Thomas Merton, 1915-1968

The Journey of Thomas Merton," edited by Morgan Atkinson with Jonathan Montaldo. (CNS)

The cover of the most recent book of Thomas Merton's writings "Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton," edited by Morgan Atkinson with Jonathan Montaldo. (CNS)

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Trappist monk Thomas Merton, one of the 20th century’s most influential Catholics. His death through a freak accident in Bangkok, Thailand, came 27 years to the day he entered the Abbey at Getshemani in Trappist, Ky.

A prolific author whose comtemplative writings were an inspiration for a generation of Catholics coming alive in the church in the era around the Second Vatican Council, Merton remains as popular as ever. New books based on his journals, letters and essays continue to be published today.

What’s so attractive about Merton’s writings is his ability to speak to people seeking answers to life’s important questions. Like many of us, he wrestled with purpose and direction in life. His work remains a cornerstone for people striving to overcome the principalities and powers of the world.

The Thomas Merton Center and International Thomas Merton Society at Bellarmine University and The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living continue to promote his teachings and his work.

In his honor, we offer what has become known as the Merton Prayer from his book “Thoughts on Solitude”:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Need a smile? Check this out.

People who know me say I spend way too much time on the Internet. That may be true, but it also means that I’ll find hidden gems while looking for something else, like this item from the blog of the Catholic Herald in Arlington, Va. It’s guaranteed to make you smile, even if you don’t live here in the D.C. area and don’t know the unwritten rules of being a passenger on Metro, our subway system. Enjoy …

Black Catholics and the Obama victory

No matter what one’s political leanings, it’s hard to deny the historic nature of an African-American being elected president of the United States. We explored the mixed views of black Catholics toward a pro-choice African-American candidate in a story two months ago, and some of our client newspapers did the same.

Now, Our Sunday Visitor contributes its own reporting on this double-edged question in a story by former OSV editor Gerald Korson. He found extreme pride in the black Catholic community tempered by Obama’s views on the politics of abortion.