From the author of The Seven Storey Mountain, this book looks at an order of Catholic monks dating back to eleventh-century France.
“The word ‘Trappist’ has become synonymous with ‘ascetic’ and definitely indicates a monk who leads a very hard life. But . . . Penance and asceticism are not ends in themselves. If monks never succeeded in being more than pious athletes, they do not fulfill their purpose in the Church. If you want to understand why the monks lead the life they do, you will have to ask, first of all, What is their aim?”
In his bestselling memoir, The Seven Storey Mountain, Catholic poet, theologian, and mystic Thomas Merton chronicled his journey to becoming a Cistercian monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky. In The Waters of Siloe, he provides an enlightening account of the Cistercian Order, better known as the Trappists.
With clarity and wisdom, Merton explores the history of the Cistercian Order from its founding in 1098, its development and waning, and the seventeenth-century reforms by the Abbé de Rancé, which began the second flowering that continues today. Throughout, Merton illuminates the purposes of monasticism and its surprising resurgence in America and elsewhere.
“Only Thomas Merton could have written single-handed this history of Trappist monks, for it is a work of diverse gifts and skill, an ardent collaboration of scholar and story-teller, priest and poet.” —The New York Times
Thomas Merton (1915–1968) was born in France and came to live in the United States at the age of twenty-four. He received several awards recognizing his contribution to religious study and contemplation, including the Pax Medal in 1963, and remained a devoted spiritualist and a tireless advocate for social justice until his death in 1968. The Sign of Jonas was originally published in 1953.