The Imitation of Christ; Revisiting a spiritual classic at New Norcia

01 Jul 2021

By Amanda Murthy

new norcia retreat
Around 17 participants attended a weekend of learning and prayer, in the reflective environment of New Norcia. The course titled The Imitation of Christ: A Spiritual Classic Revisited, held from 11 to 13 June, was inspired by Thomas a Kempis’ 15th century offering. Photo: Supplied.

The Benedictine Community of New Norcia opened its venerable portals to a keen and diverse group of spiritual seekers, who spent the weekend of Friday 11 June to Sunday 13 June 2021, examining the themes, ideas and lessons from Thomas a Kempis’ famous book The Imitation of Christ.

This beloved spiritual classic, written in the 15th century, is believed to be the most influential and widely read work of Christian literature, apart from the Bible itself.

It has offered powerful inspiration and fruitful guidance to Christians for more than five centuries, and has been a perennial favorite for many generations of readers.

Many of the sentiments and experiences it encapsulates possess a remarkable resonance and relevance to our contemporary world.

New Norcia Benedictine Fr Robert Nixon OSB led the study weekend. He spoke enthusiastically about the value of pursuing a life-long exploration of the spiritual treasures of the Catholic faith.

“Courses like this help people to explore the classics of our tradition, and to engage with the eternal spiritual questions of life and meaning in a prayerful and reflective environment,” Fr Nixon said. 

“They provide rich material for reflection and renewal, and lead to deeper understanding and appreciation of the profound and hidden mysteries of our faith.”

Participants entered whole-heartedly into the regular monastic programme of prayer, contemplation, silence, and supportive fraternity.

In the retreat sessions, the weekend explored three key elements articulated in The Imitation of Christ, namely detachment of the affections from all passing and earthly things, the cultivation of the interior life, and the attainment of consolation and fortitude through awareness of the love and mercy of Christ, in whom the essential unity of God and the human soul is mystically revealed.

The group also had the opportunity to tour the historic monastery itself, and to view its remarkable and varied heritage and art.

Those participating in the weekend found it to be an enriching, peaceful and thought-provoking experience.

According to retreat attendee Roger Cui, “New Norcia is a very unique place full of history that I did not expect to find in a country like Australia. It deserves a special place in all of our hearts”.

The retreat on The Imitation of Christ was part of the programme of retreats and study weekends offered by the New Norcia Institute of Benedictine Studies.

Details of other forthcoming events may be found on the website of the New Norcia Benedictine Community, at