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A Book of Hours Hardcover – March 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"A Book of Hours reveals in ways I have never experienced the hidden wellspring of Merton's contemplative life and art. This is a gorgeous book, beautifully conceived and intelligently executed. Deignan has woven a tapestry of Merton's prayer, prose, and poetry at their most ardent so as to re-educate our awareness that God is Beautiful and most worthy of our daily praise. This five-star book will snugly fit the pocket of your heart." --Jonathan Montaldo, Editor of A Year with Thomas Merton

"One of the modern writers of the monastic tradition, of course, is Thomas Merton, and, though I might be one who thinks that Merton has been sized up, quoted, used and reused in every imaginable way, I was pleasantly surprised recently when I came across Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours, compiled by Kathleen Deignan. It is a marvelous, inspiring, comforting, jolting, consoling little volume that organizes Merton's writing into prayers for dawn, midday, dusk and night of each day." --Tom Roberts, Editor of the National Catholic Reporter

"Open any page of this wonderful book and you will find a mind-stopping, heart-catching phrase that will remind you, in Merton's unique way, that God is here, all around, right now, and in that moment everything will be different and you will be changed." --Sylvia Boorstein, Author of It's Easier Than You Think

"What a delight to contemplate Thomas Merton's Book of Hours, compiled from the monk's enormous corpus of prose and poetry. Kathleen Deignan's selections and commentary draw the reader ever deeper into the mystery of God's love. A treasure trove to be prayerfully savored." --Br. Patrick Hart, O.C.S.O., of the Abbey of Gethsemani

"The human heart thirsts for stillness. Kathleen Deignan, a true Sister and soul mate of Merton, guides us to wellsprings of stillness in the depths of his writings and puts an intricately wrought chalice to our lips: living water." --David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B., Author of The Music of Silence

"A lovely book, beautifully designed with a wonderful and thoughtfully chosen selection of excerpts from Merton's most contemplative poetry and prose. I wouldn't hesitate to give it as a gift, particularly to someone who is new to Merton." --Carl McColman, Author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism

About the Author

Kathleen Deignan, C.N.D., is a sister of the Congregation of Notre Dame, a theologian, and a composer of sacred song who has been engaged in liturgical musicianship for many years. She received her master's degree in spirituality studies and her doctorate in historical theology from Fordham University in New York, where she studied with her mentor, the late geologian, Father Thomas Berry, one of the great inspirations of her life and ministry.

As a member of the Congregation of Notre Dame, Deignan is engaged in the mission of liberating education at Iona College where she is professor of religious studies. As part of her collaboration with the Congregation of Christian Brothers and colleagues, she founded and directs the Iona Spirituality Institute, a project for the celebration and study of the spiritual life, which has sponsored her work in interfaith dialogue, peace and justice studies, and spiritual animation in the United States and abroad, particularly in Ireland where she has worked to foster the wisdom legacy of Thomas Merton. In October 2009, she received Fordham University's Doctrina et Sapientia Award for her work in spirituality.

In addition to her books. Deignan has written many articles that have appeared in The Way, Review for Religious, Sisters Today, Franciscan Review, Diakonia, Sacred Journey, and Monastic Interreligious Dialogue Bulletin.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Sorin Books; illustrated edition edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933495057
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933495057
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

215 of 220 people found the following review helpful By Carol Blank on February 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It feels presumptuous to comment on a gracefully written and illustrated work based on the words of one of the twentieth century's greatest spiritual writers. Nonetheless, my take on this prayer book may add a little something to the high praise expressed by Merton scholars in the foreword and jacket remarks.

Kathleen Deignan's introduction, in addition to providing background on Thomas Merton, describes the practice of praying a Book of Hours. Her version consists of excerpts from a variety of Merton's works presented as familiar liturgical elements such as psalms, litanies, intercessions, hymns, and epistles. She invites us to "let this breviary serve our soul-needs" using whatever elements appeal to us during the time we have.

The first time I prayed with the book, I was drawn to these words from the Lesson: "Keep your eyes clean and your ears quiet and your mind serene." What would it mean for me to do each of those, and could I add other, similar cautions? Maybe lips or tongue or mouth in relation to fasting and praying? During a later session, I discovered an antiphon that exemplifies Merton's moments of pure exuberance in the midst of more formal expression: "You have to be all the time cooperating with the love and love sets a fast pace even at the beginning and, if you don't keep up, you'll get dropped." I was grateful that Deignan included this one, and also a long passage from Merton's Fire Walk story, considered by many to be the greatest piece of spiritual writing of its time.

Although this Book of Hours is in itself enough material for unlimited reflection, the author has wisely understood that many readers will want more Merton. To help them, she has added a simple system for identifying the source of each passage at the end of the book.
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76 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Jane R. Krebs on March 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great read for Lent. Just received this book a couple of days ago. The various writings of Merton are arranged in a Liturgy of the Hours format. This book is like an old friend, comfortable, deep, and something to "sit" with. I am buying another copy for my daughter and will recommend it highly to my Centering Prayer group.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Francis Champine on May 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Book of Hours by Thomas Merton called me to a deeper sense of myself. Each day of the week, Merton's thoughts, meditations, and prayers pulled me into a journey of love. Merton is considered one of the great spiritual directors of the 20th century. The anguish and joy through his own journey toward the mystery we call God acts as a guidepost for those who wish to find the peace that only God can offer. This little gem of a book enables those who want to find a more penetrating prayer time to find words and images that help in the journey to the "small light that burns within each of us, that light being God."

The editors manipulated a wealth of Merton's poetry, letters, canticles and journal entries to meld into a liturgically poetic book of hours or opus dei for the every day. The reader is presented with a week's worth of prayers and meditations organized in the traditional monastic style. However, instead of the seven hours or calls to prayer in the day, the editors shaped the daily prayer into four notable "hours:" Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Dark. Each part of the day brings the reader a reason to move forward, a reason to be, a reason to love each other more.

Merton's writing is never an easy read. He demands much of his audience. Often a meditation or prayer needs to be reread to glean its potential meaning for the reader, but that is the beauty of reading the mind of a seeker of peace in this world and the next. For those new to Merton, there may be an urge to put the little tome down, but hang in there. With every paragraph, this monk provides another window for inspiration and contemplation. He even encourages creative responses to silence:

Night calls, the door opens;

Darkness envelops the walk.

Forest stars bring me home.

Frank Champine

Langhorne, PA
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Loretta Hoffmann on September 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous collection of writings from the works of Thomas Merton, the Trappist Monk, assembled in the form of a book of hours. Even if you are not particularly knowledgable about Merton's writings, you will find his comments on so many aspects of the spiritual life meaningful and tantalizing, you will want to study his works further. The author does include an index that gives the source of each selection included for the particular time and day of the week. Although he lived from 1915 - 1968, you will feel he is writing for right now. Included are writings for Dawn, Day, Dusk and Dark on each day of the week. You might think that only seven days would not be enough to keep you interested. But, as with much of Holy Scripture, something new and fresh appears with repetition. The author includes an informed introduction to her selections for Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By K. K. Nicholson on March 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This compact book allows me to bring these prayers whereever I go. When I need a bit of insight to stop & think, I take out this version. Separating the volume into days is perfect. I was looking for a prayer book of this kind for years.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By N. Moore on June 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many of us get so busy each day that when we try to pray or meditate, the world crowds in on us. This book is simply a guide to meditation and prayer and has been a Godsend to me.
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