“Understanding is wholly useless if it is not based upon wisdom, in that while it penetrates the higher mysteries without the counterpoise of wisdom, its own lightness is only lifting it up to meet with the heavier fall."

- St. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, 1.32.45


“Idleness is an enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should be occupied according to schedule in either manual labor or holy reading.”

- St. Benedict of Nursia, Rule, Chapter 48


“My words are meant for you, whoever you are, who laying aside your own will, take up the all-powerful and righteous arms of obedience to fight under the true King, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

- St. Benedict of Nursia, Rule, Prologue


The Lumen Christi Institute and New Melleray Abbey have partnered to organize a retreat aimed at exploring the monastic wisdom tradition. The Trappist community at New Melleray Abbey in Iowa represents an ancient and continual tradition of Christian monasticism with roots in the early Church. Students with an interest in theology or spirituality may be familiar with some of the major figures in this tradition—St. John Cassian, St. Benedict of Nursia, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. It is less likely they have spent time putting into practice the lessons of prayer, spiritual reading, and silence in an organized manner.

The contention of the Monastic Wisdom Seminar is that monastic disciplines must be practiced to be understood. Participants will spend a week praying, conferencing, reading, and working with the monks of New Melleray Abbey. The goals of the retreat are fourfold:

  1. Introduce participants to monastic life, the Divine Office, and the history and theology of monasticism.

  2. Introduce participants to monastic practices, including the discipline of silence, the principle of ora et labora and lectio divina.

  3. Provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on Catholic practices of daily prayer and their relation to monastic life.

  4. Study of texts of major figures of the monastic tradition.





  • The seminar will take place at New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa.

  • Travel stipends will be available for currently enrolled students.

  • Lodging, meals, and books will be provided.

  • Participants will arrive at New Melleray on Sunday, June 16 and depart on Friday, June 21.

  • Participants will be required read the assigned materials in preparation for the seminar.



  • Open to men aged 18 through 35. Catholics and non-Catholics are invited to apply.

  • Applicants must submit an online application including a statement of interest, a CV or resume, and a letter of recommendation from a professor or pastor.

  • Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis. Apply no later than May 17th to receive full consideration.

  • A maximum of 15 applicants will be admitted to the seminar.