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Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and a Writer (The Journals of Thomas Merton) Paperback – January 10, 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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  • Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and a Writer (The Journals of Thomas Merton)
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  • Run to the Mountain: The Story of a VocationThe Journal of Thomas Merton, Volume 1: 1939-1941 (The Journals of Thomas Merton)
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  • A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk's True LifeThe Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 3: 1952-1960
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

To love oneself perfectly, Merton writes in an entry near the end of this volume, is to disappear. For a writer, it is to disappear entirely into one's writing as God disappears entirely into the world--a disappearance that makes one fully, paradoxically, present. This is the record of a remarkable twentieth-century figure perfecting his love in the process, as the subtitle has it, of becoming a monk and writer. The book includes two fragments and a complete journal, only part of which was published during Merton's lifetime. The complete journal from December 1946 to July_ 1952, which describes the tension between writing and contemplation in which Merton lived at Gethsemani, is an exemplary piece of writing about writing, as well as an invitation to active contemplation. This is the second of seven volumes scheduled to appear over the next three years. It will enchant readers who are new to Merton as well as those who encountered him for the first time in the premonastic journals of volume one and those who have known him for a long time. It will leave new readers and old acquaintances anxious for the next encounter. Steve Schroeder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

"Let me keep silence in this world, except in so far as God wills and in the way He wills it. Let me at least disappear into the writing I do. It should mean nothing special to me, nor harm my recollection. The work could be a prayer; its results should not concern me."-Thomas Merton, December 14, 1946

During his arduous days and nights in the silence of the monastery, the young Thomas Merton simultaneously advanced to priesthood and emerged as a surprising bestselling author when his spiritual autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, was published in 1948. Spanning the journal entries in an eleven-year period from December 12, 1941 to July 5, 1952, Entering the Silence unfolds Merton's budding literary career and the development of his spiritual ideas in a uniquely personal literary style that would propel his writings into the mainstream. As the demands of his literary success rose, so did the tensions between remaining an observant monk and a talented, prolific writer. Faithful to both of these passions, Merton struggled with the requirements of daily monastic life while he continued to grace the world with his fresh observations and profound insights.

This second volume in the Merton journals includes passionate descriptions of monastic life -- silence, chanting, farm work, the community of monks -- and touchingly exhibits the young priest's dedication to writing. "At work -- writing -- I am doing a little better. I mean, I am less tied up in it, more peaceful and detached. Taking one thing at a time and going over it slowly and patiently and forgetting the other jobs that have to take their turn."

As Merton's talent as a writer blossomed, he eloquently reconciled his spiritual life with his writing life, drawing deep connection between the two. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Journals of Thomas Merton (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 526 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (January 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060654775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060654771
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Hogan VINE VOICE on June 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Thomas Merton's journals take up here in the momonastery in Gethsemani abbey in Kentucky in the 1940"s. An expurgated version of these entries has previously been published as THE SIGN OF JONAS,my personal favorite before the publication in the late 1990's of these unexpurgated diaries.Here we see the dutiful young monk, full of the zeal of the newly converted, seeing all of his brothers as "signs of God's wonder and Mercy." Needless to say, the tomne shifts slightly as the aura of conversion wears a bit, and Merton is given time to write. One of his most famous pieces done while he was on watch in the abbeys fire tower is included here, without the editing. Firewatch in and of itself is worth the price of the book. We begin to see here Mertons wish for a life of more seclusion, and here he mentions the Carthusians and the camaldolese as possible places he could find that solitude.{a wish that he held,apparantly until the end of his life]Merton's insaitable curiousity,his honesty in dealing with himself and his foibles, and his crystaline perceptions on the life of the spirit are being formed here in this volume. Indispensible for Merton fans, and welcomed to any who seek the path trod by a spiritual giant, and a very honest man.
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Format: Paperback
When Thomas Merton retreated from the civilized mainstream to enter the Trappist Monastery at Gethsemani, an unknowing observer might view his spiritual struggle as ending, becoming completely lost in the routine of monastic life, its repetition and overt acceptance of spiritual discipline. The battle against personal desire versus group obedience to higher powers beyond flesh and blood one would assume to have been a forgone conclusion. Merton brilliantly shows us, however, that within the souls of men the battle still rages. And it is how he dealt with that struggle that makes this book so marvelous. His caring and loving approach to life and others is tempered with griping about the choir's proficiency, the demands of writing within the monastic framework, the lack of understanding by superiors and comrades in spiritual arms concerning his shifting spiritual needs, for solitude, quiet and letting God sort things out for him, vice pushing his own, highly tempered will into the whirling mixture that made up this complex, brilliant man. The writing is first rate, his descriptions of the surrounding countryside are marvelously genuine as is his analyis of himself and his motives. (like to move onto a more strict, Carthusian order to reach the apotheosis of perfect contemplation). This book is a good building block for future reading of this author and I would recommend reading the entire biography/journals before even wandering into the not so clearly written efforts of Merton's theological books. Many thanks to the publisher for finally making such great writing available!!
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Format: Paperback
The second of Merton's private journals in a series of seven, editor John Montaldo
brings out the struggle that Thomas Merton, already a noted writer and critic,
endured during his earliest monastic days (1940-early 1950s). Merton
tackles a sort-of internal battle between the man who writes in the wee hours,
and communicates with his New York society friends (among them was poet Mark van Doren!),
and the monk who seeks to live out the Rule of St. Benedict to its fullest extent.

First time Merton readers might be lost, but Montaldo skillfully fills in the details
so that all readers will be able to focus on the struggle between man and Creator.
Seasoned Merton fans will be given a deeper appreciation for the writer and devout
monastic that emerged as a result of that internal confrontation.

Not something to pass over!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My daughter gave me a copy of this book some years back. I had it on my shelf and about a year ago I finally got around to really reading it. I think that this is the best writing that Merton did. I love his other books but this one is really special. I found myself
wanting to quote from its pages in my facebook posts. When I found it in this format I knew I had to have it. I can copy and paste at will to quote Thomas Merton without having to type it out from the book. This is a wonderful book in any format.
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In a sort of continuation of "The Seven Story Mountain" Merton's diary is engaging and slightly maddening. In this book there are references to the Trappist monastery in Utah which I find interesting as I often visit there and have old friends among the monks there. Their numbers are rapidly dwindling as age catches up to the remaining monks and there are no new postulants. Up to this point I had a feeble idea of what their lives really are like, despite having known some of them for many years. Trinity Abby in Utah is in a beautiful mountain setting in rural northern Utah and enjoys prime farm ground which is now leased out as the monks are too old to keep up with the heavy labor. I shudder to think of this gem being broken up into lots for luxury homes, but likely will be it's fate. Despite the rigorous life I am rather surprised that in these economic times there is not a renewed interest. However being cooped up with the rather frenetic Merton might try the soul of a saint!
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