Choosing to Love the World: On Contemplation

By Thomas Merton

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Amid the noise and distractions of everyday life, is it really possible to choose to love the world? In these times of great uncertainty and anxiety, how can we find God? Thomas Merton felt the urgency of these questions more than 50 years ago, and his reflections upon them are more relevant than ever.

One of America’s most beloved mystics of the 20th century, Merton’s voice was prophetic in the troubled era of the 1960s. In this new collection of thoughts and meditations selected from his most inspiring books and letters, Merton’s radiant wisdom and foresight serve as a beacon of light for all of us searching to find true meaning and solace in today’s difficult times.

“Father Louis,” as he was known at the Abbey of Gethsemani, fully embraced the contemplative life of a monk, yet he never held the world at arm’s length: “We and our world interpenetrate. It is only in assuming full responsibility for our world, for our lives and for ourselves, that we can be said to live really for God.”

Sharply honest in his words but balanced by his poet’s heart, Merton explores themes that include the inner ground of love, living in wisdom, and dialoguing with silence. He teaches that contemplation is possible for everyone and that the fundamental context for seeking God’s presence is always our everyday lives.

“In the deep silence, wisdom begins to sing her unending, sunlit, inexpressible song: the private song she speaks to the solitary soul.” In Choosing to Love the World, Thomas Merton inspires us to look deep within ourselves and, in the peaceful silence of contemplation, to find and sing our own song.

Edited by Jonathan Montaldo, associate director of The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, and director of Bethany Spring, the Merton Institute retreat center in Trappist, Kentucky.



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