Merton’s Prayers

October 22, 1939

“Pax Tecum Filumena”
(“Peace be with you, Philomena) [1]

Between his last recorded prayer and this one (two months) Merton accepted a call to the priesthood and consulted with friends about how best to fulfill the call. They advised him to join an Order. The prayer above was Merton’s brief request for Philomena to dwell in the peace of God in the church invisible.

Out of her peace Merton asked, “so I pray, too, that she will protect me, and ask God to make me chaste and meek and perfect in my vocation, and bring me then to the Monastery and serve Him perfectly there.” Merton’s request for peace was the expression of his desire for purity of heart.

Prayer is the means by which we align ourselves with the Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:8). As Soren Kierkegaard put it, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” That one thing is that the will of God might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Merton’s prayer is toward that end. He wanted to be one through whom that could happen. We should want to be too.

[1] Thomas Merton, ‘Run to the Mountain: The Story of Vocation’ (HarperCollins, 1995). By referencing the date, 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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