Today as we celebrate Saint Thérèseof Lisieux, we recall Thomas Merton’s love for this saint called “The
Little Flower.” Merton even speaks at one point of wanting “to be her monk.”
Merton’s writings continue to speak a truth and a vision that is dear to us.
And so we were pleased that Pope Francis mentioned Thomas Merton in his address to
the US Congress last week.
A century ago, at the beginning
of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”,
another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He
remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography
he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was
nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the
image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell,
full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him,
living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was
above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time
and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of
dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.
Like Thomas Merton whom he acclaimed in this address Pope Francis is himself an exemplary promoter of peace and very devoted to Saint Thérèse. His visit to our nation
filled us with hope and joy.
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