Each of us, in the short time we find ourselves in this existence, uses the totality of our human experiences to probe the depth of what it means to be human. We may not even be conscious of it, but we want to ensure that we are worth something, that our living is for a purpose. People get their answers to this urge deep within us, unconsciously most of the time but now and then popping to the surface of consciousness.

Contemplation is a way that I use to go to seek answers to life’s challenges. I use Lay Cistercian charisms and practices to place me in the company of Christ’s heart and just wait there for what happens next. It is difficult to describe that feeling of peace that overshadows me as I just sit there, abandoning my will to God, dying to my fleshly self of the mind, being silent and still enough to listen to Jesus with “the ear of my heart.” I have done it over and over each day since my Baptism. Most days, I am aware of what is going on. Some days it passes right over the top of my head. Each day begins anew with the same routine. It is the struggle to “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus” daily. (Philippians 2:5). I have been obsessed with this since making my lifetime profession as a Lay Cistercian. I find that cross that Jesus says we should take up daily tricky. It is the martyrdom of the ordinary as a human being, not wanting anyone to tell us what to do, wishing to control our lives as we see fit.

I found an icon of St. Charles de Foucauld that typifies my relationship with Christ and can be the definition of contemplation and what it means to be a Lay Cistercian. Look at the icon for ten minutes, interrupted, and ask yourself, “What do I see?” Listen with “the ear of the heart.” –St. Benedict

St. Charles de Foucauld and Friend

My thoughts.

  • Jesus has his arm around St. Charles.
  • St. Charles is happy.
  • St. Charles has a rosary on his belt.
  • He has a paper (I don’t know what it says.)
  • St. Charles points to Jesus as Mary did and says: “Do what he tells you.”
  • I am St. Charles. Jesus is my friend; remembering what St. Benedict says about the first step of humility, “Fear of the Lord.”
  • The mission of Christ to become one of us was for him to put his arm around each human and help us to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
  • Jesus loves me, and there is nothing I can do about it.
  • Christ because sin allows us to reestablish a link between humans and the divine. The hallos mean both are holy. Only St. Charles is sinful.
  • This icon is the best definition of contemplation and “What it means to be a Lay Cistercian.”
  • I want Christ to put his arm around me, like St. Charles, and just stand there (or, in my case, sit there on the park bench in the middle of winter) and be still and at peace.
  • The peace of Christ is not the absence of conflict in your life but his presence of love in you.

Here is the agenda that our Lay Cistercian Discernment Group followed on July 27th.

I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Saint Charles de Foucauld

Former Trappist of N.D. de Neiges

Killed December 1, 1916

Prayer requests

The practice of the day: Capicitas Dei: Christ increases, I decrease,

II. THE PRACTICE OF MEDITATION – Go to the place in your inner room (Matthew 6:6) and close the door. Listen with “…the ear of your heart”. Use this image to guide thoughts from the Holy Spirit.

There are six questions as part of the Divine Equation. We will take one of these questions and reflect on the answers in the subsequent six sessions using The Rule of Threes.  1. What is the purpose of life?

Read: https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org

This photo is my life.


III. A Lay Cistercian Reflects on Spiritual Reality

Once you have abandoned your humanity as a gift to God, you open yourself to receiving questions and answers to The Divine Equation.

Christ became one of us to save us from the failure of human reasoning and choice by itself, even to realize there is a Divine Equation with six postulates that must be answered correctly and in the proper order.

It is the Divine Equation because the questions and answers to what it means to be fully human come from a power greater than ourselves, outside of ourselves, God. The Holy Spirit overshadows us with enlightenment beyond our capability and capacity to open our hearts to the way, the truth, and the life at this moment.

God gives us the purpose in one or two points that spring from our opening the heart to the Holy Spirit. We allow The Christ Principle to overshadow us in silence and solitude.

All we have to do in silence and solitude is “listen with the ear of the heart.” —St, Benedict

Ironically, we share with others in contemplation, but the others are Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and our fellow Lay Cistercians. Slow down, taste, and see the goodness of the Lord; happy are those who take refuge in him.

The five charisms of Cistercian spirituality are silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community.

Each lay Cistercian must apply what they have experienced to whatever the world presents to them. Lay Cistercians are not monks but do the Cistercian practices as they can. Monks and nuns do the same. Christ is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

What is the purpose of all life?

Read Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36ff.


Tallahassee Retreat at the Monastery sometime in Fall.

We Addicts Book update.

Date for next month.

Go to www.trappist.net and look up how to sign up to be a novice if that is your discernment.



The six core skills I use to grow deeper in Christ Jesus. 2. What is my purpose within the purpose of life?

Read: https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org

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