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Center for Action and Contemplation

Course Description

A 15-week online course on the heroic journey of descent, transformation, and self-discovery that leads us from the first half of life into the second half of life. Students will learn psychological, mythological, and spiritual truths to prepare for the second half of life to naturally unfold.

Falling Upward: Life as a Spiritual Journey invites you to embark upon a heroic journey into a broader and deeper world, where the soul finds its fullness, is finally connected to the whole, and lives inside the Big Picture. It is also about falling — and the necessity of falling.  

It was Carl Jung who first popularized the phrase “the two halves of life.” Our task in the first half of life is what we think of as our primary task: making money, getting an education, raising children, and paying the mortgage. Eventually we discover, often through failure or significant loss, that our real purpose and identity are at a much deeper level than the positive image we present to the world. 

The second half of life is about discovering the task within the task, a journey of descent that involves challenges, failures, loss of control, and necessary suffering. Yet what looks like falling can largely be experienced as falling upward and onward, into a broader and deeper world, where the soul finds its fullness, is finally connected to the whole, and lives inside the Big Picture. 

This course explores the themes of Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward” through the psychological and mythological lens of the Hero’s Journey. Richard steps into his own story and role models what it’s like to move beyond the first half of life container, sharing insights into the limiting beliefs and worldviews that keep many stuck in a first half of life orientation. Students will gain insight into limiting beliefs, lost mythologies, and psychological and spiritual truths to prepare for the second half of life to naturally unfold. 

Learning Objectives

  • Foster a greater awareness of egoic motivations and thought patterns and how they operate in your daily life. 
  • Expand your understanding of the foundational nature of mythology and what is needed to move into the second half of life. 
  • Cultivate a holistic attentiveness of your inner landscape and life as a window to God’s presence and love. 
  • Connect and learn with others on the journey toward experiencing life in a more connected, communal, and universal way. 

Course Impact 

Participants enroll in our online contemplative courses, like Falling Upward, for many reasons.  

Some found the teachings helpful in reestablishing their identity in a new stage of life, like retiring, becoming a parent, or losing a loved one. Others said the contemplative practices helped them feel more secure and confident in living their values — particularly those in a period of faith deconstruction. 

Participants who engaged fully with the course shared that they: 

  • Felt a deeper, sustained sense of inner peace with contemplative practices they could integrate into their daily routines. 
  • Became more confident in who they are, especially those navigating big life changes like becoming newlyweds, dealing with empty nest syndrome, or coping with divorce. 
  • Better understood who they want to be — and how Franciscan mysticism can help them find deeper sense of self in their own unique Hero’s Journey. 
  • Reduce feelings of guilt or shame often associated with moving into new life stages and leaving old identities behind. 

Are you struggling with finding yourself in a new chapter of life? This Christian contemplative online course will give you wisdom and practices to live joyfully with a renewed sense of self.  

Course Schedule

Below you will find the course schedule for all upcoming offerings. You can register or sign up to be notified of an upcoming course by clicking the buttons below.

August 28, 2024 – October 8, 2024
Start Date
October 16, 2024
15 Weeks
$249 – 497
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Course Details

Falling Upward: Life as a Spiritual Journey is a 15-week online course. Students should expect to invest 4–6 hours of work each week on course material, reading assignments, online discussions with other students, and time for personal reflection. 

  • This course is taught in English. 
  • There are no pre-requisites for this course. 
  • Learn more about the technical requirements for taking this course. 

Students will have access to course content for the duration of the course. Course content will be available four weeks after the course ends.

Live Virtual Calls

This course will also include 3 LIVE virtual calls with course facilitator Kristen Oates, introducing students to the tender seriousness of this material and answering questions (with replays available). Attendance at these calls is encouraged, but not required. Recordings will be available within a few days of the call. 

Required Materials

There are no required materials for this course.


The cost for this course is $497. While this price accurately reflects the cost of creating and running a course — including improved production quality and live virtual calls — we believe that finances should not be a barrier to participation. That’s why the CAC is making two additional price levels available — $374 and $249.

These additional levels have been subsidized with scholarship money donated by generous members of our community who believe in making the transformative wisdom of the Christian contemplative tradition available to more and more people. We encourage you to select the price you are most able to afford.

Please let us know if you are interested in this course but are unable to afford any of the price levels.

Financial Assistance

To apply for financial assistance, please complete the online Financial Assistance Form at least 1 week before registration is scheduled to close. Please do not register for the online course until your request for financial assistance has been processed. 

This is a sample video from this course.

Course Overview

Each week students will explore a new topic of study through teaching material, reflections, student discussions, contemplative practice, and supplemental articles and multimedia—including exclusive teachings from Fr. Richard.   

Coursework includes weekly reading assignments, discussions, journaling reflections, and contemplative practice. Contemplative practices are designed to help you break down the dualistic walls separating education from practice and are not meant to substitute for your regular contemplative practice. Students can progress through each week at their own pace.  

Students can progress through each week at their own pace. 


  • Welcome and Introduction 
    Prepare yourself for the course, join Live Call #1 (optional), get familiar with contemplative practices, reflection exercises, and creating a sacred space. 
  • Unit 1 — A Call to Adventure 
    Explore the Hero’s Journey through a study of mythology and practices in awareness and attention. Learn what it means to discharge your “Loyal Soldier.”  
  • Unit 2 — Crossing the First Threshold 
    Delve deeper into creative tension, the Paschal Mystery, the path of descent, essentialism, and existentialism. Learn contemplative practices for stillness and awareness. 
  • Unit 3 — The Mentor Offers Insight into Our Dilemmas 
    Follow the evolution of Christianity from Medieval times to the modern world. Learn contemplative practices exploring the ego, grief, loss — and forgiveness.  
  • Unit 4 — The Mentor Offers Practical Tools 
    Learn contemplative practices for beholding, welcoming, breathing, floating, stillness, and letting go. Join the optional Live Call #2. 
  • Unit 5 — On the Road of Trials 
    Explore prerational, transrational, and archetype teachings. Learn rituals and practices for moving beyond false stories. 
  • Unit 6 — Approaching the Inmost Cave (Part 1) 
    Explore the four archetypes and go further with the Three Domes of Meaning. Reflection activities breakdown the four archetypal symbols and the roles they play in your life.
  • Unit 7 — Approaching the Inmost Cave (Part 2) 
    Engage in shadow work around the four archetypes. Reflection activities and contemplative practices explore Core Energy and Shadow Energy. 
  • Unit 8 — Crossing the Threshold into the Inmost Cave 
    Explore True Self, False Self, and the ego, and learn contemplative practices for paying attention and receiving. 
  • Unit 9 — Facing Our Wounds 
    Start with an introduction to Sacred Wounds and practice the Sacred Wound Meditation. 
  • Unit 10 — Tests, Enemies, and Allies 
    Dive deeper into Fr. Richard’s teachings on evil and its impact on your life and the world. Explore contemplative practices to release “momentary baggage.” 
  • Unit 11 — Beginning the Journey Home 
    Explore reflection activities revealing Jesus as the archetype of falling upward. Learn about connections between Jesus and True Self, Jesus and Sacred Wounds, and Jesus and Sin. 
  • Unit 12 — Final Live Call (optional) 
    Join Live Call #3 and learn to integrate these teachings into your life. 
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