Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1988


Dominicans, Province of St. Albert the Great


Thomas Merton began, early in his monastic career, to explain religious life and especially the enclosed contemplative form of that life, to what he then regarded as “the outside world.” At first his attitude toward the “world” was more than tinged with the contempt and even arrogance of someone who saw himself as having chosen the better part in contrast to those who did not have the spiritual wisdom or moral courage to abandon the sinful context of ordinary life for the purity of the cloister.(1) Toward the end of his life he came to realize that “leaving the world” was more an interior project than a change of geography and that a lifestyle that was obligatory for him because of a personal vocation might not be appropriate for another who shared exactly the same ideals and pursued them with equal zeal and generosity.

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