The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Flanagan, Raymond, Fr., O.C.S.O., 1903-1990

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Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence

Dates of materials: approximately 1945-1952

Volume: 24 item(s); 46 pg(s)

Scope and Content

This undated correspondence is mainly an intramural exchange, sometimes debate, about theology, contemplation, observance of the rule, and mutual book criticism and advice. Most of the extant correspondence was found among Fr. Raymond's effects after his death and all but two are Merton's letters to him. In their jocular style of addressing each other and themselves, Merton is "Lousi" and Raymond is "Rasputin". In addition to the letters, there are partial drafts of poems typed on the backs of handwritten notes to Fr. Raymond, some of which differ from published versions.


Flanagan, usually publishing under Fr. M. Raymond, was another Gethsemani author whose writing career started in the early forties, slightly before Merton's, and ran contemporaneously with Merton's through the late sixties. Quite different in style and substance from Merton's work, Flanagan's books include The Man Who Got Even with God, God Goes to Murderers Row, and Burnt-Out Incense. Merton and Flanagan often saw each other at opposing ends of disagreements about theology or the training of novices.

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

An original copy of the letters with transcripts and notes is located on the movable shelving (Archive - Stack 2). A bound, reference copy is located in the normal sequence of correspondence.

Related Information and Links

See published letters from Merton to Flanagan in Witness to Freedom, pp. 231-237.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

SeriesDateTypeTo/FromFirst LinesPubFull TextNotes
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonYou make me feel like Talleyrand's ghost. 1) No objection whatever to your objective--true saint's   
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonCongratulations. The last chapter is a fine crescendo & climax, & the best in the book--   
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonThe crux of the article (Gardner) is, for you, the criticisms that your "sermonizing <u>does not</u>  Should be "Gardiner" as in Harold Charles Gardiner
 undated/no/no TALfrom MertonEx toto corde thanks for that long and generous examination of the so called poems, and for the loanYes  
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonThis time you bowled me over. Anyway--the story is I had to write something like that to keepYes [verso: typescript of Merton's poem, "The Holy Child's Song" - published letter only includes letter's postscript "About style"]
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonMany thanks for this letter. It was very illuminating. It makes me feel like St. Paul.  [verso: fragment of a typed poem, which is a typescript draft excerpt from "Figures for an Apocalypse"]
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonThat point is absolutely crucial. I have been studying it for three years. I am trying to writeYes [published letter starts with the second paragraph line: "Here are a couple of points at random."]
 undated/no/no TLfrom MertonYou would raise all those red-hot questions! All I know about them is that it would take a month toYes [published letter starts with the second paragraph line: "About the real question: do we need a different system of contemplation"]
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonI have an uneasy feeling that you have pinned something on to me that I definitely don't want pinned   
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonMan that was some "note"--call it a volume. I am keeping it for reference--it is too valuable   
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonThat letter moved me more than I can say. It is wonderful, and makes me feel fine about our Order   
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonYou don't intend to dispense me from reasoning, I can see that. So here goes: I'll make the answer   
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonAbout the experimental knowledge of God--as far as I can understand it is exactly the same as the   
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonThanks again and again. And again. I am not sore to get some friendly encouragement as I can seeYes [verso: torn page - typescript draft excerpt from Merton's poem "Rievaulx: St. Ailred" - published letter starts with the second paragraph, second sentence line: "Evidently I will someday get a dose of the same medicine you have had to take"]
 undated/no/no TLto MertonThis MUST be done: and done NOW: See the effect you have on me: a paragraph of one short sentence  [Addressed "My dear Lousi"]
 undated/no/no TLS[x]from MertonMan if those reviewers like the book half as much as you do we'll make a million dollars and all goYes [original in Sub-Section H.7, Accession 2, Hart Working Files / verso: undated handwritten letter from James Laughlin to Merton beginning, "Here are the first rough proofs."]
 undated/no/no TALSfrom MertonMany thanks for the note--for both notes in fact--and for the info about our Dutch friend.   
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonAll afternoon Fr. Prior was running around the front wing shouting "Flash! Flash!!! Big Poetry   
 undated/no/no HLSfrom MertonMany thanks for the note. I have thought it over prayerfully and I hope objectively before God.   
 undated/no/no TLto MertonYou did it again! You made me change the notation on my sermon. I had put down "Flop!" I changed  [Addressed "My dear Lousi"]
 undated/no/no TALSfrom MertonThanks for Mary Purcell's book. I will try to read some of it and write her a letter. I am sorry  [verso: card stating "With Messrs. Harcourt, Brace and Company's Compliments"]
 undated/no/no TAL from ?BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CASE: ...I was going to write before but I wanted to fight this one alone --   
 undated/no/no TALSfrom MertonI left this morning's talk with the impression that there had been no real communication between us.   
 undated/no/no HNSfrom MertonThis stuff on Dom Frederic may come in handy if you can use it - and if you can decipher it. In Xto  [original note, not part of bound volume]

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