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The Ascent to Truth: A Study of St. John of the Cross

ISBN: 0860120244

Digital Logos Edition

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In this book, Thomas Merton writes that God himself is truth, and this is the truth people must seek. Merton expresses that contemplation—a supernatural experience of God—is an important aspect of seeking the summit of truth.

This book defines the nature of the contemplative experience, describes the necessary interior exercise which precedes it, and illustrates mature contemplation. Merton’s exploration is shared within the context of an exposition of the doctrines of the sixteenth-century Spanish Carmelite, St. John of the Cross.

This elegantly written analysis provides nourishment for people journeying towards truth.

Explore more on the contemplative Christian life with the Thomas Merton Collection (7 vols.).

Key Features

  • Presents Merton’s perspectives on contemplation
  • Explores how to enter in to a contemplative experience
  • Timeless classic on the spiritual life


  • Vision and Illusion
  • The Problem of Unbelief
  • On a Dark Night
  • False Mysticism
  • Knowledge and Unknowing in Saint John of the Cross
  • Concepts and Contemplation
  • The Crisis of Dark Knowledge
  • The Theological Background
  • Faith and Reason
  • Reason in the Life of Contemplation
  • “Your Reasonable Service”
  • Between Instinct and Inspiration
  • Reason and Reasoning
  • Intelligence in the Prayer of Quiet
  • The Mirror of Silvered Waters
  • A Dark Cloud Enlightening the Night
  • The Loving Knowledge of God
  • To the Mountain and the Hill
  • The Giant Moves in His Sleep

Top Highlights

“Far from teaching us to hate this world, John of the Cross is telling us the way to love it and understand it” (Page 43)

“Reason is in fact the path to faith, and faith takes over when reason can say no more.” (Page 22)

“Discernment and detachment (krisis and apatheia) are two characters of the mature Christian soul.” (Page 22)

“The evil that is in the modem world ought to be sufficient indication that we do not know as much as we think we do. It is a strange paradox indeed that modem man should know so much and still know practically nothing. The paradox is most strange because men in other times, who have known less than we know, have in fact known more.” (Page 5)

“Saint John of the Cross is the leader of the ‘apophatic’ theologians, the teachers of the ‘dark’ knowledge of God” (Page 13)

Praise for the Print Edition

To those who shrink from the usual sort of ‘spiritual reading,’ Thomas Merton’s book may be recommended. They will be confronted by a vigorous, questioning mind that again and again anticipates an objection . . .

—The Times Literary Supplement

  • Title: The Ascent to Truth
  • Author: Thomas Merton
  • Publisher: Burns and Oates
  • Print Publication Date: 1976
  • Logos Release Date: 2015
  • Pages: 258
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Contemplation; Spiritual life › Catholic Church
  • ISBNs: 0860120244, 9780860120247
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2024-03-25T19:10:02Z

Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968) was a 20th century Anglo-American Catholic writer. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist and student of comparative religion. In 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name Father Louis.


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Save 25% off during the Memorial Day Sale!


Digital list price: $29.99
Regular price: $21.99
Save $5.50 (25%)