Students from several degree programs, along with other members of The General Theological Seminary community, gathered at Holy Cross monastery in West Park, New York on September 13 for a three-day retreat that included worship, time for conversation and personal reflection, plenty of rest—and great food!
Retreat participants worshiped with the Benedictine brothers at five services each day: Matins, Eucharist, Diurnum, Vespers, and Compline. Generous meals allowed our group to spend time in conversation with one another, and to meet individual and group retreatants from all over the country. Free time offered the opportunity to explore the Hudson River Valley’s parks and trails, to read, rest, and pray, and to explore the monastery bookstore’s collection of books, candles, incense, artwork, and jewelry. Following Compline, the entire guesthouse observed the Great Silence, a period of no conversation that lasts until 8:30 a.m. each day.
Over the course of the weekend, Brother James Dowd, a member of the Order of the Holy Cross, and the Rev. Shane Phelan, a member of the new community of the Companions of Mary the Apostle, spoke with the group about the shape and pattern of monastic living, of the stability and balance that Benedictines strive for, and also about the unavoidable busy-ness and messiness of life that not even a life of intense, regular prayer can erase. Together, the group discussed ways our lives do and do not reflect the sort of order and balance we seek, and what resources are available to us in our day-to-day lives to help deepen and sustain a sense of peace.
The senior class returns to Holy Cross November 15-17, 2013. The Seminary looks forward to continuing its longstanding relationship with the wise and welcoming brothers and sisters there in the months to come.