I had never been asked to preach a monks’ retreat before, so when the Abbot of Clear Creek emailed me with the invitation I was honored, flattered and daunted.

I’m a Benedictine oblate, but what do I really know about the monastic life? I haven’t really lived it. Instead I have dipped my toe in the water and at most, paddled around happily in the shallows for a few days’ retreat here and there.

So I accepted Father Abbot’s invitation to spend a week with the monks of Clear Creek Abbey in Eastern Oklahoma. It was a wonderful time and I feel like my life has changed. Whether my talks have had much impact on the monks is for them to say.

I’ll be writing more about my week’s work there and taking the Benedict Option, but today it’s just a blog post to say “I’m back at the coalface.” For those who don’t know what this refers to, I think it is an English expression for the miners going back to work, going down the mines to the hard work of pit coal mining.

To extend the metaphor, maybe that’s what this blog and my writing work is like: I have to first go down deep in prayer and study, then maybe I have to use some dynamite to blast out the locked in truths, then dig the stuff up, load it into this wagon called a blog and deliver it to the surface when I hit “Publish”.

So I’ve been away from the coalface for over a week, and to be honest, on my return from the monastery on Tuesday I wasn’t ready to blog and podcast again. I had too much stuff to process from my experience and then, of course there was a week’s worth of email and post to catch up on–not to mention the Thanksgiving holiday.

Now we celebrate the feast of Christ the King and we’re launching into Advent and another cycle of the world’s redemption.

We do so at a time when our Catholic Church seems to be in a downward spiral of confusion, conflict, fear, anger and disappointment.

One of my callings in this blog is to help people get the big picture and soldier through as faithful Catholics, not disturbed by the storms and tempests, but confident in the Lord Jesus Christ who calms the storm–even if he seems at times to us to be sleeping in the boat.

So I’m full of enthusiasm for continuing my work on this blog and through my podcasts. I’ve got some great thoughts and ideas brewing, and hope you will stay in touch and stay connected.

Because of my absence for a big chunk of November, I have extended the promotion of the blog until December 2. During that time new Donor Subscribers can receive any of my books as a free gift for signing up. More information here.