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Tag Archives: Trappists

Learning to Lead from the Margins

We need a radically different kind of spiritual formation of leaders in the 21st century. Rosy Kandithal, an assistant pastor/contemplative artist on our New Life staff team, is taking a year to learn at a monastery in Wisconsin. Why? To deepen her being and her roots in Jesus, to learn hiddenness with God, to learn to pray. She is going to learn Christian leadership from the margins. Scott Sunquist, Dean of Fuller’s School of Intercultural Ministry and one of the great historians of global church history of our day, writes:”from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries, Christian mission was kept alive not from the ecclesial center, but from them margins…The rise of monasticism was in part a missional renewal movement: to tear the church away from its early captivity to worldly power and riches.” In the famous School of the Persians at Nisibis, for example, over a thousand students lived in monastic cells. Trained. Read more.

Pastoral Gleanings from the Trappists -2012

At the end of my summer vacation each year, I take a week for a retreat on the lovely grounds of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.  About 60-70 men live there, dedicated to a life of prayer. I love the silence, the singing of the Psalms, the beauty of the landscape, the contrast to my life in New York City. One of the highlights for me continues to be a growing relationship with Father Dominic. He his a former Dominican priest with a PH.D in Thomas Aquinas.He taught at Georgetown University before sensing a call to a greater life of prayer. This led him out of the Dominican order to become a Trappist. He now serves as the prior of the monastery (i.e. the COO, or#2 person). We met each day for spiritual direction and a “conference.” He is engaged in many “un-monastic” things, such as strategic planning, running a business, dealing with. Read more.

Reflections on the Interior Life: A View from the Monastery

We recently hosted a Trappist monk at New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, NYC named Father Williams .  What made him such a gift to us was not his eloquence, his well-crafted sermons, his cleverness, or capacity as a leader. His prayer life, his walk with Jesus, his interior life with God built over many years pulled us toward Jesus in a very different way. It was transformative to be around him. He spoke as one “with authority,” (even though he uses an I-Pad!) The following are a few of my personal summary insights out of our time together that I have been reflecting on: There is no greater gift in the universe than to have a desire for the Triune God. Loving God for His own sake is God’s heart for us. God takes us where we are, not where we are not. Contemplation is awe and wonder in the face of God.. Read more.

Four Days with the Trappists: Part 3

Perhaps the most significant thing that emerged from me out of my four days with the Trappists revolved around the theme of “THE DIFFICULT LOVE OF LOVING OUR ENEMIES” This was the theme of Father Dominic’s conferences. His basic thesis was that if silence and solitude with God does not lead to greater love for our enemies, then it is not worth much. UGH! I have been serving as a leader seeking to build Christian community for over 22 years at New Life. I am under no illusions around the suffering involved in modeling the love of Christ as a church. When I discovered the monastic tradition over 7 years ago, what came alive in me was contemplation with God – apart from other people. While I love our people, the connection to a greater love for people has not been a major part of this 7+ year journey. Geri, more than once, has suggested to. Read more.

Reflections on a Weekend with the Trappists

This was my fifth retreat with the 70+ monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Massachusetts. Maybe since it was the end of my 6 weeks away from the responsibility of leading New Life, but I entered into a deep calm, silence and rhythm with their life almost immediately. One of the highlights of the weekend was a conversation with Father Kizito Kwame, a West Indian who has been with them for 49 years. He joined at the age of 17 when the monastery was at its height (1958-1960) of 200 monks. He recently returned from 10 years of serving among the 25 Trappist monasteries in Africa. A part of me so longed to remain on the mountaintop with God and not leave return to checkbooks, house, problems, needs, noise and traffic of NYC, that I complained to him for a while, shared with him this inner compulsion I often feel to be a monk, etc.. Read more.

Yearly Sabbatical with the Trappists

For the last few years I have approached my vacations as ‘mini-sabbaticals”, seeking to structure my time according to Sabbath principles – Stopping (work), Resting, Delighting and Contemplating God. Part of what this has meant for me the last few years, besides thinking through vacations much more purposefully so that my soil gets fresh nutrients from God through doing holy “nothing”, has been to take a few days alone with the Trappists in St. Joseph’s in Spencer Massachusetts. When this blog is posted, I will be there. Why and what will I be doing? The 60-70 monks, who live as a strict Benedictine community on a 1 by 3 mile plot of land, have taken vows of stability, poverty and conversion of life (celibacy and obedience to the authority of the Abbot). Their lives are so far from contemporary American Christianity that I find my days with them drive me to Jesus, to simplicity, to. Read more.