Compassionate Fire

Compassionate Fire

The Letters of Thomas Merton and Catherine de Hueck Doherty 

Author: Thomas Merton

Author: Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Edited by: Robert A. Wild

Price: $12.95

Format: Paperback

Pages: 128

Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches

ISBN: 978-1-59471-216-6

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

On-sale date: September 1, 2009

This product is no longer for sale.


Just after Thomas Merton's death in 1968, Catholic social activist Catherine de Hueck Doherty wrote to Merton's abbot: "In some strange mysterious way I never quite understood, [he] was in part my spiritual son." The friendship originated when Merton worked at Friendship House in Harlem, and this volume of warm, candid correspondence traces nearly three decades of friendship through thirty-one surviving letters—fourteen written by Merton, and seventeen by Doherty. Doherty's previously unpublished letters are now brought together with those of Merton. The exchange reveals Merton's development from a young man searching for his place in God's plan, to a monk seeking God through solitude and work for social justice.


"Highly recommended."

"Fr. Robert Wild is a providential choice as editor of Compassionate Fire, the complete correspondence between Th omas Merton and Catherine de Hueck Doherty. With this book, we now have available both sides of their fascinating exchange of letters beginning with the early 1940s until Merton’s tragic accidental death on December 10, 1968. It can be highly recommended to all seekers of the truth."

Br. Patrick Hart, O.C.S.O., Abbey of Gethsemani

"Living testimony."

"The living testimony of two great souls aflame from the same Holy Spirit."

Richard J. Payne, Founding Editor-in-Chief
The Classics of Western Spirituality

"Not too late to pay attention to these letters."

"Reading these letters is like listening to a conversation between two warning canaries in a dangerous mine shaft. Both Catherine Doherty and Thomas Merton were contemplatives and sensitive to the dangers facing the Church: faith being absorbed by culture, inattention of the clergy, the lure of wealth, and the neglect of the poor. It is not too late to pay attention to these letters and to be moved in faith to take our Catholic life seriously. To do this, however, we will have to follow their example by seeking God honestly, praying deeply and consistently, reflecting critically, and striving for a holiness that knows the demands of love."

Rev. Francis Martin, Professor of New Testament
Dominican House of Studies

"An excellent book."

"The letters of Catherine de Hueck Doherty and Thomas Merton show us in very human ways the struggle one must go through in order to live as an authentic Christian in the modern world. It is an excellent book that will inspire anyone who tries to understand their faith, will encourage anyone who tries to live their faith, and will guide anyone who desires to share their faith with others."

Lorene Hanley Duquin, Author of
They Called Her the Baroness: The Life of Catherine de Hueck Doherty