RESOURCES THAT HAVE HELPED ME ON MY LAY CISTERCIAN JOURNEY (SO FAR) Here are some wonderful, contemplative websites that may help you find some rest for your soul. I admit my bias.


G.K. Chesterton

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen com/watch?v=NnXlQWmubYw

Scott Hahn and Catholic Apologetics  

Bishop Robert Barron

FIVE CONTEMPLATIVE WEBSITES When I look up something that puzzles me almost 100% of the time, I use these five sites when I think of contemplative spirituality. I offer these sites as an aspiring Lay Cistercian in search of wisdom and humility. I thought you might like to see what they are and bookmark them.

NUMBER FIVE:  CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE You will find many hours of enjoyment clicking on and reading the various sites that pertain to Cistercians. Of particular interest to me were the sites about Lay Cistercians and those highlighting the movement’s early history. There are two branches of the Cistercian observance, Regular Observance ( O. Cist.) and Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.).

 NUMBER FOUR: LAY CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE TO MOVE FROM SELF TO GOD  Read this website. Carl is a Lay Cistercian of Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, also where I aspire to be a Lay Cistercian. It is my favorite website of an individual practitioner of Cistercian piety.

NUMBER THREE: RESEARCH SITES TO GROW DEEPER INTO CHRIST JESUS   If there is one source I use more than others, it is New Advent.  It contains the Catholic Encyclopedia, Summa Theologica, Bible, Early primary sources or Fathers of the Church, plus other excellent links.  Don’t miss this one.

NUMBER TWO: TEACHINGS OF THE MAGISTERIUM (Vatican)  This site I have spent many happy hours looking up the actual texts about what the Church teaches, as opposed to what people say we teach but don’t. NUMBER


This is my own website.  I put it as number one because I use it the most, not because I think it is the best. It is the result of my daily Lectio Divina and a poor attempt to share some practical ways to practice contemplative spirituality, emphasizing the Cistercian heritage.  I have tried to give you a variety of websites that I use to grow from self to God.  They have all helped me look at who I am in my relationship with God (He must increase, I must decrease).

That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

THE CHRIST IMPERATIVES Here are some of the commands that Jesus gave to us to help us to convert our lives from the World to the Spirit.

• Seeking perfection? Listen to me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Matthew 11:28-30

• Thirsty? Drink of the living waters! John 7:37.

• Hungry? Eat the food that gives eternal life! John 6:33-38. 

• Bewildered? Believe in the Master! John 3:11-21.

• Without hope? Be not afraid! John 13:33-35.

• Lost? Find the way. John 14:6-7.

• Tired because of the pain? Be renewed! John 15:1-7. • Afraid? Find peace! John 27-28.

• Afraid to believe? Believe! John 11:25-27.

• Without a family? Listen! John 10:7-18.

• In darkness? Walk in the light! John 8:12.

• Spiritually depressed? Be healed! John 5:24

Welcome, good and faithful servant, into the Kingdom, prepared for you before the world began.

Being a faithful follower of the Master is the easiest thing to talk about but the most challenging thing to do. As a Lay Cistercian, trying to convert my life daily to be more like Christ and less like me, I find these imperatives like beacons on the stormy waters of living in a world influenced by Original Sin. Spirituality is work and a struggle because we live in a foreign land, one whose default is not a conveyor belt to get to Heaven. Heaven is not automatic. If it was, why be spiritual? Just sit back and sin bravely. 

 Christ has shown us the way, given us Love as the gold standard, taught us how to love because he has loved us first, by his passion, death, and Resurrection. It is this faith that conquers the World. This faith is that of the Universal Church (those who have died and are in the peace of Christ, those who live on earth and struggle with the conversion of life, and those purifying themselves). Christ wanted us to live out our moving from self to God amid the community of Faith. This community has the Mystery of Faith as its core. These imperatives help us as a community as we approach the Sacred. 

The core imperative is: love one another as I have loved you. I pray that I am what I hope to become in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Praise to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen.  –Cistercian doxology


Measurement is an essential part of science and education. It tells us what works and does not, and more importantly, why. Christ had a system for measuring success, too.

 Be careful when you take any test, especially this one. The assumptions will kill you. With that in mind, this is what you should know before you make this measurement. The good news is, there is only one yardstick with which we must be measured—have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5). 


If you are interested in purchasing any of the books in this contemplative practices series, they are online at:



The Center for Contemplative Practice is a ministry of people devoted to providing spiritual resources for adults, such as publishing books, training, blogs, and online meditations. 

DISCLAIMER The ideas and meditations contained in any books or blogs shared by The Center for Contemplative Practice do not represent the official, authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church or any Cistercian Monastery or Lay Cistercian group. These ideas result from Lectio Divina’s spiritual meditations by the author and reflect only his interpretation of Catholic spiritual thoughts through contemplation. 


Michael F. Conrad, B.S., M.R.E., Ed.D., is retired from a full life of trying to make money seek fame and recognition by the world, all without much success. Regarding what the World thinks is successful, he has been a failure. Coming to his senses, even after the age of 79, he now struggles to have Christ Jesus’s mind in him. (Philippians 2:5) Still running the race and searching for the prize, he has had a lifetime of activities to help him in his quest: he is proud to have been a U.S. Army Chaplain, pastor of parish ministry, adjunct instructor of Adult Education at Indiana University (Bloomington) and University of South Florida (Tampa) and Barry University (Florida), high school instructor of religion, trainer of managers and supervisors, adjunct trainer for the Florida Certified Public Manager program, instructional designer for the State of Florida, former Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, and currently a publisher, blogger, and author, He is a Professed Lay Cistercian member of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, proud father, and a humbled husband. 

What follows is a poem about my life. It is, as yet, unfinished, as is my life, but the elements are all present.

The Poem of My Life

 I sing the song of life and Love…

…sometimes flat and out of tune

 …sometimes eloquent and full of passion

…sometimes forgetting notes and melody

…sometimes quaint and intimate

…often forgetful and negligent

…often in tune with the very core of my being

…often with the breath of those who would pull me down,

     shouting right in my face

…often with the breath of life uplifting me to heights never       

     before dreamed

…greatly grateful for the gift of humility and obedience to  

    The One

…greatly thankful for adoption, the discovery of the new life    of pure energy

…greatly appreciative for sharing meaning with others of

   The Master

…greatly sensitive for not judging the motives of anyone but         


…happy to be accepted as an aspiring Lay Cistercian …happy to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration

…happy and humbled to be an adopted son of the Father …happy for communities of faith and Love with wife,      

    daughter, friends

…mindful that the passage of time increases each year …mindful of the significant distractions of cancer and cardiac arrest

…mindful of my center and the perspective that I am loved    

     moreover, I must love back with all the energy of my   

     heart and strength, yet always falling a little short

 …mindful of the energy I receive from The One in Whom I

      find purpose and meaning…Forever.

To The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, be glory, honor, power, and blessings through The Redeemer Son, in unity with the Advocate, the Spirit of Love.

From The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek hope that His words about the purpose of life are true, that He is the Way that leads to life…Forever.

With The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek the fierce Love so I can have in me the mind of Christ Jesus, my purpose in life and my center…Forever.   “That in all things, may God be glorified.” –St. Benedict

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