Contemplative Elders

Over the 2022-23 period, as the Contemplative Elder project takes shape, you will be warmly welcomed to any of the following:

— Help with developing a distinct rhythm to your daily life, that is best served by developing a Rule of Life, an ancient monastic practice.  (Our November 29, 2022 event, “New Year, New Rhythm, New Rule” laid out the basics of this.)

— Guidance with developing a contemplative practice. Many of us have been saying prayers, mental prayers and verbal prayers, for decades, but we have barely scratched the surface of a whole other world of prayer, which is silent, contemplative and inner.  (To that end, in the fall of 2022, we launched a Monday morning Lectio Divina practice after the 9am Mass.)

–An opportunity to create a Life Review and, shortly after, a special Reconciliation Service for those who would like to make amends for faults and sins that arose during the review. (January 31, 2023.)

— Discussion of Pope Francis’ weekly General Audience talks in 2022 which focused on elders.  (February 28, 2023)

— The opportunity to participate in a silent retreat with the masters of silence, the Trappist monks, first completed in Lent 2023, at Holy Cross Abbey, Berryville, Virginia, and offered again in 2024, April 22-25, with a day of travel on either end, this time at Mepkin Abbey, Moncks Corner, South Carolina.  The Mepkin event will be a directed retreat that will culminate this founding experience for our parish elders.

— Book and theme discussions about the either: a) specific aspects of aging that are helping you age well, or are causing problems, b) insights from the Cistercian (Trappist) charism, helpful in applying contemplative practice to our daily lives. (July and August 2023, book review of On Loving God by St. Bernard of Clairvaux.)

— A look at the unique social and justice issues related to aging that we can consider responding to in our community

— A collection of Wisdom stories to be shared in the wider community on the great themes of mature living that we need to hear more from: humility, courage, patience, kindness, forgiveness and so on.


Chapter Talks

“In a chapter talk the abbot breaks open his heart to the monks and speaks from his own prayer, study, and experience as we continue to progress in our monastic journey together.” From the website of New Melleray Abbey, Iowa.

In adapting this monastic tradition, the pastor will address interested elders on various evenings, immediately after the evening 7pm Mass, with a topic of relevance for the vitality of the parish’s overall contemplative health.

These bilingual talks will not last more than 15 minutes, and will conclude with a bilingual offering of Compline, the Night Prayer of the church.

2021 Archive of Talks and Themes

JANUARY 19: St. Joseph the Contemplative
FEBRUARY 16: Contemplative Hiddenness
MARCH 16:The Name
APRIL 20: New Life of Easter/New Reign of Justice
MAY 25: Manual Labor and Spiritual Balance
JUNE 29: Contemplation and Relatedness
AUGUST 31: Contemplation and Change
SEPTEMBER 28: Flight and Contemplation

Lenten Reading

During Advent each year, parishioners are encouraged to purchase contemplative books for Christmas for themselves or loved ones.  On the following First Sunday of Lent, the pastor will bless the books, with the expectation that parishioners will read the book for their own spiritual growth during the Lenten season.  This practice follows a monastic tradition that continues to this day in the Benedictine world.

On Easter Monday, we will have an informal gathering to share not Easter eggs, but nuggets of wisdom we gained from our reading.