Friends have asked how we are doing at the Monastery. Happily, I can report that we are well, thanks be to God, and carrying on with our regular life and duties in this beautiful Chama canyon setting. We monks range in age from 23 to 93 (I am 67!), so we have to be careful about social distancing and all the rest, but again, we are faring well. Deo gratias.

The daily round of chanting the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, beginning with Vigils at 4:00 am each morning, and ending at Compline at 7:30 pm, goes on as usual. We are using our entire church for monks’ seating, so as to be somewhat at a distance from one another, but all in the same place for Mass and prayers. Sadly, but necessarily, our lockdown remains in force. This means that our grounds, church, Guesthouse and Giftshop remain closed to the public, which makes us sad, and we are praying that before long we can open again. Only time will tell.

Rather than posting regular thoughts on COVID-19, as nearly all the news we read today relates to the pandemic, I decided to begin a series on our website’s News Page that offer a worthwhile quote for the day that I have selected and a photograph I have taken of the monks and our life here. Part of the idea is to assure our friends and family that we are well and keeping you in our thoughts and prayers, especially at the daily Conventual Mass each morning, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the afternoon, Vespers in the evening, and at the end of night prayer, Compline, we chant a lovely fifteenth century hymn to our Lady, praying for protection for all against the current plague.

As you probably know, we do all our own cooking, cleaning, grounds work, laundry, maintenance of cars and buildings, you name it, and these various and sundry duties and works remain in full force. The arrival of beautiful spring weather makes many outdoor projects possible, including our vegetable and flower gardens, as well as the reseeding and cultivation of fields for pasture and putting up needed fencing around some of our fields.

We now have three large tracts of fenced-in grazing land for our twenty sheep and two donkeys, as well as one ample field dedicated to the growing of vegetables. The four fields are named: Abbotsfield, Prior’s-pasture, Divina Pastora (Good Shepherdess, the Blessed Virgin Mary) and Saint Fiacre, patron of gardens. Brothers have installed a wonderful irrigation system that keeps the fields lush and green.

With this Notebook comes my personal prayers for you, our friends and family, with concern for your well-being and peace. Visit our News Page daily for some hopefully useful quotes and fraternal images, some serious and some less so, of your brothers of Christ in the Desert. As the saying is floating around these days: we are all monks now!

In solidarity with you and all our brothers and sisters around the world,

Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB