Would you give a book to a monastery, please?

A couple of weeks ago, one of my dearest monk friends (who gets written about on this blog all the time, usually anonymously — see this post, for example) brought in to the Abbey Store a check that a friend of his had written to him. Typical of the monks, he used the money to benefit someone other than himself: he bought a copy of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism to send to the monks of Our Lady of Gethsemani — the monastery where Thomas Merton lived.

I did not put him up to this. As is so often the case with the monks, this particular father had never said “well done, Carl” or “what a great book, Carl” or anything like that. Monastic culture is not really geared toward personal praise. But in showing his conviction that this book is important enough to be sent to the mother house speaks volumes. I was deeply touched.

But it also raises another issue that I have been pondering for the last few weeks. I’d like to see that a copy of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism gets sent to every monastery and retreat house in the country (hey, in the world even, but we have to start somewhere). The monastery could place it in their library, or in their guesthouse where retreatants could read it. It’s something I’d really love to do, but frankly it’s beyond my financial means to send a book to literally hundreds of monasteries, convents and retreat centers.

Well, wouldn’t you know — after a class I taught this past weekend, a woman came to me and said, “I feel led to give you this.” She handed me a check for a significant amount of money. Humbled and honored, I told her about my desire to donate copies of the book to monasteries. She agreed that this would be a wonderful use for her funds.

I wish I could say that this generous gift is enough to cover all the monasteries in North America, but of course, it isn’t. It’s just a good start.

One of my Lay Associate sisters has graciously offered to write letters to the various monastery and retreat house bookstores to ask them to stock the book. But just because they receive the letter doesn’t mean they’ll actually order the book. I am still very much an “unknown” person, except for the folks who read this blog or who have stumbled across my writing elsewhere. So I’m kind of at a loss as to how to get books to all the various contemplative centers throughout the USA. But the blessings that came from the monk and from the generous woman have given me an idea.

I’m wondering if some of the readers of this blog would be willing to help out. If you enjoy this blog, and/or have enjoyed The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, would you consider donating a copy to a monastery? Many hands make for light work, and many wallets make for a miracle that doesn’t cost any one person too much money. Here’s what I propose: I can order copies of my book at wholesale prices — my cost for each book, delivered to me, is approximately $13.64. Add the shipping and packing cost to mail each book out to a monastery, and the total cost per book is $16.60 — to donate a book, delivered, to a monastery, convent, or retreat house library. But since I do make royalties on the book, I’ll round this down to an even $16.00.

Think you can spare $16 to help make this happen? Or $32 to get two books delivered to two contemplative centers?

Let me be clear: at this price, I do not make any money on this transaction. This is not about lining my pockets, but rather about getting this book into the hands of monks and nuns and retreatants who, hopefully, will be blessed by it.

If you don’t want to send me money, you can order the book from Amazon and have it shipped to a monastery, convent or retreat center of your choice for $18.92 (including shipping). If you do this, however, please let me know so that we don’t duplicate efforts.

You can mail me a check to Carl McColman, PO Box 1146, Clarkston GA 30021. Please mark it “Monastery Book Donation” in the memo field. If you want to request a particular monastery or convent, please do so, but that’s on a first come basis, so if someone else has already had a book donated to that particular center, I’ll use your donation to cover a different one. I’m sure you can understand that.

If you’d rather make your donation via Paypal, that’s an option, but if you are using a credit or debit card, Paypal will collect approximately 79¢ to cover bank costs. So to cover that cost, please make your Paypal donation in the amount of $16.79 per book (which means, frankly, it would be cheaper to use  a stamp and just mail me a check, but of course that’s up to you).

You can also donate books to monasteries or other spiritual centers anywhere in the world. But please check with me first, because the postage costs for books sent out of the United States can be quite high. Send me the address of the monastery you wish to receive a book, and I’ll let you know what the exact cost will be.

Feel like you can’t donate $16? Then please, send what you can. For every $16 I collect, another book will be donated to a religious community or retreat center.

By the way: I hope you’ll understand that this special price of $16.00 is only for books donated to monasteries or other spiritual centers. If you want an autographed book sent to you or a loved one, I’ll be happy to do so at my regular price ($20 for books mailed to a U.S. address). Thank you for your understanding!

I hope you will prayerfully consider participating in this effort. At the end of this post is a partial list of monasteries, convents and retreat centers in the United States. This list just covers Cistercian and Benedictine monasteries in the Roman Catholic tradition. But there are also Carthusian, Franciscan, Jesuit, Dominican, Carmelite, and various other Catholic monasteries, convents or retreat centers; plus there are Anglican, Orthodox, and even some Protestant or Neo-Monastic communities. There are literally hundreds of religious communities across North America that I believe would be blessed by receiving a copy of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. Will you help me to get the books out to these sacred centers?

When you donate a book to a monastery, please include your email address in your letter so I can send you a thank you, including telling you which monastery or center(s) received book(s) thanks to your generosity. I will also be documenting on a separate page which monasteries have received books, noting the donor’s first name and last initial (“Carl M.”). If you’d rather be anonymous, I’ll list you as such.

Cistercian Monasteries and Convents

  • Assumption Abbey
  • Abbey of the Genesee
  • Abbey of Gethsemani
  • Holy Cross Abbey
  • Monastery of the Holy Spirit
  • Mepkin Abbey
  • Monastery of Our Lady of Jordan
  • Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey
  • Abbey of New Clairvaux
  • New Melleray Abbey
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey
  • Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey
  • St. Benedict’s Monastery
  • St. Joseph’s Abbey

Benedictine Monasteries

  • American-Cassinese Congregation
  • Belmont Abbey, North Carolina
  • Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
  • Blue Cloud Abbey
  • Monastery of Christ in the Desert
  • Monastery of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek
  • Conception Abbey
  • Holy Name Monastery
  • Mount Angel Abbey
  • New Camaldoli Hermitage
  • Portsmouth Abbey
  • Abbey of Regina Laudis
  • St. Andrew’s Abbey
  • Saint Anselm’s Abbey
  • Saint Benedict’s Monastery
  • Saint Emma Monastery
  • Saint John’s Abbey
  • Saint Leo Abbey
  • Saint Louis Abbey
  • St. Meinrad Archabbey
  • Saint Vincent Archabbey
  • St. Joseph Benedictine Abbey
  • St. Paul’s Abbey
  • Subiaco Abbey and Academy
  • Weston Priory

Plus: Carthusian Monasteries, Carmelite, Franciscan, Jesuit, Dominican, and various other monasteries, convents, and retreat centers; as well as Orthodox Monasteries, Episcopal/Anglican Monasteries, Neo-Monastic, Ecumenical, and Evangelical Communities.

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  1. Great idea! Sending you a check for $32 in tomorrow’s mail. Please send a copy to the Society of St. John the Evangelist a copy to a monastery of your choosing. Thanks!

  2. Nancee McPherson says:

    What a great idea!

  3. What a cool idea! I’ll post this in my vast social network tomorrow – and who knows, probably send one out too. :)

  4. Thanks, Darrell. SSJE is yours! :-) And I’ll pick another Anglican monastery for the second part of your donation, probably St. Mary’s in Sewanee (unless you have a better idea).

    And thank you, Mike. I’ll hold on tight as the onslaught comes!

  5. Hi Carl,

    Fame is overrated.

    This is a fine idea and a very worthwhile effort. Not just for monastics or Catholics or Angelicans. Count me in.

    In the Protestant church I attend, Centering Prayer practice, The Labryinth and Taize are considered “other” forms of worship. To be admired from a distance and scheduled on midweek nights only.

    Such otherness is a mountain to be climbed. Speading the word about the history of, the beauty to be found in, the utter JOY of, Christian contemplative practices is worth a few dollars invested in a book.

    Good for you.

    Mike (also)

  6. You’re right Mike (about fame). Being an unknown suits me just fine.

  7. I just read “Wasting time with God.”

    I know someone very much like your dear fiend, opps, I mean friend. When that discernment is focused on my “practices” I try to turn off the ego and listen carefully to what is being offered.


    ns my way I “listen very carefully indeed

  8. Lisa Johnson says:

    Hi, Carl -
    Your website is such a blessing and I lovethe idea of sharing your work! I’ll pop a check in the mail today for one of my favorite places for spiritual renewal – Mepkin Abbey.
    Thank you.

  9. Lisa Johnson says:

    Carl -

    I noticed that the address for book donations (P. O. Box 1146) is different from the one listed to request your new prayer cards (P. O. Box 11446). Is one of them a misprint or do you use two separate boxes?

    Thank you,

    • This is why authors need editors! Thank you, Lisa, for catching that. The correct number is 1146.

      It’s weird, but this is the second error I made with the Cloud of Unknowing prayer cards. At first I had the zip code wrong, and when I discovered that error, I fixed it… but must have inadvertently entered an extra digit into my box number. Some weird juju going on there…

      Just for the record: I have one mailing address: Carl McColman, P.O. Box 1146, Clarkston GA 30021.


  10. Lisa Johnson says:

    My pleasure. My check will be sent to P. O. Box 1146 today. :-)

  11. Bryan Fredrickson says:

    Carl: I would be happy to donate two of your books to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert where I have been taking an annual retreat for years now. They also have a nice gift shop that may carry it for sale to the public. I’d be happy to contact them about that.

  12. Karl,
    Perhaps you might “seed” books to select locations asking the recipient to purchase and send a copy to another group/place if they like the book or would like to help advance this project.

  13. I do not know the name but the monastery where Kathleen Norris found so much solace would be pleasing. I think it was in N Dakota or northeastern S Dakota.

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