Next Meeting: May 10th

The next meeting of the Grand Rapids chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society will be Wednesday, May 10th, at 7pm at Baker Book House.

We will discuss chapters 4, 5, and 6 (and maybe 7) of Thomas Merton’s book Contemplative Prayer.

Here are some suggested questions for discussion:


1. What does Merton say about dividing one’s inner (prayer/meditation) life from one’s outer (worldly/secular) life?
2. What does Merton mean that “the love of others is a stimulus to interior life, not a danger to it”?
3. Merton uses several terms to describe some of the “obstacles” to the life of thought and love which is meditation (walling ourselves up inside…idealism…discouragement…confusion, helplessness). Which of those “obstacles’ have you faced? (Or still do)
4. Who was Abbe Jules Monchanin? How does what he did compare to the Bede Griffiths? (Google Bede Griffiths.)


1. Why does Merton write that the prayer of the heart has to be always very simple?
2. Who was St. John of the Cross?
3. Have you experienced a kind of “dark night of the soul” in your spiritual life?
4. What is the purpose of monastic prayer, psalmody, ratio, meditatio, and lectio?


1. Merton again brings up the dualism that so many experience today – the perceived difference between public and private prayer. Do you see your spiritual life in that way – having a private side and a public side to it?
2. What is the Rule of St. Benedict?
3. Who were John Cassian and St. Basil?
4. What did you learn from Chapter IV that you didn’t know before?

CHAPTER VII (If there’s time…)

1. Why did St. Gregory the Great think contemplative prayer was a problem?
2. Do you make a distinction regarding an active idea of prayer versus a contemplative idea of prayer? (p. 29)
3. Are you able to achieve “the balance that is required” between the two? (p. 30)
4. Who was St. Bernard of Clairvaux? (p. 30)

These are only suggested questions. And it’s likely we won’t get to all of them.

Also, we’ll look at pictures I took from my retreat at Gethsemani last week, and talk about fun stuff – as always.

Oh, and we’ll have treats to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the forming of the Grand Rapids chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society.

See you there!

NOTE: If you’d like to download the pdf for our next meeting and share it with others, we’d be much obliged. Right click here.

Reminder: Group member Fr. Patrick will be giving a series of lectures about Thomas Merton at the Dominican Center at Marywood in Grand Rapids on:

Tuesday, May 9
Tuesday, May 16
Tuesday, May 23

All are from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Here is a link to his lecture series:

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