The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Tuesdays With Merton - Archive

A webinar series presented by the International Thomas Merton Society on the second Tuesday of each month.

Recordings of the webinars will be available on the Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel within a few days of their broadcast: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel.

Audio-only versions also will be available later via podcast.

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Thomas Merton and Black Lives Matter:
Spirituality and Racial Justice for Our Time

September 8, 2020, 8 PM.
Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

This presentation offers a look at the shared insights and important challenges that Merton's writings on racism and racial justice and the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement offer to contemporary women and men of good will, especially those who are white. In many ways, Merton was ahead of his time as he critically analyzed the realities of systemic racism and white privilege in America during the Civil Rights movement. His writings and legacy continue to offer us spiritual grounding for the continued fight for racial justice in our own time.

Daniel P. Horan, OFM, is the Duns Scotus Chair of Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, a columnist for National Catholic Reporter, and the author of twelve books including The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton (2014). He is currently serving his fourth term on the ITMS Board of Directors and is on the editorial board of The Merton Annual. His forthcoming books include the tentatively titled Striving Toward Authenticity: Engaging Thomas Merton on Race, Justice, and Spirituality (Orbis Books) and he is editing for publication the correspondence of Thomas Merton and Naomi Burton Stone.


“...almost as if I had a sister”: Thomas Merton & Etta Gullick

October 13, 2020.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

William Shannon described Merton’s correspondence with Etta Gullick as “the most charming set of all,” and yet she is little known in the United States and under-represented in studies of Merton and spirituality. After briefly introducing Mrs. Gullick, her work, and their correspondence and respective roles in priestly/monastic formation work, we will consider their exchange  on “progress” in contemplative prayer. Those zealous for homework will find  Merton’s letters to Gullick in William H. Shannon (ed.), The Hidden Ground of Love: The Letters of Thomas Merton on Religious Experience and Social Concerns (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1985).

Bonnie Thurston resigned a Chair and Professorship in New Testament to live quietly in her home state of West Virginia. She is author or editor of 22 theological works and six collections of poetry, and frequently contributes to scholarly and popular periodicals. Bonnie wrote an early doctoral dissertation on Merton and was a founding member and past president of the ITMS. She has published over 50 articles on Merton and given retreats and lectured on his ideas in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, and Europe. She edited Thomas Merton and Buddhism (2007), Hidden in the Same Mystery: Thomas Merton and Loretto (2010), and Thomas Merton on Eastern Meditation (2012) and wrote Shaped by the End You Live For: Thomas Merton’s Monastic Spirituality (2020). Her work on Merton has been translated into Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. Bonnie is an avid walker, gardener, cook, and lover of classical music.


What Does God's Gender Have to Do with It?
Merton's Awakening to the Feminine Divine

November 10, 2020.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

Through image, word, and poetry, this presentation explores Merton's encounter with the biblical Wisdom tradition, the prophetic remembrance of God in a feminine key. How and why should the remembrance of God as Wisdom-Sophia shape our grasp of, and response to, the crises of our times?

Christopher Pramuk is the author of Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton, and At Play in Creation: Merton's Awakening to the Feminine Divine. He holds the University Chair of Ignatian Thought and Imagination at Regis University in Denver, and currently serves as the Vice President of the International Thomas Merton Society.


Thomas Merton’s Contemplative Exercises for Entering the School of Our Lives

December 8, 2020.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

The volume Monastic Observances includes Merton's notes for teaching prayer. He inspired his novices to apprehend their lives as "schools of wisdom". He mentored a contemplative re-translation of their historical and inner experiences as exercises designing their truest selves. Merton's writing contains his own spiritual exercises for his continuing education in the school of a Divine Providence. Exercises in his journals can mentor re-translations of our own lives, producing conscious epiphanies of the graced interdependence of "all things" that continually conspire to propel our loving the world of our relationships that create our "one, wild and precious" lives (Mary Oliver). 

Jonathan Montaldo served as director of the Thomas Merton Center and as president of the ITMS. As associate director for the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, he directed its retreat center Bethany Spring. He co-created Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton and co-edited The Intimate Merton. Other renditions of Merton’s writing include A Year with Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence, and Choosing to Love the World. He narrated five Merton audiobooks. A co-general editor for Fons Vitae’s Thomas Merton & series, he presents retreats based upon Merton’s legacy for mentoring our spiritual formations.


Turning to Thomas Merton
as a Trustworthy Guide in the Gentle Art of Contemplative Living

January 12, 2021.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

In our time together I will share aspects of Merton’s life and teachings that had a profound and lasting effect in my own life and in my attempts to pass on to others what Thomas Merton has passed on to me. These foundational aspects of Merton’s life and teachings include our own unfolding life with all its blessings and broken edges embodying the presence of God that protects us from nothing even as it unexplainably sustains us in all things, as well as Merton’s vision of the hidden wholeness where everything connects as realized in the con­templative depths of the world’s great religions and in all of life.

Dr. James Finley received spiritual guidance from Thomas Merton as a novice at the Abbey of Gethse­mani. He is a contemplative teacher and writer and a retired clinical psychologist. He leads the weekly podcast “Turning to the Mystics” in his role as core teacher in the Living School for Action and Contemplation founded by Father Richard Rohr. James is the author of Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, The Contemplative Heart, and Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God.


Created for Joy: Becoming Who We Are, Together

February 9, 2021.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

During these turbulent, uncertain times of pandemics – corona virus, racism, unbridled individualism – and, thankfully, of moral reckoning, Thomas Merton offers a welcome and much needed message of hope.  He reminds us that we are “created for JOY.”  In this presentation, we will consider how Merton experienced and envisioned joy, particularly the joy of being human and the joy of friendship.  For Merton, joy is both promise and vocation.  How, then inspired by Merton, might we learn to delight in the “immense joy” of being human and “together  . . . travel our own road to joy”?

Christine M. Bochen, professor emerita of religious studies at Nazareth College, Rochester, New York and a founding member and past president of the International Thomas Merton Society, has taught courses, given retreats, and spoken on Merton in a variety of venues in the United States, Canada, and abroad.  Christine is co-author, with William H. Shannon and Patrick F. O’Connell, of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia; editor of Courage for Truth, Learning to Love, and Thomas Merton: Essential Writings; and co-editor, with William H. Shannon, of Cold War Letters and Thomas Merton: A Life in Letters. 


Merton, Malcolm X, and Catholic Engagement with Black Lives Matter

March 9, 2021.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

Catholic Engagement with the Black Lives Matter movement has been hesitant, at best. At worst, Catholic leaders deride it with virulent opposition and denigration. As the Movement for Black Lives claims Malcolm X as one of their inspira­tions, this presentation will examine Merton's engagement with Malcolm X and radical Black thought to suggest how Catholics should engage the contemporary movement for racial justice.

Bryan N. Massingale holds the James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics at Fordham University. A priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, he is a leader in Catholic theology and ethics as the current President-Elect of the Society of Christian Ethics, a past Convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. He is the author of the award-winning book Racial Justice and the Catholic Church and a public intellectual who frequently addresses issues of racial and sexual justice.


Overshadowed: Thomas Merton and The Cloud of Unknowing

April 13, 2021.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

Every wisdom tradition describes in its own way a cloud of unknowing that veils the utterly ineffable source and force coursing through this universe as its very life. With paradoxical lucidity on matters of darkness and unknowing, Thomas Merton shared his experience of being "overshadowed" by the Cloud of enveloping Mystery. His desire to live into its Presence has become a well-scripted legacy of post-modern spiritual emergence, written in an idiom that continues to speak cogently to the spiritual pilgrims of the second millennium. This session explores Merton's "familiarity" with the anonymous 14th century master of The Cloud, and his own transmission of its still emerging wisdom.

Dr. Kathleen Noone Deignan of the Congregation of Notre Dame is founding director of the Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, where she was Professor of Religious Studies for 40 years while guiding The Merton Contemplative Initiative and co-convening The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue. Past President of the International Thomas Merton Society, she is a regular presenter at its meetings.  Her book-length publications include When the Trees Say Nothing: Thomas Merton’s Writings on Nature and Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours, including an audio-book that includes her sacred songs and psalmody.


Merton and David Jones: Visionaries Both

May 11, 2021.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

Merton Was in Love With Wales — its poetry, its Celtic sensibility, its ravishing beauty and rich history. Although he came to the art of David Jones rather late in his life, he understood implicitly what Jones was doing as a visionary. There are some striking things that they were doing in parallel unaware of each other, probing the past, resurrecting forgotten cultural memories, attending to the power of ritual and sacrament, aching for unity and harmony. This session will explore some of these creative and spiritual convergences.

Dr. Michael W. Higgins is a university president, biographer, journalist, scholar, and media commentator. His book on Cardinal Newman will appear in the Spring of 2021 and his book on Pope Francis in 2023. Past publications on Merton include: Heretic Blood: The Spiritual Geography of Thomas Merton; Faithful Visionary; The Unquiet Monk; and Thomas Merton: Pilgrim in Process (ed).


An Army that Sheds No Blood: Thomas Merton’s Response to War

June 8, 2021.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

Clement of Alexandria, in his Protreptikos (Greek for “persuasion”), defined the Church as “an army that sheds no blood.” This phrase struck Thomas Merton with special force. It greatly distressed him that so many of his Christian contemporaries were advocates of war and even saw nuclear weapons as enjoying God’s blessing. This session will discuss Merton’s engagement in peacemaking and his close ties with Dorothy Day and others who were at war with war.

Jim Forest has spent a lifetime in the cause of peace and reconciliation. Among his personal acquaintances were some of the great peacemakers of our time, including Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan, Henri Nouwen, and Thich Nhat Hanh. He worked with Dorothy Day at the Catholic Worker in New York and then went on to play a key role in mobilizing religious protest against the Vietnam War and served a year in prison for his role in destroying draft records in Milwaukee. He is the author of over a dozen books on spirituality and peacemaking, including The Root of War is Fear: Thomas Merton's Advice to Peacemakers.


Poetry as Spiritual Direction with Thomas Merton and Denise Levertov

July 13, 2021.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

As participating readers of his powerful gift for spiritual direction, even in absentia and posthumously present, already know from their experience of his writings, the most significant forces in Thomas Merton’s own spiritual formation came from his reading and pursuing of intersections and convergences with those whose influence shaped his ever-organic selfhood and its transcendence. In many ways profound and providential resonances, his “double image,” Denise Levertov, like Merton, creates poetry which serves as spiritual direction. Their friendship creates a pas de deux for those inclined to join in “the general dance” of the Spirit in the cosmos.

Lynn R. Szabo is a devoted scholar of the poet, mystic, and political activist Thomas Merton. She is the editor of the first comprehensive selection of his poetry, In the Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton (New Directions, 2005), and is Professor Emerita of English Literature, Trinity Western University, near Vancouver. In her retirement, Lynn serves as a spiritual director, a mentor to writers and young professors, and a facilitator of study groups for the National Council of Jewish Women. Her decades of studying poetry, especially Merton’s, are one of the pleasures not interrupted by her more recent life as a wheelchair navigator!


Why We Still Read and Need Thomas Merton: A Personal Journey

August 10, 2021.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

In a 1966 Commonweal article, Merton describes a time when “almost nothing is really predictable … almost everything public is patently phony, and in which there is at the same time an immense ground of personal authenticity that is right there and so obvious that … most cannot even believe that it is there." Is there a more apt description of the situation we face today? How then can we fashion a personal response to the "new normal" that is unfolding? With Merton as our navigator, is there a way to discover clarity, meaning, authenticity, and, yes, even beauty in these confounding times?

Judith Valente first began reading Thomas Merton shortly before beginning her career in journalism at the age of 21 at The Washington Post. She subsequently worked for The Wall Street Journal and was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in journalism. She then covered religion as an on-air correspondent for PBS. She is the author of two collections of poetry and several spirituality titles, including How to Live: What The Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning and Community and The Art of Pausing, which she coauthored with Brother Paul Quenon.


The Radio of Nature: Merton's Tuning Into God Outdoors

September 14, 2021.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

On June 27, 1949, Merton was allowed, for the first time, to venture outside the Abbey of Gethsemani’s gated enclosure to walk in the woods alone. His writing and his spirituality changed forever as a result. In Thomas Merton's Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise, author Monica Weis notes, "Once beyond the monastery walls, Merton's heart soared." Why? Perhaps, after being doused in words for years, suddenly he could share an expansive, silent space with God and just listen. This session will explore what Merton found beneath the branches, on the hills, and in all of nature: a sense of transcendence.

Sophfronia Scott is a novelist, essayist, and leading contemplative thinker whose work has appeared in numerous publications. Her latest book, The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton, received a Louie award in 2021. Sophfronia’s other books include Love's Long Line, and This Child of Faith: Raising a Spiritual Child in a Secular World, co-written with her son Tain. She holds degrees from Harvard and Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sophfronia lives in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and is the founding director of Alma College’s MFA in Creative Writing, a graduate program based in Alma, Michigan.


Prayer and Thomas Merton: A Conversation with Fr. James Martin, SJ

October 12, 2021.

Due to Technical Difficulties no Recording of this Session is Available.

Praying with Thomas Merton. Join us for this live webinar featuring Fr. James Martin, SJ, in conversation with Fr. Daniel P. Horan, OFM, as they discuss praying with Thomas Merton, the role of Merton in Fr. Martin's
own vocation and spiritual journeys, and what Merton's life and legacy can tell us about encountering God?

James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine, consultor to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication and author of many books, including several New York Times bestsellers, and Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints.

Kathleen Tarr

From the Inner Frontier to the Last Frontier:
Thomas Merton's Alaska Journey

November 9, 2021

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

Thomas Merton's journey to Alaska, a sojourn of seventeen days, has been rendered mostly as a "blip" within his remarkable biography. Yet the mysterious frontier suddenly surfaced to captivate him. Though short in duration, Merton's experience of the vast terrain, along with the talks he gave, were profound in spiritual insights. This presentation will explore that untold story, along with visual images of the places Merton experienced and photographic images taken by Merton himself.

Kathleen Tarr, longtime Alaskan, lives and writes under the Chugach Mountains in Anchorage. She is the founder of the Alaska Chapter of the ITMS and author of We Are All Poets Here: Thomas Merton’s Journey to Alaska – A Shared Story about Spiritual Seeking (2018). Her essays have appeared in We Are Already One: Thomas Merton’s Message of Hope (2015) and Merton & Indigenous Wisdom (2019). She is a member of the ITMS board of directors, PEN America, and the Alaska Historical Society. She draws inspiration from contemplating the spiritual geography of mountains.

Paul M. Pearson

“I love beer, and, by that very fact, the world.”
The Humor (and Humanity) of Thomas Merton

December 14, 2021

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel
Also available as a podcast: Tuesdays with Merton at Apple Podcasts

Over the years many of Thomas Merton’s visitors and friends commented on his sense of humour. With the seriousness of his writings this humour can all too easily be overlooked. This presentation will explore Merton’s sense of humour from his pre-monastic cartoons, through his correspondence, journal entries and recordings, to the stories told by his friends and brothers. Merton’s sense of humor was a way for him to critique the world, humorously warning readers of our propensity to “wear our mitres even to bed” and reminding them of his own need for beer!

Paul M. Pearson is Director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky and Chief of Research for the Merton Legacy Trust. He is Resident Secretary of the International Thomas Merton Society and served as President for the 10th administration. Paul is a founding member of the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He edited Seeking Paradise: Thomas Merton and the Shakers, A Meeting of Angels: The Correspondence of Thomas Merton with Edward Deming and Faith Andrews, Thomas Merton on Christian Contemplation and, most recently, Beholding Paradise: The Photographs of Thomas Merton.

Doug Hertler

Merton, You and Me:
The Reality of Life in the Paschal Mystery

January 11, 2022

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Surrounded by suffering and death, we believe in redemption and new life. Besieged by every form of war, we hope for peace and the coming of God’s Kingdom. Where is war present in your life? Is it only experienced “out there,” or can it be found “in here” as well? Have you identified an enemy to destroy? Are you sure that enemy is not yourself? Excerpts from Doug’s play “Merton and Me – A Living Trinity” and these words of Thomas Merton will guide our reflection: “Life and death are at war within us. As soon as we are born, we begin at the same time to live and die.”

Douglas Hertler (aka Doug Lory) is a professional actor, playwright, retreat leader, and NYC tour guide. He also works at Fordham University School of Law as an actor/educator. His one-man play “Merton and Me – A Living Trinity” debuted in the fall of 2018 for the Corpus Christi Chapter of the ITMS. Doug spent the month of January 2020 living with the Trappist community of Mepkin Abbey as a monastic guest and will be performing his show there in February. He also serves on the board of the American Teilhard Association. His website is

Steven P. Millies

Our Crisis of Authority and Thomas Merton

February 8, 2022

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

The Polarizing Conflicts that divide the Catholic Church and social life are widely recognized but poorly understood. Thomas Merton understood what we face as a crisis of authority that has far-flung implications and whose fullest dimensions have come into view only in decades since he died. We will explore the crisis of authority as we now experience it in 2022, and we will look to Merton for wisdom about how we can resolve the crisis.

Steven P. Millies is professor of public theology and director of The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. His most recent book is Good Intentions: A History of Catholic Voters’ Road from Roe to Trump (Liturgical Press, 2018).

Gregory K. Hillis

What Does Thomas Merton Have to Tell Us About Catholic Identity?

March 8, 2022

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Since His Death in 1968, Merton’s Catholic identity has been regularly questioned, both by those who doubt the authenticity of his Catholicism given his commitment to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and by those who admire Merton because they see him as an aberration who rebelled against his Catholicism. In my presentation, I want to talk about how thoroughly immersed Merton was in his Catholic identity and to explore what we can learn today about what he can teach us about a Catholicism simultaneously rooted in tradition and open to the world and to others.

Dr. Gregory K. Hillis is Professor of Theology & Religious Studies at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. His doctoral research was on early Christian theology, with a particular focus on St. Cyril of Alexandria. In the last few years he has turned his attention to the life and writings of Thomas Merton. He teaches a popular undergraduate course on Merton and has delivered lectures around the United States on Merton’s theology. He has written both academic and popular articles on Merton’s life and authored the recent book Man of Dialogue: Thomas Merton’s Catholic Identity (Liturgical Press, 2021).

Deborah Kehoe

Thomas Merton and Southern Writing

April 12, 2022

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Thomas Merton’s appreciation for the work of notable literary artists of the southern United States and Global South is well-documented throughout his writing. Using the broadest of criteria, Merton, by virtue of having found his only stable earthly home in the hills of Kentucky, can also be identified as a “southern writer,” in whose works evidence of a deep affinity with the voices of the expansive South can be heard. In this talk, I hope to explore some of the classical and contemporary particulars as well as the implications of a poetic and spiritual connection between Merton and other writers of a compelling, enigmatic body of literature.

Dr. Deborah Kehoe is a lifelong resident of Mississippi, born and raised in Jackson, now living in Oxford. She took a PhD in English with a concentration in twentieth-century literature from the University of Mississippi and is retired from a decades-long career of teaching rhetoric and literature in the red clay hills of her native state. She is a former member of the ITMS Board of Directors and current co-editor of The Merton Annual.

Gordon Oyer

Re-Visioning a Fragmented World: Learnings through Merton’s Letters on Social Change

May 10, 2022

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Beyond his prolific publications, we know Thomas Merton for his vast, diverse readings and massive output of correspondence. This session explores perspectives on peace, race, and ecology that Merton shared in his apostolate of letters. It connects these views with reading materials that informed his thought and helped address his recipients’ immediate concerns about those social dilemmas. It also highlights how his responses spoke beyond their immediate context and, as Daniel Berrigan stated, timelessly “unmasked the spiritual forces which lie under the appearances of things” and remain at play in our own time.

Gordon Oyer is the author of Signs of Hope: Thomas Merton’s Letters on Peace, Race, and Ecology and Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest, which reconstructs Thomas Merton’s 1964 retreat for peace activists. Over the past decade he has presented papers at several ITMS and Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland conferences, and he has published articles in The Merton Annual and The Merton Journal as well as book reviews for The Merton Seasonal. Oyer received his MA in history from the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign. He currently resides in Louisville, Ky.

Malgorzata Poks

The Geography of Lograire as Thomas Merton’s Ultimate Autobiography

June 14, 2022

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Thomas Merton’s famous autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain (1948) was the product of a young mind devastated by ambivalence and thirsting for certainty. Twenty years after its publication Merton felt dissatisfied with that book’s moral rigidity and finality of opinions, with his evasions and half-conscious posturing. The Geography of Lograire (1969), his mature auto¬biography, enacts the master theme of Merton’s writing – the search for the authentic self – as a constant process of self-invention and renegotiation of cultural codes. In my presentation I will attempt an autoethnographic reading of The Geography of Lograire.

Dr. Malgorzata Poks is an assistant professor at the Institute of Literary Studies, Faculty of Humanities, at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. Her monograph Thomas Merton and Latin America: A Consonance of Voices (2006) received the International Thomas Merton Award, and her article “Home on the Border: In Ana Castillo's The Guardians” was awarded the 2019 Javier Coy Biennial Research Award. Recently she translated into Polish Linda Hogan’s native memoir The Woman Who Watches Over the World and finished writing Decolonial Animal Ethics in Linda Hogan’s Poetry and Prose.


True and False Love
Thomas Merton's Spirituality of the Restless

September 13, 2022.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Saint Augustine famously wrote that, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." This summarizes well what we might call a spirituality of divine love and the human longing for relationship. This Tuesdays with Merton presentation explores Thomas Merton's own contributions toward developing a spirituality of love, which surfaces as a recurring theme in his writing from his earliest journal entries and books until his untimely death. Drawing on Merton's wisdom, we may come to better distinguish for ourselves between 'true' and 'false' love in our own lives and spiritual journeys.

Daniel P. Horan, OFM, is Professor of Philosophy, Religious Studies and Theology and Director of the Center for Spirituality at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. He previously held the Dun Scotus Chair of Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. A columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, he is the author of fourteen books, including The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton: A New Look at the Spiritual Inspiration of His Life, Thought, and Writing, Catholicity and Emerging Personhood: A Contemporary Theological Anthropology, and his two latest are titled A White Catholic’s Guide to Racism and Privilege and The Way of the Franciscans: A Prayer Journey Through Lent. He also recently co-edited the book The Human in a Dehumanizing World: Reexamining Theological Anthropology and Its Implications. He is co-host of The Francis Effect Podcast.


Of Messengers of Peace: A Liturgy for Our World in the Voices of Merton and Francis

October 11, 2022

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Please join us for a special Tuesdays with Merton as we gather to celebrate a liturgy for peace. This service, integrating music, readings, poetry, and reflections from the wisdom of Thomas Merton and St. Francis of Assisi, will provide a moment of reflection during times where peace often seems just out of reach. We invite you to be renewed and nourished in the wisdom of Merton and Francis.

Dr. Julianne E. Wallace is Vice President for Mission at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. She holds a Doctor of Ministry in Educational Leadership from Virginia Theological Seminary, a Master of Theological Studies in Word and Worship from Washington Theological Union, and a bachelor’s in Music Performance from the University of Mary Washington. She has been active in Franciscan higher education for almost twelve years, most recently as Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Alvernia University. She served as Associate Director of Faith Formation, Worship, and Ministry at St. Bonaventure University in New York. She has been an active ITMS member since 2015, site-coordinator for the 2017 Annual Meeting and coordinating the liturgical life at many other ITMS conferences.


Partners in the General Dance of the Spirit:
Thomas Merton and Ilia Delio Evolving into the Grandeur of God

November 8, 2022

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Merton and Delio are restless in spirit. They embraced the ongoing work of the Spirit in their lives as the evolutionary reality that continually called them out of the ordinary into the extra­ordinary. They accepted the awkwardness of learning how to dance in the Spirit in order to move with rhythm, rather than move through routine. To discover and live in the rhythm of the Spirit is to experience vibrancy – energy, strength and resiliency. And the Spirit invites us all: find a partner and dance.

Dr. Alan Kolp holds the Baldwin Wallace Chair in Faith & Life and is Professor of Religion at Baldwin Wallace University. In addition to his work in spirituality, he has authored books with a business colleague and Cleveland Clinic physician in the area of high performance and leadership. His forthcoming book, Better Humans, Better Performance: Driving Leadership, Teamwork and Culture with Intention­ality, will be available in the fall.


People that God Has Brought Together:
Thomas Merton on the Hope of Political Community Beyond Nationalism.

December 13, 2022

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Recent Years have seen, around the world, a resurgence of political movements and leaders appealing to nationalist ideologies. These movements appeal to the desire for unity and shared identity but have an ugly history of exclusion, xenophobia, and bigotry. This presentation looks to Thomas Merton – particularly some lesser-known writings on German theologian Eberhard Arnold – for insights on the search for political community rooted not in division and exclusion but in charity and grace.

Dr. David Golemboski is an Assistant Professor of Government & International Affairs at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is a former President of the International Thomas Merton Society and is co-editor of The Merton Annual. He is Chair of the Program Committee for the 2023 ITMS General Meeting. In addition to his work on Merton, he writes on politics, law, and religion and is author of Religious Pluralism & Political Stability: Obligations in Agreement (Routledge, 2022).


Fully Human and Fully Real: Thomas Merton on Technology and Embodiment.

January 10, 2023

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Thomas Merton's writings reflect his skepticism in response to rapid technological progress and his deep concern that technological innovation imperils human freedom. In the decades since his death, the pace of technological development has only increased, especially in the realm of biological and medical technologies. What might Merton’s perspectives on technology, human freedom, and moral responsibility have to offer us as we confront new developments in gene editing and reproductive technologies?

Emma McDonald is a doctoral candidate in Theological Ethics at Boston College. Her research brings together qualitative methods and theological reflection to examine family formation, moral agency, and technology. She currently serves on the board of the International Thomas Merton Society.


Washington Watches the Monk II.

Febuary 14, 2023

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Washington Watches the Monk II is a sequel to Bob Grip’s essay in The Merton Seasonal (available at: revealing U.S. government files about Thomas Merton. Drawing on his decades as a journalist, Grip filed Freedom of Information Act requests to various agencies to explore the federal government’s archives. He discovered everything from routine records to evidence of illegal surveillance, which he will illustrate. This session will also include comment from a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist on the surveillance of private citizens.

Bob Grip devoted his entire professional life to journalism, most of it on the air in television news, including reports from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the Middle East to Europe including a meeting with Pope (and now Saint) John Paul II. He also taught multimedia journalism for 25 years at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Grip earned his bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree in Journalism from The Ohio State University. He is a former board member, treasurer and President of the International Thomas Merton Society.


Merton as Disciple and Re-interpreter of St. John of the Cross.

March 14, 2023.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

When Young Thomas Merton first awakened to prayer during his student years at Columbia University, he turned to the writings of St. John of the Cross for contemplative wisdom. Near the end of his life when Merton summed up his teaching on prayer in his book Contemplative Prayer, John of the Cross appeared again as one of his most important sources. This presentation examines how Merton based his approach strongly upon some aspects of John's teaching while creatively weaving it together with a vast array of other sources.

Mary Frohlich, RSCJ, is a Professor Emerita at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago after teaching there from 1993 to 2020. She is a noted scholar of Carmelite spirituality, with numerous published essays on Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux, and John of the Cross as well as on broader issues in the tradition. Her book Breathed into Wholeness: Catholicity and Life in the Spirit was published by Orbis in 2019, and she is currently working on another to be entitled The Heart at the Heart of the World. She now resides in Cambridge, MA, and focuses primarily on ecospiritual issues.


Beyond the Blurbs: Thomas Merton and St. Augustine.

April 11, 2023.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Merton's name was associated with Augustine’s from the moment his autobiography appeared with comparisons to the Confessions on its cover. This presentation considers Merton’s ongoing interactions with Augustine in published works, journals and conferences: his reliance on Augustinian distinctions between cupidity and charity, science and wisdom; his measured evaluation of Augustinian mystical teaching and formulation of just war theory; his apprecia­tive novitiate classes on De Doctrina Christiana; to his hermitage reflections on Camus’ university thesis on Augustine. This topic provides a fascinating and illuminating window on the development of various aspects of Merton’s own spirituality.

Patrick F. O'Connell is a founding member and former president of the International Thomas Merton Society, edits the ITMS quarterly publication The Merton Seasonal and is co-author with Christine M. Bochen and William H. Shannon of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia (Orbis, 2002). He has edited twelve volumes of Thomas Merton’s monastic conferences, most recently Liturgical Feasts and Seasons (Cascade, 2022), as well as Merton’s Selected Essays (Orbis, 2012), Early Essays, 1947-1952 (Cistercian, 2015) and Cistercian Fathers and Forefathers (New City, 2018), as well as Merton & Confucianism (Fons Vitae, 2021). He is professor emeritus at Gannon University, Erie, PA.


Spirituality, Sustainability, and Social Justice:
Embodying “Integral Ecology” with Thomas Merton and Rosemary Radford Ruether.

May 9, 2023.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

From August 12, 1966 through February 18, 1968, Thomas Merton and Rosemary Radford Ruether engaged in a vibrant exchange of nearly 40 letters. In this talk, Robinson builds on this existing exchange by placing passages from Merton’s and Ruether’s broader bodies of work into conversation. He specifically lifts up insights from Merton and Ruether that can aid us in imagining and incarnating sustainable lives, communities, and societies that are grounded in spirituality and committed to social justice. In the process, he considers the links between Merton’s insights, Ruether’s insights, and Pope Francis’s promotion of an “integral ecology.”

Jim Robinson is a member of the Religious Studies Department at Iona University, where he serves as Director of the Thomas Merton Contemplative Initiative and Associate Director of the Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit. He received his PhD in Theology from Fordham University, his MTS from Harvard Divinity School, and his BA from Drew University. He is a recent ITMS Shannon Fellow and a GreenFaith Fellow. He is actively involved in a number of lay Catholic communities committed to embodying spirituality, ecology, and social justice, including Agape Community in Hardwick, MA, and Benincasa Community in Guilford, CT .


The Seven Storey Mountain at Seventy-Five: Classic or Déclassé.

September 12, 2023.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

The Seven Storey Mountain has reached another milestone. How has Merton’s autobiography fared in the first quarter of the 21st century? Since the book’s fiftieth anniversary, the Catholic Church has had three contrasting papacies and undergone severely damaging scandals of clergy sexual abuse. The Catholic Church in the United States, in line with other Christian denomi­nations, has suffered declining church member­ship further fueled by a pandemic break in in-person attendance. Are Merton’s words now less central to the American religious experience, or does his story of spiritual longing resonate with people of our time in the U.S. and the world.

Mark C. Meade is the Assistant Director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY. The year 2023 marks his 20th year at the Merton Center. He is a past president of the International Thomas Merton Society. He has presented and published on Merton in the United States and abroad on topics including Merton’s correspondence with Victoria Ocampo, Merton and existentialist themes, and Merton and Albert Camus on opposition to the death penalty.


Queering Thomas Merton.

October 10, 2023.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

What Would it Look Like to Queer Thomas Merton? What is queer theory and queer theology and how can they be used as a lens to better understand Merton—and ourselves? In our time together, Cassidy, a cis queer white woman, will examine the ways the traditional western Christian contemplative canon has left out far too many voices from the conversation. She will share a part of her own contemplative journey which led her to traveling to all 17 Trappist Monasteries of the US, Directing a film about Thomas Merton’s hermitage years, and writing the forthcoming book Queering Contemplation: Finding Queerness in the Roots and Future of Contemplative Spirituality.

Cassidy S. Hall (She/Her), MA, MDIV, MTS, is an author, award-winning filmmaker, podcaster, and leading voice in contemplative spirituality. She is the cohost of the Encountering Silence podcast and the creator of the Contemplating Now and Queering Contemplation podcasts. Her films include In Pursuit of Silence and Day of a Stranger. Cassidy is widely published and currently resides in Indianapolis, where she is studying for her DMin degree.


Merton's Christophany and the Second Axial Monk.

November 14, 2023.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Thomas Merton’s epiphany on the corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets was a significant breakthrough into Christ consciousness and the opening up of what Raimon Panikkar calls, “Christophany.”  This new consciousness propelled an inversion of Merton’s monastic life toward ever deepening relationships with a world of complexity. Relying on insights from Carl Jung, Raimon Panikkar and Teilhard de Chardin, I will explore Merton’s Christophany as a radical theology, a mutational disruption of the Neoplatonic quest, and the ushering in of a new monastic consciousness reflective of the second axial age, marked by the hyperpersonal monk of planetary consciousness.

Ilia Delio, OSF, PhD is a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC and American theologian specializing in the area of science and religion, with interests in evolution, physics and neuroscience and the import of these for theology.

Ilia currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University, and is the author of twenty books including Care for Creation (coauthored with Keith Warner and Pamela Woods), The Emergent Christ and The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love (Orbis, 2013).


White Man Writing on Racism: Thomas Merton and "Letters to a White Liberal".

January 9, 2024.

Available to view at: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel

Thomas Merton's writings on racism, most prominently those found in his "Letters to a White Liberal", have continued to ring true as the racial inequalities of his lifetime persist in the 21st century. This presentation will briefly outline his criticisms and solutions for white liberals before exploring an all-important question: what role should Merton, a cloistered white monk, have in speaking on racism? The answer will investigate how his imperfect approach impacts his continued relevance and reveal the example he sets for white individuals working towards racial justice in 2024.

Anne Pearson is a graduate of Bellarmine University, where she earned a degree in political science and psychology and studied the encroachment of prisons into the public school system through disciplinary alternative schools. While at Bellarmine, she completed a thesis on Thomas Merton and racism and has since presented her research at multiple national and international conferences and as a TEDx talk. She currently lives in Washington, DC where she provides resources to graduate nursing students across the country and advocates for more equitable higher education.


Merton: An Invitation to Unbind Him and Ourselves.

February 13, 2024.

Leslye Colvin will weave a tapestry that provides a fresh perspective of Thomas Merton  interwoven with glimpses of her journey as a child of the Civil Rights Movement era, and the systems that bind us all.

Leslye Colvin is a writer, spiritual companion, and contemplative activist. She has extensive experience in promoting mission and expanding outreach of a variety of sectors including faith-based non profit, government, corporate, and academia. Inspired by the Catholic social justice tradition, she is passionate about encouraging diversity of thought especially as it relates to those often marginalized within the community.