Review of Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours, edited with an Introduction
by Kathleen Deignan, Foreword by James Finley, illustrations by
John Giuliani

Vaughan, Matthew

This is a book review of Thomas Merton, "A Book of Hours," edited with an Introduction by Kathleen Deignan, Foreword by James Finley, Illustrations by John Giuliani.
Through this magnificent Book of Hours, Thomas Merton guides the prayers of an "active contemplative" for one week - if one uses it as Kathleen Deignan intended. Deignan has selected texts from Merton's mountainous corpus and arranged them into seven daily, meditative readings. Each day's reading is further divided into texts for dawn, day, dusk, and night. The book was inspired by the "Book of Hours" format first made popular in Europe throughout the Middle Ages, and which is now commonplace in the devotional life of The Church (hence the title: this is merely A Book of Hours).
It is not an academic or theological treatise, nor is it a systematic exposition of contemplation of the hours. Deignan does not even dictate how one reads this book. It is, instead, a call to listen for God in silence, prayer, and contemplation.
While this book is mostly the product of Deignan's imagination, she was not alone in creating it. The book opens with an autobiographical foreword by James Finley, in which he discusses his experiences with Merton and his writing. As it is common for Books of Hours to be illustrated, Deignan again partnered with John Giuliani (the two previously collaborated to produce When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature [Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2003]), who provides subtle, beautiful illustrations throughout the course of the book.


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Also Published In

The Merton Annual

More About This Work

Academic Units
Union Theological Seminary
Published Here
June 12, 2013