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Merton's Correspondence with:

Fr. Barnabas Mary Ahern, C.P.; Fr. Barnabas Ahern; Fr. Ahern

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


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

Please click here for general restrictions concerning Merton's correspondence.

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

Click icons for links: ✓="Published | Library Record", ✉="Scanned" | 🗷="Scanned, Viewable Only at Merton Center"

#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPub ✓Notes
 y/m/dMerton Scan ✉ 
1. 1950/04/10 TALS to Merton May Our Lord and Our Lady bless you for cooperating so generously and earnestly in the good that article for Commonweal on contemplation / Fr. M. Raymond, article "Mystical Life - Mystical Prayer" / suggests Merton write on Dom Odo Casel and Maria-Laach «detailed view»
2. 1950/12/04 TLS to Merton I am very grateful for the copy of Monastic Orientation which you kindly sent me. I have need for knowledge / Pope Pius XI's Unigenitus Dei Filius / Osee / M.E. Boismard / Louis Chardon / notes from non-Catholic authors on the Prophets sent to Merton «detailed view»
3. 1950/12/19 (#01) TALS to Merton It 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 «detailed view»
4. 1950/12/19 (#02) other[x] to Merton Senses of Scripture in Divino Afflante Spiritu 1. Background of Encyclical: Shortly before [notes by Ahern] «detailed view»
5. 1951/02/27 TLS to Merton Under 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 «detailed view»
6. 1951/03/26 TALS to Merton I was very happy to hear that you are launching out into your Scripture course. Faber fit 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" «detailed view»
7. 1951/06/02 TALS to Merton Sincere 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 Ascent / Henri Daniel-Rops / other recommendations for authors and texts to teach students «detailed view»
8. 1952/08/19 TLS to Merton No, 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?" «detailed view»
9. 1952/08/25 TALS to Merton I 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 The Sign of Jonas 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" «detailed view»
10. 1952/09/04 TLS to Merton Under separate cover I am returning the ms. All typographical errors are checked and circled to St. Augustine on the liturgy / Bouyer's Pascal Mystery / criticizes the "looseness" and poor sentence structure in Merton's writing «detailed view»
11. 1952/11/16 TLS to Merton This 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 La Bible et L'Evangile «detailed view»
12. 1952/12/30 TLS to Merton Though 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 «detailed view»
13. 1953/01/14 TALS to Merton This 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 «detailed view»
14. 1953/01/22 TL[c] from Merton Many thanks for your kind and solicitous letter. If a cryptic sentence of mine led you to believe 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 «detailed view»
15. 1953/01/29 TLS to Merton Thank 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 Dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena «detailed view»
16. 1953/02/16 transcript to Merton Before 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] «detailed view»
17. 1953/02/20 transcript to Fox, James I 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] «detailed view»
18. 1953/03/03 TL[x] from Fox, James We 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] «detailed view»
19. 1953/05/17 TLS to Merton It 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 The Spiritual Director «detailed view»
20. 1953/11/10 TALS to Merton It 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 «detailed view»
21. 1954/02/01 TLS to Merton Thank you very much for the latest notes of Monastic Orientation which you were so good to send. I Dan Walsh / Mother Schroen / A Great Mystic of the Eighteenth Century by Fr. Favre, C.SS.R. «detailed view»
22. 1954/05/12 TLS to Merton Thank 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 Jerusalem Bible / St. Paul and the Resurrection / solitude in Christ / Dom Odo Casel and Maria-Laach «detailed view»
23. 1954/08/09 TLS to Merton I returned just this morning from the summer schools in Detroit (to our own Fathers) and at praise for Bread in the Wilderness and Seeds of Contemplation / Mother Schroen / Dom Barron from Solesmes Abbey and chant «detailed view»
24. 1955/07/24 (#01) TALS to Merton The 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 «detailed view»
25. 1955/07/24 (#02) other to Merton 1. 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 «detailed view»
26. 1955/09/05 TALS to Merton It 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. / No Man Is an Island / critical of Merton's desire to be hermit / Larry McCluskey «detailed view»
27. 1956/04/08 TALS to Merton I 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 «detailed view»
28. 1973/06/08 TL[x] from Center to Ahern, Barnabas Greetings 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 «detailed view»
29. 1973/07/22 TLS[x] to Center from Ahern, Barnabas Thank you so very much for your kind letter of June 8. I myself was back in the USA during «detailed view»
30. 1973/no/no? HNS  from O'Callaghan, Tommie / to Charlaine Hays Permission to see […] from Fr. Barnabas - last letter qualified - I have reg. myself Fr. Barn «detailed view»

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