Category Archives: Retreat

Merton Makes A Quiet Impact in Ireland…

Merton Makes A Quiet Impact in Ireland….


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Filed under Contemplative Prayer, Inter-Faith, Ireland, Meditation, Merton, Monastic Life, Peace, Retreat

Forthcoming One-Day Workshop in Dublin

The Viktor Frankl Institute of Ireland and Thomas Merton Fellowship for Peace & Contemplative Living will be holding a one-day workshop entitled ‘MEANING WITH MERTON’.

The facilitators are:
Rev. Dr. Scott Peddie, Thomas Merton Fellowship
Dr Stephen J. Costello, Director, Viktor Frankl Institute of Ireland


This day will explore Thomas Merton’s spiritual search for meaning within a logotherapeutic framework, relating Merton’s personal quest practically to our lives today, through lectures and experiential exercises.

Saturday August 23rd: 11am-5pm, Avila Carmelite Centre, Bloomfield Ave., Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 (contribution: €50).

To book your place, contact Scott Peddie (

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May Merton Fellowship Day Retreat

Bethlehem Abbey Portglenone

Bethlehem Abbey Portglenone (photo by Scott Peddie)

The next Merton Fellowship meeting will take place on Sat 3rd May at Bethlehem Abbey, home of the Cistercians in Portglenone, Co. Antrim. The retreat will run from 10am – 4pm.

The program for the day will include contemplative prayer, walking meditation, lectio divina, poetry reflection and discussion. The title of the retreat is ‘Learning from the Monastic Experience’; it will be lead by Scott Peddie and Columba O’Neill OCSO.

To book your place, please contact me via e-mail at Thanks!

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Filed under Contemplative Prayer, Ireland, Meditation, Merton, Monastic Life, Peace, Poetry, Retreat

May Merton Fellowship Day Retreat

The next meeting of the Thomas Merton Fellowship will take place in Co. Donegal – at Malin (Lagg) Presbyterian Church Hall on Saturday 25th May from 10.00am until 4.00pm.
Refreshments on arrival and a light lunch of sandwiches, tea, coffee will be provided.
It will take around 2.5hrs to travel from Belfast to Malin. Some people may want to come on Friday night or stay over on Saturday night. There are lots of B&Bs in the area and a small hotel in Malin Town . I can supply you with addresses and phone numbers, via our host – Tom Finnigan, closer to the time.
I’ll put together a programme in the next week or so, but given the success of the last meeting, I’ll likely follow that format by including some time for lectio divina, contemplative prayer/meditation, group discussion and a chance to listen to excerpts of Merton’s sermons/lectures.  If there is anything else you want added to the programme………just let me know!
As always, we welcome new members to our group, so please share this notice with anyone you think might be interested in joining us.
Finally, do let me know as soon as possible if you plan to come; I hope you will!
Best wishes,
Scott (


Filed under Contemplative Prayer, Meditation, Merton, Retreat

Forthcoming Merton Fellowship Retreat

Dear Friends,

The next Merton Fellowship day retreat will be held on Saturday 10th November 2012 at McCracken Memorial Presbyterian Church,  161 Malone Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim, BT9 6TA (

The topic of the retreat is ‘Encountering Merton: Personal Reflections‘; it will begin at 10am and finish at 4pm, with refreshments provided (please bring a packed lunch).

As with all of our activities, it is open to all, regardless of denominational/faith group affiliation or knowledge of Merton and his work. An interest in peace and contemplative prayer/meditation is all that is required.

To book your place, please contact me at

Peace and blessings, Scott

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Day Retreat: Exploring Unity

The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion.  It is wordless.  It is beyond words.  It is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept.  Not that we discover a new unity.  We discover an older unity.  My dear Brothers and Sisters, we are already one.  But we imagine that we are not.  And what we have to recover is our original unity.  What we have to be is what we are. (The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton)

The nest day retreat of the Merton Fellowship will be held at Tobar Mhuire, the Passionist Monastery in Crossgar, Co. Down (website: on Saturday 2nd June 2012 from 10am to 4pm.  The cost of the retreat will depend on final numbers, but will be in the region of £15 per person (and including teas/coffee and a light lunch).

The topic of the retreat will be ‘Exploring Unity’; there will be time during the day for discussion, walking, silence and group prayer/meditation.

As always, our retreats are open to all.

Should you require and further information, or to book your place, please contact me via e-mail at:

Peace and blessings, Scott

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Register Now for our Launch Event!

Thomas Merton had an amazing ability to speak to people across the denominations and also across faiths.  A major focus of his life and work related to contemplative prayer and peace, therefore it is fitting that we are establishing a group in Ireland with a view to promoting and nurturing these twin ideals.  We are delighted to be partnering with the Corrymeela Community to launch this group and we hope to hold regular retreats in Ballycastle, as well as smaller, local meetings, in the months and years ahead.

Bookings are now being taken for the launch event, which will run from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 10th December 2011 at the Corrymeela Community’s Ballycastle Centre, and which costs £25 per delegate (inclusive of lunch and refreshments throughout the day).  There is a concessionary rate for those who are unwaged.  Contact Matt at or 02820761726 for further information and delegate registration.

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Reflections on a Merton Retreat

The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion.  It is wordless.  It is beyond words.  It is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept.  Not that we discover a new unity.  We discover an older unity.  My dear Brothers and Sisters, we are already one.  But we imagine that we are not.  And what we have to recover is our original unity.  What we have to be is what we are. (The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton)

A view of the garden at Knocklayd

Such were the opening words on which the retreatants attending the latest TMS Irish Chapter gathering meditated on in silence.  The beautifully located Corrymeela Knocklayd retreat house in County Antrim provided a quiet and peaceful venue for an all-day event which attracted an eclectic mix of people hailing from Counties Antrim, Donegal, Fermanagh and Dublin.  Within the Christian tradition, there were Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists and Anglicans in attendance; other faiths, namely Buddhist and Bahá’ís were also represented.

Knocklayd Garden

The main theme of the retreat was to reflect on the concept of love, as articulated by Merton, but before doing so the group watched the 1985 PBS documentary ‘Merton: A Film Biography’. The subsequent discussion was lively and touched on a plethora of issues raised by the film, including the place of obedience in discipleship, the call to sacrificial living, practising non-violence and the value and form of inter-faith dialogue and understanding.

Retreatants took full advantage of the beautiful garden within the grounds of the Knocklayd Corrymeela, and the picturesque slopes of Knocklayd Mountain, to continue their discussions together or to enjoy a period of solitude, silent reflection or prayer.

Knocklayd Garden in Bloom

Following lunch, the group re-convened to reflect on, and discuss the following four excerpts from Merton’s writing on love:

The one thing necessary is a true interior and spiritual life, true growth, on my own, in depth in a new direction.  Whatever new direction God opens up for me.  My job is to press forward, to grow interiorly, to pray, to break away from attachments and to defy fears, to grow in faith, which has its own solitude, to seek an entirely new perspective and a new dimension in my life’. (The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals)

‘The theology of love must seek to deal realistically with the evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them.’  (Faith & Violence)

‘He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others.’  (Contemplation in a World of Action)

‘I must use my freedom in order to love, with full responsibility and authenticity, not merely receiving a form imposed on me by external forces, or forming my own life according to an approved social pattern, but directing my love to the personal reality of my brother, and embracing God’s will in its naked, often impenetrable mystery.’ (Contemplative Prayer)

NOTE: You can watch the full meditation here (courtesy of youtube): 

The nature of love and its different understandings and demands were explored by the retreatants.  Drawing heavily on individual personal experience and scriptural mandates, it became clear that Merton’s articulation of the concept of love was a strong unifying force. His emphasis on moving beyond the theoretical to the practical application and demonstration of love was debated, particularly with reference to the outworkings of non-violence and how one conquers the innate fear that transformative radical living engenders in most of us.  From a personal perspective, it seemed clear that the quandary and inner conflicts we shared with each other were a mirror of those faced by Merton himself and numerous people of faith before him; in that sense I was reminded of the words of Diadochos of Photiki, an Orthodox monk and mystic who wrote the following poem in which he foreshadows Merton by calling on individuals to practise reflective prayer from the heart:

You must descend from

your heart into your head.

At present your thoughts of God

are in your head.  And God himself is,

as it were, outside you, and

so your prayer and other spiritual


remain exterior.  Whilst you are still

in your head,

thoughts will not easily be subdued but

will always be whirling about, like snow

in winter or

clouds of mosquitoes in summer.

(For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics)

And it was with these words that we moved into a period of communal meditation, a practical manifestation of love, unity and a desire to seek God’s will in our lives.  As we reluctantly left the beauty and stillness of Knocklayd and Corrymeela’s retreat house, we all took with us our individual thoughts and impressions, each one a blessing from God.  I like to think that amongst these blessings were new or deepened friendships, a greater understanding of each other and a desire to deepen our relationship with God and to truly love our brothers and sisters in practice.  Such is the legacy of Merton.

Some of the retreatants together

The retreat centre (as seen from Knocklayd Mountain)


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Notice: June Thomas Merton Society (Irish Chapter) Day Retreat

The next Merton Day Retreat will be held at Corrymeela Knocklayd on Saturday 11th June from 10am-4pm
The retreat is open to all and will include watching (and discussing) the film entitled Merton: A Film Biography (by Paul Wilkes and Audrey Glynn).  There will also be some prayer/meditation time, silent time, walking and a period of discussion incorporated into the programme.  The discussion will focus on the concept of love as articulated by Merton in his book The Power and the Meaning of Love (SPCK Publications: Classic Series 2010; ISBN 9780281063284).  PLEASE NOTE: Don’t worry if you don’t have the time (or the inclination) to read the book!  The discussion will be general in nature and very open.
Lunch and tea/coffee and biscuits will be provided throughout the day. For further information, or to book your place, please e-mail Rev. Dr. Scott Peddie at  I look forward to hearing from you!
Best wishes,

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