The Common Good

Remembering Merton on the 40th Anniversary of His Death

1968 was a year filled with tragic deaths, of young leaders lost. In April, we reflected on 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and in June we remembered the tragic loss of Robert Kennedy. A lesser-known voice was also taken from us 40 years ago today: a 53-year-old Trappist monk named Thomas Merton.

I grew up an evangelical, so part of my spiritual DNA is to act first and pray later. I had few models of men and women in my church who practiced regular reflection, contemplation, and solitude. Fewer still took seriously the call to simplicity. Thankfully, over the past few decades, I have learned from and tried to emulate the spiritual depth found in Merton's volumes of contemplative writings, and through the integrity of his life.

Merton's words stand the test of time. He called a world filled with greed, violence, prejudice, and fear to pursue dialogue, silence, solitude, and prayer. He questioned the values and priorities of modernity, claiming modern

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