Holy Cross Monastery Church

Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY is rapidly becoming one of my favorite places to lead (or make) a retreat. I’m so happy to be returning to Holy Cross this April to direct a retreat built around the theme of pilgrimage, drawing on the wisdom of the ancient Celts, Teresa of Ávila, and C. S. Lewis. Come explore your journey of faith with me — and the Benedictine monks of Holy Cross Monastery!

Date: April 17, 2018—April 20, 2018
Event: Mapping Your Journey of Faith: Guidance from C. S. Lewis, Teresa of Avila, and the ancient Celts
Topic: Mapping Your Journey of Faith
Venue: Holy Cross Monastery
Location: 1615 Route 9W (or Broadway)
West Park, NY 12493
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

Poetry arises from contemplation and silence. T. S. Eliot says that poets are alone and often prone to suffering brought about by their super sensitivity. Poets see beyond themselves, but are aware of their own inner life and experience, and so empathize and generalize from it.

Peter Slattery
The Springs of Carmel (New York: Alba House, 1991), p. 72.

Seven Tips for Getting Started With the Divine Office

Incorporating Fixed-Hour Prayer into Your Daily Life

What does it take to get started with a daily practice of praying the Liturgy of the Hours? A reader of this blog asks the following question: I have an established practice of Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer in the early morning and Examen and Centering Prayer in the late afternoon. I’m captivated with praying […]

Contemplation is essentially an act of faith, hope, and love. It is not, therefore, the end result of a discursive activity of the intelligence, it is not the reward of learning acquired through study, and it does not result in an increase of speculative knowledge. It tends to foster love under the forms love takes on while awaiting celestial beatitude… To desire Heaven is to want God and to love Him with a love the monks sometimes call impatient. The greater desire becomes, the more the soul rests in God. Possession increases in the same proportion as desire.

Dom Jean Leclercq OSB
The Love of Learning and the Desire for God (New York: Fordham University Press, 1961), p. 85.

Join me at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, TX on January 19 and 20 where I will be giving a talk on Friday night and leading a day retreat on Saturday. Our theme is “Embracing Deep Rest in Turbulent Times.” We’ll be reflecting on how contemplative spirituality is a way to receive the peace and deep rest which Jesus himself promises to us.

Date: January 19, 2018—January 20, 2018
Event: "Embracing Deep Rest in Turbulent Times" — SPELL Symposium in Southlake, TX
Topic: Embracing Deep Rest in Turbulent Times
Sponsor: White's Chapel United Methodist Church
Venue: White's Chapel United Methodist Church
Location: 185 S White Chapel Boulevard
Southlake, TX 76092
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite Carl McColman to speak to your community, click here.

Contemplating the Trinity

Silence. Embodiment. Breath.

The heart of Christian spirituality is the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. This is the ancient wisdom teaching that God is one God, in three persons: Father/Creator, Son/Redeemer, and Spirit/Sanctifier. We call ourselves “Christians” because we follow the 2nd Person of the Trinity: Jesus, the Christ. But it would be just as accurate — some […]

Instructions on Prayer from a Trappist Monk

Brother Elias Offers Wisdom on Silence, Compassion, and Inner Transformation

“I’m speechless,” remarked Brother Elias Marechal, OCSO, after a congregation of several hundred young evangelicals vigorously applauded his visit to their worship service last month. But then he quipped, “We don’t talk in the monastery much.” Grace Fellowship in Athens, GA (home of the University of Georgia) recently invited this deeply contemplative Trappist monk to come and speak […]

Before I can say “God Himself is mine,” I have to let go of everything but God himself. The familiar picture I may have of God is not God himself, and I will have to leave that image behind in the desert. God as he is in himself is wholly Other than I can imagine him, is transcendent Mystery. Likewise, my experience of God, whether in prayer or in my brothers and sisters, is not God himself. And so I will have to let go of my familiar forms of praying and experiencing God as I journey through the desert. I can learn to trust him whom I do not name or experience, trust him because I love him.

Charles Cummings OCSO
Spirituality and the Desert Experience (Denville, NJ: DImension Books, 1978), p. 118.

Religion, or conscious, intimate contact with God, must not only dominate, but must penetrate and permeate all your living. That means you are not only to worship while at work, but your work itself must be worship; you are not to go from play to prayer or from prayer to play, but your play itself must be a form of prayer; you are to sleep, and sleep soundly, but all the while your heart is to be watching; and when you are awake, you are to be wide awake to the God you are adoring with your entire being.

Fr. M. Raymond OCSO
Spiritual Secrets of a Trappist Monk (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2000), Kindle locations 589-593.

One of my fellow Lay Cistercians recently alerted me to the fact that there are a number of videos online produced by the Trappistine nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Iowa. So I’ll be sharing many of them with you in the months to come. Here’s one now: several of the sisters discuss the topic of “monastic practices.” It’s not very long, but filled with wisdom: so enjoy.


Seeking Surrender (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2015)

Colette Lafia tells the story of a special, seven-year-long letter writing friendship she forged with a Trappist monk of Gethsemani Abbey — and how the monk’s gentle wisdom, deep faith, and encouraging words helped her to trust and embrace life, especially as she moved through the grief of acknowledging that it was not her path to have children. It’s a gentle and warm book that gives insight into the nature of spiritual friendship and how monastic spirituality can be a blessing even to those of us who aren’t monks.

The fifth of six videos filmed at a talk I gave last August. Monastic spirituality (specifically Cistercian/Trappist spirituality) has, since Vatican II, become increasingly accessible to those of us who are not monks or nuns. In this video I share some insights into the beauty of monastic spirituality and how anyone can find inspiration from the monastic world to grow in a truly contemplative way.

Deborah Arca, the content editor of Patheos, sat down with me for a Skype interview earlier today. We talked about my new book, Befriending Silence, and how Cistercian spirituality can be a blessings for all people (not just monks or nuns).

Finding the Treasure: Letters from a Global Monk (Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2011)

A charming and humble autobiography of a twentieth-century Trappist monk, told in the form of letters written to a friend. Roberts, the son of an Anglican bishop, recounts his youth in the far east, conversion to Catholicism and eventual entry into Trappist life, leading ultimately to Rome where for years he served as an assistant to the Abbot General (the leader of Trappists worldwide). As he tells his story, Roberts provides a rich insight into cloistered life, along with down-to-earth reminisicences of several famous monks, including Thomas Keating and Bernardo Olivera. But most important of all is his candid sharing of his own inner life, as he continually sought to be faithful to Christ in the midst of his extraordinarily rich life.