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Religion: The Seven Storey Mountain

The Seven Storey Mountain is a twentieth-century spiritual autobiography written by a Catholic priest and a Trappist monk Thomas Merton. This book has many similarities with St. Augustine’s Confessions since it tells a personal story of seeking God and finding a vocation. The sincerity of the story and Merton’s writing talent provoked a wave of the Catholic revival in the United States. Thanks to the book, millions of people came to faith, many of them became priests and monks. It is not subject to either temporal or individual culture, it belongs to the spiritual treasury of all mankind. This is a retrospective and thorough analysis of earthly life from a spiritual point of view.

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This book is a story about how people come to faith. This is not a theological treatise and not a method of conversion. This is a personal story about how a selfish, spoilt, and cynical boy, a graduate of Cambridge, got into a monastery, lived in silence and fasting, wrote his books, and prayed (Merton, 1999). Merton traced his path from birth to the monastery, and all this time God constantly called him. On this journey, Merton was full of doubts, falls, and spiritual struggle, but he openly told his story, with self-irony and meticulous accuracy. He gave simple advice for those who seek God and a sense of existence (Merton, 1999). If people want to live a spiritual life, they must give it integrity. People are the embodiment of their desires, and human life is shaped by the purpose, by the end, they live for.

Seeking God and knowing Him through experience was the main purpose of Merton’s life. In this sense, he was similar to St. Augustine who considered such objects as God and the soul worthy of cognition. Alike Merton, in his Confessions, St. Augustine wrote that the existence of God can be deduced from the self-consciousness of a human being through comprehension (Augustine, 2010). Both Merton and Augustine accepted Catholic beliefs and continually returned to the question of the relationship between body and spirit. Both works correspond to the Catholic idea of a series of actions, each of which is an incident, containing the possibility of changing one’s fate throughout life. By acting now, people can define future eternity as retribution or bliss. Both authors thought that God must be considered an absolute being, and everything that exists, being God’s creation, is good, while evil means departing from the Lord.

The Seven Storey Mountain is a story of what it means to be a Christian. It is evidence that true faith is born in the depths of human souls, during self-knowledge and contact with God. Although Thomas Merton chose to live behind the monastery walls and strict monastic statutes, he embodies faith that is open to the world. Merton was a seeker of God’s truth who wrote about moralism and spirituality without preaching but looking at the essence of belief. Merton was completely honest with himself and those around him, and his deeply personal story is a truthful depiction of a twentieth-century intellectual wandering in sin and seeking light. The success of this book is explained by the post-war spiritual disorientation of Americans who were looking for new paths and were ready to listen to those who have already found God.

References

Augustine, S. (2010). The city of God, books I–VII (Vol. 8). CUA Press.

Merton, T. (1999). The seven storey mountain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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