Monasteries of the Heart

On-site Leader Helps

• Register your monastery group (see Register On-site Groups) to let us know that you are meeting as a MOH group. If you choose, your group will be listed on the groups directory on the MOH website.

• Gather a group and begin meeting regularly.

The Monastery of the Heart book and the resources of the MOH website are the foundational material for Monastery of the Heart groups. The study guide is available to assist with book. It is suggested that groups begin with at least the first three chapters (available here) and the web sections excerpted from the book on prayer, lectio, good work and community. However, any section on the website—lectio, the MOH prayer, community tabs—provide good discussion material and an online curriculum is in the process of being developed.

• Encourage openness and trust in the group by creating an atmosphere in which all ideas are treated with respect, dignity and seriousness.

• Facilitate the group in choosing a “good work.”

• Periodically have the group review description, focus, good work, etc. and either affirm or make changes.

• Stay in touch with Monasteries of the Heart with any questions, excitement, suggestions, concerns in your Monastery.

• Sister Mary Ellen Plumb, OSB, the contact person for group leaders, is available if you have questions or concerns. You can contact Mary Ellen by choosing her name on the Contact Us page drop-down menu.

• Ongoing leader formation will be offered online at Monasteries of the Heart.

When starting your group, find out if other people in your area are interested in reading The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life with the intent of learning more about/becoming a part of the Monasteries of the Heart movement. E-mail your friends, contact members of your parish and other existing groups to tell people about this new book and new movement.

All members of groups meeting on-site in a local area are encouraged to log in and register as members of Monasteries of the Heart on the website to take advantage of free resources available there. At a minimum, please ask one member to log-in, access the free resources, and register your group.

Those who are participating in your group should have the book at least a week before your first meeting. Click here to order. The Study Guide is free to online registered members; a print version can also be ordered here.

If you are using the book, ask participants to take time to prepare the assigned chapter before the group meets. The study guide questions and actions suggestions will serve as a vehicle to share insights, clarify questions and reinforce learning.

Groups meeting on-site can use all the free resources available online. On-site groups may choose to also create an online group and mark it as a closed/private group with access restricted to members only. This can be an additional vehicle for communication and discussion among members of your group.

Make sure all participants know the time and place of the first meeting. If possible, choose a pleasant meeting room with comfortable chairs that can be set in a circle. This setting usually helps discussion. You may also want to arrange a focal point for prayer in the center of the circle—a candle, incense, a meaningful symbol.

Decide with the group on a leadership style. Will once person lead the discussions? Will there be co-leaders who work together or alternate sessions? Or will leadership be rotated among the participants?

Encourage openness and trust in the group by creating an atmosphere in which all ideas are treated with respect, dignity and seriousness.

The study guide provides suggestions for gathering prayers, mostly based on the psalms, the prayers that are recited each day in monasteries around the world. In the section on Our Promises—a listening heart, stability of heart and conversion of heart—the gathering service uses the same psalm recited by monastic men and women when making final profession.
The closing prayer, found on the last page of the study guide, is the prayer that is recited daily by all members of Monasteries of the Heart. You might close each meeting with this prayer and encourage participants to pray it daily. You may download and copy the prayer for participants or order individual copies.

The discussion format in the study guide is simple. Select a good reader(s) to read aloud the chapter the group is discussing and then begin the questions. Don’t feel that you have to “get through” all the questions. Be flexible and open to the direction of the group.

Allow at least 10 minutes at the end of each session for the last question on each chapter. Encourage participants to share how they feel about Monastery of the Heart on an individual and group level.

Be careful that one or two people do not monopolize the discussion. Call on other participants to share their thoughts. Likewise, try to keep the group on focus. If it goes off on a tangent, gently call it back.

Please send us comments and suggestions to improve study guides and resources on this website. Select "Send Comment" from the drop down menu on the Contact Us page.