The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Advanced Search 

Merton's Correspondence with:

Fr. Raymond Flanagan

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


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

Please click here for general restrictions concerning Merton's correspondence.

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

#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPub ✓Notes
 y/m/dMerton Scan ✉ 
1. No.01 undated/no/no HLS from Merton You make me feel like Talleyrand's ghost. 1) No objection whatever to your objective--true saint's «detailed view»
2. No.02 undated/no/no HLS from Merton Congratulations. The last chapter is a fine crescendo & climax, & the best in the book-- «detailed view»
3. No.03 undated/no/no HLS from Merton The crux of the article (Gardner) is, for you, the criticisms that your "sermonizing does not Should be "Gardiner" as in Harold Charles Gardiner «detailed view»
4. No.04 undated/no/no TAL from Merton Ex toto corde thanks for that long and generous examination of the so called poems, and for the loan «detailed view»
5. No.05 undated/no/no HLS from Merton This time you bowled me over. Anyway--the story is I had to write something like that to keep [verso: typescript of Merton's poem, "The Holy Child's Song" - published letter only includes letter's postscript "About style"] «detailed view»
6. No.06 undated/no/no HLS from Merton Many 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"] «detailed view»
7. No.07 undated/no/no HLS from Merton That point is absolutely crucial. I have been studying it for three years. I am trying to write [published letter starts with the second paragraph line: "Here are a couple of points at random."] «detailed view»
8. No.08 undated/no/no TL from Merton You would raise all those red-hot questions! All I know about them is that it would take a month to [published letter starts with the second paragraph line: "About the real question: do we need a different system of contemplation"] «detailed view»
9. No.09 undated/no/no HLS from Merton I have an uneasy feeling that you have pinned something on to me that I definitely don't want pinned «detailed view»
10. No.10 undated/no/no HLS from Merton Man that was some "note"--call it a volume. I am keeping it for reference--it is too valuable «detailed view»
11. No.11 undated/no/no HLS from Merton That letter moved me more than I can say. It is wonderful, and makes me feel fine about our Order «detailed view»
12. No.12 undated/no/no HLS from Merton You don't intend to dispense me from reasoning, I can see that. So here goes: I'll make the answer «detailed view»
13. No.13 undated/no/no HLS from Merton About the experimental knowledge of God--as far as I can understand it is exactly the same as the «detailed view»
14. No.14 undated/no/no HLS from Merton Thanks again and again. And again. I am not sore to get some friendly encouragement as I can see [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"] «detailed view»
15. No.15 undated/no/no TL to Merton This MUST be done: and done NOW: See the effect you have on me: a paragraph of one short sentence [Addressed "My dear Lousi"] «detailed view»
16. No.16 undated/no/no TLS[x] from Merton Man if those reviewers like the book half as much as you do we'll make a million dollars and all go [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."] «detailed view»
17. No.17 undated/no/no TALS from Merton Many thanks for the note--for both notes in fact--and for the info about our Dutch friend. «detailed view»
18. No.18 undated/no/no HLS from Merton All afternoon Fr. Prior was running around the front wing shouting "Flash! Flash!!! Big Poetry «detailed view»
19. No.19 undated/no/no HLS from Merton Many thanks for the note. I have thought it over prayerfully and I hope objectively before God. «detailed view»
20. No.20 undated/no/no TL to Merton You did it again! You made me change the notation on my sermon. I had put down "Flop!" I changed [Addressed "My dear Lousi"] «detailed view»
21. No.21 undated/no/no TALS from Merton Thanks 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"] «detailed view»
22. No.22 undated/no/no TAL  from ? BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CASE: ...I was going to write before but I wanted to fight this one alone -- «detailed view»
23. No.23 undated/no/no TALS from Merton I left this morning's talk with the impression that there had been no real communication between us. «detailed view»
24. No.24 undated/no/no HNS from Merton This 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] «detailed view»

Printer-Friendly Version   Return to the Top of the Page