"One of Bonnie Thurston's great gifts to us is her ability to write, when appropriate, about profound topics with a light touch—both accessible and illuminating. That gift is on full display in this wonderful distillation not only of Thomas Merton's core spiritual teachings but of her many years of study, reflection, and prayer on these teachings. She shows clearly and persuasively how Merton's monastic vocation and vision do not separate him from those outside the cloister, but are the ground for his compassionate, insightful identification with the hopes and needs of people in all walks of life, continuing to resonate and inspire in our day as it did in his."
Patrick O'Connell, Former president of the International Thomas Merton Society and editor of The Merton Seasonal
"Thurston argues that to understand Thomas Merton one must understand him as a monk. This careful study argues that point with deep insight based on her four decades of reading and writing about the Merton corpus. This book, extremely readable and unfailingly intelligent, is highly recommended."
Lawrence S. Cunningham, The University of Notre Dame
"This is not just a book about Thomas Merton. It is an invitation to encounter him and delve deeply into the monastic tradition that transformed his life, informed his spirituality, and opened him to the world. Whether they are meeting Merton for the first time or seeking to deepen their understanding of an already familiar friend, readers will enjoy Bonnie Thurston's conversational style and benefit from her singular insights into Merton and his wisdom. This is a book to savor and ponder!"
Christine M. Bochen, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies, Nazareth College, Rochester, New York, co-author of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia
"Easy-to-read, inspiring. Bonnie Thurston presents monastic spirituality as being very relevant for any sincere seeker of God today. Throughout the book she translates Merton’s thought and teaching into practical spiritual teaching for today’s monastic and non-monastic. I warmly recommend this book as one more aid in guiding our spiritual response to the call of evangelization in today’s world.”
"The book is accessible and conversational in style, suggesting how monastic spirituality is relevant today, not only for all Christians, but also for all serious spiritual seekers.”
Joyce Rothermel, The New People
“This book’s specific aim is to remind the reader of the specific circumstances out of which Merton wrote: the monastery of Gethsemani, with all its practices, discipline, solitude, and community. This particular rhythm of life, she argues, grounded his writing in a unique understanding of God’s presence and of discipleship in the world. To understand what life in the monastery meant to him is to better appreciate the books, journals, and correspondence that resulted from his hand. Thurston’s work helps ground Merton in his context, and is an excellent beginner guide to show how this deep and rich spiritual catalog came to be as a result of a life shaped by a unique, Christ-centered vocation.”
Englewood Review of Books
“I most warmly recommend this book to anyone seeking a deepening of their prayer.”
The Julian Meetings Magazine
"Thurston suggests that in order to understand the (dis)continuities and contours of Merton's desire for God, we must remind ourselves that he is first and foremost a monk. In these recent times, not least in moments of major world conflict and increasing global dissensus, it's timely and vital that we remind each other of the fruits of prayer, solitude and the disciplines of monastic spirituality."
The Merton Journal
"This small size paperback publishes ten of Thurston's conferences on Merton's monastic spirituality. After a brief biography of Merton, the author treats such topics as creation, spiritual listening, fleeing the world, obedience, solitude, prayer, searching for meaning in life, and creative consent--saying 'yes to the divine.' All of these topics are meaningful not only for monastics, but for every spirituality."
Catholic Books Review
"Shaped by the End You Live For is for pilgrims who hear the hum of the universe in the life of Thomas Merton."
“This book is full of rich thinking, astute asides and valuable reflections focusing on the core of Merton’s writings on monastic spirituality and inner transformation.”
"Within a small compass the book provides just enough biographical material to give a picture of Merton’s conversion and monastic call, and the process by which what began as a ‘flight from the world’ came to be experienced as a vocation to embrace the world ‘in Christ'. Dr Thurston’s style is pleasantly informal (she refers to Merton at one point as ‘history’s talkiest Trappist’), but behind the book are forty years of study of his huge output of writings, she provides in footnotes and a bibliography many valuable pointers to further study for those who wish."
"Keen insights in this little book. Dr. Thurston’s insights may be especially helpful for the reader new to Merton, because she has spent 40 years studying his thought."
American Benedictine Review