The Lumen Christi Institute, the St. Anselm Institute and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, a Trappistine monastery located near Crozet, Virginia are partnering for the first time to organize a retreat that explores the monastic wisdom tradition. The Trappistine Community at Crozet, Virginia lives according to a continual tradition of Christian monasticism with its roots in the Cistercian Tradition. This seminar will offer the possibility of not only learning the guiding principles that foster a good and balanced life according to the monastic tradition, but of putting them into practice, since it is experience alone that leads not only to correct understanding but to real wisdom.

After reading some core texts in the monastic tradition in advance, participants will then spend a week praying, working, reading, and learning from the Sisters during two daily conferences and other times of sharing and mutual exchange.

The goals of the seminar are fourfold:

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

2. Introduce participants to monastic practices, including community life, lectio divina, the Divine Office, the discipline of silence, and manual labor, and see how these practices form a balanced whole that fosters human and spiritual growth.

3. Provide an opportunity for participants to learn more about the longstanding ascetical and mystical guidelines that support prayer in the Catholic monastic tradition.

4. Study texts of major figures of the monastic tradition and see how their teaching can illuminate and enrich our human experience.



  • Evagrius Ponticus, Praktikos and Chapters on Prayer, trans. John Eudes Bamberger, CS 4 (Cistercian Publications, 1972).
  • Benedict of Nursia, RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict (Liturgical Press, 1981).
  • Michael Casey, The Road to Eternal Life: Reflections on the Prologue of Benedict’s Rule, (Liturgical Press, 2010).
  • Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Song of Songs I, trans. Kilian Walsh, CF 4 (Cistercian Publications, 1971).
  • William of St Thierry, The Mirror of Faith, trans. Thomas X Davis, CF 15 (Cistercian Publications, 1979)
  • Beatrice of Nazareth, The Seven Modes of Love

How to read the texts: Besides taking advantage of the introductions to be found in these books, slow reading is the best approach to these texts. It’s also helpful to bear in mind Bernard McGinn’s advice in his introduction to the Sermons of Isaac of Stella (Cistercian Publications, 1979). Dr. McGinn encourages the reader to be challenged by the texts instead of attempting to fit them into the confines of their own horizons. Doing this implies being prepared to bracket our spontaneous critical reactions, and renouncing the attitude of picking out what seems useful and rejecting the rest. It’s precisely by the effort to appreciate this “strangeness” in the texts that we will come away from our reading richer than when we began, our horizons widened, our world expanded.



  • The seminar will take place at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Crozet, Virginia.
  • The seminar sessions will be led by the Sisters of the monastery.
  • Travel stipends will be available for currently enrolled students.
  • Lodging, meals, and books will be provided.
  • Participants will arrive at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery on Monday, June 5 (before 5 pm), and depart on Sunday, June 11 (after 9:30 am).
  • Participants will be required to read the assigned materials in preparation for the seminar.



  • Open to women age 18 through 40. 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.
  • Application materials are due February 21, 2023