Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thomas Merton January 31, 1915-December 10, 1968- Franz Schubert 1797-1828

Today is Franz Schubert's birthday besides Thomas Merton.
Franz said on one of his birthdays. "I thank God that I am here and that I have the fair face of humanity. Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer. Although he died at an early age, Schubert was a prolific composer.

Thomas Merton was born on this day, January 31, 1915.

Every Monk and every nun has read Thomas Merton's books
If you go into a Barnes and Noblestore  they still carry Merton's books, even though he died in 1968 and was an enclosed Monk.
Merton touched the minds and hearts of ordinary people and he helped them find God.
;1915 - January 31-born at Prades, France, son of Owen Merton (artist from New Zealand) and of Ruth Jenkins (artist from USA)
1916 - moved to USA, lived at Douglaston, L.I. (with his mother's family)
1921 - his mother dies-from cancer
1922 - in Bermuda with his father who went there to paint
1925 - to France with his father, lived at St. Antonin
1926 - entered Lycee Ingres, Montauban, France
1928 - to England-Ripley Court school, then to Oakham (1929)
1931 - his father dies of a brain tumor
1932 - at Oakham School he acquired a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge
1933 - visited Italy, spent summer in USA, entered Cambridge in the fall - study of modern languages (French and Italian)
1934 - left Cambridge and returned to USA
1935 - entered Columbia University
1937 - at Columbia - editor of the 1937 Yearbook and art editor of the Columbia Jester
1938 - graduated from Columbia, began work on M.A.
1938 - November 16 - received into the Catholic Church at Corpus Christi Church
1940 - 1941 - taught English at St. Bonaventure College
1941 - December 10-entered the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, Trappist, Kentucky.

[Note: January 31, 1915 to December 10, 1941-nearly 27 years before entering monastery. Dies on December 10, 1968-the 27th anniversary of his entering Gethsemani.]

1944 - March 19 - made simple vows, published Thirty Poems
1946 - A Man in the Divided Sea
1947 - March 19 - solemn vows, published Exile Ends in Glory
1948 - Publication of best-seller autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain and What Are These Wounds?
1949 - May 26 - ordained priest; Seeds of Contemplation; The Tears of the Blind Lions; The Waters of Siloe
1951 - 1955 - Master of Scholastics (students for priesthood)
1951 - The Ascent to Truth
1953 - The Sign of Jonas; Bread in the Wilderness
1954 - The Last of the Fathers
1955 - No Man Is an Island
1955 - 1965 - Master of Novices
1956 - The Living Bread
1957 - The Silent Life; The Strange Islands
1958 - Thoughts in Solitude
1959 - The Secular Journal of Thomas Merton; Selected Poems
1960 - Disputed Questions; The Wisdom of the Desert
1961 - The New Man; The Behavior of Titans
1961 - Emblems of a Season of Fury; Life and Holiness;
1964 - Seeds of Destruction
1965 - Gandhi on Non-Violence; The Way of Chuang Tzu; Seasons of Celebration
1965 - 1968 - lived as a hermit on the grounds of the monastery
1966 - Raids on the Unspeakable; Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
1967 - Mystics and Zen Masters
1968 - Monks Pond; Cables to the Ace; Faith and Violence; Zen and the Birds of Appetite
1968 - December 10-died at Bangkok, Thailand, where he had spoken at a meeting of Asian Benedictines and Cistercians.

Photograph by Ralph Eugene Meatyard.
Copyright the Meatyard Estate.

Photograph of Merton by John Lyons.

Posthumous Publications:

1969 - My Argument with the Gestapo; Contemplative Prayer; The Geography of Lograire
1971 - Contemplation in a World of Action
1973 - The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton; He Is Risen
1976 - Ishi Means Man
1977 - The Monastic Journey; The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
1979 - Love and Living
1980 - The Non-Violent Alternative
1981 - The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton; Day of a Stranger Introductions East and West: The Foreign Prefaces of Thomas Merton (reprinted in 1989 under title "Honorable Reader" Reflections on My Work)
1982 - Woods, Shore and Desert: A Notebook, May 1968
1985 - The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters on Religious Experience and Social Concerns (Letters, 1)
1988 - A Vow of Conversation: Journals 1964-1965; Thomas Merton in Alaska: The Alaskan Conferences, Journals and Letters
1989 - The Road to Joy: Letter to New and Old Friends (Letters, II)
1990 - The School of Charity: Letters on Religious Renewal and Spiritual Direction (Letters, III)
1993 - The Courage for Truth: Letters to Writers (Letters, IV)
1994 - Witness to Freedom: Letters in Times of Crisis (Letters, V)
1995 - Run to the Mountain: The Story of a Vocation (Journals, I: 1939-1941)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Life is precious at all levels

By Deacon Greg Kandra
I have office hours the first Saturday of every month, to meet with families and schedule baptisms. It’s fairly routine, mostly collecting paperwork and filling out forms. But a few years ago, there was one meeting that I will never forget. It was anything but routine.
A young mother arrived at the office, filled out the forms and, after she’d finished, I looked it over and noticed that she’d left a couple spaces blank.
“You forgot something, “ I said. “You didn’t fill in the father’s name and religion.”
There was a long pause. She said quietly: “I don’t know who the father is.”
And then she explained:
“I was raped.”
I didn’t quite know what to say. I stammered an apology, and we talked for a few minutes. And at the end, as she got up to leave, I shook her hand and thanked her. I told that that I thought what she was doing was very courageous.
“Well,” she said, “It’s life. You do what you have to do.”
I saw her a few weeks later, at the baptism. Seeing her — holding that baby in her arms, sharing that moment with family and friends — one thing was clear: that child will never lack for love. Whatever may have brought that young life into being, that child was welcomed. That child is loved.
This weekend, in particular, that mother and her child are both on my mind and in my prayers. They remind me of something we need to remember:
We are people of life.
We value it. We believe in resurrection. In healing. In hope.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus once said.
We are people who follow the way, and seek the truth.
We are people of life.
And this Sunday, we pause to declare that to the world. We put on purple vestments and offer special prayers to note a sad milestone: it was 39 years ago today that the Supreme Court legalized abortion. We may not be wearing the sackcloth of the people of Nineveh, from the first reading. But this is a sign of sorrow, and mourning. It’s the same color we wear during Lent, a time of prayer and repentance.
You’ll hear a lot of people – including a lot of prominent Catholics – tell you that they are “personally opposed” to abortion, but they think it should still be legal. It might be useful to look at what that kind of thinking has given us, and what it means.
It means that today, 22% of pregnancies – one in five – end in abortion.
It means that 47% of the women who have had abortions – nearly half – have had more than one. Three quarters say they had abortions because a child would interfere with their job or education.
It means that, on average, there are 3,500 abortions every day in this country.
That sounds abstract. So let me make it real. That’s approximately the same number of people who attended Mass here Christmas Day.
Looked at another way: statistically, by the time you leave Mass this morning, another 145 innocent lives will be lost.
Years ago, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin spoke of the “seamless garment” of life issues, and how they are all connected. Some people dismiss that today and insist that all life issues are not created equal. That’s true, to a point.
But a culture that devalues life, that doesn’t respect life, won’t just draw the line at abortion. It goes further than that.
That culture creates an environment that cheers capital punishment. It’s a culture that legalizes assisted suicide. It supports torture and the degradation of human dignity. It enables bullying. It objectifies and devalues the human person in pornography.
And, as we learned just this past Friday: that culture considers religious freedom, and the human conscience — a personal sense of right and wrong, of good and evil — irrelevant. The government ruled that every major employer, including religious institutions, now have to offer free contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans – no exceptions. That includes the “morning after” abortion pill and sterilization.
A culture that doesn’t respect life will do all this and wrap it in the warm and unthreatening blanket, the seamless garment, of “choice” and “freedom.”
This is our world today.
But it doesn’t have to be our world tomorrow.
Last week, one of the presidential candidates said in a debate – and I paraphrase – that laws can’t change a country’s values. It’s the other way around.
Values, he said, have to change our laws.
He’s right.
Marching, protesting, campaigning, lobbying…all this can have an effect. But it can only do so much.
The real work, the important work, the hardest work happens in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our homes, in our families.
It’s conversations around the dinner table and lessons in the living room. It’s teaching our children that we are people of life. It’s raising them to love those who are weak, to protect those who are vulnerable, to respect those who are different.
But are we even paying attention?
In the gospel we just heard, Jesus called his first apostles while they were mending their nets. They dropped what they were doing, and followed him.
Too often, I think, we ourselves are too busy mending our own nets. We are consumed by the mundane realities of daily life, and are too distracted to hear what is really important. We miss Christ’s call to conversion, to repentance – the call, as we heard, to “believe in the Gospel.”
Especially now, it is nothing less than a call to be people of life.
To be people who cherish life in all its complexity and confusion…and in all its sanctity.
To be people who not only shake our heads in sorrow over the state of our world, but who bow our heads in prayer and lift up our heads in hope.
We are people of life. We are Catholic Christians. In the second century, Christians did what the pagans wouldn’t: in the midst of a plague, they cared for those no one else would care for. The great theologian Tertullian wrote that it moved the pagans to say: “See how these Christians love one another.” This is our legacy and our mandate: to protect and defend and, yes, love the most vulnerable – the old, the sick, the abused, the abandoned, the forgotten, the unborn.
That is our way. We are people of life.
In doing that, in living out our call – and answering it, like the disciples on the seashore – we will one day help bring about the change we so ardently pray for every year on this terrible anniversary.
What that young mother told me a few years ago was more than pragmatic. It was, in a way, prophetic. “It’s life,” she said. “You do what you have to do.”
This is what we have to do. And if we do, we will change the values of our culture.
That will change the laws.
And one day, all that we hope and pray for this Sunday will be realized.
We won’t be marching in Washington. We won’t be preaching on this from the pulpit. We won’t be wearing purple.
And January 22nd will be just another day on the calendar.

Deacon Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon serving the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. A veteran broadcast journalist, Deacon Greg worked for 26 years as a writer and producer for CBS News in both New York and Washington. He now serves as the Executive Editor of ONE, the acclaimed magazine published by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). In addition to receiving two awards from the Catholic Press Association, Deacon Greg has been honored with every major award in broadcasting, including two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Emmy Awards, and four awards from the Writers Guild of America.    

Monday, January 16, 2012

Christmas Newsletter 2018