Merton’s Prayers: August 24, 1939

​“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”  [1]

The first prayer in Merton’s journal is sometimes called the “Hail Mary.” He found it in Italian in a novel he was reading. He does not say that he prayed it, but he does use it to reflect that the world of his day was “full of grace” in many perceptible ways.

In what seems like a relatively small and passing entry, but Merton’s first prayer and his reflection related to are actually a major lesson: life is a prayer. Prayer does not require a “Dear God” and an “Amen.”  As St. Francis put it, “God is doing cartwheels in creation.”  And like Francis and Thomas Merton, all we have to do is look around, and we will see grace everywhere. 

[1] I am using the ebook edition of the five-volume set of journals published by HarperCollins. The first volume is referenced, Thomas Merton, ‘ Run to the Mountain: The Story of Vocation’ (HarperCollins, 1995). By referencing the date in each post’s title, you can find the prayer in any version of the journal you have.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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