Lay Cistercians


How do I choose a contemplative lay order? And do I have to be Catholic to do so?


A reader recently wrote to me: Dear Carl, I grew up as a Protestant, but as I’ve journeyed into Contemplative Christianity over the last while I’ve become more amenable to Roman Catholicism. I have been wondering about lay orders and how to connect with the contemplative tradition through a lay order. I was wondering if you could shed some light on which lay orders there are (main ones) and what...

How to Find the Right Contemplative Community


A reader named Brian writes: Being a Lay Cistercian seems to be an important part of your journey. I’m wondering if becoming an oblate is a next step for me? My spiritual director and I have discussed this off and on for over a year now. While I have an established contemplative practice (e.g., Daily Office, Lectio Divina, Examen, Centering Prayer), he and I agree that “scaffolding” helps keep me...

On Being a Lay Cistercian


“Are you a monk?” I get asked that question a lot, especially when I’m at the monastery where I work and pray and lead retreats. Perhaps it’s because of my greying hair and scruffy beard. Whatever the reason, I always see it as a compliment, but of course, I’m not a monk. So I say, “No, I’m not; I’m what is called a Lay Cistercian.”...

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