Retreat and Workshop Introduction
Learn – Grow – Connect the Benedictine Way
Hi. I’m Br Ricky of the Feline Cloister, Amma Jane, our superior, asked me to tell everyone about the retreats and workshops she offers on The Rule of St. Benedict. I’ll also share her goals and what you as an attendee could expect to learn. (Amma doesn’t like talking about herself.)
At the close of the Rule, Benedict states his purpose in giving a rule to his community.
Therefore we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.
In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. Prologue 45,46
Jane invites you into her own “school for the Lord’s service,” to learn about and grow to love the practical wisdom from Benedict. For her it has been life-changing. She hopes the same for you and for your community.
Are you ready to learn about Jane’s retreats and programs? If you would like to first see a list of sample retreats, click here.
Program Goals: Learn, Grow, Connect
Amma Jane has found the practices in the Rule of St. Benedict so helpful in her own life. Her desires for you and all who attend are to Learn, to Grow, and to Connect.
Learn about Benedictine practices to meet the challenges of daily life
All of us want to follow Jesus and live into our Baptismal Covenant, but things can get in the way of this desire – busyness, lack of balance in our lives, loss of focus on our deepest desires. Then there are blurred boundaries brought on by technology 24/7, worry about the future, and the absence of intentionality in our spiritual practices. We even see vying to be the first at mealtime (Feline Cloister only). All of these can result in a fragmented life. Even more serious, our life style can separate us from God, the source of our peace and strength.
Brenda taking time for rest –
a change of pace in a busy life
St. Benedict offers a course correction by pointing out a different way to be.
To be in the present moment and find God and grace there; look for the sacredness in the ordinary stuff of daily life
To practice moderation in possessions, in speech, and in the activities we do each day, including time for rest and relaxation
To honor and make time for all aspects of life
To be kind, caring, and compassionate with others
To listen to Holy Scripture, to the people around us, and to the situations of our lives to discern God’s Call and Presence
To be intentional in our time with God
To stay rooted where we are, not fleeing from difficult people and situations either physically or mentally
All of these practices and more lead the way for all of us to grow.
Grow in our relationship with God and others, human and feline
Benedict has a message for us. Jane writes about this in St. Benedict’s Toolbox:
“Find God by being in relationship with one another. Achieve holiness by being normal. Base your faith on the changelessness of God and of God’s love and empowerment.
“Relate in a healthy way to yourself and keep that relationship in its proper proportion.
“Recognize that your role as a Christian is to love God, to serve others, and to seek eternal life.”
Just as The Rule of St. Benedict points to Christ, Amma’s retreats and workshops follow the same path.
All that is learned, the new practices offered, and suggestions for living the Benedictine way point to growing our relationship with God and opening our hearts more fully to others.
The practices she focuses on give practical ways to connect with people. These include welcoming others as Christ (RB 53.1), being understanding and not speaking ill of others (RB 4.40), respecting others in spite of what we perceive as weaknesses of body or behavior (RB 72.5), and fostering peace and harmony (Prologue 17) to name just a few.
Connect with other followers of Jesus
Jane designs her retreats and workshops to model one of the main aspects of The Rule – Community.
Dawn and Dick sharing at Holy Cross Monastery
Program attendees interact with and get to know one another through exercises designed for pairs, triads or small groups. Jane feels strongly that individuals have wisdom to share and need an opportunity to do so. She models being a welcoming presence herself.
One of her favorite ways to open her retreats is Benedictine Bingo! I understand it can get pretty chaotic.
Amma wanted me to make sure that you know that she offers two venues for retreats and workshops – In-Person and Online.
Sr Miss Sassafras sleeping through chapel!
Amma is cautious about being away from all of us here in the Feline Cloister. We assure her that, during her absence, we will faithfully follow the instructions of St. Benedict found in Chapter 4 – The Tools for Good Works.
Here are just a few of St. Benedict’s instructions that we promise to follow. Won’t you join us?
“Refrain from too much eating or sleeping, and from laziness.”
(RB 4.37-39 and Rom 12:11).
“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way;
the love of Christ must come before all else.”
“You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge.
Do not love quarreling.”
(RB 4.22-23, 68)
“Listen readily to holy reading, and devote yourself often to prayer.” (RB 4.55-56)
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A RETREAT LED BY AMMA JANE
Jane never claims to be a “talking head.” She vows to follow this instruction in The Rule:
“Prefer moderation in speech and speak no foolish chatter.“ (RB 4.52)
Jane sees herself as both teacher and facilitator.
Her goal is to open a space where attendees can have a conversation with The Rule of St. Benedict and with each other. She also trusts in the wisdom of the group. She wants to help each person discover and clarify what will bring more wholeness in their life. Both Jane as Facilitator and those attending learn together about The Rule, themselves and each other.
Amma Jane intersperses discussion, individual reflection, and both small and large group interaction within her teaching. She is a fan of PowerPoint whether she is in person or on Zoom.
Personally, I think St. Benedict would have definitely used this technology if it had been available. He instructs the superior of the monastery to teach “more by example than by words” (RB 2.12). One picture is worth a thousand words, right?
We in the Feline Cloister encourage her to include pictures of cats in her slide presentations to break up the words. It helps us feel welcome, too.
Customize YOUR RETREATS OR WORKSHOP
Just as she gears her teaching in the Feline Cloister to the needs of us felines, although her mew is a bit lacking in proper inflexion, Amma Jane is delighted to target specific needs of the sponsoring organization. She really enjoys talking with organizations about what is going on. She is keen to learn about the challenges the organization is facing, what the growing edges are, and so forth. She then culls The Rule for practices that would be helpful to organization members.
She also queries if there might be any felines in attendance so she can bring special cat treats (for on site events). If the program is on Zoom, she sets up a special breakout room where I (Br Ricky) can talk about The Rule and the Feline Cloister.
Any attending felines interested in learning about becoming members of the Feline Cloister should click here.
Br Ricky Invites You to Explore the Retreats and Workshops
Contact Jane to Schedule a Retreat or Program
and for More Information