The Contemplative Way
James Finley, Ph.D
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Retreat/Conference Center Guidelines

Retreat Schedule

The following is the typical schedule for my retreats. Note: This is a suggested schedule, which may vary with the specific needs and preferences of those sponsoring the retreat.


7:00 pm Opening conference, break, followed by group meditation


8:00 am breakfast
9:00 am twenty minutes of silent, group meditation
9:30 am conference
12:00 lunch
2:00 pm twenty minutes of silent, group meditation
2:30 pm conference
4:00 pm liturgy (or prayer service)
5:00 pm supper
7:00 pm conference
8:30 pm silent, group meditation (sometimes combined with all night eucharistic adoration or walking meditation or some other format inviting participants to end the day with some form of meditation.


8:00 am breakfast
9:00 am meditation
9:30 am conference
11:00 am final sharing
12:00 lunch, departure

Note on Silence

Most of my retreats are in silence. Participants are encouraged to maintain silence in the conference room so those who wish to arrive early or stay after the conference can meditate. The meals are in silence (with an optional separate room for those who wish to speak while they eat), and all are encouraged to maintain a spirit of silence throughout the weekend, being careful, if they do speak, to do so in manner that does not disrupt the communal silence of the weekend. Sometimes, of course, the group attending the retreat, the particular setting, etc, does not make this much silence practical or desirable, in which case the silence is adapted to fit the group.

Note on the Liturgy or Prayer Service

The suggested time for liturgy is, of course, based on the availability of a priest at that time. If the schedule of the retreat house has a set time for the liturgy or if, lacking a priest at the retreat house, a nearby church is used, then the schedule is adapted accordingly. In ecumenical settings the time for liturgy or prayer service is adapted to the group. In some instances, an additional period of sitting and walking meditation is provided instead of a prayer service.

Seating for Myself

I give my talks seated at a small table. If the group is large, my table and chair can be on a platform or a stage. Or I can be seated at floor level on a high stool at a lectern, (provided the lectern does not have a built-in audio system or other structures that prevent me from putting my legs under it).

Seating for the Participants

I prefer the rows of participants' chairs be slightly curved, in amphitheatre style.


I do not project well when I speak, and so it is best to have a microphone available, even when the group is relatively small.


Typically, I do not allow taping of my conferences. If the facility inviting me to speak wishes to tape, arrangements for the possibility of this must be made in advance.


Some of my retreats have no handouts. When handouts are used, I will send them in advance of my arrival.

Suggested Reading

Each retreat has one or more suggested books the participants might want to read in advance of the retreat or have available to purchase when they arrive. Whatever other readings a facility may want to have available, as part of their own bookstore, etc. is acceptable. I do not bring any of my own books, audio sets or the suggested readings to the retreats.

Books and CDs on Consignment

Retreat Sponsors can order books and CDs on consignment. Please see: Consignment Details for ordering information.

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