Democracy is too important to leave just to politicians. However imperfectly, democracy more than any other kind of government creates the conditions allowing humanity to reach its full potential. We all have to transcend personal interests in order to live in a democratic society and accept responsibility for our own freedom and future. It is also part of our spirituality because democracy is an ongoing conversation that demands truth, other-centredness and serves justice.
Like human beings themselves, democracy is flawed, yet resilient and capable of self-improvement. So, its connection with the gospel values of equality and compassion calls for our attention as meditators who work for inner and outer peace. Everyone benefits from the external peace necessary for us to grow and flourish with our gifts and expand our capacity for love. Today, as peace and democracy are under intense pressure, the meditator who knows the source of inner peace has a special call to support, heal and affirm our democracies today.
This year’s John Main Seminar will be led by a rare kind of politician – respected and admired by all parts of the global spectrum – who has devoted his life to the democratic process. Herman has gained a unique knowledge of the world, its cultures, virtues and vices. His life has also been a spiritual journey, grounded in faith and leading him to a daily practice of meditation and to sharing in the mission of our community. Herman has been happily married for 45 years and has a family of 4 children and 9 grandchildren.
John Main Seminar: Thursday, 17 – Sunday, 20 November
ARRIVAL: Thursday 17 November, check-in: 14h00 – 17h00
Departure: Sunday 20 November, 15h00
Because Herman believes that ‘conversation is the life-blood of democracy’ he will lead the Seminar in a responsive conversation with other meditators representing different ages and cultures in our community. A diverse group of younger meditators will engage with him as will a group of women and men from different backgrounds who share a conviction that meditation does make a difference – to the meditator and to the world we love and live in.
The talks and responses will explore:
- Democracy, values and meditation
- Global rivals: the Cold War between Democracy and Despotism
- Defending and supporting democracy in times of rising populism
- Government of the People by the People for the People: what changes are needed?
Our Conversation is in Heaven
Pre-seminar Retreat led by Laurence Freeman
Monday, 14 – Thursday, 17 November
ARRIVAL : Monday 14 November, check-in: 14h00 – 17h00
Participation in the retreat requires participation in the seminar.
Departure at close of Seminar: Sunday 20 November, 15h00
In preparation for the seminar this retreat, led by Laurence Freeman and Giovanni Felicioni, offers an immersion in a contemplative rhythm of life amidst the beauty of the natural surroundings of Bonnevaux. Our retreat will consist of meditation sessions, a talk by Laurence, and yoga with Giovanni. There will be ample time for silence, solitude and resting in nature.
There is a thin veil between the material and the mystical – maybe none. Love unifies everything: meditation is the work of love and contemplation is the overflowing fullness of the fullness of love. So, how we live together, how we converse is shaped by the depth of our prayer.
Authentic spirituality is not `above` justice or human suffering. Spiritual truth is reflected in the gritty realities of the world whether it is honoured or denied. Feelings and relationships are part of our spiritual path but so too are social and political responsibilities. We are a single body, embodied in Christ.
The old translation of St Paul`s phrase `our conversation is in heaven` sounds strange to us today. But reflect how our search for a peaceful world requires the recovery of the lost art of conversation – and we may see the link between silence and this fundamental value of civilisation.
This event takes place at Bonnevaux and offers an opportunity to discover the rich cultural and historical French and European heritage of the 12th-century Abbaye de Bonnevaux, as well as to explore the varied and natural beauty of the land which we cultivate as a model of ecological responsibility.
MEAL OPTIONS : At Bonnevaux we aim to offer a healthy cuisine for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Please let us know your preference in the registration form. Please understand that we cannot change your meal plan once you are at Bonnevaux. Please be aware that food may contain some common allergens (e.g. nuts).
ROOMS FOR PERSONS WITH REDUCED MOBILITY : At Bonnevaux there are two rooms located on the ground level improving accessibility of persons with reduced mobility.
- 600€ for full room and board (single room)
- 480€ for full room and board (shared twin room)
- 300€ for full room and board (single room)
- 240€ for full room and board (shared twin room)
Membership Fee ** – 10€
Membership fee is paid once per year, valid strictly from Jan – Dec.
** by French law you must be a ‘member‘ of the charity (association ABP) Abbaye de Bonnevaux – Centre Pour la Paix in order to participate at an on-the-ground event at Bonnevaux – 86370 Marçay, France.
Membership is non-binding. It simply means that you are invited to attend the annual general meeting if you wish and that you may receive information about our events during the year.
The Abbey of Bonnevaux is the spiritual home of the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) which includes a Conference and Retreat Centre dedicated to peace. The on-the-ground activities of the Abbey are organized under the responsibility of l’Association Abbaye de Bonnevaux – Centre pour le Paix (ABP). The Association, which is governed by the French law of 1st July 1901, is registered in Poitiers under the reference RNA: W863007299.
Address : Bonnevaux, 86370 Marçay, France.
Phone number : 06 33 43 71 71 / 06 61 96 57 74.
José Pype (President of the Association); Giovanni Felicioni (Associate Director and Programme Manager)
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How did the John Main Seminar start?
The first seven Seminars were held at the former Benedictine Priory of Montreal, beginning the year after John Main’s death. They were relatively small-scale events and the presenters were all prominent members of the Community with high standing in their professional fields.
The 1991 Seminar was a transformative event for the WCCM, inded the birth of the organisational aspect of the ‘monastery without walls’. It was held in New Harmony, Indiana. The participants were representative of a growing global family. The presenter was Bede Griffiths, the pioneer of interfaith dialogue and friend of John Main who spoke on Main’s vision of community under the theme of The New Creation in Christ. Immediately after the Seminar he remained with the leadership of the Community and contributed to a three-day process out of which the WCCM’s organizational and structural constitution were established.
All our events taking place at Bonnevaux offer an opportunity to discover the rich cultural and historical French and European heritage of the 12th-century Abbaye de Bonnevaux, as well as to explore the varied and natural beauty of the land which we cultivate as a model of ecological responsibility.