The Seven Storey Mountain - Part 3: Chapter 1, Magnetic North Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 29 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Seven Storey Mountain.
This section contains 445 words
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Part 3: Chapter 1, Magnetic North Summary and Analysis

When Merton finally found the courage to start to tell people that he wanted to be a priest, he went to talk to Dan Walsh about it. Walsh was another professor who Merton respected. They discussed several orders and decided that the Franciscans may be the most suitable for Merton (partly because of the ease of their order). But Walsh mentioned, off-hand, that he had made a pilgrimage to a Trappist monastery in Kentucky called Our Lady of Gethsemani. "What I needed was solitude," Merton wrote. "I needed a Rule that was almost entirely aimed at detaching me from the world and uniting me with God".

By now, Merton was taking communion daily and God had become the central focus of his thoughts. He applied to the novitiate at the monastery of St. Francis of Assisi on 31st Street. Dan Walsh was friends with Father Edmund there. Merton was told that it would be several months before he could enter the novitiate. Merton was impatient, but waited. In the meantime, he got appendicitis and had to have surgery, then went to Cuba where he was supernaturally rescued from all those temptations which might entangle a young man in Cuba.

Merton returned and was eagerly awaiting his chance to enter the cloister when, he writes, "I suddenly remembered who I was, who I had been". His inward life had changed so much that he applied to the monastery almost as a new man and had neglected to tell the abbot, Father Edmund, about the sins of his past. When he did so, Father Edmund suggested that he write to the Provincial, where his application was being considered, and withdraw his application.

Feeling discouraged, he went to confession soon after that and was berated by the priest there for making a mockery of the order when he clearly had no vocation for the priesthood.

When Merton first spoke with Father Edmund about applying to the order, it was September 1939. Father Edmund's first response was the Merton should return and apply the following August. This seemed too long to wait for Merton and he cajoled the Father into exploring the possibility of admitting him sooner. This pattern is repeated from the time of Merton's baptism when, after struggling so long to make the decision, he then had to wait for the actual event. He seems content to spend weeks, even months pouring over these decisions but then is impatient for their consummation once he commits, as if it's okay for God to wait on him, but he'll have no part of waiting on God.

This section contains 445 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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