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News from Christ in the Desert:
Current Road Conditions to the Monastery
Road update 7/21/2015

The road leading to the Monastery, Forest Service Road 151, is dry. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended to traverse the road.

Canonical Visitation
Posted 7/15/15

Every three years monasteries of our Subico-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines have a canonical visitation, usually lasting several days.

The ominous-sounding phrase means simply that other monks, usually a superior of another monastery and a second, co-visitor, come to the monastery, listen to all the brethren in individual interviews of fifteen minutes or so, and then give a report to the local abbot and community of what they have heard, sometimes with recommendations to improve or enhance the common life of the monastery.

This year we are hosting Abbot Cuthbert Brogan, OSB, of Saint Michael's Abbey, Farnborough, England, and Prior Aidan Gore, OSB, of Guadalupe Abbey, Pecos, New Mexico, who, respectively, are our canonical visitor and co-visitor.

Both Abbot Cuthbert and Prior Aidan are long-time friends of our abbey and welcome guests. We thank them for the days they are here for the visitation (July 13 - 15) and keep them and their communities in our payers.

Belated But Good News
Posted: 6/2/15

On June 24th, we had the monastic profession of simple vows of our Brother Charles Lwanga Kariuki, from Kenya, who is 32, and Bede Bissonnette of New Hampshire, who is 31. Both men are multi-talented, hard working and devout in their observance of our Benedictine way of life. Ad multos annos.

Brother Bede's parents were able to be present for the vows and subsequent celebrations and well as other friends and neighbors.

June 24th is the Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, principal patron of our monastery and this year is the 51st anniversary of our being founded in 1964.

Priesthood Ordination Here
Posted 6/20/2015

On Friday, June 19, 2015, our Subprior Benedict McCaffree, OSB, was ordained to the priesthood here by Archbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan, retired archbishop of Santa Fe. He had also ordained our brother to the diaconate six months earlier.

The priesthood ordination day was beautiful on all counts, from the weather to the ceremony itself, to the flowers decorating the abbey church, lobby and refectory, to the delicious meal afterwards. Many hands and hearts, from monks and friends, made it a wonderful and memorable occasion.

Father Benedict was joined in the festivities by family members and friends, laity, religious and clergy from near and far, including Father's dear mother Nancy.

In addition to being Subprior and serving on the Abbot's Council of Deans, Father Benedict is novice and postulant master, with some fourteen men under his watchful care. He is a tremendous vocation promoter.

The Monastery Church
Posted: 6/12/2015

The most prominent building on our property, the monastery church, was designed by George Nakashima, who lived from 1905 to 1990. He was a renowned American of Japanese descent, known as a master woodworker, architect and furniture maker.

Mr. Nakashima was a friend of our founder, Father Aelred Wall (1917-1984). The church was completed and dedicated in a ceremony on September 28, 1967, three years after the founding of Christ in the Desert. The principal patron saint of the monastery church is Saint John the Baptist, whose feast day is June 24th. it was on this day that our monastery was founded in 1964.

The monastery church is a beautiful place of worship, in constant use for nearly 50 years now, built of adobe bricks, stone, wood and glass.

The building has been carefully maintained over the years and the monks gather there each and every for several hours of chanting the Opus Dei (Divine Office) and Holy Mass, as well as for private prayer for the needs of people everywhere and silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, the focal point of the church building.

Cloister Garth
Posted: 6/9/2015

Our cloister garth or garden, in the middle of the residence building for professed monks, is now in full bloom. After many attempts at various ground covering, we settled on grass that is mostly irrigated by the spring and summer rains. Flowers, from iris and peonies to lilies and roses, grow along the edges of the garden. In the center is a fountain, with a solar-powered water system that recycles the water from an underground tank. Flagstone paths cut across the garden and lead to and from the fountain, an image of Christ, the Fountain of Life, at the center of our lives and always at work in our lives.

This is a part of the monastery that guests and visitors do not normally see, but we wanted to share the beauty of the site with friends both near and far.

Spring Rains
Posted: 5/19/2015

Like other parts of the great southwest, we have been getting some rainfall. We are always grateful for this gift from God. The Chama canyon wilderness is turning green once again and many flowers are in bloom, especially irises. Come and see, as Jesus told his disciples. The road to the monastery remains passable.

Lectures on Life and Spirituality of Saint Paul the Apostle
Posted: 5/11/2015

These days the monks are being given a series of lectures by Sister Margaret Mary Gillis, FSP, National Vocation Director of the Daughters of Saint Paul, on the life, teaching and spirituality of Saint Paul the Apostle.

Each day she is here, May 8th through 12th, Sister Margaret Mary is presenting two lectures, covering topics from the life and teachings of Saint Paul and their application to our daily life "in Christ."

This is not a retreat time for us, but the content and themes and personal stories of Sister Margaret Mary are an inspiration to us and encouragement for our monastic path of daily conversion and living "in Christ," on which Saint Paul so wonderfully directs us.

We are very grateful to Sister Margaret Mary and all the
Daughters of Saint Paul, for their work of evangelization to the nations that they do so well in the footsteps of Saint Paul the Apostle.

Article By a Recent Guest At Christ in the Desert Posted 4/2/2015

Posted 2/10/2015

Please join us for a weekend or more in the coming months, for a preached retreat given by the monks of Christ in the Desert. Each retreat weekend will cover different topics and approaches to Benedictine Spirituality and its application to people in the world today. Feel welcome to attend more than one weekend, as each retreat will be unique in its content and focus.

The following weekends of preached retreats will be:

December 4 - 6, 2015, with Prior Christian Leisy, OSB :
  • "Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers"

December 18 - 20, 2015, with Subprior Benedict McCaffree, OSB :
  • "Partakers of the Divine Nature"

January 8 - 10, 2016, with Abbot Philip Lawrance, OSB:
  • "Silence in the Normal Life"

January 29 - 31, 2016, with Prior Christian Leisy, OSB:
  • "More on the Psalms"

February 19 - 21, 2016, with Subprior Benedict McCaffree, OSB:
  • "Humility in Gospel, Rule and Life"

The weekend retreat will include Friday arrivals and an opening conference that night. On Saturday there will be three conferences during the day and a final conference on Sunday morning. The retreatants are invited and encouraged to partake in all of the chanted Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) with the monks in church, daily Mass and time of adoration, and the possibility of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance) on Saturday afternoon.

Silence and recollection will be the norm during the retreat, with time for personal prayer and solitude in the spectacular setting of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

Space is limited, so sign up early, using our online reservation procedure on the Guesthouse section of our website:

The retreats are open to men and women, coming as individuals, couples or in small groups.

Those who wish to come earlier than the weekend retreat may do so and/or stay on after the retreat. Just reserve a room or rooms for the dates you wish.

In addition to the customary donation for a stay here (see our website), there will be a $75 fee for each retreatant, or $100 for couples coming.

These are NOT directed retreats, where individual retreatants meet each day with a director. Rather, these are preached to a group, with an emphasis on self-direction and active participation in the contemplative life of the monastery itself. Three meals are provided each day, taken in silence.

That In All Things God May Be Glorified - St Benedict (480-547 AD)


We have telephones now! The single greatest gift from our benefactors this past year was our new phone system that really works. It saves us from having to drive to the highway to make a call. It was all part of a technology upgrade that also enables us to have regular access to the Internet and that will be used to power a new website and online store for selling high quality religious items and art. We expect to have all of this in operation by this coming April. We'll keep you posted on this.

Just to show we are moving into modern times, perhaps, we have also brought electricity to the Guesthouse. Now please don't be too upset, you can still just not turn on the lights! But seriously, it seemed to be necessary for the safety and a modest amount of convenience for our guests. The Guesthouse remains simple and completely conducive to personal retreats in silence and solitude. The electricity itself is mostly obtained from solar panels that are environmentally friendly and affordable. Occasionally we have to run a propane fueled generator to supplement the supply of electricity.

We also have a new road on the monastery property itself. The U. S. Forest Services does a good job of maintaining the road from the highway to our property, but the road inside the property can often get muddy and rutted. We have graveled almost our entire road so that guests and visitors can travel to and from the Guesthouse and the church more easily. We were able to accomplish this project with the help of our friends.

Finally, we are happy to say that through The financial assistance of 48 sponsors, we now have that number of new choir stalls. These are the traditional "booths" where monks can stand or sit for singing while chanting the Divine Office. These stalls put the monastery squarely into the monastic tradition from which we can best serve our Lord and neighbor.

We are deeply grateful to the Lord and our friends for these improvements to the Monastery.


We truly had a wonderful celebration of our 50th Jubilee anniversary on June 24, 2014, the Solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist, our Patron. Fr. Aelred Wall, OSB, established this Monastery on that day fifty years ago. We remain deeply grateful for his beginning our monastic community that flourishes now thanks also to our friends and benefactors and the goodness of God.

The celebration included Mass with Abbot Philip as the main celebrant and 300 guests. The Abbot spoke of the years of Providential care the Lord has lavished on the community. He also spoke of the meaningful relationships over those years with the friends, visitors, and guests of the monastery. He hoped that the service of prayer and hospitality would continue for at least another fifty years. Afterwards, we served lunch in the courtyard of the cloister. We had open house throughout the monastery so that our guests could "take a peek" behind the scenes where we work and pray. Everyone greatly enjoyed the day and offered their congratulations and good wishes for the future.


We have been greatly blessed by an ever-increasing number of men interested in discerning whether they have a monastic vocation. Brother Benedict McCaffree, OSB, is the Novice Master in charge of the postulants and novices that fill all the quarters at St. Antony's and most of the old cells as well. Additionally, other monks have recently taken vows and the community here now numbers 38 monks. We are grateful to the Lord for His loving support of our community by sending many new vocations.


I simply want to say "thank you" for your wonderful responses to the three appeals we made this last year for help with our expenses in educating our younger monks; an upgrade of our technology and phone systems; and for help with our heating costs. We welcome all written requests for prayers whenever you write to us and in any event, each day we pray for the intentions of our benefactors. Each and all of you assure the continuation of this community of monks who pray for the peace and welfare of the whole world and for all of you as well.

I am celebrating 50 years as a monk this year and in that time the Lord has provided innumerable friends and greatly blessed my life of prayer. For all of this I am deeply grateful. Thank you for helping to make this possible. May all blessings in Christ's name be with you. Merry Christmas to one and all!