Among the great luminaries of the Christian spiritual tradition, the modern master, Thomas Merton, shines a penetrating light upon our challenging lives and times. More than half a century after his death, Merton grows in stature and relevance as a pattern of integral ecological consciousness becomes evident throughout his written corpus as its complexity and unity become more transparent with time.
As the contemporary ecological crisis deepens, we urgently require more than instrumental remedies to stem the life-loss of our ecosphere suffered at human hands. We need a penetrating understanding of the more troubling and mysterious pathology underlying it: why, indeed, have we plundered our planetary paradise?
This was the difficult “koan” Merton carried to fruition as he explored the congenital disorientation of spirit that exiles us from our common home in the community of creation. Having suffered such exile, he recovered from it, and taught a holistic therapy of contemplative living that can restore our ecological consciousness, conscience, and practice. This program will explore Merton’s wisdom for the Dark Night of Earth.
Kathleen Noone Deignan, CND, PhD is a sister of the Congregation of Notre Dame and Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Iona College, where she serves as founding director of the Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit, a multi-faceted project in support of the emergence of a global ecological civilization.
A GreenFaith Fellow since 2008, Dr. Deignan is an alumna of Fordham University where she studied under Thomas Berry, earning a Master’s Degree in the History of Christian Spirituality and a Doctorate in Historical Theology. Her publications include ChristSpirit: The Pneumatological Eschatology of Shaker Christianity, When the Trees Say Nothing: Thomas Merton’s Writings on Nature, Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours, and numerous published articles on integral spirituality.
President Emerita of the International Thomas Merton Society, Sister Kathleen animates The Merton Contemplative Initiative at Iona College, and is co-convener of The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue to honor and promote the legacy of her mentor, Thomas Berry. A board member of the American Teilhard Association, her current publishing project is For Those Who Love the World: A Book of Hours based on the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
Sister Kathleen is also co-founder of Schola Ministries – a project in service to the contemplative and liturgical arts which has produced a dozen compact discs of her original sacred songs. She is currently working to publish the prayers of John Battista Giuliani, the recently deceased founder of the Benedictine Grange where she was liturgical composer in residence for over 40 years.