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Pre-Benedictine Monasticism: Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 2 (Monastic Wisdom) Paperback – January 1, 2007

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Pre-Benedictine Monasticism: Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 2 (Monastic Wisdom) + An Introduction to Christian Mysticism: Initiation Into the Monastic Tradition, 3 (Monastic Wisdom series) (Bk. 3)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Cistercian (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879070730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879070731
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


This absorbing study shows how the scene is set for the Benedictine tradition to develop as well as the contrasts between St. Benedict’s passion for the common life and the more austere and solitary models which seemed to be pointing in another direction. Above all, Merton’s distinctive voice can be heard in the deep but lively and often humorous teaching material found in these pages.

About 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).

More About the Author

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has millions of copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism and entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order.

The twenty-seven years he spent in Gethsemani brought about profound changes in his self-understanding. This ongoing conversion impelled him into the political arena, where he became, according to Daniel Berrigan, the conscience of the peace movement of the 1960's. Referring to race and peace as the two most urgent issues of our time, Merton was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called "certainly the greatest example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States." For his social activism Merton endured severe criticism, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who assailed his political writings as unbecoming of a monk.

During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk's trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dali Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known. It was during this trip to a conference on East-West monastic dialogue that Merton died, in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, the victim of an accidental electrocution. The date marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance to Gethsemani.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the second volume of a recent collection for Cistercian Publications by Prof. Patrick O'Connell presenting Father Merton's own typsecripts of his talks given to novices while serving as Novice Master at Gethsemane.

The first volume of this series, Cassian and the Fathers: Initiation Into the Monastic Tradition, publishes Father Merton's notes on Cassian, the influential author of the The Institutes and 57. John Cassian: The Conferences (Ancient Christian Writers) as well as on other very early Catholic monastic authorities, such as Saint Anthony of the Desert, Saint Pachomius and the great Saint Basil, whose Rule Saint Benedict himself recommends for the stronger of his own followers.

This present volume continues the current welcome Cistercian publication of these typescript notes for novices, continuing and extending the earlier material on Basil, Pachomius and Cassian, and extending this to other Desert Fathers, principally in Palestine and Syria.

Prof. O'Connell's lengthy introduction is as welcome as his redaction of the lectures themselves. He mentions in passing an evocative mention by Father Merton in a letter to the famous Father (now Cardinal?) Hans Urs Von Balthasar of his intent to move swiftly beyond the Syrian material and discuss early Celtic (Irish) monasticism, still pre-Benedictine, and even presented this project to the novices in his introductory schema.
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