As usual our European monasteries go into retreat mode for most of January, February and March, this being a time when nature itself tends towards stillness and silence. Santacittarama will remain open for daytime visits for those who wish to share the silence, meditate or bring food offerings, although it will not be possible to stay overnight during this period.
The meal is at 11am and for the month of January (starting on Friday the 8th) there are periods of silent meditation in the afternoon at 2 and 4 o'clock and the evening puja and meditation at 7:30. On Mondays there will not be any programme.
Individual practice will be emphasized during the months of February and March, although the evening puja will continue as usual. Any other changes of programme will be announced on the "News" page of the website, where there will also be an updated list of things needed in the monastery, particularly food items.
We appreciate your support in this; it is an important time for the monastics to limit their outward-going activities and be more free to dedicate themselves to inner development. It would be helpful to save any non-urgent communications until the end of March. We will be answering the telephone only in the morning between 8:00 and 9:00.
Work on the temple continues. In the last few weeks the final elevations of the various levels have been accurately determined, and the actual construction of the building has begun. The lowest part of the foundation has been completed, and on the last day of the year the laying of concrete continued. The surface on which the building stands is now almost completely filled with concrete and is ready for the next phase, which can proceed even in bad weather. The next steps will focus on completion of the foundations, the construction of another retaining wall and then going on to pillars and floors. A series of recent photos can be viewed on the web site, from the "News" page.
A calendar for year 2016, with pictures from this group of monasteries around the world, and brief sayings of Ajahn Chah, can be downloaded from: forestsanghapublications.org/viewBookCollection.php.
Retreats planned for 2016
1st-5th June: Fara Sabina (Rieti)
With Ajahn Chandapalo, in Italian, at the "Clarisse Eremite" monastery (www.clarisseremite.com), organized by the "AmeCo". Booking begins on 27th April, see www.associazioneameco.it for further information.
24th-26th June: Lake Garda (Brescia)
With Ajahn Chandapalo, in Italian, at "Il Carmine" (www.carminesanfelice.it) at San Felice del Benacolo. For information and booking contact Fabrizia, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
23rd-28th August: Barberino Val d'Elsa (Florence)
With Ajahn Chandapalo, in Italian, at "La Chiara di Prumiano" (www.prumiano.it), near Barberino Val d'Elsa (FI). For information and booking contact: Luca, email: email@example.com, cell: 335.7174864. Booking begins on 1st April.
30th September - 5th October: Ponte dell'Olio (Piacenza)
With Ajahn Chandapalo, in Italian, at the retreat centre "Pian dei Ciliegi". For information and booking: www.piandeiciliegi.it.
Events at Santacittarama do not require booking, unless stated otherwise, and are free of charge. However, those wishing to stay overnight need to book in advance. Unforeseen circumstances may cause changes to this programme, so it is worthwhile checking beforehand on the website, which is regularly updated.
26th DECEMBER - 6th JANUARY: Daily silent meditation
Every afternoon there will be a silent meditation at 4 p.m. followed by a tea break at 5 and evening chanting and meditation at 7:30 p.m.
7th JANUARY - 31st MARCH: Monastic retreat
A period for the resident community of Santacittarama to develop their practice, free of other commitments. Day visitors are still welcome if they wish to share the silence and meditate or to support the retreat by bringing food offerings. Overnight stays will not be possible during this period.
The evening meditation beginning at 7:30 will continue as usual, except for Mondays. During this time there will be no informal meeting over tea at 5 pm and the telephone will be answered only in the mornings between 8:00 and 9:00.
17th APRIL: SONGKRAN - Southeast Asian New Year
Sunday, 10:30 am - 2:30 pm. A joyful if not very meditative event! All are warmly welcome, possibly bringing some food to share for the 11 am lunch.