Travel into the desert with Thomas Merton as your guide.
In the third century, men and women journeyed into the deserts of Syria and Egypt. Turning away from the world, they sought to find salvation in solitude. By doing so, they developed new forms of monasticism and spirituality.
Now known as the Desert Fathers and Mothers, their wisdom remains as inspirational today as ever. In this set of lectures released to the public for the first time ever, you will learn about these spiritual ancestors with Thomas Merton as your personal teacher. Under Merton’s guidance, you’ll enter the Abbey of Gethsemani to journey through centuries of spiritual history.
These eight talks, originally recorded in the 1960s and remastered for your enjoyment, center on the eremitic mystics in modern-day Syria. You’ll meet such inspirational figures as St. Symeon the Stylite, St. Julian Sabas the Elder, and St. Aphraates. As you will learn from Merton, these complex monks were far ahead of their time.
As Merton says, these hermits were “humble, quiet, sensible people, with a deep knowledge of human nature” (The Wisdom of the Desert). By journeying into the desert, they found a transcendent closeness with Jesus Christ. Centuries later, we still have much to glean from their works.
When you listen to Thomas Merton in his own voice, you will open your mind and spirit to the timeless wisdom of the desert.
Learn about downloadable programs.
*Photo of Thomas Merton by Sibylle Akers. Used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust & Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University.
About Your Presenter
Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk and best-selling 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, moral values, 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 and are part of the archives of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
About Your Presenter
Learn More About This Professor
Fr. Anthony Ciorra was ordained as a priest in 1973. His experience has included parish life, teaching, administration, retreat work, preaching, and formation ministries. He has graduate degrees in psychology, history, and pastoral theology and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. He has a Ph.D. in Theology from Fordham University.
His publications include Everyday Mysticism (Crossroad, 1995), a book about spirituality in the marketplace, and Moral Formation in the Parish (Alba House, 1999), a book about living with Christian and moral values in the world. The spirituality in these works is reflected in his involvement in lay ministry formation and secular institute movements. In recognition of his ministry in the Church, he was given the pontifical honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by Pope John Paul in 1999. He was 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.
He is Vice President for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. Previously he was the Dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University and the director of the Center for Theologic...
- Introduction by Fr. Anthony Ciorra, Ph.D.
- The Beginnings of Desert Spirituality
- Syrian Monasticism
- The Syrian Monks, Part I
- Syrian Monastic Traditions
- St. Julian Sabas the Elder and Liturgical Prayer
- The Syrian Monks, Part II
- Syrian Spirituality
- The Ascetic Life of the Desert