Thomas Merton on Sufism

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Thomas Merton on Sufism

Introductory Lecture + 13 Talks on 7 CDs
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Can a faithful Catholic benefit from understanding Sufism? Merton thought so. Now you can discover why.

In the twentieth century, Thomas Merton, one of Christianity’s great mystics, encountered the ancient Eastern mystical tradition known as Sufism. The result was an outpouring of mystical insight and spiritual wisdom.

In these talks, you will discover what first electrified Merton. The Sufi mystics have given us one of the world’s most read poets, Rumi, the beautiful mystical dance of whirling dervishes, interreligious insight, and new forms of contemplation. A visionary who sought to synthesize the best of Eastern and Western spiritualities, Thomas Merton’s profound interest in the Sufi mystics is more relevant today than ever.

Merton explores the contemplative wisdom of Sufism to enhance our Christian understanding of mysticism and spiritual practice. In one of his talks to the novices at Gethsemani, he said, “The Sufis are seeking to know God and have ways of seeking to know God, and this should have some success with us. . . . We should be closer to the Sufis.”

In these talks, you will watch the development of Merton’s spirituality as he moved towards a greater understanding of interreligious dialogue. Merton believed that the Sufis had much to teach us about prayer, mysticism, and contemplation.

Merton will bring you to new and exciting places as he reflects on Sufism and the mystical life. What Merton taught in the mid-twentieth century is prophetic for spiritual seekers in the contemporary world.

*Photographs of Thomas Merton by Sybille Akers and John Howard Griffin. Used with Permission of the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.

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Topic Titles
Topic Titles
  • Introduction to Sufi Thought (4/23/1967)
  • Knowledge of God (4/30/1967)
  • God in Creation (5/14/1967)
  • The Straight Path (5/21/1967)
  • Finding Direction (6/18/1967)
  • Satisfaction in Asceticism: States and Stations (7/2/1967)
  • Awakening to Repentance (7/16/1967)
  • Navigating States of Asceticism (9/10/1967)
  • The Lucidity of Poverty (9/17/1967)
  • Spiritual Trial (10/8/1967)
  • Loss and Identity (10/15/1967)
  • Mystical Awareness (11/12/1967)
  • Obstacles to Mystical Awareness (11/19/1967)
  • Afterward by Fr. Anthony Ciorra, Ph.D.
About Your Presenter

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk and bestselling author of such beloved works as The Seven Storey Mountain and New Seeds of Contemplation. One of the 20th century’s great mystics, Merton was also a masterful teacher who delivered powerful conferences to the novice monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani. In these conferences, Merton’s thinking moved from cloistered monastic life to issues of social justice and interreligious understanding. A spiritual sage and guide for countless men and women, Merton struggled with complex questions about God’s existence and the role of organized religion.

Those who knew him also experienced his gifts as a homilist and teacher. These special, remastered recordings are part of his spoken word legacy. They are actual recordings of Thomas Merton. By agreement with The Thomas Merton Legacy Trust, Now You Know Media has the sole right to record, master, re-master, duplicate, market, and disseminate copies of "The Merton Recordings," which are a selection of the archives housed in the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.

Fr. Anthony Ciorra, Ph.D., is a leading expert on Catholic spirituality. He was ordained as a priest in 1973. In recognition of his ministry in the Church, Pope John Paul II awarded him the pontifical honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1999. Fr. Ciorra was also awarded the Caritas Centennial Award in 2000 for his work in lay ministry and the Spirit of RENEW Award for his work in interreligious dialogue and ecumenism.

Fr. Ciorra's books include Everyday Mysticism (Crossroad, 1995), Beauty: A Path to God (Paulist Press, 2013), and Moral Formation in the Parish (Alba House, 1998). He is also the co-editor, with Dr. Michael W. Higgins, of Vatican II: A Universal Call to Holiness (Paulist, 2012).

Fr. Ciorra holds graduate degrees in psychology, spirituality, and pastoral theology. He earned his Ph.D. in historical theology from Fordham University.

Currently, Fr. Ciorra is Vice President for Mission and Catholic Identity and Professor of Theology at Sacred Heart University. Previously, he served as dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University, director of the Center for Theological and Spiritual Development a...

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Customer Reviews (0)
The section Thomas was actually talking. He brings up many issues that I questioned. Review by Vicky Middlesworth, Fallbrook, California. (Posted on 4/14/2015)
An excellent introduction to both Sufism and Merton
These lectures are a wonderful entryway both into the fascinating and surprisingly relevant world of mystical Islam, and into Thomas Merton's humanity, humility, and sense of humor as a teacher. I'm grateful that these recordings are available. Review by Thomas (Posted on 12/6/2014)
Highly Relevant
In this lecture, Merton shows us how the Mystical strain of Islam (Sufism) has much in common with Christian Mysticism. This subject is especially relevant today, as we are engaged in a worldwide struggle involving religious faiths and the freedom to believe/practice as one's conscience dictates. To realize how much we as Christians have in common with our Islamic brothers and sisters is of the utmost priority. Highly recommended. Review by richard (Posted on 8/21/2014)
Truly inspirational teaching
I highly recommend this set of lectures. I have had difficulty appreciating Thomas Merton's books, but these lectures are very accessible. I was amazed at the clarity of his teaching and truly inspired by it. The audio quality of the lectures is great and it's really wonderful to have the opportunity to hear the actual voice of a great teacher like Merton. Review by Robert (Posted on 8/7/2013)
great overview of Sufism
Merton shows us how we can integrate the mystical tradition of Islam (Sufism) with Christian mysticism. It helped me see how the mystical currents of both religions overlap. Highly recommended. Review by richard (Posted on 7/5/2012)
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