, Abbey of New Clairvaux, Vina, CA

The Life of the Vows is an excellent, detailed presentation of the perennial challenges of the Benedictine vows for anyone who wants to understand them better in order to live them well. A truly helpful study for one in initial formation or as a refresher course for veteran monastics.
Br. M. Anthony Weber, OCSO, Vocation Director, Abbey of the Genesee

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879070304
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/11/2012
  • Series: Monastic Wisdom Series , #30
  • Pages: 664
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Thomas Merton (1915–1968), Catholic convert, Cistercian monk and hermit, poet, contemplative, social critic, and pioneer of interreligious dialogue, was a seminal figure of twentieth-century American Christianity. The one hundredth anniversary of his birth is being celebrated in 2015.

Patrick F. O'Connell is professor of English and theology at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. A founding member and former president of the International Thomas Merton Society, he edits The Merton Seasonal and is coauthor of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia. He is the editor of Thomas Merton: Selected Essays (2013) and has also edited seven volumes of Thomas Merton’s monastic conferences for Cistercian Publications’ Monastic Wisdom Series, most recently, Charter, Customs, and Constitutions of the Cistercians (2015).

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