The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Burns, Flavian, Dom, O.C.S.O., 1931-2005

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Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence

Dates of materials: 1964, 1968

Volume: 19 item(s); 24 pg(s)

Scope and Content


Dom Flavian Burns (born Thomas Burns in 1931) was Abbot of Gethsemani from 1968-1973. Dom Flavian approved Merton's trip to Bangkok and later approved a side journey in the same trip to India, where Merton met the Dalai Lama. Burns had been inspired by Seven Storey Mountain after high school and was drawn to Gethsemani. There, he studied under Merton when Merton was Master of Scholastics. In 1966, after Merton had paved the way for hermits, Burns was allowed to live as a hermit at Gethsemani until taking over as Gethsemani's seventh abbot in 1968. (Source: The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, p. 35.)

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Related Information and Links

See also May 23, 1973 letter in "Crane, Robert D." file from Crane to Burns and one letter from Sr. Mary Luke Tobin. See also published letters from Merton to Burns in The School of Charity, pp. 206-207, 374, 379-380, 398-405, 490-411.

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
 1964/03/01 TAL[c]from MertonI am in profound agreement with your talks on the hermit life etc. However there is one small pointYes mostly agrees with Flavian and Dom André on eremitical life - disagrees that monks be permitted free transitus to live this life and that communities should be more restrictive in allowing transfer but more accommodating in allowing the hermit lifestyle if someone is mature enough
 1968/03/30 (#01)TLS[x]from MertonThis letter is a good one and a strong one. What strikes me most is the point about Rawa Senegg:Yes considers a visit to Rawaseneng Trappists in Indonesia and visits to Zen places in Japan more important to him than Bangkok conference - does not want to go to General Chapter in Europe
 1968/03/30? (#02)TLS[x] from van den Bogaard, Cyprian / to Flavian BurnsTo start with I want to send you my best wishes for God's blessing for your new and responsible task  [no date - attached to 1968/03/30 letter] letter to Dom Flavian urging him to allow Merton to go to Bangkok conference and an invitation to go to Rawaseneng monastery in Indonesia / Dom Willibrord van Dijk
 1968/05/08 HLS[x]from MertonI had a good flight out - after Chicago was alone by a window and did not have to talk to anyone.Yes [writing from Redwoods Monastery in Whitethorn, California] praise for the solitude of the monastery and alive spirit of the nuns at Redwoods
 1968/05/14 HLS[x]from MertonFinished the talks to the nuns on Sunday and am now on retreat: which means the whole day inYes [writing from Redwoods Monastery in Whitethorn, California] in the future will commit to more solitude - not allow himself to be called "as a peritus to big official meetings" but possibly more retreats in places like Redwoods
 1968/06/20 HLSto MertonMy own opinion is still, that you should not go to this meeting. I think they over-rate your  still does not think Merton should go to meeting [Bangkok?]
 1968/08/16 (#01)TL[c]from MertonIn regard to the letter of Dom John Morson of Aug. 12th. This problem arose rather frequently in  problems in publishing in France, Spain and Italy - problems with censors for the Italian translation of <i>Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander</i>
 1968/08/16 (#02)TL[c]from MertonIn regard to the letter of Dom John Morson about foreign censorship and in particular the Italian  problems in publishing in France, Spain and Italy - problems with censors for the Italian translation of <i>Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander</i>
 1968/08/16 (#03)TLS[x]from MertonIn regard to the letter of Dom John Morson about foreign censorship and in particular the Italian  problems in publishing in France, Spain and Italy - problems with censors for the Italian translation of <i>Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander</i>
 1968/09/04 TL[x]from Laughlin, JamesThank you so much for your letter authorizing that any charges on Father Louis's American Express   
 1968/09/25 TLS[x]from MertonI am writing this in the Chancery Office while waiting to get my flight to California confirmed.Yes [writing from Anchorage, Alaska] flying in bush planes and getting a feel for Alaska / good prospects for a hermitage / climbed a 2000 foot mountain
 1968/09/26 TLS[x]from MertonYesterday I wrote in a big hurry on a most unfamiliar typewriter. This is still not the kind ofYes [writing from Anchorage, Alaska] plans of going to Juneau area - later visit the Yakutat people / hermits - Russian Orthodox monk who has lived for years off of Kodiak island - the Staretz living there before him was venerated a saint
 1968/10/01 HLS[x]from MertonI thought you'd like to see some photos of one of the best places I have found. These are picturesYes [writing from Anchorage, Alaska] sending pictures of good places for hermitage in Alaska - Cordova, Alaska / offers of land to Merton for hermitage
 1968/10/09 TLS[x]from MertonI borrowed Mother Myriam's Olivetti to write out my paper for Darjeeling (they wanted it written outYes [writing from Redwoods Monastery in Whitethorn, California] advantages of the solitude of Alaska over the development on the California coast / will return to Gethsemani but does not see future there / Asian trip agenda / on Dom James Fox finally thinking Merton "mature" - "Maybe that was the result of the episode in 1966"
 1968/10/20 HLS[x]from MertonJust a word to say I am in Calcutta and the meeting is about to begin. It will be held here becauseYes [writing from the Oberoi Grand Hotel in Calcutta, India] experience of Buddhism in Thailand / poverty of Calcutta / "The idea of ghetto monasticism in Calcutta is just impossible!"
 1968/11/09 TLS[x]from MertonI owe you a progress report. Not having got any mail for a couple of weeks I don't know if thereYes [writing from the Hotel Imperial in New Delhi, India] meeting with the Dalai Lama in the Himalayas - Tibetan samadhi / Madhyamika philosophy / Dalai Lama called Merton a "Geyshe" - someone with Dalai Lama told Merton he had never said this of a westerner before / Alaska hermitage / popularization of Tibetan spirituality
 1968/12/11 TL[x]from Laughlin, JamesI am shattered by this unbelievable event. I know it is God's will, and I know that our dear friend  Laughlin's response to the news of Merton's death
 1968/12/13 HLS[x]from Jenkins, HaroldThank you for your telegram informing us of Father Thomas Merton's death. I assume he will be buried  [Harold Brewster Jenkins was Merton's uncle on his mother's side - see also the "Jenkins, Harold" file in Section A]
 1985/01/09 HLS[x]to Hart, PatrickThank you for letting me read this book by Victor Kramer. To quote Naomi: "<u>This</u> is the Merton  praise for Victor Kramer's book (<i>Thomas Merton</i> and later revised as <i>Thomas Merton, Monk and Artist</i>) / comparison to Michael Mott's <i>Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton</i> and George Woodcock's <i>Thomas Merton, Monk and Poet</i>

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