Retreating with St. Francis

This past weekend, Brooke and I had the pleasure of attending a Franciscan Retreat hosted by Real Live Preacher (Gordon Atkinson) and Covenant Baptist Church in San Antonio.

Here are a few notes and reflections from the wonderful weekend.

St. Francis and developing a rule of life

The entire weekend retreat was centered on the Franciscan monastic tradition (check out the wonderful retreat booklet). Between Friday and Saturday we participated in four sessions dedicated to learning about St. Francis and developing a personal rule of life in the Franciscan tradition. The idea of developing a rule of life, and the related notion of taking on communal vows, has been very much on my mind over the past year. I hope this past weekend began the process of creating a written rule for my own life. In short, the focus of these sessions was on considering the values we each have and whether or not these values are evident in how we live our lives. By creating a rule of life we are encouraged to consider our values, the spiritual disciplines that would accompany these values, and then the rule that would express how these values and disciplines should be lived out in our daily lives. I think the process of working through each of these areas and creating the rule can be very valuable. I began this process this past weekend and hope to continue it over the following months.

A monastic and contemplative spirituality

In addition to learning about St. Francis and beginning the process of creating a rule of life, we also participated in communal prayer and worship by following the Franciscan schedule for praying the hours. We all joined together in services for vespers (evening prayer), compline (night prayer), matins (3am prayer – I wimped out and skipped this service), lauds (morning prayer), terce (third hour prayer), sext (sixth hour prayer), and none (ninth hour prayer). These short but very meaningful services consisted of liturgical prayers, scripture readings, music, chants, songs, periods of silence and contemplation, and group prayer. Paul Soupiset, liturgical arts director for the retreat, coordinated these beautiful services and helped give me a new (and ancient) vision for communal worship involving music. Many of you know my difficulties with modern day worship and praise services (documented here). Participating in these services left me spiritually refreshed and nourished. In addition to these beautiful services, I was also encouraged by the lovely natural setting for the retreat. Covenant Baptist Church is in the midst of a wonderful wooded area and has done an excellent job of preserving the natural beauty around the church buildings. Prayer paths and a labyrinth complement this setting and provide a rich environment for prayer, silence, and contemplation.

Community and conversation

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the retreat was the opportunity to meet and converse with other pilgrims from all over Texas (including a number from the Covenant community) and from locations across the United States – Seattle, Durham, and New York City. As with Gordon’s blog, this retreat drew a diversity of spiritual pilgrims from various backgrounds, religious traditions, and varying places within Christianity. I am so glad to have made many new friends and spiritual companions. I am also thankful for the wonderful hospitality of Covenant Baptist Church and the many people who cooked, taught, and served throughout the weekend. Brooke and I were also able to join the Covenant community for worship on Sunday morning.

The entire weekend was such a joy. I hope you consider attending one of these retreats. You can find out more information at the Covenant Center for Contemplative Christianity.


Others who are blogging about the retreat



A couple photos from RLP

(see all of RLP’s photos from the retreat)


6 Responses

  1. Hi Adam,

    Appreciated your reflections on RLP’s Franciscan retreat. It has heightened my anticipation for the August retreat that I will attend. May your prayer and reflection grow in its fruitfulness. Grace and peace to you.

  2. oh you texans seem to have it all! i’m so jealous. but also happy you and brook got to go! looks like it was a wonderful time. glad the worship was good for you. maybe one day i’ll make it to one of the retreats. don’t guess i ever thanked you for pointing me to rlp. it’s been a real pleasure reading his blog. think your wife will ever rejoin us?

  3. i am so glad this was such a great experience!!

  4. Randy – I’m glad you’ll be going in August. I’m sure it will be a great experience.

    Janna – it looks like your comment encouraged Brooke to post at least once on her blog!

  5. […] read all about the first retreat. (Followed all the links too.) And now I’m even more nervous.  Reading all about how people opened […]

  6. just wanted to say how much i enjoyed getting to know y’all and that i heard y’all met our friends duane and elisa. crazy small world, huh?

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