Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset. But as we progress in this way of life and faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love."
“My words are meant for you, whoever you are, who laying aside your own will, take up the all-powerful and righteous arms of obedience to fight under the true King, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- St. Benedict of Nursia, Rule, Prologue
The Lumen Christi Institute and Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey are partnering to organize a retreat that explores the monastic wisdom tradition. The Cistercian community at Irving, Texas lives according to a continual tradition of Christian monasticism with roots in the early Church.
Students with an interest in theology or spirituality may be familiar with some of the tradition’s major figures—St. Anthony of Egypt, St. John Cassian, St. Benedict of Nursia, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. It is less likely they have spent time putting into practice the lessons of prayer, spiritual reading, and silence in an organized manner.
Monastic disciplines must be practiced to be understood. The seminar proposes such an experience. After reading some core texts in the monastic tradition in advance, participants will then spend a week praying, conferencing, reading and recreating with the monks of Our Lady of Dallas.
The goals of the retreat are fourfold:
- Introduce participants to monastic life, the Divine Office, and the history and theology of monasticism.
- Introduce participants to monastic practices, including the discipline of silence, community life and lectio divina.
- Provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on Catholic practices of daily prayer and their relation to monastic life.
- Study of texts of major figures of the monastic tradition.
PRINCIPAL TEXTS FOR DISCUSSION
St. Athanasius, “Life of Antony,” in Early Christian Lives, trans. Carolinne White (Penguin Classics, 1998).
The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks, trans. Benedicta Ward (Penguin Classics, 2003).
St. Benedict of Nursia, RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict (Liturgical Press, 1981).
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, “On the Steps of Humility and Pride” in Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works, trans. G.R. Evans, Classics of Western Spirituality (Paulist Press, 1987).
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, “On Conversion” in Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works, trans. G.R. Evans, Classics of Western Spirituality (Paulist Press, 1987).
John Cassian, Institutes, trans. Boniface Ramsey, Ancient Christian Writers 58 (New York, NY: The Newman Press, 2000). Read especially the preface and Books V-XII on the eight vices.
OPTIONAL: Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God, trans. Catharine Misrahi (New York: Fordham University Press, 1982).
LOCATION AND FORMAT
- The seminar will take place at Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey in Irving, Texas.
- The seminar sessions will be led by the monks of the monastery.
- Travel stipends will be available for currently enrolled students.
- Lodging, meals, and books will be provided.
- Participants will arrive at Our Lady of Dallas on Monday, June 20 (morning),and depart on Sunday, June 26 (afternoon).
- Participants will be required to read the assigned materials in preparation for the seminar.
- Open to men aged 18 through 35. Catholics and non-Catholics are invited to apply.
- Applicants must submit an online application including a statement of interest, a CV or resume, and a letter of recommendation from a professor or pastor.
- Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis. Apply no later than May 17th to receive full consideration.
- A maximum of 15 applicants will be admitted to the seminar.