The greatest tribute to Merton might be the offhanded comment of an eminent theologian we know: Merton may not have been a great monk, but he was an honest man. Whatever he was, his literary achievements and influence on a huge spectrum of Christian spirituality the last half-century are undeniable, and demand recognition and evaluation. What do we know of Merton? We know that he was a monk, a man who sought God. We know he was a poet, a writer, a man of profound literary acquaintances. We know he was a translator, a preserver of texts of human compassion and wisdom. We know that he loved to live and died tragically in the midst of this love. Merton was a man who so passionately sought God that as he developed in the disciplines of spirituality and obedience, he never stagnated, but continually shed form to press more deeply into communion with God. The studies, essays, letters, anthologies and poems that remain with us from him challenge us with beauty and power continually and repeatedly to live; to dig deeply into our existence and proceed passionately, even dangerously, near to God. In Wisdom of the Desert
, Merton offers a selection of sayings from the great fourth-century Desert Fathers. 81 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
The personal tones of the translations, the blend of reverence and humor so characteristic of him, show how deeply Merton identified with the legendary authors of these sayings and parables, the fourth-century Christian Fathers who sought solitude and contemplation in the deserts of the Near East. The hermits of Screte who turned their backs on a corrupt society remarkably like our own had much in common with the Zen masters of China and Japan, and Father Merton made his selection from them with an eye to the kind of impact produced by the Zen mondo.