Review: Thomas Merton and the Celts

Thomas Merton and the CeltsThomas Merton and the Celts by Monica Weis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an engaging book that looks at the late interest of Thomas Merton in Celtic monasticism and the reasoning and rationale that lay behind that interest. The work of the author, a retired Professor of English, in examining both these thrusts through Merton’s own works – poems, books, essays, notebooks – is accessible and thought provoking.

As someone whose Irish blood constantly calls to be explored and developed, I can understand the desire the Merton experienced to understand his familial origins. I can see, too, why this diving into his Celtic origins would lead naturally to exploring a Celtic expression of monasticism, seeking to mesh this with his own Trappist monastic life.

It is unfortunately that Merton’s premature and accidental death derailed his effort to synthesise so many different aspects of interest that he was exploring. The world, the world of spirituality and theology, is the poorer for it.

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