Retreat in a traditional monastery

I will be doing a retreat in a traditional Benedictine monastery in a few months time. I will be in Barroux, France. I wanted to know if any of you have already done a retreat in a traditional monastery and what tips you could give me.

My SD has said he will help with preparations for the retreat. But I have two questions specifically:

  • I’m new to TLM and while I thoroughly enjoy it, I prefer to say the LOTH in English or French. I don’t know how the experience of LOTH in Latin will be. I’ve heard Barroux offices online but it’s not the same thing, listening to offices online and being physically present? I’m worried it won’t be to my liking.

  • This retreat will also serve as discernment retreat for me. I’m not entirely sure where God is calling me. I have a girlfriend but I am also a natural contemplative and feel a slight call to religious life (but I’m totally not sure and my priority is discerning marriage with my girlfriend). I will be meeting a brother there to speak about this. Again, would be more grateful for any tips.

Finally as my name suggests I’ve been a baptized, confirmed catholic for little over two years now. That probably changes everything or not.



In some monasteries it is very easy to follow along in the LOTH while in others it is a matter of “finding the page the sisters are on before they change” and then helping the visiting priest find the right page when you have finally figured it out for yourself. In some cases I have just listened to the brothers or sisters praying regardless of language.

Most dioceses have a three year wait after being received into the Catholic Church. It is because the new Catholic needs to live as a Catholic for some time before entering into religious life i e all the extreme super happy joyous emotions should calm down and the new Catholic should stand firmly with both feet on the ground. It sounds like you are starting to figure out if religious life is a vocation that you could be called to, so you would be at least “three years” before you enter.

Bring a notebook and some pens and write down/draw what happens when you pray and what God is telling you. Be rested before going on a retreat and remember that it is common to have a really tired “low day or two” or what some call a “crying day”.


Never done it but lucky you! sounds great.

Thanks for that very thoughtful reply.

Yes that is what I will do I think. I don’t need to understand every verse of the psalm. Even when I pray LOTH in English or French, I don’t analyze the psalms I’m reading.

Yes, I’m still at the very beginning of my vocational discernment. One reason why I didn’t post this under ‘vocations’. I just wanted to know if anybody had done retreat for vocational discernment.

I once did a guide discernment (spiritual exercises) with the Jesuits. But this is not the same thing as a doing a retreat all alone. Other than one meeting with the master of novices, I will be alone with God and my goal is to converse as much as possible with God through LOTH but also through silence and lectio divina.

Thanks @Dan_Defender It also by during the last week of September/first week of October so I’ll be there for the feast of St. Michael, the Guardian Angels and St. Therese of Lisieux (my favorite saint).

God is wonderful!


@newconvertcatholic : This. Happens to me every single time.
Briging a pen and notebook also is an excellent idea.
And lucky you ! The Barroux is on my list of “have to visit sometime” abbeys.

There’s nothing to it, really. I went on retreat to Downside a while back (Benedictine) just for the hell of it, and just to be away from the city, and it certainly gave me an insight into the Benedictine life.
If I remember correctly, they have three ‘services’ per day, and Latin Mass on Sundays that’s also attended by others outside the Abbey.
Most the brothers there were very nice men, and they came across as far more content with life than the average person in the secular world.

Keep your head down, do what your instructors and platoon seargeant tells you, and you won’t get ragged.

Edit: As the previous poster suggested, bring pen and notebook, so you can write the pros and cons of this as a vocation, to help with discernment.

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If it is an issue to know Latin they should let you when you go there for the retreat.

Be aware they won’t be using the Liturgy of the Hours, nor the pre-Vatican II Roman Breviary, but the pre-Vatican II Monastic Breviary which is very different than the Roman Breviary

You won’t be able to follow along with the LOTH. There’s a good chance though that they will have booklets with the translation alongside. It will be in Gregorian chant (likely Vigils and Lauds recto-tono), and that in itself should be sublime.

Consider becoming an oblate!


Their Web site states that booklets in French and English are available at the start of each office. :+1:t3:

I was once engaged to a man my parents did not approve of (even though he was Catholic and pro-life) but my coworkers were gushing with congratulations and best wishes for me. I was torn in two. I had to go on retreat to clear my head and sort everything out.

On retreat (it was the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius), I told the priest my dilemma. He didn’t try to sway me one way or the other but simply said: “Our Lord Jesus Christ is the best Spouse of all, and He always provides.”

Immediately God enlightened me. After retreat, I broke off the engagement. Otherwise, I’d be in a bad marriage and probably not posting this today.


Once again a big thank you for all your replies. I was a bit busy so couldn’t reply to all of you but you can be rest assured I’ve prayed for all of you as part of those helping me in my faith.

I should’ve checked this before but I was too excited filling out the form for the retreat that I missed this part. Thanks so much.

I’ve definitely thought about but I am worried how one can be an oblate in the world with all the preoccupations of secular life.

Regarding religious life, I have always been attracted to it, not just because of all its advantages but also because I’m a bit of an idealist and the notion of giving it all up for Jesus has always appealed to me.

Off late however, this started to dominate my prayers (the desire to die for Jesus) so I spoke to my SD who suggested I do a retreat. But I’ve also been with my GF for two years, so I’m a bit torn. But it’s not a bad situation to be in at all as I feel the love of God comforting time whenever I put this question before the Lord. God has always been so kind to me and I put all my trust in him.
Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini

This is a great story, thank you for sharing it with me.

I am totally open to whatever God has for me.

Last year I did the spiritual exercises on a retreat and I was meditating on the story of the rich young man, and for some reason the story struck a chord with me.

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I’m not sure I would have survived the preoccupations of secular life if I hadn’t become an oblate!

Do consider it as a possible way to have both a family life and a Benedictine life. Trust me, one will nourish the other!


If you don’t mind me asking, I’m assuming you’re married, is your wife/husband an oblate as well? Is this is a requirement?

My GF is a Franciscan. Not sure she fancies being a Benedictine oblate. Is this is a problem if we do decide to get married?

Yes, I’m married. No, my wife is not an oblate, in fact she’s not even Catholic. She’s Anglican. It isn’t necessary for your spouse to be an oblate as well, I know many oblates whose spouses are not oblates. Some spouses aren’t even religious. Some monasteries will, however, ask that you obtain your spouse’s permission.

If your girlfriend is Franciscan, that is no problem! In fact the two go together quite well. Saint Francis travelled to Subiaco to obtain advice from the Benedictines there, before founding his order. At Subiaco, there’s a fresco of St. Francis painted before he received the stigmata. It was painted during his retreat there in 1223-1224 and is the oldest known depiction of Saint Francis.

The one thing you and your GF certainly can do, is pray together, especially the Liturgy of the Hours. I should think Benedictine and Franciscan spirituality can complement each other, and both require detachment from material things (we can still own things, we just cannot become overly attached to things).


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