Part 8 C: Benedictines, Cistercians, Trappists
(updated March 2009)
The men I talk about in this post, along with others in the monastic and Roman tradition, have had a great influence on the emergent church. You will notice they are strongly influenced by Eastern beliefs.
Note: “Lectio divina”, “centering prayer”, “contemplative prayer” and
other “spiritual disciplines” are not found in the Bible. Do a word search.
I did find one verse with discipline in it. The word “spiritual” is used with
man, gifts, law, blessings, songs, wickedness, understanding, house,
sacrifices, but not disciplines.
“He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.”—Job 36:10
“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”—1 John 2:27
Benedictine, Cistercian or Trappist Monks who have influenced the emergent church
Thomas Merton (1915–1968), a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, in Kentucky, was one of the most influential Catholic authors of the 20th century. Thomas Merton was strongly influenced by Buddhist meditation, particularly as found in Zen and was a lifetime friend of Buddhist meditation master and Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. Merton was also a proponent of inter-religious dialogue, engaging in spiritual dialogues with the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and D.T. Suzuki. His theology attempted to unify existentialism with the tenets of the Roman Catholic faith. He was also an advocate of the non-rational meditation of contemplative prayer.
Wayne Teasdale (1945–2004), a Trappist monk, author, and teacher, became known as a creative proponent of the mutual understanding between the world’s religions. At St. Joseph’s Abbey, he came under the spiritual direction of the then Abott, Thomas Keating, a founder of the centering prayer movement.
Teasdale visited his Shantivanam Ashram in Tamil Nadu, India; he then lived for two years at an Ashram nearby. In 1989, through Bede Griffiths, Teasdale was made a “Christian” sanyassa (or Hindu renunciate). Benedictine Bede Griffiths (read below) was a major spiritual influence on Wayne Teasdale.
Teasdale also became well acquainted with the Dalai Lama and was a member of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue where he assisted the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, Thomas Keating and others, in negotiating the text of the Universal Declaration on Nonviolence (1990), which sought to further the Satyagraha ideals established by Gandhi.
Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. (b. 1923), a Trappist monk born in New York City, attended Yale University and Fordham University and graduated in December 1943. Keating co-founded Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., now an international, ecumenical organization teaching Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, a form of meditation drawn from the “Christian” contemplative tradition. Keating is a past president of the Temple of Understanding and of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue among other interreligious activities. He lives at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.
Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O. (1931–2005), was a Trappist monk and priest. He was a leading Roman Catholic spiritual writer, speaker, teacher, and director…Pennington became known internationally as one of the major proponents of the Centering Prayer movement begun at St. Joseph’s Abbey during the 1970’s.
His growing interest in the spirituality of Eastern Orthodoxy during the 70’s brought him to Greece and to Mount Athos for an extended visit. This led to the publication of O Holy Mountain in 1978. In 1978, he became Vocation Director at Spencer. It was also during the 70’s that he became increasingly interested in Centering Prayer, which had first been taught at Spencer by Fr. William Meninger. In 1981, he travelled to India for a seminar on Monasticism in World Religions and for lectures at the Cistercian monasteries in the Philippines and on Lantao Island near Hong Kong.— from centeringprayer.com
“I believe those in ministry or preparing for ministry should seek some experiential knowledge of many different ways. They should know how to pray and from their experience know how to teach others how to pray in at least some of our traditional ways: the rosary, the Stations of the Cross, the breviary and other forms of liturgical prayer, the Jesus Prayer, Centering Prayer, Ignatian prayer, the Salesian method, and so on.
They should also know experientially some of the possible contributive elements of other traditions such as Yoga, Zen and insight meditation…”
—Basil Pennington in his book, Centered Living, p. 3
“Bede” Griffiths was an author, a proponent of Wisdom Christianity, as well as of dialogue between Hindu and Catholic. British-born Bede was also known as Swami Dayananda (Bliss of Compassion), and was a Benedictine monk and mystic who lived in ashrams in South India.
After two decades of community life in the Benedictine Monastery, Bede moved to Kengeri, Bangalore, India in 1955…in 1958, he helped establish Kurisumala Ashram (Mountain of the Cross), a Syriac rite monastery in Kerala. In 1968, he moved to Shantivanam (Forest of Peace) Ashram in Tamil Nadu. Although he remained a Catholic monk he adopted the trappings of Hindu monastic life and entered into dialogue with Hinduism. Griffiths wrote twelve books on Hindu-Christian dialogue, which are categorized as, “Wisdom Christianity.”
From site of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Tucson, AZ
“Currently we sponsor a Contemplative Prayer group that meets weekly for instruction and practice in this ancient monastic prayer, and an Oblate Program (with chapters in Phoenix and Prescott), for those who find inspiration for their lives from Benedictine spirituality. Both groups meet in our assembly room which is also utilized by the diocese for church related meetings.
“Contemplative prayer is prayer without words. One removes conscious thought from the mind and simply exists in the presence of the Holy Spirit who lives in all baptized persons. By stilling the ego, the Holy Spirit prays within us. We ask God for nothing but His presence.
“You are invited to join our Contemplative Prayer Group. We meet on Monday evenings at 7:30 pm. The suggested offering is $3.00 per evening.”
Benedictine related groups in the US
Sisters of Perpetual Adoration,
Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, KA
Benedictine Sisters of Cullman, Alabama
Sacred Heart Monastery, Richardton, ND
St. Emma Monastery, Greensburg, PA
Red Plains Monastery, Piedmont, Oklahoma
St. Benedict’s Abbey, Benet Lake, WI
Mount Saviour Monastery, Pine City, NY
Calvary Monastery, Santa Barbara, CA
Cistercian and Trappist Houses in the United States
Abbey of the Genesee (Piffard, New York) Trappist
Abbey of Gethsemani (Kentucky) Trappist
Abbey of the Holy Spirit (Conyers, Georgia) Trappist
Abbey of New Clairvaux, (Vina, California) Trappist
Assumption Abbey (Missouri) Trappist
Holy Cross Abbey (Virginia)
Holy Trinity Abbey (Huntsville, Utah) Trappist
Mepkin Abbey (Monks Corner, South Carolina) Trappist
Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey (Wrentham, Massachusetts) Cistercian Nuns
New Melleray Abbey (near Peosta, Iowa) Trappist
Our Lady of the Angels Monastery (Virginia)
Our Lady of Dallas Abbey, (Irving, Texas)
Our Lady of Fatima (Mount Laurel, New Jersey)
Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey (Oregon)
Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey (Iowa)
Our Lady of Springbank Cistercian Abbey (Sparta, Wisconsin)
Redwoods Monastery (Whitethorn, California)
Saint Benedict’s Monastery (Colorado)
Saint John’s Abbey (Minnesota) (Cistercian Publications)
Saint Joseph’s Abbey (Spencer, Massachusetts) Trappist
Santa Rita Monastery (Sonoita, Arizona) Trappistine
Snowmass Monastery (Snowmass, Colorado) Trappist
Valley of Our Lady Monastery, Cistercian Nuns (Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin)
Benedictine (Order of Saint Benedict)
1. Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, NC) Official Site
2. Benedictine College (Atchison, KS) Official Site
3. Benedictine University (Lisle, IL) Official Site
4. Saint Leo University (Saint Leo, FL) Official Site
5. College of Saint Benedict (St. Joseph, MN) Official Site
6. The College of St. Scholastica (Duluth, MN) Official Site
7. Mount Marty College (Yankton, SD) Official Site
8. Saint Anselm College (Manchester, NH) Official Site
9. Saint Gregory’s University (Shawnee, OK) Official Site
10. Saint John’s University (Collegeville, MN) Official Site
11. Saint Martin’s University (Lacey, WA) Official Site
12. Saint Vincent College (Latrobe, PA) Official Site
13. University of Mary (Bismarck, ND) Official Site
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”—Matthew 23:4
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.”
“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”—Jeremiah 2:13
“Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”—Titus 1:14
“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”—Ephesians 5:6
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”—Amos 8:11
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
—2 Peter 3:18