What I Am Living For

Lessons from the Life and Writings of Thomas Merton

Table of Contents

Read a Sample

Format: Paperback

Publication date: March 16, 2018

Also available from


“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.”Thomas Merton


Some of today's most popular spiritual writers—including Rev. James Martin, S.J.; Bishop Robert Barron; Robert Ellsberg; Rev. Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M.; and Kaya Oakes—explore the meaning of life and what we live for using Thomas Merton's life and writings as a guide.

In his address before the US Congress, Pope Francis praised Merton as one of four exemplary Americans. This was no surprise to the thousands who already know and appreciate the twentieth-century monk, but there were many listening that day who still have no idea who Merton is.

What I Am Living For offers readers new to Merton, as well as longtime enthusiasts, an opportunity to see how the influential twentieth-century monk and writer continues to encourage the awakening of faith in the twenty-first century.

The book is in two parts. Each contributor to part one focuses on an aspect of the spiritual life that is of vital importance today and on which Merton made a profound impact. These include:

  • Martin—Finding who God intends you to be
  • Ellsberg—The spiritual need for solitude and stability
  • Oakes—The importance of coming to terms with our sexuality, whether married, single, or celibate
  • Horan—The importance of dialogue with God, culture, society, and people of other faiths

Part two features shorter, often more personal reflections on the future of faith, the life and teachings of Merton, and what he still says to anyone who seeks a relationship with God.

Contributors include such well-known writers as Barron; Sue Monk Kidd; Pico Iyer; Paula Huston; Ilia Delio, O.F.M.;  Paul Quenon, O.C.S.O.; and Sylvia Boorstein.

Product Details

Pages: 224

Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches

ISBN: 9781594717413

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

  • “An extraordinary gathering of diverse voices.”

    “An extraordinary gathering of diverse voices vividly articulates Merton's deep impact on a generation of honorable readers. Gleaning profound spiritual life lessons from the monk's art of confession and witness, these reflections by contemplative educators—writing beautifully here out of the roots of their own lives—perfectly commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the death of a master teacher.”

    Jonathan Montaldo
    Editor of The Intimate Merton

  • “Inspiring, enlightening, challenging, eloquent, and bracing.”

    “Thomas Merton lovers, rejoice: this collection is a welcome addition to your library, with essays on Merton that are by turns inspiring, enlightening, challenging, eloquent, and bracing. I hope and pray this will introduce a new generation of readers to a man who has influenced countless believers (including this one!). What I Am Living For reminds us why Thomas Merton remains one of the most influential and compelling spiritual writers of the twentieth century—and why he has much to say to readers in the twenty-first.”

    Deacon Greg Kandra
    Blogger at The Deacon's Bench

  • “Critical insight.”

    “Thomas Merton's writings were one of the main reasons I left a job at General Electric and entered the Jesuit order in the late 1980s. His simple concept of the true self—the person we are before God and the person we are meant to be—was a critical insight in my spiritual life.”

    Rev. James Martin, S.J.

  • “Moving.”

    “These essays by contemporary spiritual teachers from Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian traditions reflect on the continuing influence of Merton’s life and writing. New and experienced readers of Merton will find the reflections moving and Merton’s views classically pertinent.”

    Bonnie Thurston
    Founding member and past president of the International Thomas Merton Society

Related Products

Thomas Merton: A Life in Letters
A Book of Hours
Merton’s Palace of Nowhere
The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton

Additional Resources

Publishers Weekly Book Review
Link Follow Link