The Contemplative Activist

It was Monday. Church leaders are gathered on Holy Island for a retreat led by Scott Brennan and Brother Cassian on Contemplative Activism.  Brother Cassian arrived at my home on Sunday shortly before midnight - his train was delayed  for some six hours by storm damage on  the rail line.  He gave us a tip: if you travel on a Sunday (which some of us may not because we want to keep the sabbath holy) you can upgrade to First Class seats for a small extra amount, get free refreshments and wander up and down with plenty of space!

I joined them for their first session and lunch. Following the Lectio Divina Scott asked them what stops them being contemplative. 'I have promised to deliver in my work. Demands increase. It takes longer. I want to help nice people. I get overloaded' was one typical response.

This led the group into a discussion on how they prioritise or delegate tasks in the light of the fact that needs are endless and we are not God.  Are we really 'delivering' if inwardly we are a wreck?

I guess the following days led them into what they need to cut out, how they may do all work mindfully, how to delegate, and how to prioritise regular meditation or prayer or re-creation breaks in the rhythms of the day without feeling guilty as a result of false conditioning!  How do they honour 'the sabbath principle'?  How do they practice mindful breathing?  How do they model whole living? How do they keep margins? How do they address their own unmet needs which make them driven people?

Our CAH Way of Life commits us to Simplicity.  This measn that we remove from our 'to do' list whatever clutters our spirit.  If we are motivated by compassion and  discipline ourselves to prioritise, what we do, even under abnormal pressures, is life-giving for others and ourselves. But if we allow exceptions to become the rule compassion drains away and empty duty becomes god.

The heart of it all is that we school our souls to enter deep silence even when we are active. 'There is nothing so like God as silence' said Meister Eckhardt.  Mother Teresa said: 'Silence gives us a new way of looking at everything. We need this silence in order to touch souls. Jesus is waiting for us in the silence. It is there that he speaks to our souls. Interior silence is very difficult but we must make the effort to pray. A soul of prayer can make progress without recourse to words by learning to be present to Christ. In silence we find a new energy and a real unity.’



Aidan and Hilda Week

A Retreat on Holy Island led by Ray Simpson and Scott Brennan


Dates: Friday 26th August – Friday 2nd September


Retreat theme:  At this retreat Ray Simpson will be unveiling fresh perspectives of 10 men and women who spearheaded the C7 Irish Mission into Northern Britain and beyond.  We will explore the relevance of that spiritual dynamic to us today with focus on the famous and forgotten saints.


Holy Island is a place of outstanding beauty with a deep spiritual heritage. 

There is access to our prayer room and Celtic studies library throughout your stay.


This retreat will include prayer rhythms (midday and night), worship, input, guided activities, free time and meals together in the large house. 

You will have access to a kitchen in your accommodation throughout the retreat.



Accommodation Options (lunch, dinner and retreat program included):

Bedroom with your own shower room in large 3 bedroom house £475 per person

(the cost for a second person sharing a bedroom in this house is £225)


Bedroom with shared shower room in smaller 3 bedroom house £435 per person

(the cost for a second person sharing a bedroom in this house is £210)


One bedroom flat with double room, lounge and kitchen £525

(if two share the cost for the second person is £255)


Meals only £175 (other accommodation options on the island can be found at


Places on this retreat are limited, early booked is recommended.


For more information or details on how to book a place on the retreat email Faith,


Posted at 08:40am on 23rd February 2022
Blog Archive
Celtic Prayer: Caught Up in Love
£12.99 + P&P
More Info
buy now
1. Soul Friendship (Kindle Edition)
£4.99 + P&P
More Info
buy now