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The Seven Storey Mountain (1948)

de Thomas Merton

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A fiftieth-anniversary edition of the 1948 spiritual autobiography of Thomas Merton, a young man whose search for peace and faith led him to join the religious order of the Trappist monks.
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Didn't want it to end. ( )
  revatait | Feb 21, 2021 |
FR-6
  Murtra | Dec 19, 2020 |
I found this autobiographical work to be absorbing and very readable; unfortunately, I didn’t get it quite finished before it had to be returned to the library.

We’re told of Merton’s childhood, his parents and brother John Paul.

Merton’s mother died young and his father died slowly of a brain tumour.

Merton was interested in literature, philosophy, religion, mostly the latter.

He seems much obsessed with “the misery and corruption of my own soul” and several times throughout the book refers to his “mortal” sins.

I had no idea what mortal sins were, as opposed to other sins such as venial sins. But on consulting the net I find that a mortal sin is “a grave action that is committed in full knowledge of íts gravity”. Merton doesn’t specify what in fact he means, but one gets the impression he has led a dissipated life.

Most of the book seems to deal with Merton’s development from having a strong aversion to the Catholic Church to having a strong attraction to Catholicism and desire to become a monk; and then there is whether to become a Trappist or Carthusian monk, or whatever. He doesn’t really explain much about the difference between the various sorts of monks, but seems to assume we know what he’s talking about.

He becomes a Catholic, and then he wants to enter a monastery and be a priest.

But should he become a Jesuit, Benedictine or Franciscan, Cistercian or a Trappist? In the Trappist monasteries they fast more than half the year and never eat meat or fish, unless they got ill, But Merton feels he needs meat for his health (in my view, a strange belief).

He goes to mass and communion (what’s the difference?), then another mass in another church. He says the Rosary and does the Stations of the Cross (with no explanation of what these are).

In the Church of St. Francis at Havana he has an awareness, a realization of God made present by the words of Consecration “in a way that made Him belong to me”.

He is “suddenly illuminated by being blinded by the manifestation of God’s presence”.

He thinks “Heaven is right here in front of me”. It lasts only a moment but leaves “a breathless joy and a clean peace and happiness that stayed for hours”.

All these things were happening with Merton in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War.

He then has a crisis and feels he no longer has a vocation “to the cloister”.

He decides to join up, to go to war, but was it moral to do so? He asks to be a non-combatant objector; but he fails the medical examination due to not having enough teeth!

Though I am not a Catholic nor interested in Catholicism, or in religion at all, I found the book inspiring and in a way fascinating, but some of the religious rituals, services, whatever, I found incomprehensible because Merton seemed to take for granted that the reader had knowledge of such matters, or else didn’t care that he or she didn’t.

Merton found out that “the only way to live was to live in a world that was charged with the presence and reality of God”.

“The life of the soul is not knowledge, it is love, since love is the act of the supreme faculty, the will, but which man is formally united to the final end of his strivings – by which man becomes one with God.”

He is much absorbed by William Blake and Gerald Manley Hopkins and the latter’s life as a Jesuit, and reads James Joyce’s Ulysses (the incomprehensible book) and his Portrait of the Artist. Merton was fascinated by pictures of priests and Catholic life that came up here and there in Joyce’s books.

This is an inspiring book by a gifted author. ( )
  IonaS | Sep 25, 2020 |
This is a long spiritual journey from time before and after Merton is drawn to things Christian and from there to things Catholic. It is made longer still with a prospect of a vocation and to that of knowing his vocation and it being denied of which Merton was so convinced. The long journey reaches its culminating point with taking vows in a Trappist monastery - "the four walls of my new freedom." The delight to me of this book was Merton's description of the spiritual side of his journey, his interpretation of the world around him, his failings - but also his perspective of men and women pursuing a life full of meaning and purpose. ( )
  allenkeith | May 17, 2020 |
The Seven Storey Mountain tells of the growing restlessness of a brilliant and passionate young man, who at the age of twenty-six, takes vows in one of the most demanding Catholic orders—the Trappist monks. At the Abbey of Gethsemani, "the four walls of my new freedom," Thomas Merton struggles to withdraw from the world, but only after he has fully immersed himself in it. At the abbey, he wrote this extraordinary testament, a unique spiritual autobiography that has been recognized as one of the most influential religious works of our time. Translated into more than twenty languages, it has touched millions of lives.
  PSZC | Apr 23, 2020 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Thomas Mertonautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Avati, JamesArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Evelyn WaughIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Giroux, RobertIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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"For I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham."
CHRISTO
VERO
REGI


*****

English Translation:
"for Christ, the true king"

from phrase:
Ad te ergo nunc mihi sermo dirigitur, quisquis abrenuntians propriis voluntatibus, Domino Christo vero Regi militaturus oboedientiæ fortissima atque præclara arma sumis.

To thee, therefore, my speech is now directed, who, giving up thine own will, takest up the strong and most excellent arms of obedience, to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King.
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On the last day of January 1915, under the sign of the Water Bearer, in a year of a great war, and down in the shadow of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into the world.
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A fiftieth-anniversary edition of the 1948 spiritual autobiography of Thomas Merton, a young man whose search for peace and faith led him to join the religious order of the Trappist monks.

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