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Merton, Thomas  

(Brother Louis) (Jan. 31, 1915-Dec. 10, 1968). Spiritual writer and Trappist monk. He was born in Prades, France. Merton studied at Cambridge University, 1933-1934. He received his B.A. in 1938 and his M.A. in 1939, both from Columbia University. He was a nominal Anglican in his younger years but converted to Roman Catholicism in 1938. In 1940-1941, Merton taught English at St. Bonaventure College. In 1941 he joined the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, or Trappists, and entered Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey near Bardstown, Kentucky. He took the name Brother Louis in the order. He wrote extensively on the monastic life and spirituality. Especially notable are The Seven Storey Mountain (1948), The Sign of Jonus (1953), New Seeds of Contemplation (1961), and Contemplative Prayer (1969). His writings also show a keen and critical awareness of the issues of his time. Merton became a fierce opponent of nuclear weapons. He is also known for an extensive correspondence of spiritual advice and direction. Author of over 140 books, Merton influenced the renewal of interest in spirituality which has been felt in the Episcopal Church. In later years, Merton was given permission to live as a hermit. He also became interested in Buddhism, and published books such as Zen and the Birds of the Appetite (1968). Merton traveled in Asia, and visited the Dalai Lama. While attending a world conference of contemplatives in Bangkok, Thailand, he was accidentally electrocuted. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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