WE must now speak of the renunciations, of which tradition and the authority of Holy Scripture show us three, and which every one of us ought with the utmost zeal to make complete. The first is that by which as far as the body is concerned we make light of all the wealth and goods of this world; the second, that by which we reject the fashions and vices and former affections of soul and flesh; the third, that by which we detach our soul from all present and visible things, and contemplate only things to come, and set our heart on what is invisible.


John Cassian
























































































Spiritual Retreat

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The annual weekend spiritual retreat is held in the fall. Everyone is invited to this special retreat. You do not need to be an oblate to attend. If you are interested in Benedictine spirituality and a deeper prayer life, this retreat is for you.

The weekend consists of several conferences by Abbot Isaac, O.S.B., along with prayer and meals with the monks during the weekend.

We follow the monks' prayer and eating schedule throughout the weekend.

Oblates say it is the best event for Oblates and anyone else!

You will get a good introduction of what it means to live on monastic time.

The retreat is wonderful -- a highlight of the year as we prepare for Advent.

Basic information and the registration form is set out below:

November 10 (6:00 pm Check in).

Retreat ends November 12 at 11:00 am (after Sunday Mass).

Please eat dinner before arriving on Friday evening.

Cost $215 per person ($430 per couple) $115 per person if not staying overnight.

Cost includes meals on Saturday and Sunday breakfast.

Other questions? If you have a question now, please email the Oblate Office at or call John at 813-228-8015.

● For directions to the abbey see the end of these FAQs.

● You are invited to Night Prayer at the abbey on Friday, if it is held.

● Check-in 6:00 pm Friday. Second floor lobby of Saint Leo Hall - the abbey (big, 4-story white building). Check-in in Pictures.

● Check out 11:00 am Sunday, end of retreat.

● Our retreat guest rooms are on the fourth floor.

● Picture of the historic abbey.


QUESTION: Is a deposit required?

Answer: No. However, the total cost of the retreat is due about a week before the retreat. The exact date for payment is on the registration form.

QUESTION: Are pictures permitted inside the abbey and church?

Answer: Yes.

QUESTION: What is the appropriate attire for the retreat?

Answer: Church casual. No shorts are permitted in the Church or the abbey’s dining room on the first floor.

QUESTION: I keep hearing the Lake Room is cold and that I should bring a sweater and a jacket. What happens if I decide not to bring a jacket and a sweater?

Answer: Most likely you will be cold. This is fair warning!

QUESTION: May I check in before 6:00 pm on Friday?

Answer: Perhaps if I arrive earlier on Friday. But it is best to plan on check-in at 6:00 pm. If you arrive early you can still enjoy the abbey grounds or pray or do lectio divina in the abbey church. Spend time sitting and watching the lake and listening.

QUESTION: Is there a subject for the retreat conferences?

Answer: Abbot Isaac leads conferences on some aspect of the spiritual life. If the theme has been announced it has been sent by separate email.

A program schedule should be available Friday in the first conference.

QUESTION: Do we share bathrooms?

Answer: Yes, there is one for women and one for men. There are two showers in each.

There is also a unisex bathroom with a shower.

And there is also a women's restroom without showers located in the middle of the fourth-floor hallway. .

A floor plan of the 4th floor of the abbey (where we will be staying) will be available at the check-in table in the second-floor Saint Leo Hall lobby.

QUESTION: Is there a ramp into the abbey and elevator to the fourth floor?

Answer: Yes. Several years ago an elderly monk used a scooter and he could zip around all over the abbey without any problems.

QUESTION: Are sheets and towels provided?

Answer: Yes

QUESTION: What about meals?

Answer: Please eat before arriving on Friday. We eat three meals with the monks on Saturday. On Sunday we have breakfast with the monks.

QUESTION: Is there a kitchen and eating area on the fourth floor?

Answer: Yes, there is a refrigerator (please label your items), a microwave, sink, and two coffee makers, napkins, cups, and a small table. The coffee drinkers tend to congregate here in the morning! Some people like to bring their own coffee makers.

QUESTION: Is it OK to bring a cooler with some food, snacks, drinks, or bottled water?

Answer: Yes, and wine and cheese is OK too. Whenever I am away overnight anyplace I always bring my own bottled water, but you may or may not depending on your preferences.

QUESTION: Should I bring an alarm clock?

Answer: Yes.

QUESTION: Is there any additional cost in addition to the registration fee I already paid?

Answer: No, you will not need any money except if you want to buy something at the abbey gift shop.

QUESTION: Is the abbey dining room on the first floor open all the time?

Answer: No, the abbey’s dining room is open only during the abbey’s meal times.

QUESTION: How should we prepare for the retreat?

Answer: John Cassian wrote that the condition of our heart and mind before we begin prayer greatly influences how we pray. The same might be said for a spiritual retreat.

Everyone has their own way to prepare, but you might do extra times of lectio divina, more time in stillness, or praying parts of the divine office that you do not normally pray during the day.

While on the retreat we will be following the abbey’s prayer and eating schedule, you might try to move toward that pattern in the time leading up to the retreat.

But the main idea is that your retreat time can begin now in your own home and at work.

Here are some ideas:

• Pray the 150 psalms in the week before the retreat

• Learn about a saint whose feast day is during the retreat or in the time leading to the retreat

• Begin keeping a journal now

• Pray Vigils at night like the ancient monks

• Fast (Fasting is not when you abstain from all food. Fasting is often one regular meal and also two smaller meals that together do not equal a regular meal. The main idea is to bend and discipline your appetite as a promise to God.)

• Select a book to read before and during the retreat

• Select a theme to direct your thought, prayer, or reading before the retreat. A theme might be "prayer," or "forgiveness," "silence," or "God's love."

• Select a Lenten-type theme -- the life of monastics should always have the character of a Lenten observance. The abbey is not a hotel and its simple surroundings can help you leave all worldly distractions

• Spend more time in stillness

• Spend time at the abbey

• Get plenty of rest before the retreat

• Seek out times of stillness, think about the psalms and why they have been a favorite of monastics

• Stop watching TV, movies, and cease following the news, sports, popular culture, celebrities, or listening to radio.

QUESTION: Is there any free time?

Answer: Most of the time we will be in conferences or following the monks' prayer and meal schedule. Typically there are a couple of hours of free time on Saturday afternoon.

QUESTION: May I swim in the Saint Leo University pool while on retreat?

Answer: Yes, if the pool is open. Please identify yourself to any university staff at the pool.

QUESTION: What materials or books should I bring?

Answer: Bring a Bible. Bring the Rule of Saint Benedict. Most people like to take notes and even keep a journal while on retreat. If you take notes you should also bring a pen or a pencil.

There will be some free time so a favorite book or two is always a good idea.

QUESTION: Has one of the oblates made a free MOBI format (Kindle) version of the Rule of Saint Benedict I could have for my phone or tablet or computer?

Answer: Yes, oblate Ken Conrad made one. Download here for free.

QUESTION: Are there times when it is customary to be silent?

Answer: Yes, Abbot Isaac asks everyone to be silent walking from the church down to the dining room for all meals.

At meal times, please talk only after you take your food to your table.

The time before prayers in the church with the monks are also times of silence.

QUESTION: How do we pray with the monks?

Answer: Here is an explanation. The abbey will supply prayer booklets for the weekend.

QUESTION: Will there be any other people with us on the fourth floor?

Answer: Typically not. However, sometimes if the guest house is full there may be other guests, but we seldom hear or see them.

QUESTION: If I lock myself out of my room, who do I call?

Answer: Call 813-228-8015 for all emergencies. The phone number will be on the floor plan you receive at check-in

QUESTION: What if I lock my key and my phone in my room?

Answer: It is a good idea to always carry your phone and your key! But if you are stranded, call John Bakas at 813-228-8015 or knock on his door.

QUESTION: Is the abbey locked at night?

Answer: One door is left open for people who are out late.

QUESTION: Will we walk in a group or procession outside the abbey while we are on retreat?

Answer: No, all retreat activities are inside the abbey or the church which are built together. You will not need to go outside for anything all weekend. But there will be time for walking on your own if you want.

QUESTION: I asked for a single room, will I have to share one with someone else?

Answer: No.

QUESTION: How do I get to Saint Leo Abbey?


33601 State Road 52, St. Leo, FL 33574-9700.

Park anywhere in large lot with US Post Office trailer on west side (Google maps shows post office incorrectly) You may unload your car by church: Abbey Ct. and Grove Street. Abbey has a large luggage cart.

From Tampa or Gainesville. Exit 285 on I-75. Go east on State Road 52, about 12 minutes. St. Leo Abbey is on the left. Drive past abbey to the main entrance of St. Leo University on the left. Turn left into St. Leo University, go around circle and follow the sign to abbey. Park in lot by abbey — Lot with US Post Office on west side.

From Lakeland. I-4 WEST to Exit 36 in Lakeland. Travel NORTH on Highway 98 until it merges with Highway 301. Turn right on 301. At first traffic light, Clinton Ave., turn left. Proceed until Clinton ends at Prospect St., turn right. Proceed to traffic light, turn left onto Hwy 52. St. Leo University is half mile on right. Turn right into St. Leo University, go around circle and follow the sign to abbey. Park in lot by abbey — the lot with the US Post Office tailer on west side.

QUESTION: My question was not answered, who should I call or email?

Answer: Send an email to or call John 813-228-8015.

Adoro te devote for a beginning