“Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours” is Kathleen Deignan’s effort to assemble Merton’s teachings, poems and prayers into a similar format to the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours. I appreciate Merton (1915-1968), a Trappist monk who was in many ways decades ahead of his time.
Many see him as one of the spiritual masters of the 20th century. I’ve read several of his books and gone on silent retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, where he lived and is buried. His work also inspires me to deepen my commitment to the Lord and to contemplative prayer.
I used this book as a prayer experiment, praying the sections of Dawn, Day, Dusk and Dark for a week. This may work well for others, but it didn’t work for me. Turns out I much prefer to use Psalms as Psalms rather than Merton’s poems, no matter how lovely they are. The use of his work in Examen and Lessons was good, but could have used more context.
True Merton devotees certainly may love this book, and I think it was assembled with a good spirit. Still it just didn’t work in my prayer experiment.