Sources of Wisdom
An Online Retreat
With Laurence Freeman OSB
Given that most of our communication and exploration is - for the moment – online,
what better time to take part in an online retreat?
The time of self-isolating and social distance that we are currently experiencing is a kind of extended Lent: a voluntary restriction which reminds us of the limited control we have in reality – at any time – over the circumstances of our daily lives. A willing and conscious entering into these limitations can, paradoxically, bring us to an unexpected experience of limitless freedom. This is also how a retreat will often work. Another way of thinking of our new collective social reality is that we are undertaking an enormous global retreat. Some are following it more attentively than others; some are quite unaware that they are on this retreat; but more and more are quieting down and joining in. Given that most of our communication and exploration is – for the moment – online, what better time to take part in an online retreat?
Sources of Wisdom has been designed so that you can participate in a way that suits you. It doesn’t involve setting aside an enormous amount of time (that’s already been done for you), but it will work best if you designate a certain period during which you are on retreat, whether that be a morning, an afternoon, a day, a weekend, a week or a month. The retreat is structured into one-and-a-half hour sessions: meditation, video of a talk, followed by a time for personal reflection.
At the end of this course, Fr Laurence will be adding an additional talk to the already rich reflections on wisdom, illustrating his main themes from the riches of other spiritual traditions.
Retreat for a Group
You could also do this retreat with others – perhaps with a meditation group that you usually attend in person. Your group can decided how you want to structure it but here is a suggestion. You can decide to meditate and listen to the talks at the same time each day and meet as a group online at the end of the day to discuss with one another your personal reflections. We offer discounts for groups of 10 and over and you can explore the prices here: Group rates
We send our love and prayers for the safety and well-being of you, your family and your friends, and we hope that this retreat will bring you ever closer to the source of all wisdom.
What you will discover on this retreat:
– Lesson 1
Introduction: The Essential Teaching of Meditation
Meditation is as old as humanity itself. It is a universal practice, arising in – and uniting – all wisdom traditions throughout the world. The Christian contemplative path has too often been overlooked, but is now more urgently needed than ever before. By following this practice we are personally responding to the teaching of Jesus on prayer. It takes us directly to the purest source of wisdom.
– Lesson 2
The Taste and Experience of Wisdom
The essence of wisdom is direct, personal experience of reality. This is quite distinct from the seemingly infinite range of “experiences” that a culture obsessed with consumption and entertainment relentlessly offers us. In committing to a personal practice of meditation we are no longer experiencing life at one remove, to be simply stored away as a memory. Instead we learn to breathe wisdom for ourselves.
– Lesson 3
Light, Glory, Time and Ritual
The world is obsessed with the ‘glory’ that trumpets power, success and victory. But the glory of God reflected in a human being fully alive, the world considers as mere foolishness. Our collective sense of time has become purely functional; our ‘rituals’ simply performance and spectacle. The contemplative mind offers new shared ways of authentically responding to the mystery of life.
– Lesson 4
The Purpose of Ritual, Discipline and Community
The danger of all ritual and religion is that security and nostalgia can become the main concern. But this is to miss the sacred opportunity that all liturgy really is: the chance for each one of us to become radically simplified, childlike, standing joyously in the immediate presence of God. The discipline of meditation in community can lead us to this shared experience of freedom.
– Lesson 5
The Wisdom of the Mantra: Poverty and Humility
The mantra offers us the possibility of liberation from our limited minds. It changes all ideas of God, freeing us from the trap of idolatry. We no longer react violently to contradiction but are able to sit creatively with paradox. Working with the mantra teaches us true poverty of spirit and humility. The fruit of this work is a life that is now other-centred.
– Lesson 6
From Law to Grace : The Wisdom of Failure
Meditation leads us on a journey from obeying the law into a deep preparedness for grace. It also teaches us collectively and individually about how to learn from our failures and how to respond wisely to the abuses and untruths that shadow our world. Through the sacrifice of our selves in this form of prayer, we come to humbly embody the Spirit of Truth.
© 2020 The World Community for Christian Meditation.
No part of this online course may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, streamed, downloaded or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher, WCCM.
About Laurence Freeman OSB
Laurence Freeman is a Benedictine monk of the Monastery of Sta Maria di Pilastrello, Lendinara, in the Benedictine Congregation of Monte Oliveto and Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation. He is also Director of Bonnevaux, the International Centre of the World Community for Christian Meditation where he now resides. Fr Laurence sees the contemplative as the essential dimension of all spirituality.