Tag Archives: Merton

May Merton Fellowship Day Retreat

The next meeting of the Thomas Merton Fellowship will take place in Co. Donegal – at Malin (Lagg) Presbyterian Church Hall on Saturday 25th May from 10.00am until 4.00pm.
Refreshments on arrival and a light lunch of sandwiches, tea, coffee will be provided.
It will take around 2.5hrs to travel from Belfast to Malin. Some people may want to come on Friday night or stay over on Saturday night. There are lots of B&Bs in the area and a small hotel in Malin Town . I can supply you with addresses and phone numbers, via our host – Tom Finnigan, closer to the time.
I’ll put together a programme in the next week or so, but given the success of the last meeting, I’ll likely follow that format by including some time for lectio divina, contemplative prayer/meditation, group discussion and a chance to listen to excerpts of Merton’s sermons/lectures.  If there is anything else you want added to the programme………just let me know!
As always, we welcome new members to our group, so please share this notice with anyone you think might be interested in joining us.
Finally, do let me know as soon as possible if you plan to come; I hope you will!
Best wishes,
Scott (scottpeddie@sky.com)
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Filed under Contemplative Prayer, Meditation, Merton, Retreat

Merton and the Dalai Lama

Here is an interesting short piece on Merton and his relationship with the Dalai Lama, including an interview with the latter. A real example of substantive inter-faith dialogue:

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Join Our Facebook Page!

You can now join our facebook page by visiting our website and clicking on the facebook link on the right-hand side (just below the picture of Merton!).  We’ll be using facebook (in conjunction with this website) from now on to help keep our followers and members up-to-date with our activities.  God bless, Scott

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Reflections on a Merton Retreat

The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion.  It is wordless.  It is beyond words.  It is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept.  Not that we discover a new unity.  We discover an older unity.  My dear Brothers and Sisters, we are already one.  But we imagine that we are not.  And what we have to recover is our original unity.  What we have to be is what we are. (The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton)

A view of the garden at Knocklayd

Such were the opening words on which the retreatants attending the latest TMS Irish Chapter gathering meditated on in silence.  The beautifully located Corrymeela Knocklayd retreat house in County Antrim provided a quiet and peaceful venue for an all-day event which attracted an eclectic mix of people hailing from Counties Antrim, Donegal, Fermanagh and Dublin.  Within the Christian tradition, there were Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists and Anglicans in attendance; other faiths, namely Buddhist and Bahá’ís were also represented.

Knocklayd Garden

The main theme of the retreat was to reflect on the concept of love, as articulated by Merton, but before doing so the group watched the 1985 PBS documentary ‘Merton: A Film Biography’. The subsequent discussion was lively and touched on a plethora of issues raised by the film, including the place of obedience in discipleship, the call to sacrificial living, practising non-violence and the value and form of inter-faith dialogue and understanding.

Retreatants took full advantage of the beautiful garden within the grounds of the Knocklayd Corrymeela, and the picturesque slopes of Knocklayd Mountain, to continue their discussions together or to enjoy a period of solitude, silent reflection or prayer.


Knocklayd Garden in Bloom

Following lunch, the group re-convened to reflect on, and discuss the following four excerpts from Merton’s writing on love:

The one thing necessary is a true interior and spiritual life, true growth, on my own, in depth in a new direction.  Whatever new direction God opens up for me.  My job is to press forward, to grow interiorly, to pray, to break away from attachments and to defy fears, to grow in faith, which has its own solitude, to seek an entirely new perspective and a new dimension in my life’. (The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals)

‘The theology of love must seek to deal realistically with the evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them.’  (Faith & Violence)

‘He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others.’  (Contemplation in a World of Action)

‘I must use my freedom in order to love, with full responsibility and authenticity, not merely receiving a form imposed on me by external forces, or forming my own life according to an approved social pattern, but directing my love to the personal reality of my brother, and embracing God’s will in its naked, often impenetrable mystery.’ (Contemplative Prayer)

NOTE: You can watch the full meditation here (courtesy of youtube): 

The nature of love and its different understandings and demands were explored by the retreatants.  Drawing heavily on individual personal experience and scriptural mandates, it became clear that Merton’s articulation of the concept of love was a strong unifying force. His emphasis on moving beyond the theoretical to the practical application and demonstration of love was debated, particularly with reference to the outworkings of non-violence and how one conquers the innate fear that transformative radical living engenders in most of us.  From a personal perspective, it seemed clear that the quandary and inner conflicts we shared with each other were a mirror of those faced by Merton himself and numerous people of faith before him; in that sense I was reminded of the words of Diadochos of Photiki, an Orthodox monk and mystic who wrote the following poem in which he foreshadows Merton by calling on individuals to practise reflective prayer from the heart:

You must descend from

your heart into your head.

At present your thoughts of God

are in your head.  And God himself is,

as it were, outside you, and

so your prayer and other spiritual

exercises

remain exterior.  Whilst you are still

in your head,

thoughts will not easily be subdued but

will always be whirling about, like snow

in winter or

clouds of mosquitoes in summer.

(For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics)

And it was with these words that we moved into a period of communal meditation, a practical manifestation of love, unity and a desire to seek God’s will in our lives.  As we reluctantly left the beauty and stillness of Knocklayd and Corrymeela’s retreat house, we all took with us our individual thoughts and impressions, each one a blessing from God.  I like to think that amongst these blessings were new or deepened friendships, a greater understanding of each other and a desire to deepen our relationship with God and to truly love our brothers and sisters in practice.  Such is the legacy of Merton.

Some of the retreatants together

The retreat centre (as seen from Knocklayd Mountain)

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