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A Book of Hours [Hardcover]

Thomas Merton Kathleen Deignan (ed.)
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 1 2007
Thomas Merton was the most popular proponent of the Christian contemplative tradition in the twentieth century. Now, for the first time, some of his most lyrical and prayerful writings have been arranged into A Book of Hours, a rich resource for daily prayer and contemplation that imitates the increasingly popular ancient monastic practice of "praying the hours". Editor Kathleen Deignan mined Merton's voluminous writings, arranging prayers for Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Dark for each of the days of the week. A Book of Hours allows for a slice of monastic contemplation in the midst of hectic modern life, with psalms, prayers, readings, and reflections.

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A Book of Hours reveals in ways I have never experienced the hidden wellspring of Merton's contemplative life and art. This is a gorgeous book, beautifully conceived and intelligently executed. Deignan has woven a tapestry of Merton's prayer, prose, and poetry at their most ardent so as to re-educate our awareness that God is Beautiful and most worthy of our daily praise. This five-star book will snugly fit the pocket of your heart.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Grateful Dec 10 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book was brand new, couldn't be happier with it; in fact, I gave it as a Christmas gift and the recipient was very pleased
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  54 reviews
211 of 216 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serving Our Soul-Needs Feb. 16 2007
By Carol Blank - Published on Amazon.com
It feels presumptuous to comment on a gracefully written and illustrated work based on the words of one of the twentieth century's greatest spiritual writers. Nonetheless, my take on this prayer book may add a little something to the high praise expressed by Merton scholars in the foreword and jacket remarks.

Kathleen Deignan's introduction, in addition to providing background on Thomas Merton, describes the practice of praying a Book of Hours. Her version consists of excerpts from a variety of Merton's works presented as familiar liturgical elements such as psalms, litanies, intercessions, hymns, and epistles. She invites us to "let this breviary serve our soul-needs" using whatever elements appeal to us during the time we have.

The first time I prayed with the book, I was drawn to these words from the Lesson: "Keep your eyes clean and your ears quiet and your mind serene." What would it mean for me to do each of those, and could I add other, similar cautions? Maybe lips or tongue or mouth in relation to fasting and praying? During a later session, I discovered an antiphon that exemplifies Merton's moments of pure exuberance in the midst of more formal expression: "You have to be all the time cooperating with the love and love sets a fast pace even at the beginning and, if you don't keep up, you'll get dropped." I was grateful that Deignan included this one, and also a long passage from Merton's Fire Walk story, considered by many to be the greatest piece of spiritual writing of its time.

Although this Book of Hours is in itself enough material for unlimited reflection, the author has wisely understood that many readers will want more Merton. To help them, she has added a simple system for identifying the source of each passage at the end of the book.
75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful March 1 2007
By Jane R. Krebs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great read for Lent. Just received this book a couple of days ago. The various writings of Merton are arranged in a Liturgy of the Hours format. This book is like an old friend, comfortable, deep, and something to "sit" with. I am buying another copy for my daughter and will recommend it highly to my Centering Prayer group.
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Persistent Call of Silence May 6 2007
By Francis Champine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Book of Hours by Thomas Merton called me to a deeper sense of myself. Each day of the week, Merton's thoughts, meditations, and prayers pulled me into a journey of love. Merton is considered one of the great spiritual directors of the 20th century. The anguish and joy through his own journey toward the mystery we call God acts as a guidepost for those who wish to find the peace that only God can offer. This little gem of a book enables those who want to find a more penetrating prayer time to find words and images that help in the journey to the "small light that burns within each of us, that light being God."

The editors manipulated a wealth of Merton's poetry, letters, canticles and journal entries to meld into a liturgically poetic book of hours or opus dei for the every day. The reader is presented with a week's worth of prayers and meditations organized in the traditional monastic style. However, instead of the seven hours or calls to prayer in the day, the editors shaped the daily prayer into four notable "hours:" Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Dark. Each part of the day brings the reader a reason to move forward, a reason to be, a reason to love each other more.

Merton's writing is never an easy read. He demands much of his audience. Often a meditation or prayer needs to be reread to glean its potential meaning for the reader, but that is the beauty of reading the mind of a seeker of peace in this world and the next. For those new to Merton, there may be an urge to put the little tome down, but hang in there. With every paragraph, this monk provides another window for inspiration and contemplation. He even encourages creative responses to silence:

Night calls, the door opens;

Darkness envelops the walk.

Forest stars bring me home.

Frank Champine

Langhorne, PA
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just for Merton Lovers Sept. 14 2007
By Loretta Hoffmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous collection of writings from the works of Thomas Merton, the Trappist Monk, assembled in the form of a book of hours. Even if you are not particularly knowledgable about Merton's writings, you will find his comments on so many aspects of the spiritual life meaningful and tantalizing, you will want to study his works further. The author does include an index that gives the source of each selection included for the particular time and day of the week. Although he lived from 1915 - 1968, you will feel he is writing for right now. Included are writings for Dawn, Day, Dusk and Dark on each day of the week. You might think that only seven days would not be enough to keep you interested. But, as with much of Holy Scripture, something new and fresh appears with repetition. The author includes an informed introduction to her selections for Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Companion prayers March 29 2007
By K. K. Nicholson - Published on Amazon.com
This compact book allows me to bring these prayers whereever I go. When I need a bit of insight to stop & think, I take out this version. Separating the volume into days is perfect. I was looking for a prayer book of this kind for years.
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