Status of Cause: No cause
Prognosis: Too complex to make it
Merton's first great public act of holiness was his best-selling autobiography of conversion, The Seven Storey Mountain, which showed how the most seemingly-secular sophisticate might find his soul's ultimate expression and a remarkable clarity of thought within the intentionally ascetic confines of a medieval-style trappist monastery in Kentucky. The book bestowed on the Christian contemplative life a modern relevance (even glamour); subsequently Merton redefined monasticism not as an escape, but as advantage point from which to diagnose the larger life of our time and respond with a near-prophetic compassion and passion. He will not become a saint because of his radical pacificism, which caused him to be censored even in his lifetime; because his curiosity regarding Eastern contemplative traditions struck some as heretical; and because he admitted to a variety of sins throughout his career that would give ammunition to his opponents. Certain intellectually-inclined Catholics, however, will continue to regard his wrestling with faith as holier than the boring compliance of some others well along the path to canonization.
David Van Biema