What are Lay Cistercians?
We are Catholics with varied responsibilities. Some have jobs, some are retired; some are married, some are single; some are old, some are young; some have families, and some do not. We are ordinary people who have chosen a path that sustains and nourishes us, bringing us closer to God. We have adapted what we can from the monastic world and integrated its rewards and challenges into our everyday lives. Through the Cistercian practices, we strive to understand and live the Rule of St. Benedict while living in the world. In some ways, everything changes, and nothing changes. Our outward appearances remain unaltered; our interior life is profoundly changed. We are Lay Cistercians.
Are you associated with the Cistercian Order?
Lay Cistercians are associated with a number of Cistercian [Trappist] monasteries around the world. Our group is associated with the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. The monks of the monastery support our group with their prayers and by providing a monastic advisor who guides us.
What does this have to do with me?
Perhaps you are being called to travel this path along with men and women from all walks of life who seek to apply the Cistercian way of living to their own spiritual life. We have come to drink deeply at the well of contemplation, co-mingling life in the world with the spiritual practices of Cistercian monasticism.
Are there requirements for beginning the journey?
Becoming a Lay Cistercian is open to all Catholic adults. It is a serious commitment. A period of inquiry of several informal meetings is followed by a five-year period of formation in conjunction with our monthly Gathering Day. Individuals, who then elect to do so, and are accepted by the monastic advisor and the community, may make formal promises of commitment to the Lay Cistercian way of life.
What about spiritual practices?
We have spiritual practices similar to those of the monastic community. However, our practices may be limited by the reality of our daily lives. As laypersons, we strive on a daily basis to live the characteristics that define the Cistercians. They include
• frequent participation in Mass and reception of Holy Eucharist
• regular daily prayer times to read Liturgy of the Hours [Divine Office].
• daily spiritual reading and meditation [lectio divina]
• seeking opportunities for silence, solitude, contemplation
• reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis
• monthly attendance for community Gathering Day
• annual weekend retreat
Send applications to:
Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit
c/o Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit
2625 Highway 212 SW
Conyers, GA 30094
Out of the chaos of sixth-century Italy, Benedict of Nursia listened with the ear of his heart and heard the call of God. His affirmative answer led to the establishment of what he called “a little school of love.” His communal way of life was codified in the Rule of St. Benedict and became the foundation of Western monasticism. The founders of the Cistercian Order heard a similar call in the year 1098. Under the influence of St. Bernard, it became one of the most dynamic religious orders in history.