Primarily, we discuss books, pray, and explore ways to live out what we’ve read and discussed. (We also enjoy great snacks and an occasional meal together as the mood – or occasion – strikes.)
The foundation of our group is the “manual” of monastic life for Trappist monks worldwide: The Rule of St. Benedict.
Granted, not everything in the ages-old Rule applies to us (the chapters “The Sleeping Arrangement of Monks,” for example. Or “The Clothing and Footwear of the Brothers” are among several topics that aren’t necessary for our day-to-day lives). However, there are very sound and topical principles – or “rules” if you will – within the pages of St. Benedict’s booklet that we can adapt to our non-monastic lives.
The first book we chose to discuss as a group is Henri Nouwen‘s classic The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming – one of the great works on love.
Nouwen’s insights into the famous painting by Rembrandt have made for many delightful conversations – and even more penetrating insights into our daily lives and how we treat others…and ourselves.
In addition, we are reading from Sister Joan Chittister‘s book The Rule of Benedict, which offers a more contemporary, inclusive rendering of the ancient The Rule of St. Benedict.
We will soon pick our next book to discuss.
In addition, we have planned a week-long group retreat at a monastery this fall.
Plus, we are discovering together what we can do in our communities regarding bringing the Gospel – and its overwhelming message of love – to our friends and families.
But all of this is just a beginning, tentative baby steps.
We have no idea what our group will become, or what we will become in it.
That’s for God to decide, as we seek his guidance and inspiration.