Online Retreats

Yesterday we received the first feedback from our Online Retreats. Eleven* people took the trouble to sit down and write a thoughtful, and in some cases quite detailed, response to the whole experience as well as the particular questions raised by doing a retreat on lectio divina. Even in my tired and curmudgeonly state, I was immensely encouraged — by the obvious sincerity, the desire for God, the generous appreciation of what we are trying to do and the evident determination to carry the retreat on into daily life. We were particularly struck by one person’s comment that we had brought the monastery to them: that is exactly what we had hoped to do, to enable people to share in its inner life of prayer and worship.

What we were not prepared for was the fact that many found the title of one set of retreats, Five Minute Focus, bewildering. In our defence I can only say that we did not mean the ‘five minutes’ to be taken literally, although I suppose one could read through some of the retreat material in five minutes. We wanted to convey the idea of focusing on God, of regularly returning to him through the day in short ‘bursts’ or periods of attention. In the context of lectio divina or prayer that makes perfect sense. Perhaps we should have spelled that out. At least everyone who responded acknowledged that they had received ‘value for money’!

Both the dedicated Retreatline (email) and LiveChat have enabled users to ask questions and share reflections in confidence, so it looks as though the Five Minute Focus format is working well. We shall be tweaking things a little in the light of the responses we have received and may make adjustments to the Shared and Companion Retreats before launching them later this year. The one utterly devastating criticism (made by only one person, and in such a gentle, kind way one couldn’t take offence) was that we didn’t seem to have a sense of humour. As I have often been taken to task for having too much humour, I am nonplussed. I blame the dog. Wouldn’t you?

* Eleven people may not sound a huge sample, but the service has only been running a little over a week.


8 thoughts on “Online Retreats”

  1. I think what you are offering is fantastic. I also think your website is superb.

    One thing though – is there a livechat facility so people can ask questions WITHOUT paying and registering?

    Best wishes


    • As a paying retreatant, I do think that would be a very good idea, Chris. The idea is that you pay £10 and that gives you access to the Retreat and to the live chat where presumably the retreats are discussed. It is unclear to me how you could discuss the retreats if you were not actually taking part.

  2. Thank you for your comments. I should point out that there is a great deal of free material, including podcasts and talks, on our main web site (, where we also arrange an occasional web conference at which people can ask questions without having to pay. There is also the ability to email the community. We always try to respond to emails, but please bear in mind we have to earn our living and keep our monastic life going as well as answer enquiries!

    The LiveChat on our Retreats web site is behind a security barrier so that people can be assured that the sessions will not be hijacked by casual droppers-in and can be kept confidential. The retreats represent a huge investment of time, energy and resources both by us and by many of the participants, so I imagine most people taking part would prefer to keep things as they are.

    • Both Duncan and D. Lucy are convalescent. They have both been prescribed “a light chicken diet”, which I would have my suspicions about if I didn’t know better. Of the two, I’d say that Duncan is probably improving faster. Might be an element of canine ‘man flu’ involved, perhaps?

  3. Oh, good! I am laughing with relief. (And by the way and for it’s worth I really don’t think you lack for a capacious sense of humor [sic in the US]).

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