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About Us > Abbot's and Prior's Pages > Abbot's Notebook

2014-07-23

Blessings to you! The weather has turned warm again and we had 102 degrees yesterday, which is about 39 degrees centigrade. Today there are more rain showers and thunderstorms predicted and that should bring the temperature down once more. Summers here in our canyon are always so changeable. This year we have had a pretty good rainy season--and some places have had even too much rain in too short a time.

David Ndirangu from Kenya and José Oswaldo Barajas Calvillo from Mexico have arrived to begin their monastic life with us. David had been with the Benedictines in Kenya and Oswaldo had been with the Benedictines in Mexico, so both are familiar with monastic life. David never made vows, but Oswaldo was in temporary vows. They are both welcome additions to our community. Always we are happy to have men enter and even happier when they persevere.

Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe had a gala celebration on Friday, July 18th, in Santa Fe. He was celebrating 50 years of priestly ordination and also his 75th birthday. This means, for a bishop in the Catholic Church, that he has reached official retirement age. Archbishop Sheehan came to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe during an incredibly difficult period of history here and has been Archbishop for 21 years. He has done an incredibly good service for our Archdiocese and he will be leaving it in a very positive position in every aspect of its life. Please join us in giving thanks for his service to our Archdiocese and to our Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

This week we are in process of installing a new satellite system and a new phone system. We may be offline for a bit. We are not sure how all of this will go, but our hope is that by the end of the week, everything will be working again and we will have better and more flexible satellite system with a stronger and more useful internet. Even our phones should work better if all goes as we hope.

Professor Marsha Dutton complete the series of conferences for us on Gilbert of Hoyland's sermons on the Song of Songs. She is a real gift for our community and relates well with the monks and is able to convey to all of us some of the joy of monastic life, although she herself is not a monk or a nun. At the heart of her presentation this year was the notion of the soul being sought by God. This is the heart of our monastic life here at Christ in the Desert.

When men come to join our community, sometimes they are in for a rude awakening because our life is so very active. One person called it a daily marathon. And it is. Contemplative life in our tradition does not mean sitting around and thinking about God all day long or even being on our knees and praying to God all day long. Rather, contemplative life for us is the challenge of remembering God in all that we do, say and are during the whole day--while we go about the normal things that monks do. Those normal things are common prayer, common work, common meals, meetings, private prayer, Scripture reading--and of course, some sleep!

Monastic life, as lived at Christ in the Desert, is relentless. That mirrors the fact that we must be relentless in our search for God every day. We are not gentlemen monks who expect others to support us--although we would not yet be able to exist without the financial help of others. We are men who want to be serious about earning our own living, serious about working each day with a true dedication to work, serious about our life of prayer and our prayer life.

We also know how to relax and have a good party so that we can renew the joyful energies within us. We know how to have a good sleep when that is allowed. Nevertheless, most men who come here find our life strong and for most, it is not their vocation.

What our life tells many is that there are many ways to seek the Lord. Although our life works for us, it is not the only road to salvation. Part of the spiritual life is learning to recognize that there are many roads to heaven. We want to be on the road that God has made for us, for sure, but we want to respect and value the other roads that also lead to the Lord.

One of the lived experiences here at Christ in the Desert is that the more at home we have become in our monastic life, the better hosts we are to other people and more able to respect the other roads to salvation. This seems a natural outcome, even in personal life. The more comfortable a person is in his or her own identity, usually the more they are able to love others and to relate to them in positive ways.

Our role as monks is never to make people think that this is the only road to salvation. Rather, we are here because the Lord has called us and we are trying to respond to that call. We can appreciate all the other ways of seeking God: married life, single life in the world, non-Christians, non-Catholics, atheists, etc. Even as we love and respect other paths in life, we are able to witness to the joy of serving the living God as monks, the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as our Savior, the delight of living in the Holy Spirit.

We can all rejoice this week in our personal lives because of knowing that God loves us. We can all commit ourselves once more to the seeking of God, each of us in his or her own way, with his or her personal commitments. Let us pray for one another!

As always I will celebrate a Holy Mass for you and for your needs and intentions. May the Lord bless you and give you joy in your life. Please pray for me and for all of the nuns and monks associated with our communities.

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