Today marks the 99th birthday of the late Trappist monk and spiritual writer, Thomas Merton. Today also begins the year-long Merton Centenary countdown.

This is the beginning of the entry in Merton’s journal from January 31, 1968, the last birthday he would celebrate on this earth.

Clear, thin new moon appearing and disappearing between slow slate blue clouds – and the living black skeletons of the trees against the evening sky. More artillery than usual whumping at [Fort] Knox. It is my fifty-third birthday.

He spent the day, admittedly not working, but enjoying the unusual springlike afternoon around the monastery and near the pond. How will you celebrate Merton’s Birthday?

Photo: Merton Legacy Trust


  1. Today I drove to work, running late for an 8am meeting, due to the unusual moment of me seriously oversleeping. Anxious about every little thing under the sun – health, money, vocation, some things going on with my 17 year old stepdaughter. I was frantic and my mind was racing like hound after a scent that could not be found.

    I wanted to pray a rosary, but was too distracted, so I decided to try to surrender to some kind of contemplation of God. For some reason, I thought of Merton’s moment on the corner in Louisville, when he had his mystical experience. This did help me a little, and I began to breath me deeply. So it is interesting to note, that the “Father Louis” that I thanked along with God in my prayers, would have had a birthday today.

  2. I don’t know how I could have made it through life without Merton. He has been my primary spiritual guide who has never led me down a wrong road. Nobody else even came close to being able to speak so directly to my soul.

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