Befriending Silence

Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality

Winner of the 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Award for best Religious/Inspirational Book!

It is a pleasure to recommend Carl McColman’s new book on Cistercian spirituality, Befriending Silence. It manifests in a wonderful way the Cistercian charism, which today is shared by Lay Cistercians and also guides mature seekers.Br. Patrick Hart, OCSO
Monk of Gethsemani Abbey and former secretary to Thomas Merton

Befriending Silence

Befriending Silence

Befriending Silence celebrates the ancient spirituality of Cistercian and Trappist monks, showing how the gifts of this long-hidden spirituality can bless everyone, even those of us who live “in the world.”

Respected speaker, author, and Patheos blogger Carl McColman introduces Cistercian spirituality as “the hidden jewel of the Church,” presenting a surprisingly contemporary path grounded in monastic tradition. This accessible and comprehensive guide highlights a unique focus on simplicity, living close to the earth, and contemplative prayer, all of which make Cistercian spirituality relevant today.

Steeped in chant and silence, grounded in down-to-earth work and service, and immersed in the mystical wisdom of teachers ancient (Bernard of Clairvaux) and modern (Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating), the beautifully humble path of Cistercian spirituality has for centuries made monasteries places of retreat and renewal. Now, Carl McColman offers the first practical introduction to this ancient, contemplative spirituality for all people.

Purchase Befriending Silence through (Independent Bookstores, online or near you), or Barnes & Noble. Also available as an ebook for KindleKobo or Nook.
Befriending Silence is a great gift to all who hunger for meaning, mystery, peace, hope, and God. It takes wisdom from an important contemplative tradition and offers it to all. It is beautifully and humbly written, a joy on many levels.Brian D. McLaren
Author of We Make the Road By Walking

McColman draws on his experience as a lay Cistercian to provide insight into the relevance of the tradition to contemporary issues and spiritual practice. He explains how silence, simplicity, stability, stewardship of the earth, contemplation, ongoing conversion, and devotion to Mary combine to offer a rich and unique path to discipleship and intimacy with God. Each chapter includes questions for personal reflection or group discussion and a helpful exercise for anyone who wishes to make Cistercian spirituality their own.

It has often seemed to me that some of the best travel books are written by those who have lived there but come from outside the region being described. They have an eye what is distinctive as well as an insider’s appreciation of what is most important. Carl McColman’s book on Cistercian spirituality has this double advantage. It derives from a deep understanding of Cistercian monastic wisdom yet it is written in a way that is reader-friendly. There are lots of anecdotes about monasteries and monastics, stories from his own life and invitations to readers to add their own life-experiences to the process of reflection. Although written from the standpoint of a Lay Cistercian it will be found useful and stimulating by anyone who wishes to profit from the substantial wisdom of the Cistercian tradition.Fr. Michael Casey, OCSO
Monk of Tarrawarra Abbey and author of Sacred Reading and Toward God

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction: From Bernard’s Valley to Merton’s Mountain
  • Chapter 1—Charism: A Gift from God (with a Greek Accent)
  • Chapter 2—Sacred Stories: Remembering Who We Truly Are
  • Chapter 3—Formation: You Are the Potter, I Am the Clay
  • Chapter 4—Humility: Down-to-Earth Spirituality
  • Chapter 5—Hospitality: Welcoming Christ, Welcoming Others
  • Chapter 6—Compassion and Community: Where Two or Three Are Gathered
  • Chapter 7—Prayer and Liturgy: The Rhythm of the Day
  • Chapter 8—Contemplation: The Star of the Sea
  • Chapter 9—Conversion of Life: A Promise for All Time
  • Chapter 10—Stability: Blooming Where We’re Planted
  • Chapter 11—Perseverance: Living a (Lay) Cistercian Life
  • A Final Word
  • Appendix 1—Vocations to Cistercian Monastic Life
  • Appendix 2—Vocations to the Lay Cistercian Family
  • Appendix 3—Cistercian Abbeys in North America
  • Notes/BibliographyGAYA Winner Seal

To read a sample chapter, click here.

For Befriending Silence, Carl McColman received the “Georgia Author of the Year Award” for the best Inspirational/Religious book published in 2015 by a Georgia author!


More praise for Befriending Silence:

Drawing on his personal experience and expansive knowledge, Carl McColman skillfully presents readers with an accessible and enlightening introduction to the beauty of Cistercian spirituality. As the Rule of Benedict instructs, readers will be inspired to “Listen carefully” to the wisdom of a tradition that continues to speak powerfully to women and men today. Not only does McColman’s book guide us to the gifts of Cistercian Spirituality, but this book is itself a tremendous gift to all spiritual seekers!Daniel P. Horan, OFM
Author of The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton
Befriending Silence is one of the gentlest, most conversational, and also humbly persuasive presentations of the joys and spiritual benefits for Christian lay folk of personal, vowed, and disciplined association and/or affiliation with monastic life and practice. Himself a Lay Cistercian, Carl McColman speaks, sometimes autobiographically and sometimes impersonally, but always with quiet assurance, about our human need to be ever more mindful of, and intentional about, our ‘God-hunger’ and the holy yearning from which it comes. In doing so, he has added a practical as well as an informing volume to the literature of faith.Phyllis Tickle
Author of Emergence Christianity

Purchase Befriending Silence through (Independent Bookstores, online or near you), or Barnes & Noble. Also available as an ebook for KindleKobo or Nook.

Author of Befriending Silence, Christian Mystics, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Catechist. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.