Insights on Retreat: Part 2

Sister Michele here concludes her article on this year’s community retreat which took place in June, given by Fr Michael Casey, Cistercian monk and spiritual author.


Our Core values


Our prime values of  course are: Prayer in all its stages and degrees, Lectio Divina and Liturgy, Community life/communion, manual labour and service.

Many good insights emerged on these  from Fr. Michael’s experience and scholarship, often laced with his unique sense of humour and discretion.




There is only one type of prayer, now,,here. according to the nature of the situation, here ones mind is purified. Just let it come, don’t let your head dictate!

To be prayerful  people is  essential, praying from the heart at all times. This depends on the quality of our lives of selflessness and service in Love. God wants us to be real in prayer , not what we would like to be, but who we are here and now, honesty is essential and that humility which is truth. We don’t have to play act with God.

Prayer is a gift and our part is essentially that of giving God the time and surrendering ourselves to Him.

We must remember that Satan is very active particularly when we pray. He tries to undermine us, discourage and put us down; ‘you can’t do it’, this is often when we are trying to do our best. So we watch  the melancholy  or negativity and remember that the Lord has risen and we try to stay with the Risen Lord at all times, to allow Him to dominate our lives. Prayer is our rising up into awareness and mindfulness, bringing awareness of God into everything. Time spent in prayer is most healthy,  it is revitalizing and renewing.


About contemplation:

Contemplation is heart felt, one is confident and open to receive God’s life giving energy.. There is no high power dialogue but celebration of what is here and now, we can’t make it happen. True loving is already within us and we can stop doing things that might obstruct it. Contemplation is the deepest truth of our relationship with God.

When interior division is overcome  purity of heart follows . God is longing to come into us ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock.( Rev.4:20.)Ordinary life can then be intensified and one is more fully human and alive. The following 3 aspects are  part of contemplation:


Darkness:There is nothing to see or feel or experience , boundless nothing.


Silence: Interaction is not expressed in Word or intellectual  process, only presence in stillness. But it is silence that absorbs, feeds us and produces slow acceptance learned from Christ. We love what he loves including self, we gain strength, courage and enduring fidelity.


Lectio Divina:

We exist to be hearers of the Word. We are born to act on the Word.” Your word gives light to the eyes and joy to the heart” The spirit in the Word touches the spirit in our hearts, this is a real encounter.  So the silence of deep listening is of utmost importance and exposing ourselves to God’s word, transforms us gradually into who we are called to be.

Jesus , the son of God is God’s Word and wisdom. In a world hungry for news and excitement and bombarded  by all kinds of seductions ,we must be extremely careful to give regular prime time to Lectio Divina.

And finally there is the grace of Community and Communion.

Our community is a great gift. We put ourselves in the way of a life -giving tradition.

All the details of our lives have been worked out creatively and  we enter into this tradition according to our calling. Respect for God, ourselves and others  flows from our  ” yes” to our tradition.

Renunciation is at the heart of community. we renounce self-will and replace with a common will , there is give and take. When I pull back I make room for others and this is essential  for mutual love .We can be alienated in community through our own choice  when there is self assertion and individualism. We can be too self-confident and think only of ‘me’. But the call is to a community of love based on affective and effective communion and self-giving. St.Bernard wrote ” Live sociably, with zeal to love and be loved. If one is a bit more lovable it makes it easier for others to love you.”

Make room for others.