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 Looking forward to this fall's Christian Contemplative Community events

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” 
 John 1:38-39

We hope that your summer has been a refreshing, relaxing and rejuvenating one. In Via Lumen would like to take this opportunity to provide you a preview of some of the upcoming fall Christian Contemplative Programs.
Art and Contemplative Spirituality

Art had an early, profound and lasting impact on Thomas Merton's Contemplative Spirituality!

This is something he wrote in the Seven Storey Mountain, his early autobiography: "from my very childhood, I had understood that the artistic experience, at its highest, was actually a natural analogue of mystical experience. It produces a kind of intuitive perception of reality through a sort of affective identification with the object contemplated ... a knowledge that comes about as it were by the identification of natures…I had learned from my own father that it was almost blasphemy to regard the function of art as merely to reproduce some kind of sensible pleasure or, at best, to stir up the emotions to a transitory thrill. I had always understood that art was contemplation, and that it involved the action of the highest faculties of man." 

We'd like to being this email with some examples of Thomas Merton's own artwork:
You can find more samples and learn about the how Visual Arts and Creativity inspired Thomas Merton's Spirituality by reviewing material and the video from the summer North-Central Connecticut International Thomas Merton Society Chapter's quarterly meeting on Chapter's Past meetings page. This was a hybrid meeting held on Wednesday, July 13, 2022 from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Here is an initial list of the Christian Contemplative Programs being offered this fall
September 2022:
September 10 2022: Body Presence and Contemplative Awareness - BioSpiritual Focusing Day of Presence with Mike Smoolca, Contemplative Outreach of Atlanta, Online over Zoom.

September 16 - 18, 2022: The Word of God in Silence and Sound: Centering Prayer in the context of the Divine Office, a weekend retreat with Fr. Justin Lanier,  Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road West Hartford, CT 06107

Tuesday September 20, 2022 - Tuesday November 22, 2022 AT 6:30 P.M.  A Topical Study Into the Depth of The Gospel of Thomas with Mike Smoolca, Online over Zoom 

October 2022:
October 1, 2022: Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop with Nancy Stimac, Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road West Hartford, CT 06107

October 15, 2022: Waking Up with the Enneagram: A Guide for your Contemplative Journey with Rev. Nhien Vuong, J.D., M.Div., Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road West Hartford, CT 06107

October 29, 2022: Welcoming Prayer Introductory Workshop with Mike Smoolca,  Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road West Hartford, CT 06107

November 2022:
 November 19, 2022: Heart Speaks to Heart: Correspondence as Spiritual Practice with Judith Valente and Brother Paul Quenon, OSCO,  Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road West Hartford, CT 06107

December 2022:
 December 10, 2022: Lectio Divina Advent Experience with Frank Pendola and Mike Smoolca, Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road West Hartford, CT 06107

January 2023:
January 28, 2023: The Contemplative Spirituality of Icons and Iconography with Marek Czarnecki, Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road West Hartford, CT 06107
You can find an up to date list of Christian Contemplative Programs on our Featured Program page!


The Gospel of Thomas is one of the sacred books of early Christianity recording some of the deepest insights Jesus (Yeshua) shared with his disciples. It is composed solely of Wisdom Sayings (Logia) of Yeshua. These are similar to the parables and aphorisms of Jesus found in the Canonical New Testament Gospels.

When you spend time with the Gospel of Thomas you notice that is not so much a text you master as a text you live in greater depth. In the upcoming program, A Topical Study into the Depth of the Gospel of Thomas, we'll focus on the sayings  bring insight into a transformation of awareness and presence to the level a Consciousness Yeshua called "the Kingdom of Heaven." 

Abbot George Burke, a commentator on the Gospel of Thomas states that "it was made clear in the Gospels that Jesus had two levels of teaching; one for those dedicated to attain the highest ideals of the spiritual path and the other for ordinary people whose capacity for understanding and interest in spiritual things was limited." In our work together we'll focus on the first level of Jesus' teaching and seek to draw out the depths from the Gospel of Thomas as well as from ourselves. We'll explore the ties with Christian Nonduality, No-self, Christ-Consciousness, Unitive- Awareness, Christian Mystical Understanding and the Practice of Presence.

Our program will focus on the Gospel of Thomas Logia grouped under the following topics:
  1. Yeshua - his role and his invitation (1 week)
  2. Not everyone is ready – the Master and the ready student recognize each other  (1 week)
  3. The Kingdom of Heaven - what is this level of Consciousness like? (2 weeks)
  4. Listen to your Inner Authority - When you can depend on your Deepest Identity you don't need to rely on externals (1 week)
  5. Your Deepest Identity - Our origin reveals our nature! (1 week)
  6. In the world but not of It - Remain detached to see the world for what it is (2 weeks)
  7. Finding our Deepest Identity - Living in the Kingdom (2 weeks)
For more information and to register for this program please visit the Gospel of Thomas page!
The Christian Contemplative Experience at Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford, CT (CCE) seeks to affirm the oneness of all Christians and to transcend our outward differences by joining together in silent prayer. CCE's purpose is to provide a space where Christians can meet, share and pray together in the contemplative tradition.
The Christian Contemplative Experience is  honored to begin the 2022-2023 season with a Contemplative Immersion weekend retreat on September 16-18, 2022 with Fr. Justin Lanier entitled:
The Word of God, in Silence and Sound: 
Centering Prayer in the Context of the Divine Office.
Fr. Justin was selected to participate in the New Contemplative Leaders Exchange held in Snowmass, CO in August 2017. He brings his wealth of Contemplative experience across traditions including his formation as a former Trappist monk, was under direction of Fr. Thomas Keating, O.S.C.O. to this Retreat. 

During this contemplative immersion retreat we will be engaged in periods of centering prayer, walking meditation, and the simple chant of the Divine Office. The seasons of the night and day will be marked with the corresponding Offices of; Matins (vigils), Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. We will be praying the Divine Office as an expression and support of our intensive Centering Prayer weekend.

The simple chant we will use in our Offices, is a great stabilizer of the body, and mind, as well as a wonderful preparation of our soul’s faculties in the context of this retreat. No prior musical training or experience is required what-so-ever. Our chant will be 90% receptivity, 3% voice, and the other 7% is unaccounted for.

There will be a basic instruction in chant at the start of our retreat, and teachings on Centering Prayer each day. This is a Centering Prayer retreat, in the context of the simply chanted Divine Office of the Monastic Breviary, according to the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict.

Please visit the Retreat web page for further information and to register for this special Retreat experience:
The full Christian Contemplative Experience schedule has been made available online at: 
As part of CCE, a weekly Christian Contemplative Prayer group is offered each Thursday evening which meets online or in-person at Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford, CT as conditions allow. For more information on how to join us, please contact Mike Smoolca at or
Contemplative Outreach of CT - ​The Connecticut Chapter's mission is to support, grow and share the Contemplative Outreach Prayer Practices as well as to foster and enhance the Christian Contemplative Community in the Connecticut and Southwestern New England area.  
Among various things, the Contemplative Outreach of CT Chapter offers Introductory workshops in Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina and Welcoming Prayer by Contemplative Outreach Commissioned Presenters as well as online training to become a Contemplative Outreach Commissioned Presenter of Centering Prayer.

The CT Chapter held its spring Centering Prayer Presenter training over Zoom on 5/27-5/28 and 6/3-6/4. Due to high demand we're looking to offer another online training this fall.

If you're interested in finding out about our online Centering Prayer Presenter Trainings classes including information about becoming a Commissioned Presenter of Centering Prayer please visit:
Body Presence and Contemplative AwarenessOur bodies are warehouses of our life experiences, and they connect us directly to the rest of Creation and to God. Getting in touch with how our bodies react to our daily experiences leads to integration and healing while also opening us up to a direct connection to Creation and God "In whom we live and move and have our Being" (Acts 17:28).
Upcoming Body Presence (BioSpiritual Focusing) events:
North-Central CT Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society (NCCTITMS)

The NCCITMS was formed to study the writings, work, life and influence of Thomas Merton, in the hope of inspiring, affirming and enriching every member to embrace life and the God who created it..
Our Fall 2022 Quarterly Meeting will be held in cooperation with the Christian Contemplative Experience at Holy Family on November 19, 2022

 November 19, 2022: Heart Speaks to Heart: Correspondence as Spiritual Practice with Judith Valente and Brother Paul Quenon, OSCO,  Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road West Hartford, CT 06107
Spiritual Direction and Companioning
If you're a Christian Contemplative seeker in need of deep listening and a caring spiritual presence, In Via Lumen offers Spiritual Direction and Companioning specifically focused on serving Christian Contemplatives. 

If you would like to explore these options further, please use the contact form on these pages or email Mike Smoolca at:
We continue to keep the situation in Ukraine in our hearts and in our prayers as well as the many senseless and tragic mass shootings that have occurred in various locations in the United States. May our witness to the loss of all life and destruction prompt us to renounce violence and hatred. May our prayers inspire us to find ways to provide assistance to all those suffering and put an end to this needless loss of life as well as the Evil that is behind it. May we also work for greater understanding of one another and a transcendence of the polarization in our own Country.
I hope the remainder of your summer will be a time of joy and that you will find this list of events and resources useful as you look ahead to the fall.

I invite you to visit the In Via Lumen, LLC web page for more information and other resources. Among a variety of resources, you'll find a month-by-month list of featured programs that is updated periodically.

Please forward this email to anyone who you feel might be interested in any of this programming. Also, if you have a need or an idea for a program that you feel would enrich the Christian Contemplative Community, please send me an email!

Hoping that your summer is a time of enjoyment, relaxation and refreshment!

Peace, Prayers, and Blessings of Rejuvenation and Joy,
                                                                      Mike Smoolca
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