The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Ahern, Barnabas Mary, Fr., C.P., 1915-1995

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Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence

Dates of materials: 1950-1973

Volume: 30 item(s); 69 pg(s)

Scope and Content

This encompasses an earlier era of correspondence than the majority of the collection. The correspondence is almost all from Ahern to Merton, except one letter by Merton from 1953, which was published. It is unfortunate that more of Merton's responses are not extant because he reviewed Ahern's biblical translations while Ahern reviewed Merton's early manuscripts and books. There is also early dialogue about Merton's restlessness at Gethsemani, talk about whether he would leave, and discussion about living the life of a hermit at Gethsemani.


Fr. Barnabas Ahern was a Passionist priest involved in a new Catholic Bible translation effort. He offered Merton advice on biblical instruction, instruction of novices, and reviewed Merton's early manuscripts and books. See the following link for more information on Fr. Ahern:

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Related Information and Links

See one published letter from Merton to Fr. Ahern in The School of Charity, pp. 50-52; and see one letter in the "Censors Reports" file (1952/August/25).

Other Finding Aids

If the person in correspondence with Merton has full text records in the Merton Center Digital Collections, there will be a numeric link to them below.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

SeriesDateTypeTo/FromFirst LinesPubFull TextNotes
 1950/04/10 TALSto MertonMay Our Lord and Our Lady bless you for cooperating so generously and earnestly in the good that  article for <u>Commonweal</u> on contemplation / Fr. M. Raymond, article "Mystical Life - Mystical Prayer" / suggests Merton write on Dom Odo Casel and Maria-Laach
 1950/12/04 TLSto MertonI am very grateful for the copy of <u>Monastic Orientation</u> which you kindly sent me. I have  need for knowledge / Pope Pius XI's <u>Unigenitus Dei Filius</u> / Osee / M.E. Boismard / Louis Chardon / notes from non-Catholic authors on the Prophets sent to Merton
 1950/12/19 (#01)TALSto MertonIt will be a pleasure and privilege to lend any help I can; so never hesitate to ask. The good Lord  criticism and commentary of Merton's books / sends "exposé on the Scriptural senses" / advice on carefully checking French reviews
 1950/12/19 (#02)other[x]to MertonSenses of Scripture in <u>Divino Afflante Spiritu</u> 1. Background of Encyclical: Shortly before  [notes by Ahern]
 1951/02/27 TLSto MertonUnder separate cover I am sending the notes which I promised for the end of January! The first half  1 page of letter and 5 of notes, mainly Old Testament / St. Nicholas of Flue, St. Anna Maria of Jesus, and Lebanese hermit, Fr. Charbel (Sharbel) / ends with discussion of the Holy Father's warnings against the misuse/misinterpretation of Scripture
 1951/03/26 TALSto MertonI was very happy to hear that you are launching out into your Scripture course. <u>Faber fit</u>  gives extensive advice on the structure of his courses and how Merton should treat Old and New Testaments, what books to read, etc. / bio. of Fr. Charbel (Sharbel) / discussion of solitude and being a "'hermit' among the Trappists"
 1951/06/02 TALSto MertonSincere congratulations on your appointment as Master of Students; your new task will mean so much  Benedictines and Cistercians as sources for instruction / St. John's <i>Ascent</i> / Henri Daniel-Rops / other recommendations for authors and texts to teach students
 1952/08/19 TLSto MertonNo, your ms. is not lost. It arrived here yesterday, forwarded from Glockner. I have already begun  review of manuscript / Merton's Journal / proposes question: "What must one do practically when he has come to distrust his human concepts of the realities of the Faith?"
 1952/08/25 TALSto MertonI hope sincerely that St. Louis' day has brought many graces. I offered Holy Mass for you this  [see "Censors Reports" file for original letter] censor's criticism on <i>The Sign of Jonas</i> from Fr. Barnabas Ahern, C.P., of the Passionist Fathers of Chicago - 2 pages of typed letter and handwritten note verso with seven pages of "doctrinal suggestions" and five pages of "typographical corrections"
 1952/09/04 TLSto MertonUnder separate cover I am returning the ms. All typographical errors are checked and circled to  St. Augustine on the liturgy / Bouyer's <i>Pascal Mystery</i> / criticizes the "looseness" and poor sentence structure in Merton's writing
 1952/11/16 TLSto MertonThis is just a note to thank you for the copy of Monastic Orientation which you were so kind to send  suggests introducing students to the "De Virtutibus in the Secunda Secundae" and recommends L. Bouyer's <i>La Bible et L'Evangile</i>
 1952/12/30 TLSto MertonThough I did not write for Christmas, I did not forget; for I offered Holy Mass for you and your  new Passionist foundation in Japan with Father Matthew chosen as Superior / Ahern suggests that Merton meet Fr. Matthew / Merton's notes on Cistercian Theology / St. Paul of the Cross (founder of Passionists) / emphasis on the Resurrection in Acts
 1953/01/14 TALSto MertonThis is a shot in the dark - probably completely unwarranted. But I know you understand, and will  sees hints that Merton has an idea of leaving Gethsemani and argues extensively that it will undermine his previous work and cause critics to write him off
 1953/01/22 TL[c]from MertonMany thanks for your kind and solicitous letter. If a cryptic sentence of mine led you to believeYes clarification that Merton does not plan to leave Gethsemani / discussed ill match for Trappist lifestyle and his desire to live as a hermit at Gethsemani
 1953/01/29 TLSto MertonThank you for your letter of clarification; for, yes, I was concerned. Your confidence is  criticizes Merton's idea of becoming a hermit / suggests a year-long sabbatical doing the work of a Trappist / recommends <i>Dialogues</i> of St. Catherine of Siena
 1953/02/16 transcriptto MertonBefore Ash Wednesday descends upon us I want to thank you for your last letter.  [two carbon copy transcripts of the letter filed in Dom James Fox's file concerning Merton and the critical article of him by Dom Aelred Graham, "A Modern Man in Reverse" / see also "Graham, Aelred" correspondence file, Series 2 for this file]
 1953/02/20 transcriptto Fox, JamesI am writing directly to you, for I feared a letter to Father M. Louis might not reach him during  [carbon copy transcript of the letter filed in Dom James Fox's file concerning the Merton and the critical article of him by Dom Aelred Graham, "A Modern Man in Reverse" / see also "Graham, Aelred" correspondence file, Series 2 for this file]
 1953/03/03 TL[x]from Fox, JamesWe received your charming letter of February 14. I am answering for good Father Louis.  [copy of a letter filed in Dom James Fox's file concerning the Merton and the critical article of him by Dom Aelred Graham, "A Modern Man in Reverse" / see also "Graham, Aelred" correspondence file, Series 2]
 1953/05/17 TLSto MertonIt is long since I have written; but be assured that I have been praying for you. And I know that  true solitude / St. John of the Cross / "Robert's translation of Canticle in the Jerusalem Bible" / Wisdom of Solomon / Fr. Gabriel's <i>The Spiritual Director</i>
 1953/11/10 TALSto MertonIt was ever so good to receive your letter of October 19th, and to learn that the struggle still  addresses Merton's complaints of Gethsemani and its artificiality / authorship of Deutero-Isaiah / Jeremias / "parallels between the Bible and extra-biblical sources / suggestions for conference on saintly priest / Soloviev
 1954/02/01 TLSto MertonThank you very much for the latest notes of Monastic Orientation which you were so good to send. I  Dan Walsh / Mother Schroen / <i>A Great Mystic of the Eighteenth Century</i> by Fr. Favre, C.SS.R.
 1954/05/12 TLSto MertonThank you ever so much -- first, for the fine letter of February 27, which I should have  responds to Merton's criticism that Ahern's translation of the Epistles was too conservative / more bold approach of <i>Jerusalem Bible</i> / St. Paul and the Resurrection / solitude in Christ / Dom Odo Casel and Maria-Laach
 1954/08/09 TLSto MertonI returned just this morning from the summer schools in Detroit (to our own Fathers) and at  praise for <i>Bread in the Wilderness</i> and <i>Seeds of Contemplation</i> / Mother Schroen / Dom Barron from Solesmes Abbey and chant
 1955/07/24 (#01)TALSto MertonThe letter has been and will be my address from the beginning of June until the end of November.  moved to New Jersey to work as chairman of the board of [Biblical] translators / working on Epistles / editorial policy / not like Knox's translation
 1955/07/24 (#02)otherto Merton1. The new translation must read smoothly and yet follow the text closely. It must be English  Editorial Policy for the Biblical translation in which Ahern was involved / "must stand comparison with the Kleist-Lilly Bible" but more correct
 1955/09/05 TALSto MertonIt was very good to hear from you, and to know that you will carry on with the Scripture work.  translating Ephesians / Monastic Orientation notes / Mother Schroen, R.S.C.J. / <i>No Man Is an Island</i> / critical of Merton's desire to be hermit / Larry McCluskey
 1956/04/08 TALSto MertonI have thought of you many a time since my last letter - and always with a prayer. Please do  American Passionists trip to Assisi / studying Ugaritic language / Dom Jean-Baptiste Porion [quoted in letter as "Jean Baptist Poirron"] / recommends Bl. Placid Riccordi for work as Master of Novices
 1973/06/08 TL[x]from Center to Ahern, BarnabasGreetings from Kentucky and all the O'Callaghans' [sic]! How are you? It has been so long since  permissions request / confidentiality of some materials / Mother Sullivan
 1973/07/22 TLS[x]to Center from Ahern, BarnabasThank you so very much for your kind letter of June 8. I myself was back in the USA during   
 1973/no/no? HNS from O'Callaghan, Tommie / to Charlaine HaysPermission to see […] from Fr. Barnabas - last letter <u>qualified</u> - I have reg. myself Fr. Barn   

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