Monasteries of the Heart

Forming a Monastic Heart: eCourses and eRetreats

The Monastery of the Heart by Joan ChittisterHow do you form a monastic heart? Regular prayer, honest self-reflection in lectio, good work, and faithful sharing of our lived experience in community—essential elements of the monastic way of life—are presented on this Monasteries of the Heart website. Instruction on the Benedictine way of life, or the passing down of the monastic charism from those who have chosen this lifestyle, is also imperative.

The following eCourses present a monastic spirituality for contemporary seekers like yourself who wish to embrace the tradition. The offerings are part of an ongoing Monastic Curriculum that can help you form a monastic heart, a heart afire with the unbounded love of God.

The foundational text for Monasteries of the Heart is Joan Chittister's book, The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life, a road map based on the Rule of Benedict, a practical model upon which to build a satisfying life, despite the seemingly limitless and, at times, meaningless supply of options in the modern world. All new members are encouraged to use the study guide to deepen their understanding of this invitation. Order the book here. Access discussion here.

New eCourses

Monastery Scribes: Writing from the Heart

Monastery Scribes: Writing from the Heart

What do you say, let’s take a chance and write from our hearts. Let’s do it using the ancient Benedictine practice of Lectio Divina. Let’s read a poem together, reflect on it, respond to it in writing, carry it in our hearts, and give it flesh in our daily lives. Let’s do it for three weeks and see what happens.

Mary Lou Kownacki, coordinator of Monasteries of the Heart, will facilitate the process. Along with some published works, she has a certificate in group spiritual direction from Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

This is a three-week eCourse that runs May 13-31. You will have access to this eCourse for six months after the course concludes. ​​​​​​​

$20.00

Seeking God in Community

Seeking God in Community

Community is an important gift that Benedictines give to the world. Until recently, monastic community only existed when strangers came to monasteries to seek God and, through years of shared life, created stable community. But today we also exist in virtual worlds. Is community possible there? How do strangers who belong to a virtual, online monastery seek God in community?

In addition to posted course readings, reflection questions and prompts, each week we will host a one-hour video conference for all participants so that we can learn from others' experiences of community and seeking God. We will use the Zoom© platform — you'll need to know how to use it (the free version is sufficient) — and have a good Internet connection to participate in the conferences. >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

This is a three-week eCourse that runs July 8-26. You will have access to this eCourse for six months after the course concludes. 

$20.00

Finding Joy in Eating: Lectio with Food

Finding Joy in Eating: Lectio with Food

Lectio Divina is traditionally recognized as slow, meditative reading that leads to prayer. Lectio with food is a slow, meditative encounter with food—preparing it, sharing it and eating it—that also can lead to prayer. Such mindfulness creates in us a posture of gratitude for the earth that sustains us and joy in the experience of "juicy rich foods and pure choice wine." Is. 25:6

But food is a complex reality.... This eCourse will invite us to mindfulness around the basic, everyday action of eating. It is a physical necessity for survival. Whether we eat alone or with others, eating is a communal act. But can our lectio with food bring us to an awareness of the spiritual gifts of food? Can it awaken in us a connection to justice issues around food? Create in us a deeper connection to our earth? >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

This is a three-week eCourse that runs September 9-27. You will have access to this eCourse for six months after the course concludes. 

$20.00

One price for one-year access to these select courses

• Creating a Monastery of the Heart with Joan Chittister
• Praying the Psalms with Joan Chittister
• All You Holy Women with Edwina Gateley
• Heart of the Rule with Joan Chittister
• Empower Yourself, Empower Others with Joan Chittister
• Nonviolence and the Rule of Benedict with Anne McCarthy
• Monastic Wisdom for the Workplace with Judith Valente
• Love, Forgiveness and Reconciliation with Joan Chittister
• Lectio Divina: Finding Your Sacred Center
• Thomas Merton and Peacemaking

Study and reflect on your time at your pace. With this one-time enrollment fee you will have access to these nine eCourses for a full year. The content varies by course and includes text, video and audio. Click here for a description of each of these courses. Each course is available separately. Scroll down for individual selections.

Comments are not open on these courses.

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$75.00

Get access to previously offered courses for six months

Thomas Merton and Peacemaking

Thomas Merton and Peacemaking with John Dear

Is the vocation of peacemaker reserved for a chosen few or is it your call too? The late Trappist monk Thomas Merton believed peacemaking and nonviolence were Gospel imperatives. In this four-week eCourse, best-selling author and peace activist John Dear explores how the writings and mentoring of Merton profoundly influenced the peace landscape of the institutional church and continues to shape it still. More importantly it forces all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus to grapple with the demanding invitation of the Sermon on the Mount.  >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES VIDEO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Lectio Divina A Summer Experience

Lectio Divina A Summer Experience

Lectio Divina, reflective sacred reading, has deep roots in Benedictine spirituality. Traditionally, the scriptures were the only text for lectio, but in this course you are invited to use other of God’s texts—nature, photography, and the daily news—as ways to engage in a lifelong conversation with God.  >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES SOME VIDEO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Lectio Divina: Finding Your Sacred Center

Lectio Divina—finding your Sacred Center

Lectio Divina, reflective sacred reading, has deep roots in Benedictine spirituality. Traditionally, the scriptures were the only text for lectio, but in this course you are invited to use other of God’s texts—nature, photography, and the daily news—as ways to engage in a lifelong conversation with God.  >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES VIDEO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Love, Forgiveness and Reconciliation with Joan Chittister

Love, Forgiveness and Reconciliation with Joan Chittister

The themes of forgiveness and reconciliation are central to all religions. But how do you integrate these ideals into your personal life? How do you forgive a person who betrayed you? What if you can’t get over the hurt and just move on…even if everyone around you is telling you to do so?  >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES VIDEO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Monastic Wisdom for the Workplace with Judith Valente

Monastic Wisdom in the Workplace with Judith Valente

The workplace is where many of us spend the bulk of our waking hours. How can we apply Benedictine values and practices to the competitive, often cut-throat marketplace? Judith Valente, a correspondent for PBS-TV and radio, former Wall Street Journal reporter, poet and Oblate, will reflect on how The Rule of St. Benedict offers timeless wisdom for working people.
>>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES AUDIO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Nonviolence and the Rule of Benedict with Anne McCarthy

Nonviolence and the Rule of Benedict with Anne McCarthy

The essential challenge of both the gospel of Jesus and monasticism is to move from fear and violence to freedom and love. How do we structure our lives and our communities to reflect nonviolent love? This course explore answers to those questions.  >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES VIDEO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Empower Yourself, Empower Others with Joan Chittister

Empower Yourself, Empower Others with Joan Chittister

If an organization lasts 1,500 years, as Benedictine monasticism has, you must surmise that the founder knew something about leadership. In this course, Empower Yourself; Empower Others: Six stories of Benedict to unleash the leader in you, Joan Chittister outlines the basic principles of leadership, and, using stories from the life of Benedict, explores if or how he applied these principles and how you can do the same. >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES VIDEO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Heart of the Rule with Joan Chittister

Heart of the Rule with Joan Chittister

Does the 1500-year-old Rule of Benedict of Nursia have anything to say to the modern world? You bet it does. In this course, Joan Chittister offers 37 brief videos on aspects of monastic spirituality that can guide you into a new way of seeing and living. >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES VIDEO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

All You Holy Women with Edwina Gateley

All You Holy Women with Edwina Gateley

In this eCourse, best-selling author and poet Edwina Gateley will introduce you to five great women from the monastic tradition: Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Brigid of Kildare and Pema Chödrön. >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES VIDEO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Praying the Psalms with Joan Chittister

Praying the Psalms with Joan Chittister

The 150 songs of praise in the Book of Psalms are a sweeping overview of the spiritual life and the universal story of the soul’s pilgrimage through life. In monastic communities, the psalms are the basic prayer of the day. In this course, “Praying the Psalms,” Joan Chittister uses the prayers that formed her monastic spirituality to show you how to pray them in reflective, life-altering way. >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES AUDIO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Creating a Monastery of the Heart with Joan Chittister

Creating a Monastery of the Heart with Joan Chittister

This eCourse is your opportunity to join Joan Chittister in creating a Monastery of the Heart—wherever you are—as she explores the key elements to the life: prayer, work, silence, community, good zeal, humility….  >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES AUDIO
SIX MONTH ACCESS

$15.00

Get access for one year to these eRetreats

God Speaks in Many Tongues: A Personal Retreat

God Speaks in Many Tongues: A Personal Retreat

God Speaks in Many Tongues: A Personal Retreat, is designed to be used on a schedule that works for you. It can be done over one day, over several days, or over a week. We give you all the pieces; you make it work for you.  >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES AUDIO AND VIDEO
ONE YEAR ACCESS

$25.00

Mary of Nazareth: Reflections from Joan Chittister

Mary of Nazareth, an eRetreat with Joan Chittister

Sister Joan will introduce you to a woman who lived through difficult and trying circumstances but found the fingerprint of God in all of them. Mary risked a call into the unknown; was an unwed mother and political refugee; a mother of a scorned prophet and condemned prisoner; and a faithful disciple who never abandoned the vision of a new earth.  >>>FULL DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES AUDIO AND VIDEO
ONE YEAR ACCESS

$25.00