By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
As we march through the weeks of Lent, it is of special significance that this year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton.
Merton was a monk who prayed and lived in a cloistered monastery and yet had a great impact on the spiritual lives of many with his books and letters.
He has been called a modern day prophet. This distinguishes him from the Biblical prophets who spoke the word of God to their world. For them it was enough to say “The Lord God says!” They were truth speakers to a stubborn people.
For Merton, the task was the same, to be a truth speaker, but he had to do it from the position of a person who lived in the middle of his experienced perception of his religious faith. That is what his books preached.
As a young priest I was overwhelmed by the beauty and logic of his books.
I was so impressed by his work, “No Man Is An Island,” that I purchased 50 copies (paperback) and gave them to all the people in my instruction classes.
He lived as a hermit in a monastic community. This enabled him to have silence and time to contemplate the mystery of God; but he had the prayers and backing of his community so that he never was out on a limb by himself as he preached to the world.
He described in great richness the glory of nature which he realized was a vision of the great presence of God. His prose and his poems painted a vibrant mosaic of these glorious manifestations of the creator.
Merton, himself, had a personal conversion. He relates that one afternoon the notion came to him that even though he was a famous monk, he was like every other man and woman on earth. That made him love each and every person and he welcomed their love in return.
Lent is the time for us to read the prophets…of the Bible…of modern days…Lent is our monastery, our hermitage for 40 days and 40 nights.
Father Timothy Gollob is the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.