Monastery of Christ in the Desert
At the Monastery of Christ in the Desert there lives a community of monks each of whom and as a community seek to be in union with God. This is a quest to answer the call to holiness that is deeply rooted in biblical faith. God is called the Holy Being par excellence for the biblical God is the only foundation of true holiness as He himself stated: “Be holy, because I am holy” (Lev.11.44, 45; 1 Peter 1:16). Personal holiness for the monk is best sought in the Church, of which the community of this Monastery is a part officially and by its traditions. Accordingly, the monastic community cherishes the Eucharistic encounter with persons where each is accepted, as both other and different. This stands as a living image and model for the world where mutual acceptance is sorely needed regardless of qualifications or disqualifications like sinfulness, morality, sex or age. Everyone is called to be a saint and according to the thought of the ancient Fathers of the Church, such a seeker always needs both the Other and the other.
The monks here have the goal of living the contemplative life which St. Benedict, whose Rule is followed, envisions as a life free from all attachments so that a relationship with God becomes their central and even exclusive relationship. Such a life is modeled on the self-sacrificing love of Jesus Christ and empowered by a prayer life in the Holy Spirit as the monk spends his days in prayer and work (Ora et Labora).
An anonymous monk once wrote that the monastic religious life intercedes with God on behalf of those humans suffering in so many ways in the world of today, whether by poverty, famine, handicaps, sickness, loneliness, mental illnesses, and all too frequently, a loss of hope. But the same monk also wrote that it is a particular task for a monk in the desert to bring to God all those who know not their God, who are lost in self-seeking, who have turned away from truth and love. On behalf of all people but especially those who are so separated from God, the monks of this monastery endeavor to hold all in need before the face of the God of Holiness, asking for mercy and healing by passionate prayer. If you find the monastic vocation encouraging and would like to support our efforts, you are invited to do so here.
The Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico, U.S.A., was founded in 1964 by Fr. Aelred Wall, OSB, accompanied by monks of Mount Saviour Monastery in New York state. In 1983 the Monastery of Christ in the Desert was received into the English Province of the Subiaco Congregation as a Conventual Priory, and in 1996, it became an autonomous Abbey. From its beginning, the monastery has followed the Benedictine life according to the Rule of St. Benedict with no external apostolates, but it does maintain a guesthouse for private retreats where men and women can share the Divine Office and Mass in the Abbey Church with the monks. Besides maintaining the guesthouse, the monks engage in crafts and the entire maintenance and operations of the monastery for the community and its overnight guests. A gift shop also provides part of the monastery’s income, which includes an online store with books and quality religious and artistic articles.
Christ in the Desert has two dependent monasteries in Mexico: La Soledad, near San Miguel de Allende, and St. Mary and All the Saints. Recently, in 2010 another foundation was established near Dallas, TX, Thien Tam, that has a community of mostly Vietnamese monks. All of these monasteries likewise observe the Benedictine life according to the Rule without apostolates other than a guesthouse. The community at Christ in the Desert is comprised of men from several nations, though English is the language of the house.
Location and Geography
Christ in the Desert is located in the strikingly beautiful Chama Canyon wilderness in northwestern New Mexico, about 75 miles north of Santa Fe, and about 53 miles south of Chama. We live thirteen miles down a dirt and gravel road off US route 84. (For driving directions, click here.) Along the way are remarkable formations, cliffs, tree-covered mountains and the Chama River wending is way through the midst of the valley. The Monastery is surrounded by miles of government-protected wilderness, thus assuring and promoting solitude and quiet for the cenobitic monastic life. The chief architect of the original monastery with its church, convento, cells, and guesthouse was George Nakashima, the famous Japanese-American woodworker and designer. Much of the energy source for electricity and water pumping at the monastery is solar-powered, as sunshine is plentiful throughout the year. The monastery is quite committed to sustainable stewardship in managing its daily operational needs.