Skip to Content


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

2014-08-20

Blessings to you! This week I am sending this to you from Mexico, where I arrived last night. I will be at the Monastery of Santa Marķa de Guadalupe, outside of Cuernavaca, giving a retreat to the nuns there for the first week. Then I go to visit our Monastery of Santa Marķa y Todos los Santos for about a week. And finally a day or two with the nuns at Our Lady of Tepeyac. This year has been more active than most for me because of accepting a couple of invitations to do things which I normally would not be doing. Next year, so far, I have kept free except for the visits to our monasteries.

Back home at Christ in the Desert, before I left, Prior Christian headed up to Oregon to spend a few days. He always makes contacts on those kinds of visits and they are important for our community. Prior Christian was born in Portland and grew up there.

Father Luis will be having more examinations of his heart to see what can be done to help him function better. Because he has memory loss, an open heart surgery is not indicated. Surely we will find something to make his life a bit better. He is 71 years old but has a memory loss and now heart problems, coupled with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A monastery is always a place where monks grow old, if there is any history at all. We just celebrated 50 years and that is long enough to have old monks!!

Brother Leander and Father Pio returned from Mexico yesterday. Both had been helping at our Monastery of Nuestra Señora de La Soledad. Brother Leander will remain now at Christ in the Desert. He will be eighty-eight years old in December of this year and is still in good health, but clearly does not have the stamina of a younger person. Father Pio will most likely return to La Soledad and perhaps eventually will become a stable member of that community. Always time helps us understand what God wants!

One of the difficult aspects of any spiritual life is waiting for the Lord. By faith I believe that God loves me. In my youth, I went through an inner struggle with many doubts that God could love me. Eventually I realized that I had to make a decision about God and about God's love. To me, it was apparent that if there is a God, it can only be a God of love.

Once I was confident in this belief that God loves me, then I learned that I had to wait on the Lord in many situations rather than rushing in to fix things. The spiritual teaching for me was contained in the idea that one cannot see the bottom of a stream when it is muddy. It is better to wait until the mud settles or passes by before looking to see what is really there. Wait! That was the important reality for me.

When I was a young superior, our old Brother Christopher would always remind: Bro, don't write to anyone when you are upset! That was incredibly sane advice, even though I did not always follow it. As I continued to try to serve the community and others, I saw the wisdom in that advice and was able to see that it meant that I should wait in every situation until matters were relatively clear. Because I don't like things hanging over my head, that was tough advice for me but still necessary.

One of the reasons that our community runs fairly well is that the community is able to communicate among the various solemnly professed monks and also get things done. Even here, we have had to learn not to rush to get anything done but always to keep working at getting things done. Waiting is not inactivity, but can be a very fruitful time to gain more insights and information about whatever project or decision is before us.

I hate waiting! Yet I can see all of the advantages of waiting and I accept that I must often wait to see what God wants. This insight has also served me well when I have felt no energy for the spiritual life. I wait and I keep on praying and eventually that inner spiritual energy returns. At least so far in my life this has been my pattern. There are so many situations in my life where I have found that waiting makes my life and the life of the community much better. It does not mean that I like waiting.

As I was writing this to you, I remembered the years of 1987 and 1988 when so many of the community left. At the end of that time of purification, only Prior Christian, Brother Xavier and myself were left in solemn vows in the community. We discussed among ourselves what we should do. Was this loss of brothers a sign that we should not go on? Should we close the community? How were we supposed to interpret what had happened? Among ourselves, we finally arrived at a provisional solution: Wait! If our superiors told us to close the community, then that would be a sign from God. If our superiors said nothing, then we would simply go on and see what the future might bring.

Our present community, then, is a result of that period of waiting to see what might happen. We just went on, living as monks. We tried to live a good monastic life and we began to plan for a future, even if it was not clear that we would have a future. We were open to closing the community but we had to wait and see if that was what we were supposed to do. Instead, the community began to grow once more and that was, until now, the last major crisis in the community.

We have had lots of other crises! Nothing ever stops like from happening--except death. If we choose life, it is a process that has ups and down and all arounds. These ups and downs have become more moderate over the years and in some ways, easier to live with. The departures of brothers from the community, while still difficult at times, are part of the normal experience of any community in the present age. Financial challenges are also part of normal life for normal families. In the midst of all of that, we have tried to keep a steady life of prayer. We are blessed.

I send you my love and prayers and once again will celebrate a Holy Mass for you and for your needs and intentions. As always, I ask you to pray for me and for all of the nuns and monks associated with our communities.

Links

Make a Donation

To make a donation to Christ in the Desert,
enter the amount you wish to donate and
press "donate"
USD$