Exploring the Monastic Experience: A Contemplative Retreat for Men
St. Bernard Abbey, Cullman, Alabama
Through the Columbia Theological Seminary’s Lifelong Learning Certificate in Spiritual Formation, this retreat offers a safe and structured environment for men interested in the spirituality of monasticism and/or of silent (contemplative) prayer. With an emphasis on the actual practice of silent prayer embedded in the monk’s daily round of chanted liturgical prayers, this experiential retreat offers participants the chance to “be still and now God” in a supportive communal setting.
This special retreat will take place at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama.
Saint Benedict described a monastery as a “school for the Lord’s service.” Medieval Cistercian monks described the monastery as a “school of charity.” Both of these definitions can help us to discover the unique gifts (charisms) of monasteries, even for those who are not called to become monks. Monasteries are intentional communities devoted to prayer, contemplation, and the gospel; and because hospitality has always been a part of the monastic way, they are ideal settings for non-monastics to explore the heart of Christian spirituality. Our retreat schedule includes a balance of prayer, silent time, presentations, and group discussion. No prior experience at a monastery, or with contemplative prayer, is required. Our goal will be, against the backdrop of the monk’s chanting and the natural beauty of the monastery grounds, to seek God’s still small voice so that we may “be still and know God” in a supportive communal setting.
Facilitator Carl McColman is a popular retreat leader and the author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Answering the Contemplative Call. While participation in this retreat counts toward the completion of the CTS Certificate in Spiritual Formation, anyone is welcome to attend the retreat. For more information, please contact Columbia Theological Seminary’s Center for Lifelong Learning.
Please note: the fee to Columbia Theological Seminary for this retreat is $265. This does not include room and board. According to the St. Bernard Abbey’s website, “There is no fee for visiting the Abbey. Guests may make a free-will offering according to their means to help defer expenses.” Please budget an appropriate amount to remit to the monastery, to cover the monk’s costs for twelve meals and lodging for four nights.