They can be like a sun, words.
They can do for the heart
what light can
for a field.
-St. John of the Cross, Love Poems from God (translated by Daniel Ladinsky)
In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to God and to their own inner struggles at work within them. They sought out radical silence, solitude, and continuous prayer. Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life. One tradition was to ask for a word – this word or phrase would be something on which to chew, ponder, meditate, and engage with in holy curiosity for many days, weeks, months, or sometimes a whole lifetime. This practice is one of the roots of lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request: "Give me a word" we ask the scriptures – something to nourish me, challenge me, a word I can wrestle with and grow into – something to transform my heart.
Words can illuminate our hearts; they contain seeds of invitation to cross a new threshold. Words ripen within us. We can receive a word and not realize its full impact for our lives for a long while until one day we suddenly see things differently. Lectio divina is an ancient practice of listening deeply to the voice of God shimmering in sacred texts. Lectio cultivates in us the ability to be fully present to the holy call which emerges from words.
Lectio divina is a practice of being present to each moment in a heart-centered way. We are often taught in churches to think through our prayers – reciting words and formulas which are valuable elements of our shared traditions, but only one window into God’s presence. In lectio we invite God to speak to us in an unmediated way. Our memories, images, and feelings become an important context for experiencing God’s voice active in us and we discover it when we pray in a heart-centered way. Those words moving through us break open God’s invitation to us in this moment of our lives and calls us to respond in some way.
Are you longing for a transformative journey to deeper intimacy with God through an ancient practice? Would you like to cultivate a contemplative way of being with scripture and the world? Would you like to have a guide for the season of Lent supporting you through regular reflections and guided meditation practices?
- Week 0: Overview of Retreat and Introduction to the Practice
- Week 1: Settling and Shimmering (first movement of lectio divina)
- Week 2: Savoring and Stirring (second movement of lectio divina)
- Week 3: Summoning and Serving (third movement of lectio divina)
- Week 4: Slowing and Stilling (fourth movement of lectio divina)
- Week 5: Reading the World as a Sacred Text (part one)
- Week 6: Reading the World as a Sacred Text (part two)
What is included
- You will receive links to content six days a week. Day seven is a Sabbath day of integration.
- Weekly reflections from Christine Valters Paintner on the practice of lectio divina
- Weekly reflections from John Valters Paintner on the Lenten Sunday scriptures
- Seven live webinar sessions with Christine Valters Paintner (see dates below)
- Suggestions for weekly reading from Lectio Divina: The Sacred Art–Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer (book not included, must be purchased separately)
- A lovingly facilitated discussion forum with a vibrant community and a place to share your experiences and questions, along with creative responses. The sacred space of our forum is held by spiritual directors Melissa Layer and Amber Andreasen.
Live Webinar Sessions with Christine
We will meet every Wednesday during Lent, starting with Ash Wednesday on March 1st, then March 8, 15, 22, 29, April 5, and 12. Meeting time with be 3-4 p.m. Irish/UK time (7 am Pacific/10 am Eastern/4-5 pm central Europe/all other time zones check here). While we love it when you can join live and share your reflections and questions via our web chat feature, these sessions will all be recorded in both video and audio format and available within a couple of hours of the live session.
Program Fee US$120* for 6-1/2 weeks
We begin officially on March 1st but we open the private retreat website on February 27th so you have a chance to settle in and get familiar with the format and with your fellow pilgrims.
**If you have taken a previous online version of Lectio Divina (self-study included) with Abbey of the Arts, you can deduct 50% off the registration fee. A code was sent out, if you did not receive it please let us know.
Your registration fee is nonrefundable and nontransferable. Because the program is online, you will have the materials available to you for future reflection even if life intervenes right now and prevents you from moving through the course during the scheduled time. Please consider your purchase carefully.
Small Group Discounts:
We offer discounts for groups participating together in this online retreat. Gather your group together and have one person contact the Abbey with a list of email addresses. We will send you an invoice for the total payment and the following discount: 20% off for 3 or more, 30% off for 5 or more, 40% off for 7 or more, 50% off for 10 or more.
If you are experiencing financial hardship and are drawn to participating in this online retreat, please send us an email requesting a partial scholarship. Include the amount requested and why this retreat is calling to you at this time. Please keep in mind our funds are limited so we can't always fund the full amount requested or everyone who asks but we do our best to make our online programs accessible.
YOUR GUIDES FOR THE JOURNEY
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE is the online Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, a global, virtual monastery inviting the life-giving dance between contemplative practice and creative expression. Christine is the author of 9 books including The Artist’s Rule: Nourishing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom. She earned her PhD in Christian spirituality and her professional status as a Registered Expressive Arts Consultant and Educator from the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. Christine lives in Galway, Ireland, with her husband John, where they welcome groups of pilgrims and monks in the world for a dance on the wild edges of the world.
John Valters Paintner, MTS studied education and earned a teaching certificate in his home state of California. John later went on to earn a Masters in Theological Studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. After working in parish ministry for several years, John returned to the classroom, teaching high school religion with a focus on the Hebrew Scriptures for twelve years. After a sabbatical year abroad, John now works as Prior of the Abbey of the Arts along side his wife of twenty years, Abbess Christine, living together in Galway, Ireland
Praise for the class
I’m participating in Christine’s online Lenten course at my home in Britain, 5000 miles away from Christine in Seattle, but each day I feel that she is by my side, gently guiding me. The course is completely exceeding my expectations, the course materials are beautifully produced with love and care, and I recommend Christine’s work unreservedly. –Christopher Stokes, United Kingdom
Christine’s wise, loving and generous spirit spills out in each installment of her Lenten E-Course. Prior to taking it, my spiritual practices were like dry and parched land, and like a deer panting for living Water, she nourishes my thirst for the Holy One. She is a vessel of God’s grace in my life. –Martha Louise
Christine’s course has illuminated the deepest recesses of my soul. While my “inner monk” turned out to be my “inner nun”, she is present with me throughout the day as I am learning to see through her eyes. The readings have been perfect and have led me to reconcile with an old friend. -Chris Flynn
For years I have craved more in my Easter basket than hollow chocolate bunnies and yellow marshmallow Peeps! Christine’s 7 week Lenten e-course is true nourishment; each delicious offering is worthy of slow savoring! -Melissa Layer
I am so very happy the Spirit led me to join Christine’s Lenten E-Retreat. The only way I can explain it is by saying that I find the daily amazement, surprise, joy and gratitude that I encountered when I walked to Santiago de Compostela from Le Puy, France in 2005. Every day offers a discovery and a gift, a new encounter with Godde or Christ. It is very much as if it were my first Lent ever — and it may well be. I do feel accompanied by the Communion of Saints, the cloud of witnesses, and the prayers of many many people I do not know, along with fellow bloggers who seem to be on a similar extraordinary journey. Frankly, it is a unique experience, which feels very much like a preparation for something else. A death and resurrection, maybe? -Claire Bangasser, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Christine whet our appetites prior to Ash Wednesday by offering all of the opportunity to experience the Lenten scriptures in a very intimate way. Many tools were offered so that our hearts could be awakened and transformed in stillness, reading, silence and solitude. What I loved most about this course was the daily focus on scripture;, the variety of meditation in art, poetry and audio visual; and the relaxed format as to allow the absorption of spirituality. Well done! -Jo-El McLaughlin